Showing posts from March 11, 2012


Review: The Life Before Her Eyes A Columbine-like school shooting results in best friends Diana (Evan Rachel Wood, the irresponsible one) and Maureen (Eva Amurri, the good, churchy one) being cornered by a gunman (John Magara) in the bathroom. We get flashbacks of the girls’ friendship leading up to this incident. Meanwhile, we also see scenes of a now fifteen year older Diana (played by Uma Thurman) struggling with issues of guilt/post-traumatic stress, an unruly child, and an unhappy marriage to older man Brett Cullen. Oscar Isaac plays a druggie douche whom Wood gets pregnant to, and Jack Gilpin plays a concerned high school teacher. Based on a novel by Laura Kasischke, this Vadim Perelman (whose “House of Sand and Fog” didn’t work for me at all) directed, Emil Stern (a first-timer) scripted drama from 2008 is one of the most infuriating, confusing, and ultimately unsatisfying films I’ve seen in ages. The following will be an extremely spoilerific review, so there’s a *

Review: Prey (2009)

A bunch of surfie friends (a mixture of Aussies and Americans, curiously) head to the outback (WTF? Sounds like someone failed geography at school...) and after getting a map and some weird necklace from a mystically-inclined hobo (Nicholas Bell), decide to head to his ‘watering hole’. Bad decision, as they awaken some bad spirits who unleash hell on the travellers one by one. Couple no. 1 are doctor Natalie Bassingthwaighte (who has just found out she’s pregnant) and Jesse Johnson. Couple no. 2 are typical larrikin Christian Clark and his intriguingly ethnically mysterious girlfriend Natalie Walker. Couple no. 3 aren’t really a couple, ditzy hippie Kristin Sargent and her gay bestie Ben Kermode. I know why I watched this, and you know why I watched this. It’s because although it was rumoured that a planned lesbian shower scene was scrapped, there’s enough indecision out there to suggest that maybe, just maybe it’s actually in the film after all. Well, I’ll set the record straig

Review: The Arrangement

Successful ad man Kirk Douglas loses it, fails in a suicide attempt, and subsequently re-evaluates his life, feeling nothing but contempt for his career or his nagging wife Deborah Kerr. Faye Dunaway is the mistress who helps Douglas see the emptiness of it all (not that we can tell from Douglas’ constant blank facial expression he carries throughout), but then leaves him to become a wife and mother. Richard Boone (never worse) is Douglas’ blustery, dementia-suffering Greek immigrant father. Excruciatingly pretentious, overextended and frankly unoriginal 1969 Elia Kazan ( “The Last Tycoon” , which was hideous and “On the Waterfront” , which thankfully was not hideous, even with Marlon Brando in the lead) satire, from his own (apparently best-selling) novel, is full of irritating directorial quirks and fancy edits (including a fight scene accompanied by the ‘POW!’ and ‘WHACK!’ captions you’d see on TV’s “Batman” . Why? Because Kazan can ). It lacks characters worth a damn, and

Review: The Other Love

Ill concert pianist Barbara Stanwyck is staying at David Niven’s secluded Swiss Sanatorium and becomes romantically involved with high-living Richard Conte, despite Niven developing deep feelings for her. Joan Lorring steals it in a lively role as another patient. Gilbert Roland plays a sleazy croupier, in an inexplicable cameo. Unbelievable, and terribly disappointing 1947 Andre De Toth (best known for the enjoyable 3-D horror classic “House of Wax” ) romantic drama with a silly set-up, unconvincing behaviour, and more questions being asked at the end than are answered. I’ve never seen a hospital like this before, nor a doctor who behaves as thoroughly unconvincingly as Niven. And let’s face it, if you’re given the choice between suave and ever-so likeable Niven and that Easter Island statue Conte, well, it ain’t exactly the hardest decision in the world, is it? So we know exactly where it’s headed, but sadly the actors (and the two leads sure are terrific ones, usually) hav

Review: Black Narcissus

Sister Deborah Kerr is the youngest Sister Superior in her order and is given the difficult task of setting up a mission (school and hospital) in the Himalayas (!). This area of the world is said to do strange things to people’s heads, so just think what will happen to a bunch of sexually repressed penguins up there, especially when the sisters get a look at hunky (but cynical) British ‘agent’ David Farrar, who lives nearby and offers somewhat reluctant assistance. Did I mention that the building used by the nuns was formerly the local General’s harem? Sabu plays a young General (son of General Esmond Knight, the former owner of the building) who hopes the sisters will become his educators (history, literature, the whole nine yards), and whose bewitching perfume is where the film’s title comes from. A heavily made-up Jean Simmons (check out that sparkly thing on her nose!) plays a local girl who catches the studious young General’s fancy. Kathleen Byron plays the unhinged, rather uncoo