50 First Dates -- Remember Groundhog Day, where Bill Murray's insufferably smug TV reporter is doomed to repeat the same day over and over until he gets Andie MacDowell to fall for his unpleasant self? 50 First Dates is a variation on that theme, except this time it's a winsome amnesiac (Drew Barrymore) whose short-term memory loss forces Adam Sandler to woo her over and over and over again (like fifty times) until she knows they're dating. OK, so needing more than ten dates to get the point across sounds more to us like some pretty major brain damage rather than short-term memory loss, but who are we to quibble? Rated: PG-13
**** The Triplets of Belleville -- A little French boy, Bruno, is adopted by his grandmother, Madame Souza, and he grows up to be a champion cyclist. His puppy Champion grows up to be an obese, train-hating mutt. Evil French vintners kidnap Bruno and take him to Belleville, a metropolis across the sea that's partly Paris and partly Manhattan. Souza and Champion take off in chase, encountering three tree-tall female triplets, the Triplets of Belleville, 1930s musical hall stars whose scat-musique concert doo-wop dazzles the brain even more than the inspired and inventive surrealism of director-designer Sylvain Chomet. An unlikely mix of Disney movies like 101 Dalmatians and The Aristocats and Max and Dave Fleischer's syncopated work on Betty Boop, it is weird, unforgettable and magical. (RP) Rated: PG-13
**** To Be and To Have -- Nicolas Philibert's quiet 2002 masterpiece, To Be And to Have (Etre et Avoir) is a magnificent construction of empathy, a quietly heartfelt portrait of a dozen or so pupils in a single-room school in an isolated French farming village. The teacher, 55-year-old Georges Lopez, could be the portrait of an urban academic: black sweater, groomed gray goatee, rimless glasses. Instead he is a vestige, a teacher whose connection to a community is immediately clear, important and vital. Philibert constructs his film as the illusion of an inevitable, serene succession of lessons floating past. (RP) Not Rated. Showing at the Met Cinema.
Publication date: 02/12/04