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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

new on DVD: ‘Eastern Promises,’ ‘The Kingdom,’ ‘Rush Hour 3,’ ‘The Heartbreak Kid’

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Eastern Promises [buy it]. From my review:

Movies about gangsters: You expect a lot of noise. Shouting and screaming. Barrages of gunfire. Not here. Here we have somber reflection, the lurking gray peril of an urban underbelly, shifting shifty glances and unspoken threats. Eastern Promises is almost silent — even its title sounds like a shush. Terror swells inexorably and unavoidably, like the ebb and flow of the Thames River along the banks of which much of this story, with its tidal unease, takes place. And the slow creeping gloom of it lingers like a chill you can’t shake.

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The Kingdom [buy it]. From my review:

[T]here’s a little metaphoric twist of the knife right at the end of the film that suggests that we might want to reconsider whatever visceral pleasure we might have taken in seeing an enemy suffer. It’s not a “surprise” ending, and I haven’t spoiled anything for you by letting you know about it — sometimes merely being aware that a twist is coming is enough to ruin a movie even if you don’t know what the twist consists of, but this is not one of those instances. What happens at the end of The Kingdom is the resolution of a little mystery that’s been running through the story since its beginning, and it’s nothing you can guess, but it floored me with its simple, and in retrospect, obvious wisdom and sly cunning: it’s a bit of shaming, a stripped-down, no-nonsense reality alarm about cycles of hate and violence that we must be fully cognizant of if we’re ever to break them.

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Rush Hour 3 [buy it]. From my review:

Can you understand the words that are comin’ outta my mouth? This is racist, bullying garbage. Okay, fine, if Chris Tucker, a black man, can stand whoring himself out to play a blackface caricature, with his ignorant buffoonery, singsongy voice, and unleashed horniness, like something out of KKK propaganda, that’s his choice, and who am I, as a white woman, to refuse him that freedom? But the passive-aggressive celebration of unbridled American belligerence at the center of this pointless three-quel? That I feel totally justified in railing against.

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The Heartbreak Kid [buy it]. From my review:

Bobby and Peter Farrelly may have almost singleghandedly reduced the multiplex to a cesspool of explosive defecation and below-the-belt indignity, but they’re not content to stop there. They could get away with just flogging the same horse of humiliation with every single damn one of their revolting movies, but no! They strive for newer and deeper depths of disgust. And such they have achieved here, with their latest, The Heartbreak Kid, which is based on the 1972 movie — and Neil Simon’s 1972 screenplay — much in the same way that a breakfast of Pop Tarts and Mountain Dew is based on a petit dejeuner of fresh-baked croissants and cafe au lait.

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