starring Paul Giamatti, Rosamund Pike, Minnie Driver, Dustin Hoffman
screenplay by Michael Konyves, based on the novel by Mordecai Richler
directed by Richard J. Lewis
NO STRINGS ATTACHED
starring Natalie Portman, Ashton Kutcher, Cary Elwes, Kevin Kline
screenplay by Elizabeth Meriwether
directed by Ivan Reitman
by Ian Pugh It's easier to accept Barney's Version once you realize it doesn't have much to say. Little more than a series of vignettes, the film surveys in piecemeal fashion the life of one Barney Panofsky (Paul Giamatti), a Jewish artist who endured three tumultuous marriages (the wives are played by Rachel Lefevre, Minnie Driver, and Rosamund Pike) and the mysterious death of best friend Boogie (Scott Speedman, whom I initially mistook for Hugh Jackman) along the way to producing a popular soap opera. Giamatti doesn't do outstanding work here, but he's reliable in that familiar Giamatti way: perpetually locked in a state of concentration, trying to understand the subtext of whatever fortunes or misfortunes befall him. Seems like we're all trying to figure things out, doesn't it? The film doesn't know whether to focus on life as a comedy or as a drama, and for that reason alone, it feels incredibly disjointed. It should be. It's supposed to be.