These movies arrive on video store shelves this week.
MY SON THE FANATIC
(R, 1999, 87 minutes, Miramax)
Hanif Kureishi re-limns his familiar world--the cultural clashings of old-world and new-world Asians living in England--with satisfying seriocomic flavor. There's a refreshing twist this time: It's the middle-aged Pakistani cab driver Parvez (a brilliant Om Puri) who's doing the full-frontal embrace of secular British culture. And it's his son Farid (Akbar Kurtha) who becomes a newfound devotee of Islam and decries his father's bourgeois, capitalistic ways. The story's contentious issue: Whether Parvez's growing friendship with a hooker (Rachel Griffiths) is tantamount to cultural, religious and moral depravity. But in Kureishi's mature vision, no one is completely right or wrong. Contains nudity, strong language and sexual scenes.
-- Desson Howe
(PG, 1999, 116 minutes, Touchstone)
This "Pretty Woman" reteaming of Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Hector Elizondo and director Garry Marshall is a huge disappointment. The charm of the original gives way to kitsch. Roberts is a small-town gal who becomes legendary for leaving her fiances at the altar. Gere's a USA Today columnist who gets fired for making public fun of her. When he comes to her Maryland home town to write about her next upcoming wedding, the predictable happens. Director Marshall creates a rather condescending world of cheesy, adorable "small-town eccentrics" (including Joan Cusack as Roberts' sister) who'd be laughed out of a cheap sitcom. Gere seems to be improvising through the film, as if vaguely disgusted by the script. And Roberts is reduced to aping herself even more so than usual. This isn't cute. It's just embarrassing. Contains bile-provoking cuteness and a few risque comments from a grandmother who ought to know better.
-- Desson Howe