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Summary Judgment: 'Factory Girl,' 'Unreasonable Man'


Annabelle's movie is just one of several new releases this weekend. Here's our regular digest of what critics think of them. Mark Jordan Legan of the online magazine Slate delivers his Summary Judgment.

Mr. MARK JORDAN LEGAN (Slate): Super Bowl weekend is not known as a time for great movie releases. Many people will consume large amounts of beer, eat junk, and yell and curse at the screen. Others will stay home and watch football.

But if you don't care about the game, maybe you're in the mood for a well-made documentary about Ralph Nader. That's right. "An Unreasonable Man" traces the life and career of the unique and important consumer advocate and controversial presidential candidate.

(Soundbite of film, "An Unreasonable Man")

Unidentified Man #1: One is always right when it's prefabricated impurity. This is Ralph Nader's understanding of the world.

Unidentified Man #2: The man needs to go away. I think he needs to live in a different country. He's done enough damage to this one, let him damage somebody else's now.

LEGAN: The nation's critics applaud this man. What makes this documentary so successful is the willingness to present a wide variety of opinion of Nader, shouts the Hollywood Reporter. New York magazine calls it compelling. Film Threat finds it a fascinating account. And the New York Times says "An Unreasonable Man" is probing and informative, an admiring but hardly uncritical portrait.

Studio execs are apparently hoping that acolytes of Andy Warhol aren't also diehard football fanatics. Opening in limited release is the biopic "Factory Girl," which focuses on the comet-like rise and fall of Warhol regular Edie Sedgwick. Sienna Miller plays the doomed 1960s "it" girl and Guy Pearce dons the wig as Warhol.

(Soundbite of movie, "Factory Girl")

Mr. GUY PEARCE (Actor): (As Andy Warhol) I have this friend, Mark, and Norman Mailer walked up and punched him the stomach. And all I could think was will Norman Mailer ever punch me.

Unidentified Man #3: Andy, why do you come to confession?

Mr. PEARCE: (As Warhol) I don't know. Well, it just seems like there's something always missing.

LEGAN: The critics pretty much shrugged this one off. Newsday is the kindest, calling it a good try with some great acting, but as with its subject, it's both too much and not enough.

The L.A. Times calls "Factory Girl" a brisk, superficial treatment that disappoints as both biography and drama; and Variety dismisses it as a tame biopic with little feel for the 1960s New York underground.

And Universal hopes to lure the female audience with the wide release comedy "Because I Said So." Diane Keaton plays an overbearing mom who just can't let her daughter grow up. Mandy Moore and Lauren Graham also star.

(Soundbite of movie, "Because I Said So")

Ms. DIANE KEATON (Actress): (As Daphne) No. No. You have a career. You have a car, and you have a lot. You pay way too much rent for it. That's not a life. Milly, I'm your mother. I love you enough to tell you the truth.

Ms. MANDY MOORE (Actress): (As Milly) Your version of the truth, mom.

Ms. KEATON: (As Daphne) No. No.

LEGAN: Maybe the Keaton character reminded the critics of their own kvetching mothers because this maybe the worst reviewed film of the year so far. An unbelievable mess, snarls Entertainment Weekly. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer warns that it's hard to imagine how the movie year could possibly produce a more annoyingly stupid movie.

And the Austin Chronicle says with a lazy cliché-rabid plot and paper-thin character development, "Because I Said So" might as well have been directed by a trained chimpanzee. Well, I think I speak for all trained chimpanzees when I say (makes chimp sound) - which means, how dare you?

BRAND: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer, I think, living in Los Angeles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mark Jordan Legan