Summary Judgment

Zombie Insurgency?

The critical buzz on 28 Weeks Later and Paul Poiret.

“Poiret: King of Fashion” (Metropolitan Museum of Art).This retrospective of pioneering French designer Paul Poiret’s work is drawing raves from most critics. Poiret—who died in 1944—was known among other things for deep-sixing the corset. In the Washington Post, Robin Givhan calls the show a “poetic exhibition that dazzles the eye, exercises the intellect and at times soothes the soul in the manner of a fine oil painting … ‘Poiret’ is a reminder not to forget just how exquisite and expressive clothes can be.” Musing on the power of the show’s silk backdrops to complement the clothing on display, the New York Times’ Roberta Smith observes, “[Y]ou may have the sensation of drifting through a series of extraordinarily beautiful fashion illustrations.” But is not impressed, carping, “[M]ost of the garments here, including the excellent coats and capes, seem more like costumes from a period melodrama than timeless fashion.”—D.S., May 11

28 Weeks Later(Fox). Critics are impressed with Juan Carlos Fresnadillo’s infusion of social and political subtext into the zombie-filled sequel to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later; in New York, David Edelstein comments, “How uplifting to see that zombie movies like the new 28 Weeks Later … can be both juicy splatterfests and vehicles for stinging political commentary: It validates my faith in the disreputable.” The Los Angeles Times’ Carina Chocano remarks, “One thing is for sure, Fresnadillo’s movie is grimmer and grislier than Boyle’s, and it wantonly abandons all hope.” (On balance, that appears to be a good thing in a zombie movie.) And in Slate, Grady Hendrix writes that “the first hour of this lean, mean, 95-minute scream machine is so tasty that it redeems the predictable conclusion.” (Buy tickets to 28 Days Later.) —D.S., May 11

Georgia Rule (Morgan Creek). Director Garry Marshall’s movie about three generations of troubled women has been fraught with troubles of its own—including a studio executive’s well-circulated rebuke of co-star Lindsay Lohan for her on-set misbehavior. But bad publicity isn’t the film’s only problem. Entertainment Weekly dubs it a “clunky family-therapy soaper.” The Hollywood Reporter complains that it “constantly struggles to find a suitable tone” and points out that the film’s application of “homey small-town humor” to issues like alcoholism and sexual abuse is “uncomfortably unconvincing.” Variety makes a grim prediction: “a lonely afterlife on DVD.” As for Lohan’s performance as a very bad girl in a very small town, some reviews are slightly better: L.A. Weekly declares the 20-year-old “a self-possessed, vitally carnal and intelligent screen presence,” who can “outgun almost any caricature, including a near parody of her own offscreen self.” But the AP finds the similarities between Lohan and her character too off-putting: “Lindsay Lohan has made her ‘Gigli.’ “—P.F., May 10

Falling Man, Don DeLillo (Scribner). The postmodern novelist’s latest book explores what happened on 9/11 and its aftermath, and early reviews mostly applaud his attempt to put the cataclysmic event into words. In the New York Observer, Adam Begley comments, “Reading the virtuoso first pages of his novel, we see the catastrophe anew—smell it, taste it, hear it, feel it—as if that September morning had dawned again, fresh and bright.” And Newsweek raves, “Falling Man feels like the first genuine work of art [about 9/11]. Literature, Ezra Pound said, is news that stays news, and reading Falling Man is like looking into a mirror and seeing the familiar face there as if for the first time.” But the New York Times’ notoriously picky Michiko Kakutani complains that DeLillo’s focus on one dysfunctional family is too narrow, writing that “Falling Man feels small and unsatisfying and inadequate.” (Buy Falling Man.)— D.S., May 9

Volta, Björk (Elektra). The Icelandic pop diva’s recent performance at the Coachella Music Festival won high praise from critics, but her new album leaves many puzzled. Featuring three tracks produced by Timbaland and collaborations with a Chinese pipa virtuoso and a Congolese drum ensemble, her sixth LP is even more eclectic than its predecessors. The Washington Post says Björk “has returned to form as one of pop’s more listenable avant-gardists.” And the New York Daily News praises Björk’s “idiot-savant brilliance,” declaring, “Her massacre of the English language provides its own elemental urgency and meaning.” But most reviewers think Volta, packed as it is with experimental sounds and political messages, doesn’t live up to the hype. Rolling Stone notes that the album is “not as gripping or coherent as her best stuff.” Pitchfork calls it “limp and strangely empty—almost unfinished.” And the Chicago Sun-Times compares Volta to a “ponderous, four-hour, subtitled art-house film,”—the kind of thing critics fawn over because they “don’t want to sound ignorant by saying they just don’t get it.”— P.F., May 8

Jockey Calvin Borel rides Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense

Kentucky Derby. The horse Street Sense came from 10 lengths behind to win the 133rd Kentucky Derby Saturday, and commentators think he has a chance to be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. * The Washington Post observes that trainer Carl Nafzger “was serene and confident leading up to the Kentucky Derby, and, in hindsight, he had reason to be. Street Sense, in seven career starts, never had run a bad race.” And the New York Times’ Joe Drape writes, “Street Sense is an agile colt who appears to stop and start on a dime. He prefers waiting behind horses before unleashing an explosive turn of foot.”New York Observer reporter Spencer Morgan took note of the weekend’s social aspect, remarking, “The weekend is overrun with celebrity-driven parties and events—the types of orgies of cross-promotion and celebrity protectionism that tends to invade any and every annual event these days, especially the ones larded with jet-setting young folks.”— D.S., May 7

Correction, May 7, 2007: This article originally misstated how far behind Street Sense was in the Kentucky Derby. In fact, he made up 10 lengths to win, not 19. (Return  to the corrected sentence.)