Movie 43

Relativity Media

Rated R for violence, drug use, pervasive profanity, graphic sexuality, frontal nudity, crude humor and coarse dialogue.

A-List Cast Can’t Save Shallow Shocksploit

Movie 43 is a shallow shocksploitation flick that revels in raunchy lowbrow humor. What is supposed to elevate this terminally crude comedy above your typical bottom-feeder is its A-list cast topped by Academy Award winners Halle Berry and Kate Winslet, as well as Oscar nominees Uma Thurman, Naomi Watts, Hugh Jackman and Terrence Howard.

However, the picture fails miserably in this regard, as it merely ends up dragging the entire ensemble into the mud. This scatter plot sketch flick features a dozen directors, including Peter Farrelly (There’s Something About Mary), Brett Ratner (Rush Hour trilogy), and Bob Odenkirk (The Brothers Solomon).

The film is essentially a series of skits being pitched by a writer (Dennis Quaid) to a skeptical Hollywood producer (Greg Kinnear). After Charlie sets up each scene, the screen cuts away to an enactment of a fully fleshed out production of his idea.

For example, the first vignette, “The Catch,” revolves around a socialite named Beth’s (Winslet) blind date from Hell with Davis (Jackman), a successful, eligible bachelor with a distracting drawback, namely, a hairy scrotum hanging from his neck in place of an Adam’s apple. The sight gag serves as fodder for a running joke since Beth, inexplicably, is the only person in the restaurant able to see the deformity.

So, while Davis looks perfectly normal to everybody else, the poor woman finds herself forced to suffer such indignities as posing for a picture with sweaty gonads in her face. The subject matter goes from gross-out fare to incest and pedophilia in the next segment, “Homeschooled,” which is about a mother’s (Watts) taking her son’s (Jeremy Allen White) virginity. Worse, the 13-year-old’s perverted dad (Liev Schreiber) comes on to the kid, too.

Halle Berry’s breasts co-star in “Truth Or Dare,” another bit about a blind date. In this tacky tableau, her character first exposes herself after accepting a challenge to make guacamole with her bosom. The oversexed exhibitionist bares her gargantuan mammaries again at the end of the evening, even though she’s supposedly not attracted to Asian men.

Dating is also the theme of “Super Hero Speed Dating” where Batman’s (Jason Sudeikis) sidekick Robin (Justin Long) attempts to charm both Super Girl (Kristen Bell) and Wonder Woman (Leslie Bibb). And “Middleschool Date” milks its mean-spirited mirth from a 7th grader’s (Chloe Moretz) being mercilessly teased about getting her first menstrual period while sharing a kiss with a classmate (Jimmy Bennett) she has a crush on.

More creepy than comical, Movie 43 represents a disgusting, cinematic descent into depravity destined to leave its victims sitting slack-jawed and speechless in stunned disbelief.

 

Poor (0 stars)

Running time: 90 minutes

 

 

Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary

First Run Features

Unrated

Reverential Biopic Paints Sympathetic Portrait Of Controversial Cause Célèbre

Wesley Cook, aka Mumia Abu-Jamal, was born on April 24, 1954 in the City Of Brotherly Love. There, he founded a branch of the Black Panthers at the age of 15 after being kicked by a cop at a rally for segregationist presidential candidate George Wallace.

After attending college in Vermont, he returned to Philly to pursue a career in journalism. He proceeded to provide a voice for the voiceless as a politically progressive reporter while simultaneously moonlighting as a cab driver, until the fateful night in 1981 when he and his brother, William, crossed paths with a police officer named Daniel Faulkner.

The cop was killed during the traffic stop, when the bullets from a gun registered to Mumia were emptied into him at close range. Faulkner managed to get off a few shots, wounding Mumia.

At trial, the jury deliberated only a few hours in what seemed like an open-and-shut case, and the defendant was convicted and subsequently handed a death sentence. However, because of Mumia’s previously clean record and his having served as such an articulate mouthpiece for the poor and disenfranchised, he soon became something of an international cause célèbre.

Was he indeed a murderer or had he been railroaded to prison because of his radical views? The left and the right would disagree strongly on the issue. Eventually, his sentence was commuted to life with no parole, and the fundamental question of guilt or innocence was essentially left unanswered.

The same can be said after viewing Mumia: Long Distance Revolutionary, a documentary which doesn’t seek so much to clear the controversial figure’s name as to showcase his intellect and longstanding defiance of The Establishment. To director Stephen Vittoria’s credit, he hauls out a long line of luminaries like Dr. Cornel West, Ruby Dee, Hurricane Carter, Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Dick Gregory and Amy Goodman to take turns heaping praise on his sympathetic subject.

While their heartfelt testimonials leave no doubt about Mumia’s commitment to the struggle and considerable talents as a writer, none of them were eyewitnesses to the murder. Thus, this is not a biopic which seeks to poke holes in the prosecution’s case or to indict the State of Pennsylvania for a rush to judgment.

Rather, it merely endeavors to highlight the squandered potential of a gifted, if fatally flawed individual. Love him or hate him, no one watching this inconclusive piece can deny that Mumia has a way with words.

A film that wisely leaves the damning evidence on the back burner in favor of focusing on everything about Mumia Abu-Jamal except for what exactly transpired at the corner of 13th and Locust in the wee hours of December 9, 1981.

 

Excellent (4 stars)

In English and Spanish with subtitles

Running time: 120 minutes

Opens Feb. 1 at Cinema Village in NYC, with special appearances by the filmmaker and people appearing in the film.

 

OPENING THIS WEEK

Kam’s Kapsules:

For movies opening February 1, 2013

 

Bullet To The Head (R for profanity, nudity, drug use, graphic violence and bloody images). Grisly revenge thriller, set in New Orleans, about a hit man (Sly Stallone) and a detective (Sung Kang) who form an unlikely alliance to track down the killers of their respective partners. Featuring Christian Slater, Jason Momoa and Jon Seda.

 

Warm Bodies (PG-13 for violence and profanity). Romeo And Juliet re-imagined as a romantic horror comedy set in a devastated, post-apocalyptic America and revolving around a zombie (Nicholas Hoult) who falls in love with the girlfriend (Teresa Palmer) of one of his victims. With John Malkovich, Rob Corddry and Cory Hardrict.

 

The Gatekeepers (PG-13 for violence and disturbing images). Oscar-nominated Best Documentary chronicling the exploits of Shin Bet, Israel’s national security agency entrusted with the country’s closely held top secrets. Includes archival footage, computer animation and in-depth interviews with all six surviving former heads of the organization. (In English and Hebrew with subtitles)

 

Girls Against Boys (R for nudity, sexuality, profanity and violence). Battle of the sexes slasher flick about a college coed (Danielle Panabaker) who embarks with a girlfriend (Nicole LaLiberte) on a retaliatory, man-hating killing spree after a series of dates gone bad. With Liam Aiken, Andrew Howard and Michael Stahl-David.

 

The Haunting In Connecticut 2: The Ghosts Of Georgia (R for disturbing images). Scream sequel finds a married couple (Abigail Spencer and Chad Michael Murray) settling into a historic home in the South where their young daughter (Emily Alyn Lind) suddenly starts seeing dead people visible only to her. Supporting cast includes Cicely Tyson, Katee Sackhoff and Andrea Frankle.

 

Koch (Unrated). Intimate portrait of Ed Koch, the intensely private, former mayor of New York who occupied Gracie Mansion from 1978 to 1989. With reminiscences by Congressman Charles Rangel, Reverend Calvin Butts, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and current mayor Michael Bloomberg.

 

Sound City (Unrated). Retro rockumentary, directed by Foo Fighters’ founder and frontman Dave Grohl, about Sound City, the fabled, L.A. music studio where everyone from Neil Young to Fleetwood Mac to Tom Petty to Johnny Cash to Charles Manson have recorded albums.

 

Stand Up Guys (R for profanity, sexuality, violence and drug use). Mobster comedy about a recently paroled, aging ex-con (Al Pacino) who reunites with a couple of geezer gangsters (Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin) for a last hurrah, only to end up double-crossed by one of his buddies. With Julianna Margulies, Lucy Punch and Mark Margolis.

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