In this installment, it's, well, a boy girl thing. The swappers are high school seniors: Dim jock Woody (Kevin Zegers) and Yale-destined brainiac Nell (Samaire Armstrong), who've lived next door to each other all their lives and, as this type of movie dictates, now hate each other. A class field trip and an Aztec idol get the switcheroo done (the mechanics of the switch are, of course, inconsequential), but with Woody's brain in Nell's body and vice versa, how will she dazzle the regents during her final Yale interview, and how will Woody impress the talent scouts at the Homecoming football game?
Continue reading: It's a Boy Girl Thing Review
Thirteen-year-old Emerson (Aaron Weber) lives in a hand-crafted Nova Scotia home with his ex-hippie environmentalist parents and has been home-schooled in their free-thinking style all his life. Family bonding consists of naked saunas, and Emerson calls his parents by their first names, Rog (Robert Joy) and Kaya (Rebecca Jenkins).
Continue reading: Whole New Thing Review
Wes Craven's brutal 1977 micro-budgeted The Hills Have Eyes was a post-hippie scream of horror, both at the collapse of the youth-led revolution and the dreadfulness of the Vietnam War. Craven turned his eye to home, to the desolate stretches of vast American desert where he could posit a family of bloodthirsty mutants preying on those who stumble onto their fallout abode, and it could almost (almost) seem plausible. With a world of misery at large, how strange would it be to find murderous maniacs in our own backyard? Sure, the original film suffers from some notably outré moments and jagged pacing, but Craven succeeded in bringing a grimly gleeful sense of humor to what was essentially a Texas Chainsaw Massacre riff.
Continue reading: The Hills Have Eyes (2006) Review
The miniseries mentality reached into the theatrical world as well. And so Milos Forman ended up with Ragtime, a sprawling book about American life in the early 1900s, filled with stories of racism, sudden upward mobility, abandonment, psychosis, and of course that good old ragtime music. The result is a film that sprawls well over two hours yet can't ever decide where the best story lies. Is it a tale of a murderous husband who avenges the harsh treatment of his former-chorus girl wife? The story of an abandoned black baby who winds up in the arms of a wealthy white family? No, Ragtime eventually focuses on a black piano player (Howard E. Rollins Jr.) who rises through the ranks of the ragtime scene, only to find bitter racism and resentment waiting for him on the other side. He ultimately winds up holed up in a library with one of the characters from another story in the film. Some of this is based on real events, most is not.
Continue reading: Ragtime Review
Surprisingly, Ryan proves that she's a real actress here. The rest of the cast (including Tony Roberts and Lori Laughlin) pretty much sleepwalk through this mess of a sequel, sidesteppin the terrible special effects, awful fright sequences (it's rated PG, for God's sake!), and pathetic use of stuff jutting into the camera to create that oh-so-popular 3-D effect. (3-D moments include a fly that gets in your face and a Frisbee flying toward the camera.)
Continue reading: Amityville 3-D Review
Land of the Dead is Romero's fourth zombie picture, a sequel of sorts to his last "...of the Dead" picture, Day of the Dead. It all began, of course, with the infamous '60s shocker Night of the Living Dead - now a denizen of the public domain and released by every fly-by-night DVD company around - which combined social commentary and, at the time, shocking gore. It was a combo that inspired a whole genre, the zombie-athon, and countless imitators, very few of which are as inspired as any of Romero's. (The engaging and referential Shaun of the Dead comes closest.)
Continue reading: Land of the Dead Review
Like some sketch-comedy Frankenstein monster made from the cutting-room entrails of "Clueless," "The Opposite of Sex," "To Die For," "Election" and "Heathers," the puerile social satire "Pretty Persuasion" is stinging only insomuch as its unsophisticated wit and overwhelming smugness are painful to sit through.
Writer Skander Halim and director Marcos Siega clearly watched all these movies before cranking out this disingenuous dark comedy about a manipulative, 15-year-old private-school tart (Evan Rachel Wood) who accuses a teacher (Ron Livingston) of sexual harassment just to get famous. But they didn't learn a thing from those droll, original pictures about sardonic nuance or creating a feeling of camaraderie towards an unsympathetic anti-heroine.
Wood ("Thirteen"), in a rudimentary role far beneath her proven talent, never shies away from the dangerously sharp edges of Beverly Hills brat Kimberly Joyce, who takes down her two best friends (and fellow accusers), an ambitious TV reporter (Jane Krakowski) and her father's business in her pursuit of her 15 minutes. But there's no wicked delight to be had in her machinations, which are so transparently premeditated that all the other characters in the movie (detectives, judges and lawyers included) have to be certifiable morons in order to advance the plot.
Continue reading: Pretty Persuasion Review
The fourth picture in Romero's "Dead" series,it takes place in a decimated world where a handful of rich elitists livein a self-contained, weakly defended luxury skyscraper and a lower classof humanity scrapes by in the streets behind protective walls and electricfences. But unbeknownst to all of them, the zombies in the wasteland outsidehave begun to think and organize.
This sounds like a fantastic -- and wholly original --concept that could take the genre to a scarier new level. But "Landof the Dead" fails to exploit the refreshing plot point any furtherthan is necessary to bring the undead through the city's pathetic ramparts,led by the moaning-groaning influence of a single zombie who has developeda primitive ability to reason.
The movie has nothing new to offer, although it is madea tad more watchable by something old -- Romero's simple, straightforwardcinematography that makes all the action (especially the mediocre scares)much clearer and eerily more immediate than the shake-shake, chop-chopstyle applied to most modern horror flicks. Its other great asset is thebody-decay makeup on the legions of walking corpses and the dead staresand lumbering gaits of some of the key zombie actors.
Continue reading: Land of the Dead Review
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