Friday movie roundup: Dress for success
Maybe this is what cosmic convergence that the date - 11/11/11 - is bringing to us: Hollywood movies with a guy wearing a dress, another guy who might have worn a dress, and a guy wearing a toga.
The week's likely box-office champ is "Jack and Jill," a painfully unfunny comedy in which Adam Sandler plays a family guy and his obnoxious twin sister visiting on the holidays. The one-joke story can't even pay off on that joke, as Sandler's idea of acting is throwing on a funny wig, a funny voice and just goofing around. The movie also tosses in lots of product placement, celebrity cameos, a painful performance by Al Pacino (as himself), and Sandler giving bit parts to his old "Saturday Night Live" pals.
"J. Edgar" has more laughs than "Jack and Jill," but not intentionally. This somber, slow-moving biography of the imperious FBI director J. Edgar Hoover (played by Leonardo DiCaprio) goes through Hoover's life and crimes with plodding literalism - and occasional moments of accidental "Mommie Dearest"-level camp. Director Clint Eastwood and writer Dustin Lance Black ("Milk") seem utterly at odds about what they wanted to say about Hoover, and the result is a tedious mess.
Then there's "Immortals," a glossy take on the Greek myth of Theseus (played by Superman-in-waiting Henry Cavill). The movie was not screened for critics.
The week's best movie is at the Broadway, and it's "Martha Marcy May Marlene," the 2011 Sundance Film Festival entry centering on a young woman (Elizabeth Olsen) who has an unexpected reunion with her estranged sister (Sarah Paulson). The reason for the reunion, we learn, is that the young woman has recently escaped from a charismatic cult leader (John Hawkes). Writer-director Sean Durkin creates a chilling portrait of a cult follower, and her slow return to reatlity. (Read the Cricket's interview with Olsen, who's far more than just the little sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley.)
Lastly, the Broadway also has "Mozart's Sister," a dry French historical drama that focuses on Nannerl Mozart (Marie FÃ©ret), the equally talented but less heralded sister of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart - who, the movie suggests, befriended King Louis XV's youngest daughter and an almost-romance with the Dauphin, the heir to the throne. Nannerl sometimes has to dress like a boy - which seems appropriate alongside the other movies opening today.