by Jeff Niesel
Year One, the new comedy that stars Michael Cera and Jack Black as a couple of dim-witted cavemen, looks pretty funny from the trailer. It opens areawide this weekend. But in case you're looking for something different this weekend, here are capsule reviews of the movies opening at the Cedar Lee this weekend.
Every Little Step The 2006 return of the Broadway musical A Chorus Line is the subject of this fine documentary that takes you behind the scenes of the revival’s auditions, following the actors and actresses as they go through the various stages of nailing down their parts. An added twist is the way the filmmakers go back to the original Chorus Line production, including audiotapes of the initial brainstorming sessions. The back-and-forth between the revival and the original could be a cumbersome device, but it’s handled nicely here. While the film certainly has elements of a bad reality show (some of the singing and dancing you see before the first round of cuts is atrocious), it does demonstrate just how tense the life of a struggling actor or actress can be. And by the film’s end, you’re not really even sure the play’s producers gave the right part to the right person. But that’s ultimately what makes the movie so intriguing. *** (Jeff Niesel)
The Merry Gentleman Michael Keaton directed and starred in this dreary film about Frank Logan (Keaton), a hit man who falls in love with a woman (Kelly Macdonald) who struggling to get out of an abusive relationship. The twist, however, is that the woman is the one witness who saw him take out his last victim, though she saw him from so far away, she doesn’t recognize it’s him. Oh yeah, and predictably enough, there’s one cop (Tom Bastounes) who has put the pieces of the puzzle together and is hot on Frank’s trail, though his feelings for Frank’s woman often get in the way. Set during Christmas time, the film feels out of sorts as a summer release. It doesn’t help that the subject matter is so dark. Keaton is particularly detached, even as hit men go, and Macdonald doesn’t come off as particularly sympathetic, either. ** (Niesel)
Outrage The gayest place in America, according to Kirby Dick’s documentary Outrage, isn’t San Francisco, Manhattan or Fire Island. It’s Washington, D.C. — the “most gay, most closeted place” in the U.S. Among the movie’s revelations is that Capitol Hill is “packed with gay staffers.” Gay men, presumably because they have fewer family obligations, work around the clock to keep the nation’s capital running on time. Outrage is about outing — the public exposure of the secret gay lives of public figures — and rage, the deep anger among gay activists over the hypocrisy and betrayal of the closet. It’s a gutsy piece of advocacy, boldly detailing the private peccadilloes of closeted politicians, many of them “family values” Republicans. Among those interviewed are Michelangelo Signorile, the erstwhile gossip columnist who launched the “outing” trend in the ’80s with exposés of closeted celebrities; former New Jersey governor James McGreevey, who resigned after admitting an affair with an adviser; gay congress members Barney Frank and Tammy Baldwin; bloggers and journalists working to expose closeted politicians; and activist Larry Kramer, who calls living in the closet “collusion with genocide.” While exposing private sexual behavior is an uncomfortable business, Outrage makes a strong case for transparency, arguing that when it comes to human rights, the private is public. The issue isn’t homosexuality but hypocrisy. Why do these men condemn in public what they do in private? Denial, self-hatred and an inclination to avoid vulnerability by aligning with aggressors. Signorile calls it “bashing other gay people to prove they’re not gay.” *** (Pamela Zoslov)