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Notes from the Back Row

Hitchcock, Tarantino and Ritchie in a blender

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Now I like a play on words as much as the next guy (some might even say more than the next guy) but Lucky Number SLevin is just a little too much for me. And using and upside down 7 as an L? Gay.

The actual movie, on the other hand, is not too bad, although, like its title, it tries pretty hard to be clever.

Josh Hartnett stars as Slevin, a guy having a shitty day. In New York to visit a friend, Slevin, through a case of mistaken identity, ends up caught between two crime bosses, a hitman, and a cute-but pesky neighbour who likes to ask questions. All sorts of snappy dialogue and a corkscrew plot combine to make Lucky Number SLevin a decent flick that plays out as if you’d put a couple of Hitchcock films in a blender with a dash of Tarantino, two tablespoons of Guy Ritchie, and an obligatory explain-it-all ending.

Unknown Scottish director Paul McGuigan ( Gangster #1, The Acid House) has put together a very sharp-looking film filled with big name actors (Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kinsley) and the end result is actually pretty entertaining. And while, for a mistaken identity movie, SLevin has a hard time deciding whether to be a gritty noir thriller or a quirky black comedy, it pulls off a nice mix of both and ends up being a lot more simple and fun than you’d expect from the cutesy title.

Speaking of cutesy, the after-school special of the week is Take the Leadü a dance film where under-privileged, bad-ass high school kids find the direction they always needed in, you guessed it, ballroom dancing. Armed with an understanding teacher and new sense of self-confidence, the underdog kids fuse hip hop and ballroom and put an end to world poverty, cure AIDs, cancer, and bad taste and capture Bin Laden.

Maybe not, but they do band together to give us a two-hour movie that rehashes all the high school clichés and most of the sports movie ones too. Perhaps some people never get sick of the troubled gangsta that has to choose between a life of crime or his newfound passion, dance in this case, but we’ve seen it with basketball, football, chess and debate. Piss on this crap.

While Antonio Banderas proves his watchability (chicks love him, dudes respect him, and he’s damn cool) and the kids at least seem like real people rather than supermodels playing real people, the fact of the matter is I’ve seen this movie before when it was called, Honey, Coach Carter, Save the Last Dance, Dangerous Minds, or any number of movies that watch almost exactly the same. Yeah it was based on a true story, one with elementary kids doing the dancing, but that doesn’t mean I should give a crap about it. This film is getting positive reviews and I’m sure high school kids (who are predominantly idiots) and cool adults who think hip hop is edgy and new are eating this garbage up. I’m not, and neither should you.

Also opening Friday is The Benchwarmers starring Jon Heder of Napoleon Dynamite . Too bad he’ll always be recognized as Napoleon and therefore never really fit into any other movie or role. Linda Blair had the same problem after The Exorcist . Rotating heads and projectile vomiting while diddling yourself with a crucifix is a terribly difficult act to follow, let alone one-up.

AT VILLAGE 8 April 7-13: Lucky Number SLeven; Benchwarmers; Take the Lead; Ice Age 2; Inside Man; Failure to Launch; V for Vendetta, She’s the Man; Basic Instinct 2.Neil Young:Heart of Gold plays Wednesday only, in place of Failure to Launch and Basic Instinct 2 .

AT RAINBOW THEATRE April 7-12: Capote . April 13: LUNA event.

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