By Jeff Balke
By Aaron Reiss
By Angelica Leicht
By Dianna Wray
By Aaron Reiss
By Camilo Smith
By Craig Malisow
By Jeff Balke
Still, if you're feeling romantic, screenwriter Stuart Beattie picked up the right formula in screenwriting class. It's still possible to sort of enjoy this movie -- if you're not expecting Spicoli or Baryshnikov. (Shaila Dewan)
Kick Sunday, April 11, at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, April 13, at 9 p.m.
Some girls stick with the wrong guy, wishing that it will work, but it never does. That's because the guys are fucking losers, writer/director Jean-Mark Valee says in Loser Love. But there's another message in the movie:Something's severely warped and wrong with the girls.
The film opens at a fancy party thrown by the parents of Lily (Laurel Holloman). When she and her loser boyfriend, Tim (Andy Davolt), go upstairs to have sex, his friend is watching in the shadows -- her boyfriend forgot to mention that. She gets mad, he cheats on her, but she stays with him. He ties her up for some unfun 60-second sex and then turns on the television to Sports Center.
At the outset, this seems to be a girl-power movie where the woman acknowledges her insecurities -- the fact that she can't ever express her anger and is stuck with this miserable man -- but learns to get over him and lives triumphantly ever after. There are moments where it appears that Lily might grow and change. She has a fun, feminist friend, Kilo (Rachel Robinson), who cares for her and wants to do girl things, but the evil boyfriend keeps interfering. Kilo openly hates him for hurting her friend, and he decides she's a lesbian.
Lily stays with the loser until he rapes her anally on her birthday. That's when things finally change. She locks herself inside. Kilo comes over and nurtures her with hot baths, tea and togetherness, candles and comfort.
Meanwhile, Lily's mom is in a parallel relationship with another smarmy, abusive guido (Lily's father) she won't leave because he was her Stanley Kowalski. So she drinks and takes diet pills.
Lily and Kilo plot to kill Lily's loser and frame her father in the murder. Kilo realizes that murder is wrong and psycho so they drift apart. But Lily feels free. So does her mom.
This is an unhealthy movie that takes women a step back. It's written by a man who obviously doesn't think much of women. Lily is whiny and stupid throughout the movie; her mother simply suffers, and Kilo is annoying with her anger. (Wendy Grossman)
Loser Love Saturday, April 10, at 9 p.m. and Monday, April 12, at 5 p.m.
Love Songs, a compilation of three short films about a tight-knit African-American community in Philadelphia, is a sweet but uncomfortably hokey movie redeemed only by Louis Gossett Jr.'s strong performance as the local bartender and peacekeeper.
Rober Townsend, who wrote the three vignettes, stars in the first one as Otis, a car mechanic who fancies himself a champion boxer. He has a pregnant wife who wishes he would keep out of the ring and worries about how to make ends meet. It's a classic man-versus-himself story line, as Otis struggles with being true to his dreams or choosing the safer route of conformity.
The second segment focuses on a cautious romance between Mister Ellis (Andre Braugher), the local fruit seller, and Miss Jean (Lynn Whitfield), the local cutie. It's a tender story, but the back-and-forth "I hate you but I love you" romantic tension is contrived and has been done hundreds of times before.
The strongest of the pieces ends the movie and stars Gossett as a tough family man and local bartender who is simultaneously dealing with a misbehaving teenage son and a wife-beating brother-in-law. Although the barkeep could easily take on the evil brother-in-law, he tries to prove to his son that violence is not always the best approach. It's a fascinating dilemma, although the story ends abruptly. The mood is killed by a silly attempt to tie everything up, and we are left clueless as to what will happen to the characters.
The story lines are simple, which is not necessarily bad, but the sappy sentiment is often harder to swallow than a mouthful of Cheese Whiz. The dialogue is predictable and strained, the facial expressions exaggerated. Whitfield as the sassy and strong-willed Miss Jean rivals Gossett's acting abilities. Rachel Crawford, as the boxer's nervous wife, has strong talent. But the story line has her rubbing her belly and looking concerned so often that we don't get to see much of it.
In the end, Love Songs is sticky-sweet, and if you're the type of optimistic, bright-eyed person who cried at The Lion King, then you will probably like this movie. (Jennifer Mathieu)
Love Songs Friday, April 9, at 9 p.m.
As the central crazy in the psycho-loaded, surrealistic Pure Killjoy, Fred Derf fights -- or flees -- all manner of inner and outer mayhem. He locks himself in his spartan apartment and bangs on a boxing body bag while the white-hot searchlights of clattering police helicopters sweep through his windows.
Airborne cops are trying to find the notorious "Khameleon killer," who has claimed 27 victims in as many days in this Los Angeles of the near future. Fred, though, has already found the serial slayer in mental images, along with those of his own sordid past.