Video: Or maybe just read the books
By Times staff
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 7, 2002
Ghost World (R)
Daniel Clowes' cultish comic book about youthful dysfunction gets live-action treatment. Thora Birch (American Beauty) plays Enid, a pathetically self-centered slacker expecting everyone to stoop to her level. Her best friend (Scarlett Johansson) is wising up, leaving Enid to concentrate on a cruel flirtation with a morose, middle-aged record collector (Steve Buscemi).
[Photo: United Artists Films]
Enid (Thora Birch, right) and her best friend Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson) decide on life after graduation in Ghost World.
First impressions: "All of this angst could be effective if not for Zwigoff's unrelenting chill and the fact that Enid's lack of positive purpose simply doesn't work well from a postattack perspective . . . Birch's deadpan performance is admirable, catching those fleeting nuances of caring that Enid reflexively submerges. The character is incapable of feeling anything, so our chances of feeling for her are slim.
"Buscemi is wonderful in a different sort of role, less aggressively strange than his usual turns. The screenplay by Zwigoff and Clowes is too subtle with its jabs at Enid's self-possession, never offering a clear reason for her bad attitude, suggesting instead that each of her victims gets what he or she deserves. They deserve to get away from Enid." (Steve Persall,Times film critic)
Second thoughts: One of the most puzzling favorites of 2001, in some circles, at least. Such raves for such a disappointing film are why some moviegoers don't trust film critics.
Rental audience: Outcasts who'll probably be watching alone.
Rent it if you enjoy: Spoiled whiners.
Captain Corelli's Mandolin (R)
Nicolas Cage plays an Italian commander defending a Greek village from Nazi invaders. More time is spent wooing a local woman (Penelope Cruz) than winning World War II. When her husband returns from the front lines, the movie sinks into guilt and sacrifice.
Italian officer Antonio Corelli (Nicolas Cage) and Greek villager Pelagia (Penelope Cruz) find unexpected love during World War II in Captain Corellis Mandolin.
First impressions: "Louis de Bernieres' epic 1994 novel was probably too massive for a literal screen translation. But the wobbly movie version never finds a cinematic equivalent for the book's wry, bittersweet flavor. And, on its own truncated terms, it flounders as a simple romantic movie.
"John Madden, who directed the seamless Shakespeare in Love, cannot hide the new film's wrinkles and layers. Madden's style is most fluid during scenes depicting everyday Cephallonian life. He's less graceful with the personal relationships, which are far less complex than those in the book." (Phillip Wuntch, Dallas Morning News).
Second thoughts: If a cinematic bomb goes off and no one's in the theater to hear it, does it make a sound?
Rental audience: Fans of the book; insomniacs needing assistance to sleep.
Rent it if you enjoy: Paint drying.
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