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items tagged with Thrillers

A Summer Sleeper Trumps a Trio of New Releases: "Happy Endings," "Walk the Line," "Harry Potter & the Goblet of Fire," and "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2005-11-23 00:00:00

Lisa Kudrow and Bobby Cannavale in Happy EndingsHAPPY ENDINGS

This summer, I was fortunate enough to catch a special screening of writer/director Don Roos’ Happy Endings at the University of Iowa, but decided to hold off on a review until the film made it to our area.


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A Goofy Thriller and a Glove-ly Romance: "Derailed" and "Shopgirl"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2005-11-16 00:00:00

Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen in DerailedDERAILED

There’s nothing all that wrong with director Mikael Hafstrom’s thriller Derailed, until, that is, it turns into a thriller. Chicagoan Charles Schine (Clive Owen) is a harried family man with a wife (Melissa George) and a young, diabetic daughter. While commuting to work one morning, he meets a stranger on the train: the beguiling, flirtatious – and similarly married – Lucinda (Jennifer Aniston). Over the course of a few days, the two enjoy snappy conversation, meet for drinks, and eventually find themselves a hotel. But before their affair can be consummated, LaRoche (Vincent Cassel), a scruffy-looking nightmare with a gun and a thick French accent, breaks into their room, takes their wallets, beats Charles within an inch of his life, and rapes Lucinda. Then everything goes to hell, both for the characters and, unfortunately, for the movie.


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"Saw II" Effective, But Not Much Fun: Also, "Doom," "Stay," and "Prime"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2005-11-02 00:00:00

Saw IISAW II

Since we’re no longer forced to endure Cary Elwes shrieking his hammy little head off for 90 minutes, Saw II was inevitably going to be a less annoying experience than 2004’s Saw, but the movie is pretty effective in its own right. Not entertaining, mind you, but effective. Last fall’s surprise horror hit saw Elwes and another mad overactor at the mercy of the serial killer Jigsaw (Tobin Bell) – who devises for his prey wildly elaborate devices of torture that defy both description and belief – and in one of Saw II’s few impressive twists, he’s apprehended at the end of the movie’s first reel. What follows resembles what might result if you watched The Silence of the Lambs and Seven in picture-in-picture format. As Jigsaw – in sinister, I-know-something-that-you-don’t Hannibal Lecter mode – is interrogated, and his master plan dissected, by Donnie Wahlberg’s quick-to-boil cop, a whole new slew of potential victims, including Wahlberg’s teenage son, try to survive a vicious spook house by evading Jigsaw’s contraptions and deconstructing the maddeningly obtuse sets of clues the killer has left them. (Like its precursor, Saw II makes explicit what Seven left to your imagination.)


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Pulp Friction: "A History of Violence," "Oliver Twist," and "Serenity"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2005-10-05 00:00:00

Viggo Mortensen in A History of ViolenceA HISTORY OF VIOLENCE

I was completely rapt by the austerity and dread of David Cronenberg’s A History of Violence – for the first five minutes. In the film’s beautifully sustained opening sequence, we watch as two men – one middle-aged, in a black suit, and another, younger and sporting a T-shirt and jeans – exit their motel room. They load up their car, and the older gentleman drops off the room key while the other – slowly, slowly – pulls the car up to meet him. Moments later, the older man returns, having had, he says, “a little trouble with the maid.” But before they leave, they need water. The younger man enters the motel office to replenish their supply, and as he does, we finally see the image that Cronenberg has thus far denied us, and that we in the audience have properly anticipated – the motel manager and maid lying dead in pools of blood. A frightened little girl, gently stroking the hair of her doll, enters the scene and makes eye contact with the younger killer. And the man, smiling gently, tells her not to be afraid, slowly aims his revolver at the girl’s head, and fires.


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Foster Soars, but "Flightplan" Is Earthbound: Also, "Tim Burton's Corpse Bride" and "Just Like Heaven"
Written By: Mike Schulz
Section: Movies

Category: Reviews

2005-09-28 00:00:00

Jodie Foster in FlightplanFLIGHTPLAN

Movies such as Flightplan are hell to review. How do I explain, exactly, why the film doesn’t work without giving away the plot secrets that prevent it from working? Like last fall’s already-forgotten The Forgotten, director Robert Schwentke’s airborne thriller involves a missing child. During a trans-Atlantic flight from Berlin to America, Jodie Foster’s newly widowed Kyle lays her six-year-old daughter Julia (Marlene Lawston) down for a nap, falls asleep herself, and wakes to find the girl missing. Obviously, escape from the plane is impossible, but Julia is nowhere to be found, and, more disturbingly, no one on the flight seems to remember her being aboard. Could Julia have merely been a figment of Kyle’s imbalanced imagination?


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