Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Prime cuts, warmed over

You’ve seen this Leatherface before.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2003 at 12:00 AM

The original was cheap, inventive trash. This remake tends to settle for more run-of-the-abandoned-mill scares. Even so, it works the teen horror film formulas with gusto, taking its sweet time to build up then hitting its marks like an old pro in the final reels.

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The Station Agent

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2003 at 12:00 AM

Finbar McBride (Peter Dinklage) is a quiet, reclusive dwarf who works at a toy train shop. His boss dies and leaves him an old train depot in New Jersey. Fin walks to the property; once there, he just wants to be left alone. But the people who barge into his life are less "normal" than a railfan dwarf who doesn’t have a telephone and never learned to drive. Offers an excellent (and often very funny) script and appealingly offbeat characters.

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Mystic River

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2003 at 12:00 AM

This murder mystery has believable chemistry, acting and dialect. But what begins as a good script disintegrates disappointingly toward the end, and what should be a thrilling plot twist involves mere coincidence and cliché. Directed by Clint Eastwood, featuring Tim Robbins, Sean Penn, Marcia Gay Harden and Kevin Bacon.

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Persuasion, Prejudice and Psychology: Ephemeral Films From The Prelinger Archives

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2003 at 12:00 AM

This anthology of six "ephemeral" films was created from the thousands of educational and industrial short subjects collected in the Prelinger Archives, movies of instruction and sometimes deception meant to be shown in schools, at middle-management pep rallies, churches or other civic outlets. It offers a cross-section of the ’50s mind-set, from the reactionary to the progressive, and is often hysterically funny.

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Alien: The Director’s Cut

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2003 at 12:00 AM

The razzle-dazzle of the special effects has dimmed with time, sometimes laughably so. But as a whole, director Ridley Scott’s genre-bending breakthrough stands up well — horribly well. Some scenes left on the cutting room floor the first time are restored, including one that foreshadows what’s in store for the sequels.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Hail to the King

Local B-movie daddy gives us campy candy.

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2003 at 12:00 AM

This little cinematic jewel will probably not make a blip on the mainstream radar, but it’s the most unique and charmingly quirky film released in recent memory, pitting Elvis and JFK against a nursing home mummy. It’s Royal Oak native Bruce Campbell, the king of B-movies, playing the King himself in what may be the king of all B-movies.

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Veronica Guerin

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2003 at 12:00 AM

Irish journalist Veronica Guerin learned just how bad the Irish underworld is during her mid-’90s investigation into Dublin’s heroin traffickers. Joel Schumacher directed this eponymous biopic, which ought to be fair warning for anybody interested in an affecting experience. Cate Blanchett’s Guerin hits all the right notes — but the film can’t allay a curious flatness that runs through the rest of the movie.

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The Legend of Suriyothai

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2003 at 12:00 AM

This sumptuous mountain of eye candy was directed by a genuine Thai prince, Chatri Chalerm Yukol. An epic tale of historical intrigue set in 16th century Thailand, it’s a visual feast, though dramatically flaccid and confusingly paced. There’s enough cool violence and interesting rituals to keep one watching.

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How I Killed My Father

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2003 at 12:00 AM

Directed and co-written by Anne Fontaine, How I Killed My Father is a bleak little drama about a hardened man who is given a chance at self-examination, if not redemption, when visited by a spirit from the past. It’s A Christmas Carol with only one ghost and no jolly seasonal songs.

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Civil Brand

Posted By on Wed, Oct 22, 2003 at 12:00 AM

Screenwriter Preston A. Whitmore II, a Detroit native, casts the for-profit prison industry as a modern-day plantation. Though a few women get armed and murderous, the prison sewing factory is more a sexually abusive sweatshop than a plantation. Civil Brand should have been found guilty of being a bad B-movie and sent straight to quick video release.

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