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13 Sins Review


Good

Even if the premise is tired, this grim thriller holds the attention by focussing on the raw intensity of the characters' personal lives. It's also grisly enough to work as a bone-dry black comedy about a hapless guy who will do whatever it takes to protect his loved ones. But just a little more complexity in the story and characters would have helped a lot.

The film opens as nice guy Elliot (Mark Webber) is sacked from his New Orleans job at exactly the wrong time. Not only is he planning his wedding with his pregnant fiancee Shelby (Rutina Wesley), but he also helps support his retirement-age dad (Tom Bower) and mentally disabled brother (Graye). So when a stranger phones to offer him a place in a cash-bonanza game, he doesn't mind that the 13 tasks are increasingly deranged. It starts with killing a fly, but soon escalates to making a child cry, starting a fire in a church and desecrating a dead body. But if he wins, his worries will be over. Then he realises that he's not the only contestant.

Without a hint of subtlety in the script, we never have any questions about what is happening, what the moral implications are and where the story's going next. So there's no way to join in with Elliot's disorienting dilemma. Instead, there's nothing to do but sit back and watch. In another actor's hands, Elliot might have come across as an idiot who deserves whatever's coming, but Webber has a vulnerability that makes us care what happens, even as he does one stupid thing after another. His family seem eerily oblivious, but Ron Perlman adds some deadpan humour as a detective following Elliot's trail. And Pruitt Taylor Vince is on hand as his usual bug-eyed, shifty nerd who knows more than anyone else.

Continue reading: 13 Sins Review

Beautiful Creatures Trailer


Lena Duchannes is a Caster whose family has plenty of dark power between them, but rather than feeling empowered, Lena just wishes she can be mortal so she wouldn't have to hide and people wouldn't talk about her all the time. When she moves to the small and somewhat conservative town of Gatlin, South Carolina, she finds herself an outcast but is soon noticed by her school mate Ethan Wate who is enchanted by her and the excitement her arrival brings to this ordinary, unmoving town. However, their relationship is compromised by the fact that Lena only has a matter of days left before she is subjected to the Claiming; a process that will decide whether she will turn to the Light or the Dark side of magic. While her uncle does everything in her power to make sure she is claimed to the Light, the all-powerful Sarafine is convinced that she will have great magical supremacy which would better be served in the Dark. 

'Beautiful Creatures' is the story of just how much love can conquer and, equally, the devastation it brings. It has been adapted to screen by Oscar nominated director and screenwriter Richard LaGravenese ('P.S. I Love You', 'The Mirror Has Two Faces') from the book of the same name by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. The fantasy romance will be released in time for Valentine's Day on February 13th 2013.

Director: Richard LaGravenese

Continue: Beautiful Creatures Trailer

Drive Angry Review


OK
Less a fully realised thriller than a series of rampaging set pieces, this rollicking movie at least provides some goofy good fun for audiences, plus one terrific performance. Otherwise, it's just misogynistic carnage.

Milton (Cage) is on a mission to avenge the death of his daughter and rescue his grandchild from a charismatic satanic cult leader (Burke). But he's being tenaciously pursued by a man (Fichtner) who calls himself the Accountant and clearly has supernatural powers. Indeed, it turns out that Milton has escaped from hell, and the Accountant is here to bring him back. Although he rather enjoys causing chaos here on earth. Meanwhile, Milton teams up with Piper (Heard), mainly because she has a seriously hot car.

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In The Electric Mist Review


Excellent
French filmmaker Tavernier captures Louisiana with a remarkable eye. Even though the film meanders a bit, the skilful direction and camerawork combine with strong acting to create an engaging, insinuating thriller.

Dave (Jones) is a detective looking into the violent murder of a prostitute when movie star Elrod (Sarsgaard), filming nearby in a swamp, stumbles across the decades-old skeleton of a chained-up black man. In Dave's mind, the murders are linked, and as he questions a local mobster (Goodman), a partying investor (Beatty) and the film's director (Sayles), both cases get increasingly haunting. Dave also imagines that he sees a Confederate general (Helm) roaming the bayou around his house. And within this swirling mist, things start to make sense.

Continue reading: In The Electric Mist Review

Monster (2003) Review


Good
Thank God that Monster, the fictionalized story of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, wasn't made back in the 1990s, when filmmakers just couldn't fetishize mass murder enough. Wuornos's story would have been "loosely adapted" so that they could have cast someone attractive in the role, there would have been a slick grunge soundtrack and plenty of hipster humor amidst the bloodletting. That's not to say that movies haven't stopped their love affair with the serial killer, but Monster shows that it is possible to make a gripping, yet still dispassionate and non-exploitative film on the subject.

Wuornos is famous not just for the fact that she killed seven men in Florida in 1989 and 1990, but for being pretty much the only female serial killer of note in recent American history. A troubled girl who had been on her own since she was 13 and had survived by prostitution, Wuornos claimed, up until her execution in 2002, that she had acted in self-defense each time. Writer/director Patty Jenkins's script manages to show how self-serving and untrue this story ultimately became while at the same time acknowledging how Wuornos's past and profession led to her killing spree. There's a wonderful moment in a dingy biker bar where a self-pitying Wuornos is consoled by her friend Thomas (Bruce Dern), a Vietnam veteran; they take turns volleying variations on "What choice did I have?" back and forth in an attempt to escape culpability for any of their actions.

Continue reading: Monster (2003) Review

Constantine Review


Very Good
How's this for a story premise: God made a pact with the Devil that none of their minions - angels and demons - would ever cross over from the ethereal planes of Heaven and Hell into the human plane. But occasionally, the minions break the rules, and it's up to supernatural hero John Constantine (Keanu Reeves) to "deport" them to Hell as punishment.

Pretty badass, right? Definitely. Deep and meaningful? Hardly. This is a violent and apocalyptic story, based loosely on the Hellblazer graphic novels by comic book legend Alan Moore. And much to the relief of comic book fanboys everywhere, this adaptation adheres to the heavy, religious-war foundational spirit of Moore's work.

Continue reading: Constantine Review

Mumford Review


Very Good
Mumford reminded me how nice it is to forget yourself in the midst of a good story - Lawrence Kasdan's (The Big Chill, Grand Canyon) latest charm will keep you grinning. Speaking of smiles (and tangents), this is a great film for anyone who likes to look at mouths; I haven't seen so many close-ups of teeth and gums since the last time I went to the dentist!

Loren Dean (Enemy of the State, Apollo 13) does a decent job as Dr. Mumford, the most popular psychologist in the small town to which he just moved. Listening attentively to the tormented visitors of the treatment couch, his apparent peace of mind and even temper become infectious. Ubiquitously available and sounding less like a shrink than a wise uncle who gives just enough advice at just the right time, it's no wonder Dr. Mumford is everyone's favorite confidant. But will those he's helped to see through their own faults be just as understanding if they find out the truth of his past?

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Nurse Betty Review


Excellent
Neil LaBute, best known for his ultra-dark comedies In the Company of Men and Your Friends and Neighbors, breaks from his traditional mold and lightens up a tad with Nurse Betty, which -- again -- isn't going to win any awards for sensitivity.

For the first time, LaBute is not directing from his own script, which might explain why, if I didn't know better, I would have sworn I was watching a Coen brothers movie. Who else would put a fantasy dancing sequence on the edge of the Grand Canyon at night?

Continue reading: Nurse Betty Review

Simone Review


Good
It might sound contrived to say that a film about a computer-generated movie star is a little flat but... well, there it is. It's the unfortunate truth about writer/director Andrew Niccol's Simone, an Al Pacino-led comedy where Niccol visits some of the same intriguing notions of fame, success, and public perception as in his screenplay for The Truman Show. In that film, the center of attention was a man watched by an adoring and all-knowing viewing audience -- in Simone, the public still loves a superstar... they just have no clue that she's a complete fake.

And not "fake," like some butt-kissing movie actress, but really fake. Simone (or S1m0ne, as Niccol sharply titles the film) is the perfect pixilated creation of a Microsoft-age mad scientist, who's created his flawless CGI actress specifically for floundering moviemaker Viktor Taransky (a truly entertaining Al Pacino). Viktor needs a hit badly and the lead actress on his new feature -- played by Winona Ryder, in a painfully ironic appearance -- has just stormed off his new movie due to "creative differences." Nine months later (human gestation period, if I'm not mistaken) Simone is born to take her place. And since our obsessive inventor has quickly died from an eye tumor, contracted from too much computer use(!), only Viktor knows the true secret of his new lead actress.

Continue reading: Simone Review

Trapped Review


Terrible
When a screenwriter decides to write another, predictable ransom thriller, why is it always the attractive, rich families with mansions on lakes that become the hapless victims? In reality, stranger abductions hit all socio-economic groups, so why are the poor families in the movies immune? A more cynical take on the genre would find a meager family with such ransom obstacles.

In Trapped, the latest in this tiresome genre, the kidnappers' true motive is not greed, despite the fact that they request a ransom for good measure. Will Jennings (Stuart Townsend) is a successful anesthesiologist with a beautiful lakeshore home he shares with his gorgeous wife Karen (Charlize Theron) and their adorable little daughter Abby (Dakota Fanning). While Will is away at a medical conference, kidnappers Joe Hickey (Kevin Bacon) and Marvin Pool (Pruitt Taylor Vince) quietly break into the Jennings' home and take Abby. Marvin leaves with Abby and Joe stays behind with the irate Karen to guide her through his plan. Meanwhile, at the conference, Will meets up with a third accomplice in the kidnapping, Cheryl Hickey (Courtney Love) who holds him hostage in his hotel room.

Continue reading: Trapped Review

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Pruitt Taylor Vince Movies

13 Sins Movie Review

13 Sins Movie Review

Even if the premise is tired, this grim thriller holds the attention by focussing on...

Beautiful Creatures Trailer

Beautiful Creatures Trailer

Lena Duchannes is a Caster whose family has plenty of dark power between them, but...

Butter - Trailer Trailer

Butter - Trailer Trailer

Laura Pickler is the proud and doting wife of long-time butter carving champion Bob Pickler....

Drive Angry Movie Review

Drive Angry Movie Review

Less a fully realised thriller than a series of rampaging set pieces, this rollicking movie...

Drive Angry Trailer

Drive Angry Trailer

Escaping the deepest and darkest realms of hell, Milton returns to Earth in a bid...

Captivity Movie Review

Captivity Movie Review

Strapped to a rusty medical chair, Elisha Cuthbert's performance in Roland Joffe's Captivity doesn't work...

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Monster (2003) Movie Review

Monster (2003) Movie Review

Thank God that Monster, the fictionalized story of serial killer Aileen Wuornos, wasn't made back...

Constantine Movie Review

Constantine Movie Review

How's this for a story premise: God made a pact with the Devil that none...

Mumford Movie Review

Mumford Movie Review

Mumford reminded me how nice it is to forget yourself in the midst of a...

The Legend of 1900 Movie Review

The Legend of 1900 Movie Review

Director Giuseppe Tornatore has a knack for weaving a magical story. Cinema Paradiso firmly...

Nurse Betty Movie Review

Nurse Betty Movie Review

Neil LaBute, best known for his ultra-dark comedies In the Company of Men and Your...

Identity Movie Review

Identity Movie Review

If, like me, you've been seeing trailers for Identity all year -- with its rain-soaked...

Simone Movie Review

Simone Movie Review

It might sound contrived to say that a film about a computer-generated movie star is...

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