Films Review July


Tired direct-to-video thriller stars Mario Van Peebles as a police inspector on the trail of a serial killer named Claude Whitman (James Remar). Since Whitman’s handiwork involves religious trappings, it falls on former divinity student-turned-cop Morrell (Peebles) to find Whitman and stop him. Morrell believes that his job is done when Morrell is captured, sentenced, and executed in the gas chamber. So who is systematically killing the people who put Whitman away? Morrell suspects Whitman, but can’t get anyone to believe that the killer has risen from the grave. Count me in. Total hooey. (Sterling)


Director Steve Yeager provides an in-depth look at the cult director’s early career, culling interviews and observations from the past to create the perfect teaser trailer. It’s amazing how much Yeager’s documentary doesn’t show considering Water’s body of work. Still, you feel like you’ve learned something about the man who got Divine to eat dog doo in “Pink Flamingos.” None of these gross-out moments are included here, but anyone who admires or is interested in the director will appreciate the opportunity to catch up with old friends and learn just how on-the-edge Waters really was. I’ve seen all of his films, and have read a great deal about his career, yet I still managed to find plenty of insight in this carefree, engaging and overall entertaining documentary. (Winstar)


Actor Ralph Fiennes teams up with his sister, director Martha Fiennes, for a splendid costume drama about a well-to-do member of Russian society whose only interest in money is how much he can spend on gambling. When Evgeny Onegin (Fiennes) inherits his uncle’s country estate, his only concern is how much he can get for it. His attitude changes as he slowly realizes the charms of the estate, including the lovely sister of neighbor, poet Vladimir Lensky (Toby Stephens). She’s the lovely Tatyana (Liv Tyler), whose love of books leads to a romantic relationship with Onegin. How Tatyana teaches Onegin about the real riches of life makes for a wonderful movie that avoids the usual pitfalls of costume dramas. While it’s disconcerting to hear Russian characters speak in English accents, the performances are so genuine you forgive this little faux pas. Fiennes is excellent as a man who thinks he has everything until he falls in love, while Tyler is lovely to look at and does a good job of conveying the innocence of the character. Nice period detail and good pacing by director Fiennes. (Studio Home Video)


By the time “Scream” arrived in 1996, the teen-slasher genre had all but worn itself out. Started in the seventies by John Carpenter with “Halloween” and revived in the eighties by Wes Craven with “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” the genre had long been the staple of drive-in double bills. When the nineties rolled around, the core audience had abandoned the genre, as well as drive-ins. Because each new generation feels the need to reinvent themselves, it was only a matter of time before modern teens tired of their parent’s formulaic horror films. They wanted to watch characters as hip as they were. Click title for complete review. (Dimension)


Originally intended as a television pilot, director Daniel Pyne’s noirish mockumentary took on a life of its own. Stretched to feature length and padded with adult material, “Where’s Marlowe” ended up as a theatrical release this year. Now it’s on video, and fans of mockumentary’s and film noir can enjoy it’s off-beat charms. John Livingston and Mos Def play two documentary filmmakers whose latest subject is private eye Joe Boone (Miguel Ferrer). What starts off as a goofy portrait of a second-rate private eye blossoms into an honest mystery. Ferrer is good as the private eye who worships Phillip Marlowe, while Linvingston and Def lend decent support as the filmmakers looking for success and finding much more. Pyne does an excellent job of balancing the two genres, providing some silly laughs in the first half, and honest suspense in the second. (Paramount)

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