New Reviews

Cocaine Cowboys; Flushed Away; The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause; Umrao Jaan

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BORAT: CULTURAL LEARNINGS OF AMERICA FOR MAKE BENEFIT GLORIOUS NATION OF KAZAKHSTAN
See "On the Road" (Countywide)


DELIVER US FROM EVIL
See "Devils in Disguise" (Edwards University, Irvine)


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BABEL
See "Communication Breakdown" (Edwards South Coast Village, Santa Ana)



COCAINE COWBOYS
Recounting the true events that inspired Miami Vice and De Palma's Scarface, Billy Corben's documentary one-ups the recent big-screen Vice by actually getting the TV show's composer, Jan Hammer, to do his soundtrack—see, Michael Mann, that shouldn't have been so hard! Corben's so intent on getting the whole story that he devotes perhaps a bit too much time to the early traffickers, who ferried bricks of cocaine from Colombia on small private planes. But about halfway through the movie, the focus shifts to a convicted killer named Rivi, who began as a small-time car thief and eventually found himself in the employ of "Godmother" Griselda Blanco, a fascinating and temperamental character whose mercurial moods jacked up the violence levels in Miami during the '80s. Much of the archival footage is from old TV news, and the transfer to the big screen does the image quality no favors, but the story is fascinating, if a little overlong, and makes you want to see a high-profile, big-name Griselda Blanco movie happen, like, tomorrow. (Luke Y. Thompson) (Edwards University, Irvine)


FLUSHED AWAY
The third collaboration between Britain's Aardman studio and DreamWorks animation, this puckish charmer about a posh Kensington mouse flushed down the loo into London sewer country is to action-adventure what Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit was to Hammer Horror. Aardman's first foray into CGI may spell woe to loyal fans of the plasticine monobrow, but this watery Technicolor universe, fully furnished with shopping malls and populated with a cast of thousands, could never have been brought off with stop-motion. Pampered house mouse Roddy St. James (voiced by Hugh Jackman) also sings, as who wouldn't after being rescued by can-do sewer rat Rita (Kate Winslet)? Abetted by other critters with names like Millicent Bystander, the two rodents face off against the dastardly Toad (Ian McKellen) and his less than competent goons (Andy Serkis and the adorably adenoidal Bill Nighy). Beyond the obligatory Hollywood moralizing about community and cooperation, there's a heartfelt upstairs-downstairs tale of urban loneliness redeemed by love and family. And what's not to love about a movie in which thousands of rodents stand together against a Big Wave generated by TV-watching soccer fans flushing their toilets at halftime? (Ella Taylor) (Countywide)


JOSH BLUE, 7 MORE DAYS IN THE TANK
Did you know Josh Blue won NBC's Last Comic Standing 4? Did you know there even was a Last Comic Standing 4? Or a Last Comic Standing 3? Or air? (Countywide)


THE SANTA CLAUSE: THE ESCAPE CLAUSE
It's Santa Claus (Tim Allen) versus Jack Frost (Martin Short) . . . Who's gonna win? Oh, like there's any doubt. Santa vanquished a fascistic robot doppelganger in part two—is there really a chance Martin Short in a blue wig will pose any threat whatsoever? Rather than cheer your favorite winter character, you'll more likely search for an escape clause of your own, as this overstuffed three-quel milks the reindeer dry one last time. The humor in the first two Santa Clause movies primarily derived from the way Scott Calvin's double life as Santa infringed upon the real world, but this film is set mostly at the North Pole, which has recently been more richly imagined in the likes of Elf and The Polar Express. Alan Arkin and Ann-Margret are mildly amusing as Scott/Santa's in-laws, and Elizabeth Mitchell's Mrs. Claus may draw in a few fans of her newfound fame on Lost, but this is all really a big waste. At least the out-takes at the end are actually funny. (Luke Y. Thompson) (Countywide)


UMRAO JAAN
Usually I write off as Bolly-wussies even those close friends who whine that Hindi movies are too long for their jam-packed schedules. But at three-and-a-half hours, J.P. Dutta's lugubrious period melodrama Umrao Jaan defeated me. It feels endless. Unlike some trendier recent productions, Umrao Jaan is a true Old School Bollywood music drama: there are over a dozen songs that serve a dramatic purpose, all of them staged in the same watered-down pseudo-classical style. You would not go far wrong thinking of the movie as an Indo-Islamic Memoirs of a Geisha. Based on a celebrated Urdu novel published in 1905 (previously filmed in 1981 with the miraculous Rekha in the title role), it follows the titular young girl as she is abducted in mid-19th century Lucknow and sold into servitude as a tawaif—an ultra-refined courtesan (played as an adult by international fashion plate Aishwarya Rai) trained in classical song and dance and the composition of Urdu poetry, her favors available only to the uppermost crust of Muslim nobility. The great, brooding love of Umrao's life is the unimaginable wealthy Naweb Sultan (Abishek Bachchan), who allows her to experience a love that is freely given rather than bought—until he is disowned by his father and can no longer afford her company. Although the novel was supposedly based on the life of a famous actual tawaif, the story suspiciously has all the elements of pulp melodrama. But by the time we get to the tumultuous third act, in which the Mutiny of 1857 scatters the characters and Umrao enjoys a road trip with a paperback-cover-model bandit (Suniel Shetty), our patience has been exhausted. (David Chute) (Laguna Hills 3; Naz 8, Artesia)

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