Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Kissing Jessica Stein (2002) [R] ****

Jessica Stein (Jennifer Westfeldt) is a New York City journalist, single and straight. Her editor, Josh Meyers (Scott Cohen), was a college friend of her older brother's; Josh dated Jessica for a year, so he knows from personal experience that she's a perfectionist, doomed to endure countless first dates with men who fail to measure up to her high standards.

Jessica is at the point of swearing off dating and focusing on her passion which is painting, when a co-worker reads her a Personals ad in the women seeking women section. The ad includes a quote from poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and Jessica loves Rilke. So, on a whim, she answers the ad, and agrees to meet Helen (Heather Juergensen) for a glass of wine. Helen is an art gallery curator, and while she's straight, and has several boyfriends, one of whom she uses primarily for sex, she also has two gay male friends, and she's bi-curious.

What Jessica and Helen don't realize is that they are looking for different things. Jessica wants companionship, friendship, and intellectual and artistic stimulation - basically she wants a roommate. She's not really interested in sex. Helen, on the other hand, wants much more, and eventually she becomes frustrated by Jessica's lack of a strong sexual drive. Given their different needs, it's understandable that the course of Jessica and Helen's relationship isn't as smooth as that found in Imagine Me & You. And it doesn't have the intensity and drama found The L Word. The screenplay, written by Westfeldt and Juergensen, is excellent; direction and editing are first rate, as is the supporting cast, especially Tovah Feldshuh, who plays Jessica's supportive and sympathetic mother. As professional film critics have noted, this is not a lesbian love story; it's about breaking down boundaries and opening oneself to new possibilities in life. And if you approach the story with that in mind, you may be pleasantly surprised. 

Labels: comedy, drama, lesbian, romance    
Internet Movie Database   
Metacritic 72/100   
RottenTomatoes Averages (critics=71, viewers=64)

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Bourne Identity (2002) [PG-13] *****

Miles off the French coast of the Mediterranean Sea a fishing trawler hauls a man (Matt Damon) out of the black night sea. He's wearing scuba gear and a rescue strobe light, but he's more dead than alive, with two bullets in his back. He has a laser device implanted beneath his skin, displaying an account number at the Gemeinschaft Bank in Zurich - and he has amnesia.

Several weeks later, his identity still a mystery, he's on a high-speed train bound for Zurich. Twenty-four hours after that he's speeding toward Paris in a Mini Cooper driven by a German girl named Marie (Franka Potente). At his feet is a red bank bag containing the contents of his safe deposit box - money and valid passports from half a dozen countries. His name is Jason Bourne and he's an expert in martial arts and the use of firearms; he put two Zurich policemen in the hospital and tore up the U.S. Consulate, eluding a Marine detachment. Although Jason thinks he lives in Paris, he still has no idea who he is - but he is about to find out that certain people want him dead.

If you are looking for a dark, gritty, completely realistic spy thriller, this is not it - try Spy Game with Robert Redford and Brad Pitt. But if you want an action thriller with a hero who is able to anticipate the bad guys' moves and outwit them, so you never believe he is really in danger, this film is perfect. There's fast pacing, lovely Paris scenery and a great Moby soundtrack. Matt Damon and Franka Potente have good chemistry, and Chris Cooper is excellent in a supporting role as the black-ops CIA handler. If you enjoyed Mark Wahlberg in Shooter, you won't want to miss The Bourne Identity.  

Labels: action, adventure, mystery, spy, thriller   
Internet Movie Database     
Metacritic 68/100    
Tomatometer (critics=83, viewers=91)