"Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould," "Life As We Know It" and "White Wedding"
★★★ out of four stars
Where: St. Anthony Main.
This well-made Canadian documentary covers the well-known bases, from Gould's New York recital debut in 1955, at age 22, to his renunciation just nine years later of all live performance. Gould's first record for Columbia, of Bach's Goldberg variations, was a bestseller. When he toured Russia in 1957, the lanky young man playing Bach on the low piano chair was viewed at first as "a Martian," then as a conquering hero.
Where "Genius" adds most to existing Gouldiana is in the latter part of his life, when he pursued his interest in recording -- of both music and radio documentaries -- and in his personal and romantic relationships. Most notably, we hear from Cornelia Foss, who moved to Toronto with her two children in 1968 to be with Gould while she was still married to musician/conductor Lukas Foss. It was "a very straightforward triangle" for a few years, Foss recalls, but it fell apart as Gould became eccentric to the point of mental illness.
Those who believe the private life of the artist is best left in the background may not appreciate all the candid interviews with former friends and lovers. Those seeking a fuller view of Gould's life and music-making will be spellbound.
★★ 1/2 out of four stars
Rated: PG-13 for crude humor, sexual content, drug use.
What would happen if your best friends unexpectedly died and named you and your sworn enemy the guardians of their surviving child? That's the tasteless, if effective, premise of this sweet-natured romantic comedy that finds control freak Holly (Katherine Heigl) thrown together with womanizer Messer (Josh Duhamel). Think "Three Men and a Baby" crossed with the last 15 minutes of "Beaches."
Once you get past the shamelessness, "Life As We Know It" turns into a reasonably honest consideration of what it might mean to honor the dead by raising their living, breathing, pooping, screaming progeny. This means the screenplay relies a little too much on smelly diaper and misplaced baby jokes, and the proceedings stop cold every 10 minutes so a character can pontificate on the meaning of "family."
What's less expected is the sure-footed direction by Greg Berlanti (creator of TV's "Everwood"), who mostly keeps the sitcomish slapstick to a minimum, and focuses instead on the sincere performances by Heigl and Duhamel, who are both better than they've ever been. They generate a chemistry that is endearingly modest.
CHRISTOPHER KELLY, FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAMWHITE WEDDING
★★ out of four stars
Unrated but suitable for all audiences. In English and subtitled Zulu, Afrikaans and Xhosa.
A tepid, cliché-ridden marriage comedy from South Africa. Henpecked Elvis (Kenneth Nkosi) and his suave best man, Tumi (Rapulana Seiphemo), drive from Durban to Cape Town, as his fiancée Ayanda (Zandile Msutwana) juggles wedding logistics while dealing with her buttinsky mother, a finicky gay wedding planner and her predatory former boyfriend. Their cross-country trip is interrupted incessantly by hostile whites, a hitchhiking doctor with romantic difficulties of her own, a dowry goat that must be picked up and delivered, and mechanical difficulties.
The biggest breakdown is the story, which sputters and wheezes with contrived complications and weak gags. You don't want to throw rocks at a movie that endorses romantic fidelity and racial harmony, but good intentions do not fine entertainment make.