Filth and Wisdom, Frontrunners, Happy-Go-Lucky.
Filth and Wisdom
Directed by Madonna
Reviewed by Sean Burns
Opens Fri., Oct. 24
As Bart Simpson once said of Naked Lunch, I can think of two things wrong with this title.
There's precious little filth or wisdom on display here, the absence of the former quite surprising but the lack of the latter significantly less so, for as you may or may not have heard, this interminable 81 minutes marks the inauspicious directorial debut of Ms. Madonna Louise Ciccone Ritchie.
Over the years I've become something of a connoisseur when it comes to terrible Madonna movies. Not only did I witness Swept Away on a big screen, but thanks to the sinister whims of late-night cable TV programmers and an occasional drinking problem, I might have seen Shanghai Surprise more than once. I even sat through Body of Evidence on a dare.
So it's vaguely depressing that the only shocking thing about Filth and Wisdom is what a garden-variety crap indie movie it turns out to be, chronicling the navel-gazing exploits of young London flatmates with the studious banality you'll find in a thousand interchangeable film festival flicks. I don't think I was alone in dreaming a Madonna-directed enterprise would be far more grandiose in its badness, perhaps even an NC-17 Glitter. This is just a Joe Swanberg movie without any nudity.
Gypsy punk band Gogol Bordello's Eugene Hutz stars, pontificating into the lens at great length about various Kabbalah-inspired concepts of duality, while working as some sort of male dominatrix and coming off like an even more obnoxious version of Vincent Gallo. He's not so secretly pining for his beautiful ballerina roommate (Holly Weston) who has yet to master the fine art of pole dancing, as the apartment's third resident (Vicky McClure) steals drugs from the local pharmacy and frets an awful lot about babies in Africa.
I'm not sure what excited Madonna about the troubles of modern, impoverished young people--the subject couldn't be further from her experience if the film took place on Mars--but this amateurishly shot, peculiarly chaste hunk of tedium can't even score laughs from a Britney Spears music cue at a strip club.
At least Shanghai Surprise showcased a visibly drunk Sean Penn slurring his lines and stumbling into the scenery. Filth and Wisdom offers nothing nearly as entertaining.
Directed by Caroline Suh
Reviewed by Matt Prigge
Opens Fri., Oct. 24
Any politician would approve of the crafty release schedule for Frontrunners, a doc about a high school election. Consider the film equivalent of an October Surprise: poppy, attention-getting and ultimately a bit shallow, crafted more to make an impact than to say anything particularly trenchant. Frontrunners is unmistakably of the entertaining but shallow documentary wave--see also Spellbound, Wordplay, etc.
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