High school drama about three very different students who become friends, and then become much, much more. All the usual high school stereotypes are trotted out, with Emmy Rossum as the over-achiever with something to prove, Ashley Springer as the sensitive student unsure about his sexuality, and Zach Gilford as the jock jerk rich kid who keeps secrets hidden behind his well groomed exterior. There is the occasional twist, and director Adam Salky takes a couple of risks with his characters, but this is not nearly enough to make Dare either brave or exciting.
From Prada to Nada
Nora and Mary Dominguez, two rich sisters, lose everything when their father dies and they are forced to relocate and live with an aunt on the wrong side of the tracks. Having spent a lifetime being “rich white girls,” they are thrown back into their Mexican roots and apart from discovering a brother they never knew about, they also find, you guessed it, romance and a new sense of self. The Latino stereotypes are thick on the ground in a narrative based very loosely on Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, but in the fantasy world of east LA in which the film is set, don’t expect too much piercing social commentary.
Danny DeVito slumming it in the straight-to-DVD market with this family comedy about an aging father who wants to get his slacker children out of the house and able to fend for themselves so that he and his wife can enjoy their retirement. The parents move out, and the kids learn to fend for themselves by taking in tenants. Hilarity ensues, only it doesn’t. Lots of tired slapstick and some raunchy bits for the lads, but House Broken is filler aimed at the lowest common denominator.
Kaasan, Mom’s Life
A live action feature based on a gently comic semi-autobiographical manga by Rieko Saibara that has already seen considerable success as an animated television series. The movie version, directed by Shotaro Kobayashi, goes firmly for the laughter and tears, relating the daily tribulations of a manga artist (played by Kyoko Koizumi) who is also a mother of two young children, and is also coping with a husband struggling first with alcoholism, and then with terminal illness. Get the tissues ready.
The Other Woman
Natalie Portman is very much the actress of the moment, and The Other Woman shows another aspect of her extensive range of dramatic talent. There are plenty of other reasons for watching The Other Woman, which include a sensational performance by Lisa Kudrow, who puts some humanity into a horrifying New York power-mom caricature. But overall, the characters are so incredibly privileged and filled with so much hate and anger, directed both at themselves and almost everyone around them, that for all its slick Woody Allen-esque dialogue, it is too narrow and self-involved to be particularly appealing.
A film by Icelandic filmmaker Fridrik Thor Fridriksson, Mamma Gogo tells the story of a film director, already mired in debt, who has to deal with an aging mother who is showing signs of falling victim to Alzheimer’s. The film has many strengths, not least Fridriksson’s assured work behind the camera, and a powerful performance by Kristbjorg Kjeld as the titular Mamma Gogo, a strong-willed woman who does not wish to go gentle into that good night. Despite the difficult subject matter, Fridriksson is able to combine humor with compassion.