Kam On Film: ‘This Is 40,’ ‘The Central Park Five’ and What’s New In Theaters Kam Williams December 19, 2012 Columns This Is 40 Universal Pictures Rated R for sexuality, nudity, crude humor, drug use and pervasive profanity Rudd And Mann Revive Knocked Up Roles In Raunchy Spinoff When we first met Pete (Paul Rudd) and Debbie (Leslie Mann) in Knocked Up (2007), the couple was in crisis, primarily on account of her controlling behavior. She unreasonably suspected her husband of cheating because of the odd hours he kept as a rock and roll talent scout. Their subplot simply provided an amusing diversion from a front story revolving around the farcical plight of a popular tv host who became impregnated by a slacker after a one-night stand. With This Is 40, miserably married Pete and Debbie have graduated from peripheral characters to the protagonists of their own battle-of-the-sexes comedy. At the point of departure, we find them both on the verge of turning 40 years old. She’s in denial, still trying to pass for 38, and generally dreading the impending arrival of her birthday. Meanwhile, he’s regressed behaviorally, and routinely undermines any potential romantic mood by flaunting unappetizing bodily functions ranging from flossing to flatulence. So, it comes as no surprise that the spark has gone completely out of their relationship. This sad state of affairs is established during the picture’s opening tableaus. Between work and raising two high-maintenance daughters (Maude and Iris Apatow), Pete and Debbie are too drained by the end of the day to even think about lovemaking. In fact, the most passion either exhibits is for their jobs. He’s the CEO of a struggling, retro record company representing obscure has-beens like Graham Parker, and she owns a trendy boutique facing its own financial woes following embezzlement on the part of a trusted employee (Megan Fox or Charlyne Yi). On top of the burning question “Can Pete and Debbie get their groove back?” this raunchy sitcom ratchets up the tension around the prospect of losing their multi-million dollar McMansion. It’s important to note that This Is 40 was written and directed by Judd Apatow, master of the shocksploitation genre whose gross-out productions have basically glorified profanity, potty humor, graphic sexuality and gratuitous nudity. This offering won’t disappoint his diehard fans in that regard, and even has the rudiments of a plot for folks whose IQs have reached room temperature. A midlife crisis comedy marking the milestone with a tribute to immaturity! The Central Park Five: A Chronicle Of A City Wilding by Sarah Burns Knopf “In 1990, Anton McCray, Kevin Richardson, Korey Wise, Yusef Salaam and Raymond Santana, Jr. [were] convicted and sent to prison for a combination of rape, sexual assault and attempted murder of a female jogger named Trisha Meili in Central Park… That the victim had been a 28-year-old, successful, white investment banker and that the [accused] were black and Latino teenagers from Harlem was not lost on the public… The media coverage of the crime exposed a racism rife in American society, and the language used to describe the supposed perpetrators was filled with imagery of savage wild animals, the same racist imagery that had been used to justify lynchings earlier in the century… The false narrative disseminated by the police and the media was swallowed whole by the public… Even though some like to say we live in a ‘post-racial’ society, the racism that fueled the rush to judgment persists, and… we have not evolved enough from the days when even the suggestion that a black man had raped a white woman could lead to a lynching.” —Excerpted from the preface (pgs. ix-xi) On April 19, 1989, Patricia Ellen Meili entered Central Park around 9 p.m., a regular running time for her due to the long hours she worked on Wall Street. Unfortunately, on this occasion, she would be sadistically beaten, brutally raped and left for dead, with 80 percent of the blood draining from her body by the time she was rushed to the hospital by ambulance after the police were alerted by a couple of passersby. Because Trisha came from a privileged background marked by ballet and horseback riding topped off by an Ivy League pedigree, the NYPD was under considerable pressure to apprehend the perpetrators of the heinous crime. And it was not long before they had somehow extracted confessions from five teenagers from Harlem, none of whom had ever been arrested or even in serious trouble before. Contrary to state law, the names of the juveniles were released to the press prior to their being indicted or arraigned. Furthermore, the police leaked incriminating admissions supposedly made by the accused of their own free will about having stabbed and ejaculated on the victim. The tabloid press, ever inclined to exploit the hot button issues of color and class, soon began sensationalizing the case’s lurid details, dubbing the white victim “The Central Park Jogger” while coining the term “wilding” to describe the alleged behavior of her African-American and Latino attackers. Ordinarily apolitical icons also got into the act, like Donald Trump, who took out full-page ads in every New York City daily newspaper calling for the death penalty, saying that the perpetrators “should be forced to suffer” and “should be executed for their crimes.” It was no surprise, then, that in the face of the vigilante-like demand for vengeance, all five kids were convicted despite the fact that none of their DNA was found on Trisha and she didn’t have any knife wounds. They were only exonerated after having completely served sentences ranging from six to 13 years when a serial rapist named Matias Reyes, a DNA match to Exhibit A, confessed to the crime in 2002. Written by Sarah Burns, The Central Park Five revisits the controversial case to determine just how a combination of a media circus, a flawed legal system and a racist society inclined to see black adolescents as animals had enabled such a gross miscarriage of justice to transpire. The author, who also disputes the popular notion that this country is now post-racial because of the election of President Barack Obama, collaborated with her father, award-winning filmmaker Ken Burns, on a documentary based on this eye-opening opus which belatedly sets the record straight. A riveting retrospective on a tragic rush to judgment which ruined five, innocent young lives. OPENING THIS WEEK Kam’s Kapsules: For movies opening December 21, 2012 The Guilt Trip (PG-13 for violence, profanity and drug use). Dysfunctional family comedy about a scientist (Seth Rogen) who, against his better judgment, invites his overbearing mother (Barbara Streisand) to tag along on a cross-country journey in search of a distributor for his new invention. With Ari Graynor, Kathy Najimy, Colin Hanks, Nora Dunn and Casey Wilson. Jack Reacher (PG-13 for violence, profanity and drug use). Tom Cruise stars as the title character in this adaptation of One Shot, the Lee Child suspense thriller about a military veteran-turned-drifter enlisted by a suspected serial killer’s (Joseph Sikora) defense attorney (Rosamund Pike) to help clear her client’s name. With Robert Duvall, Richard Jenkins and David Oyelowo. Monsters, Inc. (G). 3D rerelease of the Pixar animated adventure about the world’s largest scare factory whose frightening creatures meet their match when a feisty, fearless toddler (Mary Gibbs) wanders into the place one night. Voice cast includes John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi, Jennifer Tilly and James Coburn. Amour (PG-13 for mature themes and brief profanity). Romance drama, set in Paris, about a retired music teacher’s (Jean-Louis Trintignant) desperate attempt to keep his word to his bed-ridden wife of 60 years (Emmanuelle Riva) never to move her to a nursing home. With Isabelle Huppert, Alexandre Tharaud and William Shimmell. (In French and English with subtitles) Barbara (PG-13 for sexuality, mature themes and smoking). Nina Hoss handles the title role in this character-driven drama, set in East Germany in the ‘80s, about a physician banished to a tiny hospital on the Baltic Sea after trying to get transferred to the western side of the Berlin Wall. Support cast includes Rainer Bock, Christina Hecke and Ronald Zehrfeld. (In German with subtitles) The Impossible (PG-13 for brief nudity, disturbing images and intense disaster sequences). Fact-based drama, set in Thailand, recounting a family’s real-life struggle for survival after a tsunami hits the oceanfront resort where they’re vacationing. Starring Naomi Watts, Ewan McGregor and Geraldine Chaplin. (In English and Thai with subtitles) Not Fade Away (R for sexuality, drug use and pervasive profanity) Rock and roll saga, set in the ‘60s, about garage band from suburban Jersey’s attempt to make it big. Ensemble includes James Gandolfini, Brad Garrett, Isiah Whitlock, Jr., John Magaro, Jack Huston, Will Brill and Christopher McDonald. On The Road (R for drug use, profanity and graphic sexuality). Screen adaptation of Kerouac Beat Generation classic about an aspiring writer (Sam Riley) who undergoes a transformation while embarking on a cross-country road trip with a couple of free-spirited hedonists (Garrett Hedlund and Kristen Stewart). With Amy Adams, Kirsten Dunst, Viggo Mortensen, Terrence Howard, Alice Braga and Steve Buscemi. Tears Of Gaza (Unrated). Pacifist documentary examining the fallout of modern warfare as visited upon women and children subsisting in bombed out homes without roofs or walls, and basic necessities like food, water and electricity. (In Arabic and English with subtitles) Zero Dark Thirty (R for profanity, disturbing images and graphic violence). War On Terror docudrama, directed by Oscar-winner Kathryn Bigelow (for The Hurt Locker), chronicling the efforts of the CIA agent (Jessica Chastain) spearheading the decade-long hunt for Osama bin Laden (Ricky Sekhon) culminating in his death during a daring, nighttime assault on his compound in Pakistan. With Jason Clarke, Jennifer Ehle, Kyle Chandler, Jeremy Strong and Harold Perrineau. Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.