Films Review July

ALCHEMIST, THE (PG-13)

Serviceable thriller stars Grant Show (Melrose Place) and Ruth Gemmell as two employees of a top secret pharmaceutical company whose latest fertility drug is causing some horrific side effects. Unaware of what their company is up to, Show and Gemmell are shocked when a local reporter clues them in.


They agree to look around, but getting to the truth is one thing, staying alive to prove it is another. Filled with grotesque images and a constant sense of dread, “The Alchemists” should appeal fans of films like “The Dentist” and “Re-Animator.” (MTI Home Video)

BAD SEED (R)

Luke Wilson is terrific as Preston Tylk, a man who has just learned that his wife has been unfaithful. Upset and filled with anger, Preston takes a time out, only to return and find his wife dead. Desperate to find her killer and clear his name, Preston hunts down his wife’s lover. One misunderstanding leads to another, and before the night is done, Preston will find himself on the run from the law for two murders. Director Jon Bokenkamp does an excellent job of turning up the heat, creating and sustaining suspense that propels the plot forward. Wilson is perfect as an innocent man on the run, flashes of desperation and hopelessness illuminating his face as he tries to stay one step ahead of the law. The durable supporting cast includes Dennis Farina, the always interesting Norman Reedus, and the alluring Mili Avital. (Artisan)

THE BOOK OF POOH: STORIES FROM THE HEART (G)

Winnie the Pooh and his beloved storybook friends come to life in this feature-length home video premiere that uses a mixture of puppetry and virtual reality sets to tell new tales from the Hundred Acre Wood. Produced and developed by Mitchell Kriegman (“Bear in the Big Blue House”), “The Book of Pooh” uses the 300 year-old Japanese puppetry art form known as Bunraku and digital additions and subtractions to bring Winnie the Pooh and his friends to life. The result will please children, who have seen this format before on some of their favorite shows. Laugh along with Tigger as he tries to regain his bounce, hold hands with Kessie and friends when they get lost in the Hundred Acre Wood, and help Eeyore celebrate a special day. The vocal talent is just as expressive as the images on the screen, while the playful attitude and life lessons of the stories will satisfy children of all ages. (Walt Disney)

BROTHERS, THE (PG-13)

brothers_photo.JPG (7343 bytes)Writer-director Gary Hardwick has created a funny, passionate and occasionally insightful romantic drama about four friends who lead distinctively different lives but share one common bond: they’re brothers. Not legally, but spiritually, and whenever they have a problem with the “sisters,” Jackson (Morris Chestnut), Brian (Bill Bellamy), Terry (Shermar Moore) and Derrick (D.L. Hughley) get together to hash out life’s and love’s ins and outs. Told from an African-American perspective, Hardwick’s film is hardly race specific. The hopes, frustrations and joys these four men share are universal, and the actors do a splendid job of bringing us into their lives. Hughley is excellent as the one married man in the bunch, a man who always seems to find time for his family and friends, while Morris Chestnut, last seen in “The Best Man,” is extremely endearing as a successful pediatrician who who is not as successful with older women. Audiences looking for something smart and funny will enjoy this romp, which has a lot to say when it’s not dishing up laughs and hope. (Columbia-TriStar)

JOHN LENNON STORY, THE (NR)

The legend of John Lennon comes to life in this made-for-television biography which examines the Beatles early years as a youth in Liverpool. Director David Carson and writer Michael O’Hara haven’t made a definitive film, but they do open up the famous icon’s life enough to give us a peek into the mind of a brilliant musician and human being. Philip McQuillan does a decent job as the young Lennon, whose interest in music blossoms into a passion that eventually led to The Beatles. O’Hara’s script is a little melodramatic, but it does give the actors enough to chew on when they’re not playing music. (Studio)

PROXIMITY (R)

Hotter than hot Rob Lowe (The West Wing) stars in this enjoyable action romp, playing a former college professor serving a life sentence in prison for vehicular manslaughter. William Conroy (Lowe) may have gotten a life sentence, but the way the inmates are dropping at the prison, that could be a lot sooner than later. Fearing for his life, Conroy uses an van accident during a parole transfer to escape and learn the truth. With the help of his lawyer, Conroy uncovers a conspiracy that could cost him his life unless he can prove it. Directed with a fast pace by Scott Ziehl from a tight screenplay by Ben Queen and Seamus Ruane, “Proximity” features Oscar-winner James Coburn and enough close calls and twists and turns to keep you glued to the set. (Columbia-TriStar)

SKELETONS IN THE CLOSET (R)

Familiar faces and a creepy premise distinguish this thriller making it’s debut on video. Treat Williams is fine as father Will Reid, a small town man who suspects that his son is a serial killer. Tough stuff, even tougher when it falls on Reid to confirm his suspicions. His quest for the truth is sidetracked by Linda Hamilton, who plays the new woman in his life. As his life comes to a head, Reid is forced to confront his own demons and past, causing a real disturbance in the force. Williams holds up well as a man on the edge, while Hamilton and Jonathon Jackson as his son help flesh out this moderately suspenseful exercise in paranoia. Shot on high-definition video, the film suffers mostly from a lack of conviction from director Wayne Powers, who refuses to allow the darker aspects of the film to take hold. (Artisan)

WHEN THE SKY FALLS (R)

Even though the truth is cloaked in a fictional screenplay, this story of Irish journalist Veronica Guerin, whose relentless pursuit of Ireland’s mob got her assassinated in 1996, remains riveting fare. Oscar-nominee Joan Allen dons a thick brogue to play Sinead Hamilton, a gutsy journalist whose continuing coverage of Dublin’s gangster underworld has the mob, the police and her friends concerned. Determined to expose the mob and the local corruption, Hamilton forges ahead, unafraid that her words and actions will most likely cause her death. Allen delivers a bold performance as a woman who understands the rules of the game and isn’t afraid to make a move, while director John McKenzie, who has been down this road before with his gangster film “The Long Good Friday,” understands the importance of character development and allows the top flight cast to embrace the dialogue and situations. (Trimark)

ALSO NEW THIS WEEK:

ED GEIN (NR) (First Look)

NIGHT SCREAM (NR) (Artisan)



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