City-slicker yarn mostly a yawn; ‘Danse’ on firm foot­ing

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - Movies - By John Bei­fuss

‘Did You Hear About the Mor­gans?’

Adorable if adul­ter­ous and ag­nos­tic salad-fan­cy­ing nitwit city slick­ers save their mar­riage with the help of a God-fear­ing, meat-eat­ing “Sarah Palin” and her wise sher­iff hus­band in “Did You Hear About the Mor­gans?,” a for­mula ro­man­tic com­edy that could be de­scribed as “Green Acres” in Red State drag, plus guns.

Hugh Grant — not so much an ac­tor as a cat­a­log of stam­mers, blinks, puppy-dog pouts and other Tourette-like tics — and Sarah Jes­sica Parker com­prise the ti­tle verg­ing-on-di­vorce cou­ple, who are whisked off to fed­eral pro­tec­tive cus­tody in Wy­oming af­ter a mur­dered arms dealer falls from a Man­hat­tan bal­cony to their feet. Out West, the Mor­gans are the guests of a tac­i­turn sher­iff (Sam El­liott) and his An­nie Oak­ley wife (Mary Steen­bur­gen). “Oh my God, it’s Sarah Palin,” moans Sarah, when Steen­bur­gen cocks her ri­fle. “I love what you’ve done with the heads,” Sarah com­ments, en­ter­ing a

‘La Danse: The Paris Opera Bal­let’

Brigitte Le­fevre, artis­tic di­rec­tor of the Paris Opera Bal­let, is un­con­cerned that audiences may not be able to fol­low the sto­ry­lines of some of her com­pany’s dance pro­duc­tions. What mat­ters, she says in “La Danse,” is this: “The fi­nal re­sult has to be a gift to the pub­lic that they can .”

Her com­ment also could ap­ply to the work of 79-year-old doc­u­men­tary

bei­fusss@com­mer­cialap­ liv­ing room dec­o­rated with mounted pronghorn an­te­lope tro­phies.

Writ­ten and di­rected by rom­com au­teur Marc Lawrence (who pre­vi­ously teamed Grant with Drew Bar­ry­more in “Mu­sic and Lyrics” and San­dra Bul­lock in “Two Weeks No­tice”), “Did You Hear About the Mor­gans?” wrings a few laughs from its city-folk-sure -are - com­i­calaround-cows-and­griz­zly-bears-and-rodeo -bulls sit­u­a­tions. The only sur­prise is the ap­pear­ance of Wil­ford Brim­ley, in his first movie role in six years; hon­estly, I thought he’d al­ready headed off to that last roundup. mas­ter Fred­er­ick­Wise­man, whose fly-on-the-wall meth­ods have served him well for more than 40 years, on films with such tell-it-like-it-is ti­tles as “High School,” “Hospi­tal” and “Store.”

Like its pre­de­ces­sors, Wise­man’s 159-minute “La Danse” im­merses audiences in its sin­gu­lar world without both­er­ing to iden­tify the peo­ple on­screen or to pro­vide the type of help­ful in­for­ma­tion pre­sented via nar­ra­tion or on­screen text in most doc­u­men­taries. Without th­ese dis­trac­tions of data, the film be­comes a pure, al­most med­i­ta­tive ex­pe­ri­ence, as the cam­eras lead us into busi­ness meet­ings, dance prac­tices, the dank Lon Chaneyesque cel­lars be­neath the opera house, and even the laun­dry room where the bal­let slip­pers are washed, dis­in­fected and hung on pegs to dry. The viewer learns lit­tle about most of the dancers, not even their names, and so is freer to marvel at their poise, their ded­i­ca­tion and their phys­i­cal­ity: One rarely sees this type of de­fined mus­cu­la­ture out­side the pages of a Marvel or DC comic book.

“La Danse” is play­ing ex­clu­sively at Malco’s Stu­dio on the Square.

Dancers re­hearse for ‘‘The Nutcracker’’ in a scene from doc­u­men­tary mas­ter Fred­er­ick Wise­man’s “La Danse: The Paris Opera Bal­let.”

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