E X H I B I T I O N
EXHIBITION If a metal tree rises in a park and no one notices, is it art? If it's part of the 2002 Whitney Biennial, it is. Less an art show than a retinal fun fair, the Biennial's sweep is so broad that when a televangelist prays for art in one work, one is tempted to shout "Amen."
M O V I E S
ICE AGE Directed by Chris Wedge "They came, they thawed, they conquered!" Could there be a snazzier ad line for a computer-animated feature about three prehistoric buddies? This freezin' threesome--a woolly mammoth (voiced by Ray Romano), a saber-toothed tiger (Denis Leary) and a sloth (John Leguizamo)--survives plot challenges of no particular ingenuity. The film breaks anthropological ground by revealing that humans lived in the Ice Age, but its contribution to cartoon history is more modest. It yearns for Pixar-style wit without quite earning it.
Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN Directed by Alfonso Cuaron Two randy teenagers (Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna) hook up with a restless older woman (Maribel Verdu) for a Mexican joyride in search of the perfect beach. If this sounds like an old-fashioned sex comedy, it is--sexy, for sure, and funny, in wild spurts. But Cuaron's movie, a worldwide hit, also serves as a tour through his convulsive homeland. The gritty life of Mexico occasionally splats on the window of a car whose privileged passengers speed on to their own escape from reality.
M U S I C
MTV2 PRESENTS UNPLUGGED 2.0: LAURYN HILL MTV April 19, 10 p.m. E.T. "I used to be a performer," Hill says as she launches into two hours of long-awaited new material. "I really don't consider myself a performer so much anymore. I'm just, sharing." Hill shares her problems dealing with fame and at times looks as if she may not make it through her 14-song set. But the sweetness of her voice and flashes of brilliance in Dylanesque songs such as Mr. Intentional and Oh, Jerusalem seem to pull her back--a reminder that no matter what she says, she's a performer after all.
SOULJACKER EELS This bluesy wallop of an album is filled with songs about grotesques, but there's no danger of its turning into a rock-opera Winesburg, Ohio. That's because front man E (Mark Oliver Everett) chooses humor over bathos ("Ma won't shave me, Jesus can't save me," he growls on the superb Dog Faced Boy). Which is not to say he's snide; Friendly Ghost and Woman Driving, Man Sleeping are as sweet as anything in the James Taylor songbook--they're just not saccharine. The lyrics float over an array of power chords, samples, overdubs and scratches--no two songs sound alike--but it's not musical bricolage. Just the best album so far this year.
T E L E V I S I O N
THE COURT ABC Tuesdays, 10 p.m. E.T. From habits to habeas: erstwhile flying nun Sally Field returns to TV as a rookie Justice on a divided Supreme Court. The pilot is earnest and jargon laden, like producer John Wells' ER and The West Wing--and as stiff and colorless as a freshly starched robe. A big problem is Field's Kate Nolan, a dull, middle-of-the-road pillar of common sense whose tough streak Field undercuts with her doe-eyed, first-day-of-school demeanor. There are hints of intrigue, but the lifeless characters and boilerplate dialogue need judicial review.
T H E A T E R
THE CRUCIBLE Directed by Richard Eyre With Ms. Lewinsky on HBO, March is Monica Flashback Month, a good time to remember that McCarthyism may be gone but witch-hunts will always be with us. A good time, too, for The Crucible, Arthur Miller's 1953 warning against communal hysteria, which uses the Salem witch trials as its model for hypocrisy. This lucid if uneven Broadway staging stars a ferocious Liam Neeson, still the thinking man's hunk. Laura Linney has the more subdued role as his suffering wife. But her gift for finding fire in the quietest corners of normality makes her Neeson's equal.