`Shower' looks at going home again

September 01, 2000

`Shower' (PG-13)Sun Score ***

"Shower" makes a gentle, poetic case for filial loyalty and tradition in a story about a grown son's rediscovery of a life he has abandoned.

Pu Cun Xin plays Da Ming, an on-the-move young professional living in China, who is summoned by his developmentally disabled brother (Jiang Wu) to return to their childhood home. When he arrives, Da Ming realizes that very little has changed: His elderly father (Zhu Xu) is still running the family business, a men's bath house, where he routinely scrubs down the tubs, gives backrubs to his clients and gossips with the regulars. At first impatient with the sleepy pace and parochial concerns of his family, Da Ming eventually comes to appreciate the lifestyle he has left behind, renewing his relationship with his brother and coming to terms with his father.

Filmed in dreamy tones of blue and gray by writer-director Zhang Yang, "Shower" evokes a disappearing China with delicacy and detail. If one of a movie's prime functions is to take its audience to a world they otherwise might not have visited, "Shower" makes for a lovely and poignant journey.- Ann Hornaday

`Whipped' (R)

Sun Score: * 1/2

There's high brow, and there's low brow, and then there's no brow.

"Whipped" - despite the dauntingly plush, arched eyebrows of its star, Amanda Peet - definitely falls into the latter category. A lobotomized comedy of sexual gamesmanship set in the same Manhattan singles scene inhabited by the "Sex and the City" crowd, this depressingly crude endeavor is about three guys who fall for the same girl, Mia.

Director Peter Cohen keeps his picture moving with sitcom-ish energy, but his technique is all shortcuts: periodically, he has his characters face the camera and talk about themselves, thereby circumventing the need for crafted, revealing dialogue.

The sad truth about "Whipped" is that although Peet's Mia ultimately metes out a brand of justice, her motivation, in the end, is revealed to be every bit as crass and common as the men's. This isn't a film about relationships, or about getting to know "honeys" or "hotties" as real people. It's a film - as Brad likes to boast - about scamming. By the end of this mercifully brief (82 minutes!) saga, everyone has been reduced to the lowest common denominator.-Knight-Ridder Newspapers

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