Theresa Russell

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17th Annual Dances With Films Opening Night Film And Festival Filmmaker Green Carpet

Theresa Russell - 17th Annual Dances With Films Opening Night Film And Festival Filmmaker Green Carpet - Arrivals - Los Angeles, California, United States - Friday 30th May 2014

On the Doll Review


Good
I have no idea what "on the doll" means, but I guess it has something to do with prostitution and pornography. Thomas Mignone's harrowing film is an expose of sorts into the sex trade underworld, offering interlocking tales that involve a call girl (Brittany Snow) who's looking to rob her richest client, two teens (Candice Accola and Chole Domont) who're lured into Internet porn by their seedy teacher, and a porn ad editor (Josh Janowicz) who is trying to pay off a mobster to get an old friend out from behind the glass at a peep show booth. But it isn't just sex that ties them all together, there is loads of violence surrounding their lives every day.

Most of On the Doll's stories are writ small, but each is intense (save for one, which concerns another fetish-oriented call girl who's trying to get out of the business... and failing). Mignone does a remarkable job at taking what starts as a mild flirtation or tiptoeing into perversity and showing how baby steps can soon lead to full-on, downhill slides. The movie is surprisingly at its best in the story of the two teens, who first flirt with their perverted teacher (played memorably by Ocean's 11 series character actor Eddie Jemison), then end up taking a ride with him to the local web porn production studio, where they're crudely sized up for their value to the viewing audience. It's a shocking transition: Just minutes earlier these girls were worrying about their grades.

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Now & Forever Review


Terrible
This is one of those rare movies that starts off middling-to-bad, then gets worse... and worse... and worse, until you can bear it no longer and the credits roll. What anyone was thinking in putting together this story is completely beyond me. Angela (personal fave Mia Kirshner) is the daughter of a fiery adultress (Theresa Russell) and a crippled father. John (Adam Beach) is a native American wrestling with the typical ostracization we see of native Americans in the movies. They become unlikely friends, and over the years they witness each other's misery. Angela is nearly raped. John's love for her is spurned. Eventually, Angela develops a tragic illness (which is manifest in the film primarily through her red, puffy face). Later, there are superimposed ghostly images of our heros over amber waves of grain. Schmaltz has never been spread this thick, folks, especially not by the director of both Porky's and SuperBabies. This is truly horrifying stuff.

The Last Tycoon Review


OK
The Last Tycoon, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald's unfinished final novel, packs a pile of talent into its two hours but comes up a bit short in the end.

A shockingly lithe Robert De Niro stars as Monroe Stahr, a 1930s studio executive based on Irving Thalberg (a prolific producer who died at the age of 37, presumably from overwork). Stahr has lost loves in the past and a crushing chip on his shoulder in the present. He's a workhorse, but he wants something more out of life.

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Bad Timing Review


OK
Nicolas Roeg's Bad Timing is often remembered by fans as a forgotten masterpiece and an unfairly censored classic, but has 25 years muddled their perception of a film that's really an experimental curiosity at best? Check out the new Criterion DVD and judge for yourself.

Bad Timing tells an extremely simplistic story: In Vienna, psychologist Alex Linden (Art Garfunkel) meets a mysterious blonde named Milena (Theresa Russell) at a party, and soon they strike up an affair. Eventually she turns up in the E.R. What happened? A detective (Harvey Keitel, attired and styled as the obvious model for Pulp Fiction's Vincent Vega) is sent in to investigate.

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Black Widow Review


Weak
The grand dame of Lifetime-class "women's thrillers," Black Widow is both obvious (dig the title and try to figure out the plot -- Theresa Russell's the black widow; Debra Winger is the FBI agent hot on her tail!) and hopelessly dated (good lord, what's with Winger's hair?). Today, Widow is interesting as kitsch and camp and because poor Dennis Hopper is in it. Check it out next time it's on the WE network.

Searching for Debra Winger Review


OK
It's either sad or interesting or -- something -- when the only man in a movie is Roger Ebert. Rosanna Arquette, tired of hearing that old aphorism that there are no good parts for women in Hollywood, takes up a video camera and records interviews with some three dozen actresses at various ages. (The title invokes Debra Winger's recent retirement and reclusiveness -- though since this film she returned to the cinema.)

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The Believer Review


Grim
Religious doubt leads to violence in this slice-of-lifer that won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival -- now finally making tentative steps in general release.

Jewish self-hatred is an interesting foundation for a film, if only because it's a subject never explored by an industry still apologizing for the Holocaust. The lengths to which someone will go to redefine and prove themselves a member of the enemy circle are certainly compelling. But when the main character in question dives between extremes without a single clear definition of his motives, the strength of the narrative suffers. A double life can only work when you are aware of some of the triggers that push some semblance of reality into the character in question.

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Wild Things Review


Good
The most often-asked question I have gotten in my career as a film critic isn't how I see the movies. It isn't what I review for. It isn't how much do I make, or have I ever been blurbed. It's do I review porn. I smile at this, display a little bit of patience (a little bit more if the person who asks happens to be an attractive woman, and such a situation has happened more than once), and say that I don't. If they pester me with the question, I respond with a simple joke: "My main problem with porn is its lack of plot."

Although, quite honestly, I don't have a particular problem with porn (it just isn't in the regular canon of films to be reviewed, that's all), that simple joke often proves true. One-too-many guilty pleasure flicks have been bashed by me on the account that they do nothing other than serve as a generalized platform for commercializing sex without any other cinematic value. And, although I am willing to give points in such a B-or-C-grade film for casting a woman with certain... assets... that suit the part, I find myself unable to otherwise turn off the "critic's switch" within me to the point that I can be guiltlessly turned on by the images in front of me on the screen.

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Water Under the Bridge Review


Grim
Water Under the Bridge starts with enigmatic promise: Jake O'Connor (Scott Cooper, the bastard child of Ben Affleck and Ethan Hawke) returns to San Francisco after an extended absence, revisiting a past that involves a dead friend, an alcoholic mother (Theresa Russell), and a father that might be the culprit in both scenarios.

Before long, Jake's got a job and an apartment, and he's romancing his single-mom landlord (Gabrielle Anwar) while making inroads with his old family and trying to exorcise those demons.

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Physical Evidence Review


Terrible
You know it's a legal flick because of the title -- but you know it's a thriller because the "V" in Evidence dips down like a giant blade. Yoiks!

Sadly, all the thrills to be had in Physical Evidence are found on its cover. Put simply, it's one of the lamest and least compelling courtroom dramas ever to hit the screen. Burt Reynolds (as the ultimately stereotyped retired, alcoholic cop) is only half the problem. It's author Michael Crichton, directing would would be his last film (at least up to now), who obviously saw reason to throw in the towel after this nightmare.

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Aria Review


Terrible
Every decade or so, those wacky independents try this stunt -- getting a bunch of Big Name Directors together to make a collaborative movie. Invariably, it sucks (see Lumiere and Company), but rarely does it suck so hard as it does in Aria.

The conceit this time: Each director takes a piece of classical music and sets it to film -- mostly without dialogue and invariably without any sense whatsoever.

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The Believer Review


OK

Controversy has engulfed "The Believer" since its premiere at last year's Sundance Film Festival, where it won the Grand Jury Prize but still couldn't find a distributor because it's a frank and frightful portrayal of an angry young Jew who hates his own heritage so much he becomes a neo-Nazi.

An intense examination of faith and a challenge to the notion of blind faith, it has been misunderstood by filmgoers who can't stomach being inside the head of Danny Balint (played by "Murder by Numbers" killer Ryan Gosling). That is certainly understandable -- it's an ugly place full of intolerance and self-loathing.

The film has also been criticized over the possibility that it might find an audience among hate groups who may hear Danny's articulate, even well-argued malevolence and not see that in his obsession he's discovered a new, more profound (if twisted) devotion to his congenital creed.

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Theresa Russell

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