David Rubin

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The Midnight Meat Train Review


Weak
Although the title sounds like the punch line to a crude joke ("...and they called it the midnight meat train!"), The Midnight Meat Train is in fact based on an early Clive Barker short story. The film is perhaps best known (at least in Barker fan circles) as a sterling example of what happens when studio politics gets in the way of filmmaking. While The Midnight Meat Train had a sizable budget and an edgy, young director (Japanese impresario Ryuhei Kitamura of Versus (a hyperactive zombie flick) fame), the movie was unceremoniously dumped into a hundred-odd budget theatres (quelle horror!) where maybe a hundred-odd people saw it. Maybe. The reasons this sad fate befell The Midnight Meat Train are legion, but most Barker fans (as well as Barker himself) seem to agree it had everything to do with infighting at Lionsgate. Whether the film was dumped due to internal politics or whether it was because Lionsgate no longer had faith in the picture, The Midnight Meat Train, despite its ridiculous title, is a decent horror flick. Slick and well-shot, it easily could have played first run theaters and may even have turned a profit.

Closely following Barker's original story (found in volume one of his Books of Blood collection), The Midnight Meat Train concerns a spate of subway disappearances. It seems a serial killer ("The Butcher" aka Mahogany) is offing commuters unlucky enough to be riding the late night trains he lurks on. Told he needs to kick his photos up a notch if he wants to be respected, photographer Leon (played by Bradley Cooper), heads into the bowels of the city looking for kicks. He finds them but he also stumbles upon The Butcher and begins a one-man quest to capture the killer.

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Brown's Requiem Review


OK
Relax, Fritz. It's Chinatown.

Drawing from every noir cliche in the book (drinking binges are punctuated by ghostly voice-overs... awesome), Brown's Requiem (based on a James Ellroy novel) is a virtual remake of Chinatown, with its deeply flawed P.I. hero (Michael Rooker), mysterious femme fatale (Selma Blair), and a conspiracy that works its way up the ranks of Los Angeles society.

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I Am Sam Review


Good
What defines a parent? Is it the amount of intellectual maturity displayed or the level of love given? Such is the question posed in I Am Sam.

In the film, Sam Dawson (Sean Penn) is a mentally challenged single father raising his daughter Lucy (Dakota Fanning). Sam is a sweet, good-natured man who earns a living by sweeping up at a local coffee store. His mental capacity is that of a seven-year-old, and as his daughter turns seven, she begins to intellectually outgrow her father. Soon, their lives come under the scrutiny of a social worker, who, "for the good of the child," wants Lucy placed into foster care.

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Blow Dry Review


Grim
Hmmm, what's this movie with Josh Hartnett and Rachael Leigh Cook on the cover? Must be some nutty teen comedy, right?

Well, with one cancer diagnosis and one death in the first 15 minutes, Blow Dry is hardly the feel-good romance you'd expect. Strikingly similar to The Big Tease, Blow Dry tells the story of a haircutting competition that descends on a small town in Britain. Celebrities (well, celebrity stylists) from around England arrive to compete, and the local boys get into the act as well. But while the drama unfolds with models and shears, another drama takes place among the locals -- largely involving various romances and a singular cancer victim.

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Cleopatra's Second Husband Review


Excellent
Ever had a houseguest that wouldn't leave? You don't know the half of it. A striking departure from films like Pacific Heights, Cleopatra's Second Husband cuts deep and pours salt in the wound -- a harrowing story that goes from semi-romantic comedy to gruesome thriller without looking back.

Jon Reiss's debut feature tells the story of Robert Marrs (Paul Hipp), an independently wealthy and prissy photographer unable to impregnate his wife Hallie (Bitty Schram). When they leave for a short trip, Zack (Boyd Kestner) and Sophie (Pitch Black's Radha Mitchell) are enlisted to care for the house. But upon their return, the place is a mess, the fish are dead, and Zack & Sophie don't look to leave.

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