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Movies: In Review

&

145;The Libertine&

revels in the depravity and debauchery of 17th-century England

One critic wrote that &

The Libertine&

is the antidote for those ubiquitous, sanitized period films, &

Pride and Prejudice&

being the most recent example, movies filled with well-scrubbed characters, all possessing glowing complexions and radiant, white smiles.

Well, if the intent is to take the gleaming patina of 17th-century England and reveal its decidedly dark side, then &

The Libertine&

succeeds in spades. This film is about depravity and debauchery, about unrestrained wallowing in muddy streets of London and as well as countless syphilitic brothels and alcoholic pubs. The audience is reminded for two hours that to have lived in England in the mid-1600s was to live in a time when the streets of London were a bilious collection of garbage and rats, and people did the best they could to cope with ghastly sanitation, both personal and public. Just one reminder: the toothbrush wasn&

t invented until the 19th century. OK, one more: those strange, cascading wigs worn by men and women surely covered scabrous pates that hadn&

t seen serious soap or water for months on end.

&

The Libertine&

chronicles the life of John Wilmot, aka the Earl of Rochester (Johnny Depp), the year is 1678, the monarch on the throne of England is Charles II. Wilmot is youthful, a hugely gifted writer, married to a long-suffering wife, and a member of Charles&

court. But this is a film not about redemption or creativity, but about squandering talent, and days spent in an abyss of hedonistic pursuits and bacchanalian romps, hang the consequences. All is dark and dreary, rain drenched and endlessly depressing.

As well, the narrative is precariously thin &

something to do with angst and ennui and, more likely, the stifling boredom of the privileged. Maybe. Scenes are sustained by staged monologues using language meant to obfuscate rather than connect. Nothing seems to make any sense and Wilmot is so depraved that it&

s impossible to care a wit about his life or his ignoble death. There are moments when he appears to have slept for days in a coffin.

It&

s no wonder that this film sat on a shelf for over a year before its release, even with Johnny Depp in the lead role: that would be the wonderful Jack Sparrow aka Edward Scissorhands.

Movies: now playing

Inside Man

A philosophical bank robber, out to stage the perfect heist, leads a group of detectives, lawyers and bank officials through a brilliantly constructed hall-of-mirrors ... where nothing is exactly as it seems. It is the ultimate game of cat-and-mouse, where right and wrong are blurred. Directed by Spike Lee ("25th Hour,&

"Malcolm X,&

"Do the Right Thing") Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, Jodie Foster, Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe.

R for language and some violent images/129 min.

Stay Alive

A group of teenagers play a horror survival videogame based on the spine-chilling story of a 17th century noblewoman known as "The Blood Countess.&

Then they're killed one by one in the same method as the characters they played in the game. Will any of them be able to "stay alive"? Jon Foster, Samaire Armstrong, Frankie Muniz, Sophia Bush, Adam Goldberg.

PG-13 for horror violence, disturbing images, language, brief sexual and drug content/85 min.

Transamerica

Academy Award Nominee - Best Actress Felicity Huffman. An uptight male-to-female transsexual, Bree, readying herself for the final &

snip&

that will make her womanly transition complete, receives a phone call from New York that her son has been jailed - a son she didn&

t know she had. Her therapist refuses to give her written permission to have the final part of her sex-change operation if she doesn&

t go, so Bree heads east from her California home. Thinking Bree is a Christian missionary, gay hustler son Toby informs her of his intention to become a porn star on the west coast, which brings out plenty of motherly instincts in the worried cross-gender Bree. So the two take a road trip back west, with Bree flailing in her attempts to tell Toby the truths about who she is and what she once was. Felicity Huffman, Fionnula Flanagan, Graham Greene.

R for sexual content, nudity, language and drug use/104 min.

Larry the Cable Guy

Larry plays a restaurant health inspector who doesn't quite fit in at the various fancy and ethnic eateries he inspects. Larry the Cable Guy, Joe Pantoliano, Joanna Cassidy.

PG-13 for crude and sexual content, and for language/89 min.

Libertine

Johnny Depp stars as the scandalously decadent John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester. The film follows the Earl&

s adventures in London, from his passionate romance with a young actress to the writing of a scurrilous play that blisteringly and bawdily lampoons the very monarch who commissioned it, Charles II. Johnny Depp, Samantha Morton, John Malkovich.

R for strong sexuality including dialogue, violence and language/114 min.

New World

Academy Award nominee - Best Cinematography. An epic adventure set around the founding of the Jamestown Settlement in 1607. Inspired by the legend of Pocahontas and John Smith, a passionate and noble young native woman and an ambitious soldier of fortune torn between the undeniable requirements of their civic duty and the inescapable demands of the human heart. Directed by Terrence Malick (&

Days of Heaven&

, &

Thin Red Line&

). Colin Farrell, Q&

orianka Kilcher, Christopher Plummer, Christian Bale, Wes Studi, David Thewlis.

PG-13 for intense battle sequences/135 min.

World&

s Fastest Indian

In New Zealand in the 1960&

s, Burt Munro takes a 1920 Indian motorcycle and, delightfully without resources other than his own obsession, spends his retirement rebuilding the bike to follow his dream to set a land speed record at the Speed Week at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Cauffiel, Saginaw Grant.

PG-13 for brief language, drug use and a sexual reference/127 min.

Failure to Launch

A 30-something guy meets a great girl, but won&

t move out of his parents&

. Matthew McConaughey, Sarah Jessica Parker, Zooey Deschanel.

PG-13 for sexual content, partial nudity and language/96 min.

Shaggy Dog

An assistant DA on the fast track has just been handed the perfect slam dunk case, but he&

s fouled out with his family. When a mysterious bite turns him into a dog, he gets a new perspective on things. Tim Allen, Danny Glover, Kristin Davis, Spencer Breslin, Robert Downey, Jr.

PG for mild, rude humor/99 min.

V for Vendetta

In the futuristic landscape of totalitarian Britain, a man cloaked in mystery ignites a revolution and finds an unlikely ally in a seemingly mild mannered young woman.Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, Stephen Rea, John Hurt, Rupert Graves.

R for strong violence and some language/132 min.

She&

s the Man

A girl who lives to play soccer disguises herself as her brother and enrolls in his place at his new boarding school, where she signs up for the boys&

soccer team and falls for her brother&

s friend. Inspired by Shakespeare&

s &

Twelfth Night.&

Amanda nes, Channing Tatum, Robert Hoffman.

PG, some sexual material/105 min.

Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

A rancher is brokenhearted by the discovery of his friend&

s dead body, an illegal Mexican immigrant killed by a Border Control agent, and takes the law into his own hands. Directed by Tommy Lee Jones. Tommy Lee Jones, Barry Pepper, Julio Cesar Cedillo, Dwight Yoakam, January Jones.

R for language, violence and sexualty/121 min.