Sharif returns to big screen

MovieReviews

April 02, 2004

Monsieur Ibrahim

Rated PG-13. Sun score *** 1/2

Monsieur Ibrahim welcomes the great Omar Sharif back to the movies in a film that's little in all the best ways.

As an Arab shopkeeper in a rundown section of Paris who bonds with a young boy (Pierre Boulanger) and teaches him the joy of accepting people for who they are, not what they seem, Sharif gives a performance that should remind everyone what star power is all about. Without resorting to histrionics, without any big speeches, he commands the screen and serves as the film's moral center.

The movie delights in the furtive gesture, the casual glance and the small moment; in reality, nothing much happens, save for the establishment of an unexpected bond between an unobtrusive old man and a boy trying to grow up without any meaningful guidance (his mother's absent, his father might as well be).

That Ibrahim is Muslim while the boy, Moses (whom Ibrahim calls Momo), is Jewish, is barely referenced, which in a sense helps underscore that contrast's importance to the film. Monsieur Ibrahim is about people interacting as people, not symbols (one reason, Sharif has said, he took the role was to help his grandchildren's generation understand that idea). For Momo, as for us, Ibrahim becomes the sort of hero worthy of worship.

- Chris Kaltenbach

Intermission

Rated R. Sun score * 1/2

Intermission has one of the most misleading openings in recent memory. Colin Farrell's Lehiff is turning on his charm for a Dublin cafe waitress, only to sock her in the jaw and grab the cash from her register. By the end of the credits he's atop a moving car, threatening to smash its windshield unless the driver hands over his vehicle.

Introducing itself as a needlessly violent action picture, Intermission then turns into a tedious comedy about a dozen all-too-ordinary Dubliners leading lives of not-so-quiet desperation that intersect improbably.

John (Cillian Murphy), who works with his pal Oscar (David Wilmot) at a vast supermarket run by a petty tyrant (Owen Rowe), sets an intricate plot in motion when he blows up at his girlfriend, Deirdre (Kelly Macdonald), foolishly accusing her of infidelity. This propels her into an affair with a married bank manager, Sam (Michael McElhatton), which prompts his wife (Deirdre O'Kane) to take out her rage at her husband on sweet-natured Oscar when he becomes her lover. Lehiff in turn pops up to recruit John in a heist of Sam's bank.

The ensemble cast is more than game, but writer Mark O'Rowe lacks the imagination to make ordinary lives seem captivating.

Los Angeles Times

Walking Tall

Rated R. Sun score: 1/2

Walking Tall is a lean, mean, beat-guys-with-a-stick remake of a film that became a drive-in smash in 1973. The 2004 version, stripped of Southern-ness, if not redneck chic, is just as violent, trashy and reliant on simple-minded brawls as the original.

Painstakingly retailored to suit the talents of pro-wrestling's The Rock, it's still a vengeance fantasy about a simple man who wants to rescue his rural town, this time in Washington state, from the iron grip of the wealthy vice peddler.

Sheriff Buford Pusser, a real-life, self-promoting folk hero, the "inspiration" for the original Walking Tall, is now Chris Vaughan. He's a Special Forces sergeant returned from the wars. His lumber town has been overrun by drugs, gambling and assorted other low occupations.

The ex-girlfriend (Ashley Scott) is now a stripper. Dad (John Beasley) sells homemade furniture and nephew Pete (Khleo Thomas) is getting into trouble with the crystal-meth pushers.

But it's crooked gambling that sets Chris off. And it's payback time. Chris is assisted in this by a very big stick and by his ex-con, ex-addict pal, played by Johnny Knoxville.

As for The Rock, the guy can be a movie star. But you only get so many chances to make good choices.

Orlando Sentinel

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