Larry Gross

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Prozac Nation Review


Weak
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.

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Streets Of Fire Review


Weak
A bizarre take on West Side Story, Streets of Fire gives us Paré and Lane as the beast and the beauty in the music scene of "another time, another place" -- a time that manages to muddle the hair styles, attire, and vehicles of the 1930s, 1950s, and 1980s. Needless to say, it's an ugly time, an ugly place. The "rock-and-roll fable" of Streets of Fire doesn't have much to say, culminating in a pick-axe fight between Paré and bad-boy Dafoe, which I think says just about all you need to know.

We Don't Live Here Anymore Review


Weak
Touted as a sexy and provocative drama, We Don't Live Here Anymore is an ensemble piece that strains the attention span as two couples engage in a musical beds tango. The actors are seriously exploring how to make it fresh and meaningful, but the soapy, voyeuristic writing binds them to the prosaic as it focuses on sex, confusion and values that change to match the impulse.

Terry Linden (Laura Dern) is the most wronged one here since it's English professor hubby Jack (Mark Ruffalo) who is stepping out on her with close friend Edith Evans (Naomi Watts) but, with her nagging nature and late-in-the-day histrionics, she fails to spark much sympathy. Edith's husband Hank (Peter Krause) doesn't seem quite as victimized by Edith's infidelity perhaps because he's hitting on Terry when the opportunity arises. Besides, there's already something distant in this marriage. Both couples have kids.

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Crime Punishment In Suburbia Review


Weak
If you're seeking enlightenment on what you think would be a modern reverberation on the timeless Fyodor Dostoyevsky masterpiece, don't be misled by Crime + Punishment in Suburbia. While the film opens with a quotation from Crime and Punishment, which, I suppose, is intended to lead us to a new interpretation of the book, that's the only (tenuous) connection. In the novel, the protagonist, Raskolnikov, rebels against the morality imposed on him by a society and kills an innocent woman. He later discovers that the worst punishment for the murder was the one his guilty conscience made him to endure. And perhaps, if you concentrate hard enough, the suffering Raskolnikov could conceivably parallel that of a pudgy adolescent Roseanne (Monica Keena, ex of Dawson's Creek), one of the main characters in the movie.

Completed before American Beauty, this artificial little movie resembles it in every way possible, mainly because it examines the very same set of stereotypes about malfunctioning wealthy suburbanites. Vincent (Vincent Kartheiser), a sallow loner, follows Roseanne everywhere with his camera. Given the privilege to provide voice-over for most of the film, we hope that he is the voice of wisdom, or at least revelation in the story. Far from it: His philosophy is one of a self-possessed New Age spiritual guru who is convinced he can save Roseanne from hell she is living in. What Ricky was able to see with his lens in American Beauty revealed the hidden layers of human behavior. Vincent, by comparison, as well as the whole ensemble of characters in Crime + Punishment, goes through the plot's twists and turns without a single coherent thought in his head.

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True Crime Review


Very Good
How'd I miss this one on the big screen? True Crime may have that feel of typical Clint Eastwood-self-promotion, but it is ultimately a considerably gripping meditation on the press and its role in the legal system. While elements feel a bit too much like Dead Man Walking, some excellent performances by Eastwood, Leary, and Woods make this a film worth watching. The story can be tepid and predictable at times, but overall it's a credible stab at crafting a legal thriller.
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We Don't Live Here Anymore Movie Review

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