Films Review March


My, how the mighty have fallen. It’s sad to think that this silly video premiere came from director Jack Sholder (“The Hidden”) and producer Brian Yuzna (“Re-Animator”). Anyone looking for more of the same will be sadly disappointed with this silly tale about a group of scientist who find themselves marooned on an island with a deadly arachnid. The film feels dated by dubious special effects and lame dialogue that recalls but doesn’t reflect those great oversized bug movies from the 1950s. Quick, someone get me a gallon can of Raid. (Lion’s Gate)


Like the delightful “Shirley Valentine,” “Bread & Tulips” is the story of a housewife named Rosalba (Licia Maglietta), who is on vacation with her family. When she is accidentally left behind, Rosalba retaliates by going on vacation by herself. Rosalba is so enchanted by her stay in Venice that she decides to stay there permanently. Soon she has a job, a room, and a newfound sense of freedom and who she really is. I love movies like this, and even though the film is in Italian with English subtitles, the story and feelings are so universal you can’t help but be swept away by Rosalba’s quest to maintain her identity, even when her husband sends a private detective to Venice to bring her home. She may not talk to the wall, still Rosalba has a lot to say about women and their ability to break free from the restrictions placed on them by society. Maglietta is delightful, while Bruno Ganz shines as the waiter she rents a room from and befriends. (Columbia-TriStar)


Off-beat road trip stars Jake Busey as a grungy Los Angeles dude whose one night stand with his favorite porn star Ginger (Jennifer Tilly, bubbly as ever) convinces him to ditch the city of Angels and follow Ginger to Palm Springs. En route, Rock (Busey, looking particularly dis-shelved) picks up whacked-out drifter Jules (Crispin Glover, perfectly cast) and encounters numerous road trip speed bumps. Eric Roberts is appropriately menacing as Ginger’s violent, possessive husband, and Natasha Lyonne sparkles as Rick’s waitress girlfriend who ends up serving his best friend (Adam Goldberg). Based on the best-selling novel, “Fast Sofa” isn’t a great movie, but it does keep your interest. (Lions Gate)


A fine cast and thoughtful direction distinguish this road film about two slackers who hit the road when one of them is caught in bed with a mobster’s woman. Jared Leto stars as Jack, who finds himself on the run when the mobster sends his goons after him. In toe is Jack’s best friend Pilot (Jake Gyllenhaal), and hitchhiker Cassie (Selma Blair), all who find themselves on the ride of their life. What begins as a standard issue action film segues into a smart and funny character study that has a lot to say about Generation X. Director James Cox creates interesting situations and gets good performances from all involved. Leto and Gyllenhaal are especially well rounded as two losers who learn several life lessons on the road. (New Line)

K-PAX (PG-13)

His name is Prot (rhymes with vote, not rot) and he claims he’s from the planet K-PAX. The declaration leads to two possible hypothesis: either he’s telling the truth or he’s crazy. Forced to make that distinction is Dr. Mark Powell, chief of psychiatry at the Psychiatric Institute of Manhattan. After years of treating a veritable “Cuckoo’s Nest” of patients, Powell meets his match in Prot, who is brought to the institute after scuffling with police in Grand Central Station. Prot defies every one of Powell’s expectations, and after spending some time with the good doctor, begins to open Powell’s eyes to the possibility that maybe he isn’t delusional. Please click on title for complete review. (Universal)


Noble tear-jerker stars Kevin Kline as a divorced father who loses his job as an architect and then learns that he has cancer and only months to live. Most people would fold their hand of cards when faced with such uncertainty, but George Monroe (Kline) decides to go for broke and tidy up loose ends. Desperate to reconnect with his teenage son Sam (Hayden Christensen) and his ex-wife Robin (Kristin Scott Thomas), George decides to refurbish their seaside home. When George requests that Sam spend the summer with him rebuilding the house, he refuses, but eventually relents. What begins as an uneasy alliance blossoms into mutual respect as George tries to become the father he never was, and the rest of his family and friends admire his tenacity and courage. Director Irwin Winkler manages to tell the story with as little melodrama as possible, and the cast is excellent. Kline is effective as a man willing to spend his last days on earth living instead of waiting to die, while Christensen stands out as the troubled Sam who would rather spend the summer getting high. Scott Thomas shines as Robin, who is eventually won over by George’s commitment to heal old wounds. (New Line)


Shot on video, Barbet Schroeder’s “Our Lady of the Assassins” is a powerful reminder that a great story can be told in any medium. The director of “Reversal of Fortune” creates a film of unbelievable passion and tolerance. It’s not easy to watch, but for those willing to take the trip, the final destination is worth the time spent. German Jaramilio is excellent as Fernando, a writer who has returned to his home in Medellin, Colombia to finish out his life. There, Fernando, who is gay, meets teenage street punk Alexis (Anderson Ballesteros) in a brothel, and invites him into his life. It’s love at first sight, but like Fernando, Alexis’ days are numbered. A member of a street gang, Alexis uses his ruthless power to make life easier for Fernando, but can’t keep himself out of trouble. The script and director paint a bleak portrait of the Cocaine financed region, and the film leaves us with a little hope that both characters will find true happiness. (Paramount)


Yet anther trip into the “Hood,” not as bad as most direct-to-video efforts in this genre, but that’s not saying much. Ever since John Singleton’s “Boyz in the Hood” is has become popular to add a “Z” to a title and set the film in East Los Angeles. Does anybody even care anymore? Except for gang-bangers, who watches this stuff? This one is set in the summer of 1998, where three friends find themselves at moral crossroads. All the actors play their characters to type, and the writing and direction are passable at best. (Artisan)


Belated sequel to the 1977 groundbreaking ice hockey comedy starring Paul Newman and featuring some of the rawest language on the screen at the time. Newman is nowhere to be found, but the dialogue is just as dicey. Stephen Baldwin plays the Charleston Chiefs’ new captain and coach Sean Linden. Linden knows that the team has seen better days, which currently features a roster of screw-ups and ex-stars, including the immature Hanson Brothers (do these guys ever grow up?). Instead of face another miserable season, the team’s new millionaire owner (Gary Busey) decides to serve the team up as the underdogs in a phony made-for-television hockey league (shades of the XFL). Making matters worse, the owner replaces Linden with a woman coach, forcing the men to shape up in order to prove they’re no one’s clown. Pretty much a replay of the first film, only with the bench players in for the first string. (Universal)


You would think that people would learn by now, but no! Another tale of idealistic young people who tempt fate by journeying to an ancient burial ground that soon grips their group with fear and madness. When a group of archeological students join their respected teacher to the burial ground to do some research on the past, they find themselves at the mercy of an unseen evil force that takes control of their teacher, who ends up sacrificing his students. I wonder if they have a bumper sticker for their parent’s car for that. Richard Hatch and Tim Thomerson are the only recognizable faces here, but it really doesn’t matter because the script and characters are so generic that its hard to tell them apart anyway. (Monarch)


3 A.M. (NR/Showtime)


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