Munich in English - selected by independent Locals for Cosmopolitans, Newcomers and Residents - since 1989

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November 2001

Kicking and Screaming

A soaring Jet and a hilarious supporting cast

(rated R, 98 mins.)
Don’t let the title fool you: Kiss of the Dragon is anything but a tired, slapstick farce. It is a delightful Pretty-Woman-meets-Kung-Fu movie, with fancy camera work by Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) and a creative screenplay by Besson and Robert Mark Kamen. They tell the story of Liu Jiuan (Jet Li), China’s top government agent, who arrives in the French capital from Shanghai to carry out a sensitive, top-secret mission. Sent to assist Inspector Richard (Tcheky Karyo) and his small army, the lovable hero is soon double crossed and plunges into action. But Li doesn’t just throw around a lot of defensive kicks. He also deploys clothes irons, laundry shoots and grenades. There’s also a cheesy-but-charming subplot: Li, a sexy, strong, and sensitive type, has a romantic entanglement with woman of the night, Jessica (Bridget Fonda), the home-town girl who turns tricks to save her kidnapped daughter. Fonda’s performance is laudable. Kiss of the Dragon is bloody, gruesome, and nasty—ladies, you’ll be ashamed to say you loved it!

(rated R, 127 mins.)
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, a romantic drama set in Greece during the Second World War, recounts the love that grows between beautiful local girl, Pelagia (Penelope Cruz), and charming, mandolin-strumming Italian Captain Corelli (Nicolas Cage). Life is simple on this Greek island, where people take comfort in family and miracles— until war breaks out off the coast of Albania. Though the cinematography is slick and beautiful, screenwriters erred when they opted to infuse comedy into what should have been a more sincere, eloquent effort. Some scenes are laughably unbelievable: find me one stubborn, old Greek father who would leave an Italian solider alone in the house with his babe of a daughter? Cage’s Italian accent is so bad, he comes across as a character who’s turned up in the wrong movie. John Hurt, who plays Pelagia’s father, should be commended for his role. Though Cruz is beautiful to look at, her acting is painful to watch. Sadly, Captain Corelli’s Mandolin won’t pluck your heartstrings.

(rated PG–13, 85 mins.)
This is a romantic comedy about destiny’s hold on two people who seek nothing but each other. Jonathan Trager (John Cusack) meets Sara Thomas (Kate Beckinsale) on a bustling pre-Christmas shopping day in New York City. Both are involved in other relationships, so they part ways again. The corny message-in-a-bottle premise—boy writes his name and phone number on a five-dollar bill, girl buys a book with it, writes her name and phone number in book and sells it to a used bookstore in hopes that fate will rejoin the two—seems a bit over the top. Still, the story manages to combine comedy and romance with just the right amount of twist to keep viewers entertained and excited. For this, we have Serendipity’s fantastic supporting cast—Eugene Levy (American Pie, Best in Show) as a wacky department store employee, Jeremy Piven (“Spence” on TV’s Ellen) as an obituaries editor, and Molly Shannon as Sara’s best friend—to thank. Beckinsale (Brokendown Palace, Pearl Harbor) does a delightful, humorous job of convincing viewers that love and destiny can be married, while parrying believable sparks with Cusack. In a time of world crisis and chaos, this movie may give you that sappy, but comforting, Sleepless in Seattle feeling we all could use right now.

(rated PG–13, 89 mins.)
Not exactly an original concept, Bubble Boy is a feeble attempt at a coming-of-age “dramedy.” Jimmy Livingston (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a boy without an immune system, raised in a manufactured world provided by his well-intentioned, but misguided, June Cleaver-type mother (Swoosie Kurtz). When Jimmy meets Chloe (Marley Shelton), the girl of his dreams, he decides to leave the bubble, to keep her from marrying someone else in Niagara Falls. Jimmy takes off on a roadtrip and crosses paths with bikers, groupies, freaks and and rock stars. Though the film tries to convey a message—that none of us are immune from society’s ills—grossly undeveloped characters and humorless chaos numb any feelings for this bubble boy.

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