Three actors -- Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain, Marc-Andre Grondin in C.R.A.Z.Y., Philip Seymour Hoffman in Capote -- deliver exemplary performances as gay men in a state of crisis. Interestingly, and encouragingly, the best of the three, Hoffman's, comes in a film where the character's homosexuality is not the central theme of the story, but just an accepted fact of everyday life.
In Transamerica, Felicity Huffman raids the closet of her aged, bottle-blonde mother and comes out with an outrageously tacky evening gown that -- as a woman playing a man working hard to be a woman -- she wears with just the right touch of maladroit bravado.
The good folks at the Disney factory hire Lindsay Lohan, party girl extraordinaire and so provocatively displayed in Mean Girls, to appear in their latest assembly-line opus, Herbie: Fully Loaded. They then dress their star down in loose attire clearly designed to protect innocent eyes from her principal assets. Yes, Herbie comes fully loaded, Lindsay does not. And I thought Uncle Walt was in the business of fun for the whole family.
In Michael Winterbottom's 9 Songs, and in Clement Virgo's Lie With Me, nudity abounds and, amid the protruding appendages, the question arises: Getting it up in the good name of realism, should movie actors go beyond the simulation of sex to its actual performance? Answer: Not unless the movies are a whole lot better than these two.
To fend off opening-day reviews, the studios, in the case of certain (even worse than usual) movies, are now denying critics the customary privilege of advance screenings. How quaint of them to think we still have any dissuasive power.
Too many screenings
In stubborn pursuit of gold and glory, director Ron Howard releases Cinderella Man twice in the past year. It doesn't improve with age and, each time, the clock strikes midnight on his sentimental little yarn.