by Dustin Beruta
“Wicker Park” is a very American remake of the French film “L’Appartement,” this time directed by Paul McGuigan and starring Josh Hartnett, Diane Kruger, Rose Byrne and Matthew Lillard.
The movie follows a young man from Chicago named Matthew (Hartnett) who, despite being engaged to another woman, is on a quest to find Lisa (Kruger), a lost love who mysteriously vanished two years ago. After catching a glimpse of her in a caf?, he begins a search guided by encounters with Alex (Byrne), a friend of Lisa’s, and Luke (Lillard), an old friend.
“Wicker Park” falls short of its aim to be an intense psychological thriller due to its many glaring flaws. McGuigan shows his talent with an interesting style that provides a dreamlike quality to many scenes. Unfortunately, he overuses many of his techniques and shots (especially close shots of his characters’ faces), and they become boring and unimportant. The editing of the film, while interesting at first, becomes tedious as the movie drags on.
The plot is unveiled from the various different points of view of the four main characters. This is a fascinating way to examine a story, especially a mystery like the one in this film. Unfortunately, the stories overlap so much that this aspect also simply becomes boring as time goes along.
In addition, the plot suffers from unwelcome tedium. Far too much of the film is devoted to showing clich?d ways for Matthew and Lisa to just miss seeing each other. The audience actually burst out laughing during these coincidental near-encounters.
There is a bright spot in the film, and it comes from quite an unexpected place. Matthew Lillard (“Without a Paddle”) displays a charming performance as Luke. He is the only one of the main characters that seems real and in touch. While the others wander in their world of fake movie drama, Luke is content with and funny in his own real life. Although some of the jokes are recycled and overused, Lillard is refreshing in this role.
“Wicker Park” suffers from one of the classic problems of American cinema. It spends so much time explaining every plot detail that the movie becomes boring, dumbing itself down so much that there is nothing left to the imagination.
Lenny and Lou
by Maura Judkis
College, for many of us, is the first time to truly be out of our parents’ jurisdiction – away from rules, nagging and curfews, finally living on our own terms. Lenny and Lou, the title characters in Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company’s latest production, are not so fortunate. The middle-aged, Jewish mama’s boys cannot break free from a demanding, senile mother. The play, written by Ian Cohen, is performed at the Washington D.C. Jewish Community Center’s Goldman Theater.
In the middle of the night, wannabe musician Lenny (Woolly Mammoth’s Artistic Director Howard Shalawitz) comes to his brother Lou (Michael Russotto), feeling farklempt. When their mother Fran (Nancy Robinette) calls in the middle of the night with yet another ridiculous request, he worries that the ensuing argument may have scared her to death. Lou begrudgingly goes to check on her, and to his dismay, discovers that she is fine – still whining, making inappropriate remarks and generally kvetching about everything. During one of her wailing fits, something inside Lou snaps, and he silences her by holding a pillow to her face. Oy vey!
What ensues is a darkly comedic sexual drama between the boys, their Oedipal complex and Lenny’s tough-talking wife, Julie (Jennifer Mendenhall). Alternately fearful and proud of what he has done with his own bare hands, Lou is faced with the challenge of hiding the incident from his mother’s caretaker, Sabrina (Erika Rose). Freeloading Lenny, however, hopes to profit from his brother’s sudden mental instability and fund his failing music career. After Julie threatens to kick him out for not having a job, he goes to his mother’s apartment to search for money but instead finds a box of her old dresses. He tries on the sexiest one of them all – just as Julie arrives for some revenge of her own.
Woolly Mammoth is known for theater that pushes the boundaries. This play continues its 25-year old bold tradition. This fantastic, off-color comedy draws jokes from Fran’s senility, Julie’s overactive sex drive and religion. With such an appropriate venue as the J.C.C., references to Nazi leader Adolf Eichmann and a fight scene that uses a menorah as a weapon are even more hilarious. Although the Feinstein family’s values are far from kosher, Lenny & Lou is hilarious and surprising to Jews and Gentiles alike.
For this production, Wolly Mammoth will offer 25-cent tickets for patrons under the age of 25 who purchase tickets at least one hour prior to the show (Offer does not apply to Saturday performances).