Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact

Public Enemies

Last year, director Michael Mann took a cast and film crew to northern Wisconsin to shoot location scenes for Public Enemies, his opus about notorious Depression-era bank robber John Dillinger at the Bohemian Lodge resort, where in 1934 Dillinger escaped an attempt by the FBI to capture or kill him. Crime-history buffs travel to this area to see the still operating lodge, largely unchanged down to the preserved bullet holes in windows and walls.

Food Inc.

Inspired largely by the work of writers Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation) and Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma) sets itself a nigh-impossible task: to address the problems with the way we produce the food we eat in the 21st century. If you don’t know that the situation is bad and getting worse, then you need to see this film, which in 90 minutes tries to address concerns about factory farming, genetic engineering, environmental impact, foodborne illness, pesticides, cloning, farm worker protection, and the difficulty of healthy eating on a limited budget.

Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs

Are sequels always lesser than their predecessors? That universally accepted rule of thumb has actually held up for only half of this summer’s releases. By common consensus it’s true of Transformers 2 and Terminator Salvation, but Angels and Demons and Night at the Smithsonian 2 were both an improvement on the originals. The balance tips back with this by-the-numbers animated sequel, adequate family fare but a disappointment if you really liked the first Ice Age. I didn’t see #2 in the series, Ice Age: The Meltdown, but the 2002 original was one of the better animated films of the past decade, with strong characters, interesting design, and a story that tried to use as much scientific knowledge about the age of pre-history as could be worked into a story starring talking animals. That this is no longer a concern is clear from the film’s subtitle, which doesn’t even make sense in the context of the movie. Clearly the filmmakers thought it would appeal to kids if they could work dinosaurs into the mix, so they invent a subterranean region where the large lumbering lizards escaped extinction. Whatever. Returnees Manny the mammoth (Ray Romano), his expectant spouse Ellie (Queen Latifah), Sid the sloth (John Leguizamo, very funny), and Diego the sabretooth tiger (Denis Leary) are joined by Buck, a swashbuckling weasel complete with eyepatch and Ahabian fixation on a particularly large dinosaur. He is voiced by Simon Pegg with even more enthusiasm than he brought to reincarnating Scotty in the new Star Trek. But the character is too flamboyantly berserk to be appreciated by young children, and soon wears out his welcome for grownups. And of course Scrat the squirrel/rat is back for lots of slapstick gags in the tradition of Road Runner cartoons, which here are the best part of the movie. There are a few too many crotch jokes for something directed at kids—one hates to think that the animators at Blue Sky studios, who seemed to be carving out an original niche for themselves, have taken to watching the Shrek series for inspiration. The kids will sit through it happily enough, but you’ll be checking your watch well before it’s over.

Whatever Works

Christianity and Marxism, as far as Boris Yellnikoff is concerned, suffer from essentially the same fallacy, the belief that people are fundamentally good. He finds mankind to be a failed species, and though the friends to whom he spends his days kvetching at a Little Italy café have clearly heard all this before, he’s always finding new proofs for them. Public toilets that flush automatically, for instance, because people can’t be counted on to flush after themselves.

Back to issue index