L'Aaugerge Espagnole, Ichi the Killer, and The Italian Job

L'AUBERGE ESPAGNOLE

Opens Fri., May 30 at Metro and others

In a city (Barcelona) that Dubya couldn't place on the map, there's a threat emerging that surpasses the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and dividend taxes all put together. That menace is pan-European solidarity, the notion that national and other identities no longer matter. People speak two languages or three. Men and women sleep together without benefit of wedlock. Drugs are taken. Straights and fags consort easily; sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between them. Techno music abounds. In short, it's the end of the world as W knows it. Fresh from SIFF, director C├ędric Klapisch's pleasantly diverting Espagnole isn't a major work (more like Friends with subtitles), but it tells us something important about how Europe is working. It offers multilateralism writ small, as a motley group of E.U. students bicker, bond, drink, and shag in and around their shared Barcelona apartment. In Espagnole's best, quietest moments, Klapisch shows himself to be a student of human behavior among these seven students (plus Audrey Tautou in a small supporting role). Lounging in a hammock together, a Belgian lesbian fondly tells our straitlaced French hero (Romain Duris), "It's a shame you're not a girl." He replies wistfully, "The world is badly made." Whatever its shortcomings, no one would say the same about Espagnole. Klapisch does go overboard with the digital effects in Espagnole, which is essentially a DV rush job, a hasty, sloppy first draft of a movie. But I half-like it for its half-baked scenes that practically have big, red X's drawn through them. Scenes proceed as from one of those black unlined student notebooks laid open on a cafe table, the ink smeared with tobacco, Campari, and espresso. The funniest figure is a Falstaff-like laddie clown from the U.K. who only understands Continental stereotypes (again, like Dubya); but even he learns to get along somehow in the movie's broadest, funniest scene (paging Matt LeBlanc for the American remake). The title translates roughly as "Euro Pudding," sometimes a put-down, but not here. (R) BRIAN MILLER ICHI THE KILLER

Runs Fri., May 30-Thurs., June 5 at Grand Illusion

My studio pitch for The Waterboy II: OK, the Sandler-tackles-anyone-who-pisses-him-off thing is toast. What if, this time, blades sprout out of his boots, and he slices bad guys from noggin to groin? Then if he wraps himself in a blankie, plays Xbox, and sobs uncontrollably? Let's throw the critics a bone and give him some back story. Why is he an impotent, crybaby, freelance hit man who takes bone-snapping, entrail-squishing revenge on bullies? Because it was, yes, bullies who taunted him as they raped his adolescent crush. But enough Oscar fishing. For the villain, if and only if Leguizamo's free, I'm thinking blond, scarified, masochistic mob thug who stumbles around half-assedly searching for his dead boss as an excuse to disembowel, impale, and/or suspend via hooks, um, anyone. It'll be huge. Takashi Miike already did it in his 2001 Ichi. We'll just shoot the exact same psycho yakuza classic . . . with Adam. C'mon, two-way that Vanilla Sky guy. (NR) ANDREW BONAZELLI THE ITALIAN JOB

Opens Fri., May 30 at Varsity and others

Sure, it's cheesy, but you can't deny it's good fun to watch this remake of the semi-obscure 1969 Michael Caine heist movie. In the bravura setup scene, avuncular Donald Sutherland helps Mark Wahlberg (in the Caine role) and his sassy gang steal $34 million in gold bars from a Venice palazzo, then escape via speedboats and duplicity. Later, there's a disagreement about divvying up the spoils, and the gang reconvenes for a rematch in L.A., where we get another, still more elaborate, essentially predictable yet effectively suspenseful chase built around the new Mini Cooper. The characters are blessed with chutzpah and genuinely amusing repartee, plus a nifty improv scene where Seth Green (in the computer-nerd role originated by Benny Hill) sarcastically comments on a fellow heister (Jason Statham) as his more romantically successful colleague all but charms the underpants off an attractive woman. By contrast, Green's character, who claims to be the inventor of Napster, counts on stereos "loud enough to blow the clothes off women." Charlize Theron is the gang's safecracker (and, in real life, its most skilled max-speed Mini driver). Mos Def definitely proves his acting chops as the demolition expert. I'm getting sick of Edward Norton's nyah-ha-ha bad-guy act, but he's certainly got it down by now. His reputation for genius is fading dangerously, however. So is Wahlberg's once-superb beauty, exposing his only-so-so magnetism as an actor. Everyone is homely in this flick (except Theron, who can't carry a picture), making the three cute Minis the real stars of the show. But I'm being shallow. This movie is clever and nimblelike a good car commercial should be. (PG-13) TIM APPELO OWNING MAHOWNY

Opens Fri., May 30 at Metro

Mahowny is like Catch Me If You Can played at 1 mph, minus the sex appeal and '60s fizz. It's based on the '80s case of a real Toronto banker who ingeniously embezzled $10 million and blew it on a gambling addiction down in the States. Philip Seymour Hoffman, arguably the most promising actor alive, gives his all to capture the sheer nullity of the man, the legend, the nebbish Mahowny, but the results are more horrifyingly inert than the previous inertia record-holder, Robin Williams in One Hour Photo. I have made and lost millions of dollars overnight gambling on Amazon.comso trust me, this film conveys nothing of the emotions on either side of the winner/loser divide. A hard-to-recognize Minnie Driver is fine as Mahowny's long-suffering wife, and John Hurt gives a reptilian shimmer to the casino honcho who helps our hero fleece himself. But the film boils down to Hoffman's performanceimpeccable but dead. (PG-13) T.A. info@seattleweekly.com

 
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