Just now released on DVD, presumably in the hopes of getting any pop from an interest in Beckinsale thanks to her Pearl Harbor appearance. That's probably not going to do it, but Haunted stands fairly well on its own, a truly creepy slow burn that looks at madness and hints at incest.
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In most movie-business tales like this one, you can later look at the film in question and wonder what the fuss was all about. That's not the case here. Peeping Tom remains an intense, thoroughly disarming film about madness - not cackling, loony-bin madness, but the sort of insanity where the person is painfully aware of just what's cracked inside him. Psycho, to which this movie's often compared (they were released the same year) eventually reveals Norman Bates as utterly certifiable. That doesn't happen to Mark Lewis (a tremendous Carl Boehm), the handsome gent who spends his days as a focus puller at a film studio and his nights killing women - and filming the proceedings. Only until the very end is Lewis revealed as unsalvageable - until then, you're half rooting for the guy, and that's both the brilliance and the horror of the film.
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The story revolves around two dashing English gentlemen in the 1890s - John "Jack" Worthing (Colin Firth) and Algy Moncrieff (Rupert Everett) - and their trials and tribulations in the games of love and marriage under the moniker of Ernest. Jack spends his days watching over his bookish charge Cecily Cardew (Reese Witherspoon) - the granddaughter of his adopted father - at his country estate. When his restless spirit calls for adventure, he travels to London and visits his wayward city brother "Ernest." In London, Jack becomes "Ernest" and partakes in decadence with his affluent but reckless best friend Algy and ends up madly in love with Algy's sophisticated society cousin Gwendolen Fairfax (Frances O'Connor) - who has a strange love for the name of "Ernest."
Continue reading: The Importance Of Being Earnest (2002) Review
Interweaving two hindrance-hurdling love stories that share a literary connection but take place more than a century apart, director Neil LaBute has taken another large and confident step into an unexpected genre with gratifying results.
"Possession," which is lovingly but sometimes loosely adapted from A.S. Byatt's novel of the same name, follows the germinating romance between two relationship-reluctant academics as they in turn follow a trail of evidence revealing a passionate secret affair between two Victorian poets.
A wild departure from LaBute's previous films -- the caustic, even cruel social satires "In the Company of Men" and "Your Friends and Neighbors," and the upbeat black comedy "Nurse Betty" -- this effort has the melodic trappings of a Merchant-Ivory romance. But it's also a perceptive musing on what has and hasn't changed between the two time periods in the emotional, practical and sometimes prohibitive logistics of love.
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Film director Oliver Parker is fond of controversial fiddling with established stage classics. In 1995 he reinvented William Shakespeare's "Othello" as a relationship-intensive, semi-erotic psychological thriller. In 1999 he took liberties with Oscar Wilde's "An Ideal Husband," adding scenes and whole subplots with amusing but contentious results.
"The Importance of Being Earnest" is Parker's second stab at going Wilde, and while he once again retains the playwright's savory wit, this time out his plot-tweaking attempts to break out of the drawing room are often distractingly blunt and obvious. Chase scenes, tattooed buttocks and flashbacks of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy -- all new elements dictated by Parker -- are hardly the caliber or the character of any Victorian writer, even one as droll and roguish as Oscar Wilde.
However, a talented cast with keen comic timing helps assuage many of the movie's misfires. Colin Firth ("Bridget Jones's Diary") is nebbish perfection as Jack Worthington, a mannerly turn-of-the-Century country gentleman who invents a wayward brother named Earnest as an excuse for frequent trips to London to sow wild oats. In town he adapts the name Earnest himself and romances the prim but rebellious and beautiful Gwendolen Fairfax (Frances O'Connor), whose stuffy, high society mother (Judi Dench) is resolutely disapproving of all her daughter's suitors.
Continue reading: The Importance Of Being Earnest Review