Tina Lifford

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Urban Legends: Bloody Mary Review


Grim
The Urban Legend series ran out of urban legends to play with about midway through the second film, but that hasn't stopped them from wrapping up the thing with a lame, yet not wholly unwatchable, third film.

A gang of nobodies populates the movie, which is only tenuously related to the prior two films. Here, the story is all about Bloody Mary (whose legend was critical to the first film), a spirit who would appear if her name was chanted three (or five) times while staring into a mirror. Urban Legends 3 tells us Mary's backstory: In 1969, she was drugged and inadvertently killed by her highschool dance date, and her body was locked in a trunk inside the high school.

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Blood Work Review


OK
Clint Eastwood is back to lay down the law and settle a new score. This time, his pursuit of justice has a new wrinkle (or many, I suppose): his age. In Blood Work, his aging lawman portrayal is highly convincing, but by the end of the film this fascinating character study looses all credibility at the hands of an age-old, Hollywood stereotype.

Eastwood plays experienced FBI profiler Terrell McCaleb, who is forced into retirement after a series of heart attacks and transplants have kept him sidelined for two years. Armed with a new ticker and new meds, McCaleb returns to investigative work when a stranger named Graciela Rivers (Wanda De Jesus) requests that he find the ski-masked gunman who murdered her sister. His involvement garners fierce objections from his doctor (Anjelica Huston) and an envious police detective (Paul Rodriguez). To assist with his investigation, McCaleb enlists the help of his alcoholic neighbor Buddy Noone (Jeff Daniels), and his friend, Los Angeles sheriff Detective Jaye Winston (Tina Lifford).

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Grand Canyon Review


Good
Lawrence Kasdan's Grand Canyon is as enigmatic as movies get. On the one hand, it's got a great cast, an ominous soundtrack, and Steve Martin burning through some of the best monologues on film ("All of life's riddles are answered in the movies!"). On the other hand, Kasdan's film is so hopeless and despairing that it's hard to ever properly embrace: In the space of two hours, Kasdan's characters get shot at, murdered, nearly carjacked, nearly seduced into adulterous affairs, shot for real, discover abandoned babies, and generally bemoan the horrors of modern life. Kasdan is intent on getting one point across and one only: America has gone to the dogs, as exemplified by the horrors of Los Angeles.

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Blood Work Review


Weak

Clint Eastwood has a talent for turning cliché-riddled scripts into absorbing, solidly entertaining motion pictures that are far better than they should be. His scrupulous, unhurried and intelligent direction is why 2000's "Space Cowboys" wasn't just "Grumpy Old Men in Space" and why 1999's "True Crime" -- about a reporter with 24 hours to prove an inmate's innocence before his execution -- wasn't a movie-of-the-week.

He doesn't have quite the same success with the cop-vs.-serial killer thriller "Blood Work," in which he plays an FBI profiler forced to retire after suffering a heart attack during a foot chase with his nemesis, called the "Code Killer." Eastwood judiciously tempers the picture's more hackneyed elements, like the oh-so-scripted, come-and-get-me puzzle pieces the murderer leaves as clues. But so many scenes invite easy second-guessing of the hero -- and of the cops he works with when the bad guy resurfaces after Eastwood has recovered from a heart transplant -- that the movie's strengths are often obscured.

Two months after his surgery, Terry McCaleb (Eastwood) is tracked down onboard his modest fishing-boat home by a woman named Graciela Rivers (Wanda De Jesus) who believes he received her dead sister's heart. She has learned of McCaleb's legendary reputation as a detective and wants his help solving the murder that got him his new ticker.

Continue reading: Blood Work Review

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