Brad Weston

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Footloose Review


Good
A surprisingly faithful remake of the iconic 1984 hit, this crowd-pleasing romp finds some intriguing present-day resonance without pushing it too hard.

Instead, it centres on the interpersonal drama and exhilarating dance moves.

After his mother dies, Boston teen Ren (Wormald) moves to small-town Bomont to live with his aunt and uncle (Dickens and McKinnon). Teens here are prohibited from dancing due to a tragedy three years earlier, so Ren is soon at loggerheads with the local minister (Quaid), whose daughter Ariel (Hough) is a wild child with a redneck boyfriend (Flueger) and an eye for Ren. As Ren deals with his own issues, he teams up with new friends Willard and Woody (Teller and Blain) to take on the system.

Continue reading: Footloose Review

Prozac Nation Review


Grim
Some films lead a long and storied journey to the big screen; Prozac Nation led a long and vague journey to any screen at all. It was filmed back in the year 2000, scheduled for release in 2001, only to be bumped into early 2002, then to fall 2002, then into summer 2003... and on and on, setting and missing a yearly planner's worth of release dates, until it finally premiered, clearinghouse style, on the premium movie channel Starz! in March 2005 (meanwhile, the movie dotted the rest of the globe in 2003 and 2004, with isolated premieres in Japan, Norway, Denmark, and Israel). Waiting for Prozac Nation to come out turns out to be rather like the experience of actually watching Prozac Nation; despite low expectations, you press on, hoping for something interesting to happen.

Adapted from Elizabeth Wurtzel's memoir (unread by me, and despite its bestseller status it seems to be almost universally disliked) of depression and dysfunction at Harvard, Nation casts the always-watchable Christina Ricci as the self-absorbed author. The film doesn't exactly have a story; it's more about Elizabeth using college to gauge the depths of her mental instability. She writes in binges for the school paper, introduces countless substances into her system, and embarks on destructive relationships and non-relationships. Ricci, it must be said, displays skill and gusto in the areas of binging, abuse, and destruction; she throws herself into the part, though what she gets in return is questionable.

Continue reading: Prozac Nation Review

How to Kill Your Neighbor's Dog Review


Weak
A mildly amusing Kenneth Branagh starrer has Branagh as a Woody Allen-esque playwright living in the wrong damn town (Los Angeles), where he suffers through noisy neighbors and bad actors who mangle his erstwhile perfect dialogue. On a voyage of self-discovery, he learns a little something about humanity, of course. Like I said, mildly amusing.

Track Down Review


Grim
For this film review, we begin with a history lesson. Kevin Mitnick stands as probably the most famous, the most notorious, and the most successful computer hacker of all time. After nearly 15 years of hacking (alternating with jail and probation time), he was finally apprehended for the last time in 1995, for a collection of tech crimes. and was released from prison in early 2000. (The story of his questionably legal incarceration is itself enough material for a book and a movie.) I interviewed Mitnick shortly after his release; today he's a computer security consultant (though he's not allowed to touch a computer as a term of his release).

Track Downwas produced shortly before Mitnick's release amid much controversy. Mitnick, as you might expect, is a cause celebre among the hacker community, while he's been vilified by the corporate and legal communities. The story of his long career as a hacker was the subject of two major books -- The Fugitive Game, written mainly from Mitnick's point of view, and Takedown, written by the man who captured him. The latter book (widely dismissed by the hacker community as propaganda) got optioned by Miramax, and against all odds, the Kevin Mitnick story became a movie, starring Skeet Ulrich as Mitnick and Russell Wong as Tsutomu Shimomura, the man who "captured" Mitnick and the co-author of Takedown.

Continue reading: Track Down Review

Guinevere Review


Good
A curious May-December romance involving a bohemian San Francisco photographer (Rea) who builds a kind of teacher-lover-father-figure relationship with the far-younger Harper (Polley), whom he dubs Guinevere. Think of it as The Professional without all the killing. Turns out our shutterbug has a history of Guineveres, and soon his teeth are falling out and he's dying, and suffice it to say this is where the movie turns bizarre. Poetic, if not altogether meaningful. Jean Smart is particularly apt as Harper's prissy and snobbish mother.
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