Dorian Harewood

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Looker Review


Grim
You gotta love technology. Without technology and the naturally amoral things it does, we'd have no villains in the movies. I mean what's more frightening than extreme rationality? Clones? Oh my! Circuit boards and vacuum tubes? Yikes! According to Michael Crichton's early flick Looker, technology -- in particular, television -- holds us fast in its undeniable sway and there is very little we can do to escape its cold grasp. I guess that's the point in Looker, though it's still a bit unclear.

Albert Finney is a popular plastic surgeon and business is great. Thing is, some of his models start turning up dead and, naturally, there's a conspiracy afoot. One that involves digitized people, high-tech guns (the Lookers of the title or Light Ocular Oriented Kinetic Energetic Responsers), and big business. Susan Dey play Cindy (and doffs every stitch of clothing), a model who wants perfection to get a modeling contract with the ominous sounding Digital Matrix. James Coburn plays the tycoon behind Digital Matrix and like all tycoons he's thoroughly bad.

Continue reading: Looker Review

Levity Review


Good
Billy Bob Thornton does a variation of his nearly invisible barber from The Man Who Wasn't There in screenwriter Ed Solomon's directorial debut Levity, escaping once again into a role of a hollow loner whose contemplative interior life dominates his every waking hour. Yet unlike in the Coen brothers' loopy noir homage, Thornton's character - a recently paroled convict named Manual (yes, "Manual") Jordan - is not a passive observer but, rather, a lost soul vainly searching for some way to make up for past sins. Although he does not believe in God (or divine redemption), Manual traverses the empty streets of his hometown desperately looking for some way to lessen the burden he has carried since that fateful day he shot a young convenience store clerk in a robbery gone terribly awry.

Thornton's reserved performance, involving lots of aimless shuffling around town and empty stares into nothingness, is well suited to the rhythms of Solomon's glacially-paced film (which he wrote as well as directed); his Manual a man who, having been unceremoniously dumped back into society against his will (he believes he deserves to stay in prison for his crime), doesn't know how to pick up the pieces of his non-existent life and move forward. With long thinning grey locks and a weathered, creased face, Manual is like a ghost forever doomed to haunt the locale of his greatest error, and when he moves through a subway station tunnel directly after leaving the Big House, it's not surprising to find that the crowds rush past him without acknowledging his presence. Thornton plays the character as though he had shriveled up from the inside out, and his expressions of bemused confusion and timid fright convey the feelings of unwieldy guilt and desperation that plague his conscience.

Continue reading: Levity Review

Full Metal Jacket Review


Extraordinary
The best movie ever made about the American experience in Vietnam happens to have been filmed by an American expatriate living in Britain. Stanley Kubrick's war masterpiece is split into two parts, and it's the first that is laser-engraved into the psyche of any film fan. R. Lee Ermey has never (and will never) be able to shake the role of the uber-demanding sergeant, and Matthew Modine and Vincent D'Onofrio turn in career-making performances as well. Written tautly to the point where it's impossible to look away, this harrowing look at the war -- and what the experience was like for the troops before they ever set foot on foreign soil -- is unmatched in the genre.

Hendrix Review


Weak
Wood Harris does an admirable job at portraying the late, legendary Jimi Hendrix, but VH-1's Behind the Music has more depth than this tepid docudrama. Showing Hendrix as a musical genius but utterly lacking any business sense, Hendrix gives us little more than a bunch of women and a procession of drugs to mark the life of one of the biggest musical pioneers of our time. Why waste 20 minutes cutting back and forth to footage of an "interview" with Hendrix before his death? Show the man's life!

Continue reading: Hendrix Review

Glitter Review


Terrible

The rise to fame of Billie Frank -- the struggling songstress played by ear-piercing pop diva Mariah Carey in the witless showbiz fairytale "Glitter" -- is so absurdly easy you'd think you're supposed to hate her for it.

After a quickie boo-hoo introduction in which young Billie is abandoned by her bar-singer ghetto mom for no adequately explored reason and put in an orphanage, director Vondie Curtis Hall ("Gridlock'd") fast-forwards to a nightclub scene in 1983 (symbolized by the occasional butt-ugly costume). There our girl, now all grown up curvy, gets offered a gig as a backup singer to a tone-deaf rising star, solely based on the way she wiggles her booty.

During the ensuing recording session, the pimp-daddy producer (Terrence Howard, "Angel Eyes") turns up Billie's microphone and substitutes her voice for his star's. In the next scene an influential DJ called "Dice" (some scruffy-handsome English actor named Max Beesley spouting the most laughable white-boy street lingo ever spoken with a straight face) hears the tape, hears Billie sing, realizes who the real talent is and offers to make her famous.

Continue reading: Glitter Review

Gothika Review


Grim

If only screenwriter Sebastian Gutierrez had put as much effort into story logic and credible characters as director Mathieu Kassovitz puts into generating seat-grabbing goosebumps in "Gothika," the wannabe-cerebral supernatural horror thriller might have had more going for it than just a few good shudders and jumps.

The first above-the-title starring vehicle for 2002 Oscar winner Halle Berry -- playing a criminal psychologist who blacks out after a car accident and wakes up in her own prison asylum, accused of axe-murdering her husband -- the film begins with a strike against it for its laughable attempts at evocative dialogue in the opening-scene rantings of a wild-eyed inmate (Penelope Cruz).

"He opened me like a flower of pain...and it felt goooood," the pretty Spaniard flares, all dowdied-down in Serious Actress Mode. "(Then) I cut his Adam's apple in half like a soft fruit on a summer day."

Continue reading: Gothika Review

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