When my friends have a birthday, I like to joke that whatever age they are turning is the age where they start to die. In the world of In Time, writer/director Andrew Niccol’s new science fiction film, that literally happens at age twenty-five. Niccol imagines a world where minutes and seconds are the only currency, and the disadvantaged live hour-to-hour whereas the rich have centuries. The premise is a perfect allegory for present-day income inequality, and the sexy cast helps sell Niccol’s powerful conclusions. By favoring action over drama, Niccol cannot match his earlier films, yet its political relevance may help extend In Time‘s influence.
The Rum Diary, based on the eponymous Hunter S. Thompson novel, is a labor of love. Johnny Depp, a friend of Thompson’s, personally asked Bruce Robinson to come out of retirement to write and direct the movie. Robinson, who directed the masterful Withnail & I, was also close with Thompson (their mutual friend is illustrator Ralph Steadman, who worked on the art for Withnail as well as Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas). But heartfelt intentions do not necessarily translate into quality. Even with a long running time and lack of substance, The Rum Diary is a (mostly) entertaining celebration of journalism’s greatest madman.
The Folger Theatre’s latest production of Othello begins with Iago saying, “I hate the Moor.” His inflection and body language suggest his confession also comes with catharsis, that it’s liberating for Iago to tell the audience about his hatred. Iago is one of William Shakespeare’s most popular characters because of the amount of dialogue he’s given. His motivations are clear and devious. His jokes are still damn funny. Director Robert Richmond finds flaws and humanity in all its characters, even Othello himself, making this a psychologically plausible portrayal of tragedy.
Tom Tykwer’s 3 eschews convention to tell the story of how three sophisticated people fall for each other. There are no meet-cutes or heartfelt romantic declarations. The characters in 3 are intelligent and flawed people, capable of joy when they surprise themselves. A lot of sex happens in this movie, but Tykwer does not use sex as a punch line or a plot complication. In fact, there are few discussions of orientation or identity. Through intricate editing and sumptuous cinematography, Tykwer intriguingly suggests such entanglements are more about biological mutation than they are about love.
Pedro Almodóvar’s The Skin I Live In is a bizarre, engrossing mix of body horror and sexualized melodrama. Customary of Almodóvar’s work, it makes no apologies, diving headlong into a world of perversion and grandiose emotion. Though there are multiple scenes of sexual assault, Almodóvar does not fill the frame with violence or gore. Instead, his camera suggests how characters transform and adjust to depravity. While the story unfolds with dreadful fascination and is a reminder of Almodóvar’s compulsive fearlessness, it lacks the heart of his best films.
It must be comforting to believe the end is nigh. The finality of the rapture would make other problems seem inconsequential, and the promise of a blissful afterlife could provide solace from daily suffering. But there’s also a darker side to this kind of faith: a true-believer need not participate in family or community because, to them, the final reckoning is what matters most. This tension is central to Samuel D. Hunter’s A Bright New Boise, the new play at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company. With likable, flawed characters in a uniquely American setting, the play uses profanity-laced humor to explore its religious themes in an engaging way.