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June 2004

Lost and Found

This month's movies are all about loss-family, a child and maybe love

Had this film been released a month earlier, it would have been a timely movie to celebrate Mother’s Day. The plot revolves around the struggles of Helen Harris (Kate Hudson), an unprepared and initially unwilling “mother” who finds herself suddenly having to raise three children when her sister and brother-in-law die in a car accident. Her other sister, Jenny (Joan Cusack), who would have been the obvious choice for the job, since, as she herself puts it, she “was born to be a mother,” is somewhat taken aback by her deceased sister’s choice of guardian. After the initial shock wears off, Helen attempts to incorporate the children into her life. The trouble is, she’s living the wild, single life of a career-minded assistant at a New York City modeling agency. Juggling the children’s lives while trying to maintain her career soon becomes futile and she gives up work to concentrate on bringing up Audrey (Hayden Panettiere), Kenny (Spencer Breslin) and Sarah (Abigail Breslin). While enrolling the children at a new school, Helen meets Pastor Dan Parker (John Corbett), who helps the children and Helen in their new lives, while an unlikely romantic pairing develops between the two adults. Directed by Gary Marshall, best known for his romantic-comedy collaborations with Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman (1990) and Runaway Bride (1999), he seems to have missed the mark with this slightly more serious movie. The opening scenes of single go-getter Helen seem forced and underdeveloped. Hudson gives a satisfying performance, though her talents are underused. Cusack is wonderful as the stereotypical “good mother,” but Corbett is as far from being a man of God as he was from being Greek in My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Although the film espouses a positive morality—giving one’s all as a parent or guardian for the good of the children and in the process growing oneself—ultimately it’s an average film, with a few touching moments. html/main_alternate.html
German release date (subject to change) June 17; US rated PG-13 for issues involving teens

“What if you had a second chance with the one that got away?” This is the tag-line for Before Sunset, the sequel to the 1995 film Before Sunrise, which also starred Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Nine years ago Jesse (Hawke) and Celine (Delpy) met on a train from Budapest to Vienna and spent a single night together, departing before sunrise with a promise to meet again. But unfortunately one of them didn’t keep their side of the bargain. Now they meet again, when Jesse arrives in Paris for a reading of his new book, which just happens to be all about that special night almost a decade earlier. As they have only a few hours together, before Jesse’s plane leaves at sunset, they stroll through Paris together discussing life, love and politics. Shot in only five days by director Richard Linklater (Dazed and Confused, School of Rock), and written by the director and stars, the dialogue-driven film is basically a two-person piece alternating between long steady-cam shots and static medium shots. The dialogue overlaps naturally to give it a documentary feel, and the subject matter is typical of 30-somethings concerned with the state of the world, politics, environment, love, relationships, sex, marriage, men and, rather subtly, French idealism vs. American naivety. The nervous sexual/ emotional tension between the two keeps things moving along, despite the lack of dramatic momentum, and when Celine finally breaks her cool, distant façade, it is a release for both her character and the audience. Delpy, also an accomplished singer/songwriter, adds wonderful original music to the soundtrack and performs a charming ode to lost love at the end of the film. Ultimately, the tag-line, and premise of the film, can be summed up by a line of dialogue: “Memories are wonderful things if you didn’t have to deal with the past.”
German release date (subject to change) June 17; US rated R for language and sexual references

New Release on DVD
Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Dennis Lehane, Mystic River chronicles the lives of childhood friends Jimmy Marcus (Sean Penn), Sean Devine (Kevin Bacon) and Dave Boyle (Tim Robbins) as they reunite following the murder of Jimmy’s oldest daughter in working-class Boston. Devine is a police detective on the case, gathering disturbing evidence while trying to control Jimmy's rage and need for retribution. And when Dave becomes a prime suspect the friends are forced to face an uncomfortable incident from the past. Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential) transforms the novel into a riveting screenplay, while Clint Eastwood (Unforgiven) directs truly exhilarating performances. Both Penn and Robbins were more than deserving of their Oscar wins last year. It is a thrilling film, exploring friendship, trust, loyalty, sexual abuse and the twisted side of human nature.
German release date (subject to change) June 1; US Rated R for language and violence.

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