Films Review June


An interesting cast can’t seem to shift this offbeat drama into gear. Lili Taylor stars as Rachel, who is so incensed that she is ripped off by a crooked garage owner that she recruits her friends and neighbors to get even. It’s a simple story, and that seems to be the problem. There isn’t much here to fuel the hungry appetites of the film’s stars, all of whom usually shine in smaller, character driven films. Will Patton co-stars as her neighbor Sean , a writer with a few quirks of his own, while John Turturro plays his best friend Johnny, who uses the opportunity to get close to Rachel. Director-writer Brandon Cole knows where to put the camera, but has a hard time making most of this matter. (MGM)


Unusual plot twists elevate this pedestrian thriller about obsessive love. Writer-director Russell DeGrazier has fun with the material, and his young, talented cast do wonders to make this worth while. Poor Matthew. He may have broken up with his girlfriend Liz, but he’s not ready to call it quits. To that end, he allows his obsession with Liz to control his life, and make hers a living hell. That is until Matthew finds someone else to occupy his time. Problem solved. Not really. When Liz learns that he is no longer the object of Matthew’s affection, she turns the tables and does whatever it takes to get things back to normal (abnormal?). Samantha Mathis, Gretchen Mol, Tom Everett Scott and Matthew Settle flesh out this interesting tale of role reversal. (Trimark)


A funny and telling thing happened while watching “Cast Away”. There were a couple of instances where Tom Hanks’ character, a FedEx systems engineer named Chuck Noland, becomes injured in the water and starts to bleed. Immediately everyone around me tensed up and collectively muttered “Oh no, sharks.” It’s amazing how much film has influenced the way people view real life. Thanks to “Jaws” and all the fin flicks that followed, audiences have come to believe that every time someone bleeds in the ocean, a shark will magically appear. It’s a cliche, best left suited to pulpy films like “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio. Sharks are usually a suspense device used when the filmmakers don’t trust their story and characters enough. “Cast Away” is different. The filmmakers’ trust us, even respect us, and never go for the obvious. There isn’t a shark to be found in “Cast Away.” Nothing magically happens in this film. Everything is earned. “Cast Away” is smart, and funny, and ultimately amazing. Please click on title for complete review. (20th Century Fox)


Another British Tarantino clone about an ex-gangster just released from prison attempting to regain control of the streets he left behind. A decent cast, including Sean Bean (“Ronin”) and Tom Wilkinson (“Shakespeare in Love”), approach the material with some degree of conviction, but their efforts are in vain. The story is pedestrian and familiar, while the conflicts lack the intensity of real life. Charlie Creed-Miles (“The Fifth Element”) has moments as a driver forced to examine his allegiances. Stylized violence and editing don’t compensate for a compelling story. Fans of “E.R.” might want to check in to see Alex Kingston play Bean’s wife. (Miramax)


Moderately suspenseful thriller stars Mario Van Peebles has a former US Marine Sergeant who is haunted by events that transpired during the Gulf War. Twelve years later, John Kross finds himself a member of the Los Angeles Police Department, where he’s called in to investigate a recent chain of brutal and fatal events. Weighing heavy on his mind are the events twelve years before, where he witnessed a team of archaeologists open a cursed tomb on the eve of the Gulf War, unleashing an ancient evil. Kross may have survived the unveiling, but he lost someone close to him in the process. Now those memories have come back to haunt him in the present. There’s a lot of story here, and writer Jeff Yagher does his best to make things work. Directors John Terlesky and Gary Tunnicliff get the most mileage out of their budget, while the actors go a long way in helping us believe their dilemma. Not a great picture, but it does offer an alternative to the glossy but brainless thrillers out there. (Studio)


o brother photo.JPG (187324 bytes)Outstanding Depression era comedy-fable from Joel and Ethan Coen (“Fargo”) stars a winning George Clooney as the intellectual leader of a trio of escaped cons trying to get home. Loosely based (very loosely) on Homer’s Odyssey, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” is set in and around Mississippi in 1937, and attention to detail is remarkable. Laughs and site gags are plentiful as Ulysses Everett McGill (Clooney), Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) and Pete (John Turturro) escape from a prison chain gang and find themselves on an event filled journey home. Their quest for freedom and family brings them face to face with many memorable characters, from a one-eyed Bible salesman (John Goodman in good form), to Tommy Johnson (Chris Thomas King), a musician who claims he sold his soul to the devil in exchange for being able to play the guitar, and gangster George “Baby Face” Nelson (Michael Baldalucco), who really hates cows. While trying to stay one step ahead of determined Sheriff Cooley (Daniel Van Bargen), the boys find themselves hiding out in a local radio station, where they pretend to be a group called the Soggy Mountain Boys. As a goof, they cut a record, which rises up the charts as the boys make their way home. Filled with outrageous moments and numerous plot threads that constantly catch you off guard, the film is a delightful blend of nostalgia and human comedy. Joel and Ethan Coen do such a brilliant job of making all of this matter you instantly buy into it. One of the best films of 2000, “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” will tickle your funny bone and fill your soul with music. (Touchstone)


Sweet, good natured, nostalgic romantic comedy set in a small Wyoming town in 1963. Bug Hall is adorable as thirteen-year-old Sam, who has just arrived in town with his free spirit of a mother Lydia (Jennifer Jason Leigh). An aspiring novelist, Sam has only one thing on his mind: Sex. He wants to know all about it, and with the help of a classmate (Mischa Barton) and a fantasy guide (Drew Barrymore), he’s about to get a crash course. Director Tamra Davis and writer Tim Sandlin do an excellent job of evoking time and place, while Davis gets superior performances from her top-flight cast. Leigh is wonderful as a woman who needs to settle down but can’t, while Barrymore has a field day with her cute cameos. However, it’s Hall who carries the film, delivering an honest portrayal of a naive teenager who comes of age. (Trimark)







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