NOAH ADAMS, host:
Although Hollywood is focused on the Oscars this weekend, there are plenty of new releases in the theaters. And here with our weekly digest of what the critics are saying is Slate's Mark Jordan Legan and Summary Judgment.
Mr. MARK JORDAN LEGAN (Critic, Slate): We start things off with the wide release of Dave Chappelle's Block Party. This documentary concert film spotlights the comedian hosting a 2004 once-in-a-lifetime free block party in Brooklyn. Some of the musical guests include Kanye West, Mos Def, and the reunion of The Fugees.
(Soundbite of movie Block Party)
Mr. DAVE CHAPPELLE (As Himself in Block Party): 5000 black people chilling in the rain. 19 white people peppered into the crowd. Trying to find a Mexican.
Mr. LEGAN: The nation's critics say tap another kegger and party hard. The Dallas Morning News shouts, This is a concert film with real soul, message, and emotion. The Minneapolis Star Tribune says, Dave Chappelle's Block Party confirms that he's not just funny, he has impeccable musical taste. And The Atlanta Journal Constitution howls, The film is an easygoing, loose-limbed, big lunged celebration of, well, celebration.
Next up also in wide release is another film with the word Block in the title, the cop thriller 16 Blocks, from veteran director Richard Donner, who's made everything from The Omen to Lethal Weapon. This time Bruce Willis stars as a broken down cop who has the simple task of taking a criminal to a courthouse 16 blocks away so he can testify before a grand jury. But in New York City anything can happen. Mos Def and David Morse also star.
(Soundbite of movie 16 Blocks)
Mr. BRUCE WILLIS (As Jack Mosley): Eddie, listen to me. Listen to me. Listen to me. I'm your only friend down here, all right?
MOS DEF (As Eddie Bunker): You ain't my friend.
Mr. WILLIS: I can do this, Eddie. Listen to me.
MOS DEF: You ain't my friend. You don't even know me. And get me where? You're going to get me shot. Ever since I've been with you people been trying to shoot me. People you know.
Mr. LEGAN: The critics are split on 16 Blocks. The Village Voice didn't enjoy the walk, growling, It's a small movie trying to seem epic, or a bloated monster trying to seem lean. But the L.A. Weekly calls it some of the best filmmaking ever done by director Richard Donner. And the Hollywood Reporter adds, Although much of the plot defies believability, Donner directs the odd couple action drama with a nimble facility that draws viewers in.
And we close with the wide release sci-fi thriller Ultraviolet. Milla Jovovich stars as a rogue mutant warrior who seeks revenge against those that made her.
(Soundbite of Ultraviolet)
Unidentified Voice: Are you insane?
Ms. MILLA JOVAVICH (As Violet): You will drop him. You need him more than I do.
Mr. LEGAN: Guess what? The studio didn't let critics see Ultraviolet in advance for fear of bad reviews. But why? You have Charlize Theron in tight clothing kicking some major butt and, oh wait, that was Aeon Flux. And that tanked at the box office. Maybe these types of movies should stop with the butt kicking. Go after the female audiences and make a sci-fi romantic comedy, When Harry Met Ultraviolet.
You're different from my other girlfriends. I mean, yeah, you're a rogue mutant warrior thirsty for revenge, but I find that incredibly attractive. More zinfandel?
(Soundbite of things breaking)
Mr. LEGAN: Oh, I forgot, you like Chardonnay.
(Soundbite of music)
ADAMS: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer living in Los Angeles.
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