David Jacobson

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Down In The Valley Review


OK

Harlan Carruthers is a blissful cowboy, all scuffed boots, aw-shucks mannerisms, and a negligent sort of sensuality. He's lightening-quick with his twin single-shot Colts and loves nothing more than riding his horse to the highest hill around and surveying the beauty of the landscape.

He's also a walking anachronism, because Down in the Valley is a modern-day tale, and the title refers to the overbuilt suburbia that is the San Fernando Valley, the land of crowded freeways and chain stores that marks the northern reaches of Los Angeles. But Harlan, played by Edward Norton, swaggers through, contentedly out of place, until he catches sight of Tobe (Evan Rachel Wood), a teenage nymph who pulls into the service station where Harlan works as she is on the way to the beach with her giggling friends. It's unclear why the group dismisses Harlan as out-of-place instead of in fashion, but Tobe is as instantly taken with him as he is with her, and he quits his job to catch his first sight of the ocean with her.

Continue reading: Down In The Valley Review

Dahmer Review


Good
David Jacobson brings his fascination with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer to the big screen in this impressive but occasionally wandering biopic. Dahmer wisely avoids turning its antihero (played gamely by Jeremy Renner) into a monster, treating him like any other troubled twentysomething with problems at home and at work. Jacobson doesn't put the blame on Dahmer's mildly oppressive father (Bruce Davison) -- in fact, we're given almost no motivation for his crimes at all, except that the guy is basically insane.

And oh -- the crimes. Although Jacobson again keeps most of the gore off-camera, Dahmer's attempts at zombifying his random victims, severing their extremities, and practicing various forms of execution are eye-opening enough to make you want to avert your gaze. Is it because the story is true that it's so disturbing? The movie was shot largely in Milwuakee, on the very street where Dahmer lived and did his deeds. However, the movie goes a little light with some of the facts -- in an attempt to humanize the man, we don't see his attempts at cannibalism or the large vat in which he decomposed his victims. We also don't see him get caught; the movie ends with Jeffrey just wandering into the forest.

Continue reading: Dahmer Review

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