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  • Issue of
  • Oct 1-7, 2008
  • Vol. 28, No. 51

News & Views

Arts & Culture

  • The Scene
  • Choke

    Writer-director-actor Clark Gregg misses what makes Chuck Palahniuk’s work interesting — his mordant satire and stringent pathos — and instead translates the author’s weaknesses — his messy plotting and affected sense of perversion — to the screen. Victor Mancini (Sam Rockwell) is a med school drop out and sex addict who earns a living as a colonial theme park character. In order to pay for the private care of his dementia-ridden mother (Anjelica Huston), he cons fancy restaurant patrons into rescuing him from choking then bilks them of the money he needs. This dovetails with Victor’s long-standing issues with abandonment and intimacy. See, before his mom started losing her grip on reality, she was a drug-addled drifter who’d kidnap Victor from his foster parents in order to drag him along on some interstate adventure. When Victor becomes involved with a strange physician (Kelly Macdonald) on his mother’s floor, he starts down the road to emotional healing. Until, that is, stories of his immaculate conception start floating around.
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  • The Scene
  • Eagle Eye

    It’s not that an attempt to update Hitchcock is such a bad idea; it’s that we’ve seen many of Eagle Eye’s dramatic elements before. And in better movies. From its "War Games" political overtones to its "Enemy of the State"-style surveillance motif, Caruso’s ADD approach to the Hollywood paranoid thriller has only one good twist (which I won’t give away here) in its bag of standard-issue, tech-thriller tricks. After a brief military interlude and quick introductions to its characters, Eagle Eye launches into a truly boffo action set piece (highlighted in the film’s trailers) that summons our heavy reliance and trust of electronic devices. Returning home from his twin brother’s funeral, Jerry Shaw (the likeable LaBeouf) discovers that he’s been framed as a terrorist. Guided by a mysterious woman’s voice on his cell phone, he evades the authorities in an outlandish and cleverly choreographed chase sequence. Meanwhile, Rachel Holloman (Monaghan), a single mom, also receives a call from the mysterious woman, who threatens to kill her 8-year-old son if she doesn’t follow instructions. Before you can say “romantic interest,” the two stars are thrown together, dodging a dogged FBI agent (Billy Bob Thornton) and desperately trying to figure out what their faceless enemy, who seems to have limitless power, is intending to do.
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