Bare witness

Exasperating direct-to-video sex thriller stars Angie Everhart and Daniel Baldwin, and contains the usual array of dumb dialogue, dumb direction and dumb logic. Everhart plays a call girl who wants to go straight, but finds herself trapped in a world of hired killers and political cover-ups. Everhart showed more in Playboy than she does here, which would have been the film’s only calling card. Instead, fans of the ravishing beauty will get a disconnect. (Columbia-TriStar)


BEHIND ENEMY LINES (PG-13)

As we have been reminded time and time again since September 11, the world as we know it has changed. Even in the way that Hollywood does business. Several high-profile films were pulled from release and locked up when it was determined that their subject matter might not be sensitive to the current climate. So now comes “Behind Enemy Lines,” a 2002 release that was rush-released in theaters to take advantage of the current patriotic fervor. Developed and shot long before September 11, “Behind Enemy Lines” is a real flag waver, a cinematic recruiting poster that shamelessly borrows from “Top Gun” and other films. Please click on title for complete review. (Fox)

BRIGHAM CITY (PG-13)

Hard-to-swallow thriller about a serial killer haunting a small Utah town features writer/director Richard Dutcher as the local sheriff whose faith is not enough to end the horror. Dutcher is definitely the weakest link in front of the camera, and his overuse of the Mormon religion to make a point is particularly offsetting. While the material may seem a little dark for a film by a Mormon filmmaker, it’s nothing more than a smokescreen to plug the director’s agenda. This film is like those ponderous Armageddon flicks with Kirk Cameron, a sheep in wolf’s clothing. The rest of the cast is better than the star, but they’re never allowed to rise above the material. (Spartan)

DARKNESS FALLS (R)

Coming off his sizzling hot performance in “Sexy Beast,” it’s a shame to see the talents of Ray Winstone wasted here. Winstone plays John Burnett, a desperate man out for revenge. As his pregnant wife (Sherilyn Fenn) lies in a coma, John seeks out those responsible. His search leads him to the home of a couple that he holds hostage long enough to flesh out a feature length film. What amounts to a three-character, one room morality play is filled with self-important passages of dialogue and grandstanding performances. Former director of cinematography Gerry Lively makes his debut as director here, and even though he manages to keep the camera moving, he can’t say the same for the connect-the-dots plot. Flashbacks do allow the story to evolve beyond the four walls, but they tell us little about the characters. Ultimately, we never care about them, or what happens to them. (Lion’s Gate)

LEARNING CURVE, THE (R)

Occasionally diverting action-drama about a hapless couple whose efforts to raise money by blackmailing innocent men turns unexpectedly beneficial when their current victim turns out to be a high-profile hood. Desperate to make money, lovers Paul (Carmine Giovinazzo) and Georgia (Monet Mazur) decide to lure men into sexual trysts and then blackmail them for their indiscretions. Things go according to plan until they ensnare Marshal (Vincent Ventresca) into their web. Instead of killing them, Marshal puts them on the payroll. Paul totally digs his new position, but Georgia isn’t so sure. Can two small time hoods make it in the big time, or will their lack of experience and greed be the end of them. Interesting characters and situations elevate this direct-to-video effort. (MGM)

MAYBE BABY (R)

Hugh Laurie and Joely Richardson are delightful in this familiar yet still enjoyable comedy about a couple trying to get pregnant. Written and directed by Ben Elton (from his novel), “Maybe Baby” plays like a Lifetime movie with better actors and sharper dialogue. Richardson plays Lucy Bell, a British talent agent who is trying to get pregnant with her BBC-TV editor husband Sam (Hugh Laurie). The couple go through the usual staple of conception jokes, but the twist here is that Sam uses his home life as fodder for a script for a movie. Sam keeps all of this secret as he and Lucy go through conception hell, including a visit with a befuddled gynecologist (Rowan Atkinson, playing to type), and lots of advice from friends and family. If it weren’t for the genuinely engaging leads, all of this would seem trite and superficial, but they make us want to believe in their desires and dreams. (MGM)

METROPOLIS (PG)

The creator of “Astro Boy” and “Kimba The White Lion” fulfills a vision he began in the late 1940s to turn Fritz Lang’s 1926 silent masterpiece “Metropolis” into a full-fledged animated film. Time has been extremely kind to landmark animator Osamu Tezuka, and the film based on his 1949 Manga is a sight to behold. The tale of a futuristic society where humans and robots exist but are separated by anti-robot sentiments is filled with gorgeous, jaw-dropping animation, a relevant, thoughtful screenplay by Katsuhiro Otomo, who directed the dazzling “Akira,” and tight direction by Taro Rin. As the anti-robot factions gain ground, a detective and his assistant must locate a scientist who they believe is at the center of the rebellion. They don’t find the scientist, but they do find a young girl who can’t speak and suffers from amnesia. Is she a victim or part of a plot to overthrow the city of Metropolis? (Columbia-TriStar)

MY FIRST MISTER (R)

Actress-turned-director Christine Lahti’s sweet and sentimental character study of a forty-nine year old anal retentive clothing store manager (Albert Brooks) and the dark, depressed 17-year-old Goth girl he hires to work in the stockroom. You can’t blame Jennifer (Leelee Sobieski) for being depressed. Having just graduated from high school, she spends time hanging out in cemeteries to keep her distance from doting mother Sylvie (Carol Kane) and stepfather Bob (Michael McKean). Ben (John Goodman), her perennial hippie father, isn’t even in the picture. Randall’s (Brooks) life isn’t much better. He’s pretty much of a loner, and has lost touch with his son. Desperate to leave home, Jennifer applies for a job at the upscale men’s clothing store that Randall manages. You can’t blame him for being a little reluctant, but he relents and gives her a job out of sight in the stockroom. As the ice that separates the two finally begins to melt, Randall and Jennifer begin to learn about each other, and the more they learn, the more they come to respect each other. It’s a sweetheart of a story, well acted by a winning cast. Brooks is excellent as a man whose work is his life, while Sobieski delivers a performance that avoids cliché. Strong, right direction by Lahti. (Paramount)

TART (R)

Prep School version of “The In-Crowd” stars Dominique Swain, current queen of teenage vixen roles, as Cat Storm (please), a student at the exclusive Hewitt School in Manhattan. In typical teen movie fashion, Cat wants to be part of the cool crowd, and willingly sacrifices her best friend and morals in order to fit in. God, someone call the cliché police. A cast of recognizable faces parade through this teen diatribe that’s more talk than action, including Brad Renfro as the cool guy that Cat is attracted to, Bijou Phillips, Lacey Chabert, and Melanie Griffith. Writer-director Christina Wayne obviously believes she’s making a film of importance, but in the end this “Tart” is sour. (Lion’s Gate)

ALSO NEW THIS WEEK:

DRACULA: THE DARK PRINCE (R/Artisan)

HITCHED (R/USA)

INNOCENTS (R/First Look)

LOOKING FOR AN ECHO (R/USA)



Comments are closed.