September 16, 2005

The Constant Gardener

The 11th novel by John Le Carré to be adapted for the screen, The Constant Gardener is about secrets between spouses- why you keep secrets, how secrets are discovered, and how you define yourself when you learn your late wife is not who you thought she was. Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) is a British diplomat in the Nairobi office, married to Tessa (Rachel Weisz), an outspoken activist. Tessa discovers a deadly conspiracy between the British government and Big Pharma, but she deliberately keeps her investigation a secret from Justin, in order to protect him and his career.constant

Justin is too willing to remain ignorant, and when Tessa is murdered, Justin must investigate the woman he was married to while redefining himself and his relationship to his wife. After her death, he becomes the kind of husband she needed in life, and that's as close to redemption as they get. The direction is solid, with colorful and exciting cinematography. The pacing is kind of slow in the last third. The screenplay is excellent. Rachel Weisz stands out in her supporting role as Tessa. She is revealing all sorts of new talents in every role I see her in (The two Mummy films, Beautiful Creatures, Enemy At The Gates, About A Boy, Confidence, Runaway Jury). (West Newton Cinema)

September 10, 2005

The Forty-Year-Old Virgin

The highest compliment I can offer to a movie called "The Forty-Year-Old Virgin" is that it is intelligently assembled and thoughtfully rendered. Steve Carell and director Judd Apatow could have made a very simple, crass, and rude sex comedy. Instead, they've invented a interesting, complex, human protagonist whom the crowd roots for, even if he is a giant super-nerd.forty

Andy (Carell) is a painfully shy sci-fi nerd who has carved out a tidy little niche for himself: his apartment is fully equipped with videogames, home theater, and action figures, every week he watches "Survivor" with the nice retired couple upstairs, and he works at a Circuit City-style electronics store where he doesn't have to interact with anyone, especially women. In his teens, he missed his chance to have sex for the first time. At age forty, how do you explain to a woman that you don' t know how to have sex? "I respect women so much I stay completely away from them!" he explains, so it will take several misguided social-science experiments by his three horndog coworkers (Paul Rudd, Seth Rogen, and Romany Malco) to get him some action. The male relationships are so lovingly rendered, this is truly the Summer of the Chuck Flick. (August 27 and September 10, AMC Fenway)