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A young girl named Lucie (Mylène Jampanoï) is found running half-naked down a country road after having been missing for over a year. During this time she had been held captive and subjected to a steady regimen of torture, both mental and physical, before she was able to to make her escape. Officials are able to locate the abandoned slaughter house she had been imprisoned in, but aside from evidence to support her claims, the building had been evacuated and her abusers were never apprehended.
American Teen, which has captured audience awards and drawn standing ovations at film festivals from coast-to-coast, is the latest example of a growing genre called "DINO" (Documentaries In Name Only). Combining candid footage with staged events, DINO directors assemble everything in the editing room, freely scrambling the chronology and cutting as they see fit. The goal is less to provide a slice of reality than it is to approximate a fictionalized version of that reality. DINOs are the motion picture equivalent of reality television, and American Teen is among the most accomplished to come along yet. In fact, it's so adeptly assembled that it has been picked up by a major distributor (Paramount) with an eye toward opening it in more than just art houses. The target audience isn't the usual "stodgy" crowd but the MTV post-music video generation. This is The Real World on a more ambitious scale.
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20 Dates purports to be a documentary - a real life romantic comedy about how an aspiring film maker set out to chronicle the role of dating in modern American culture and wound up discovering true love. However, like Michael Moore, whose behind-the-scenes tinkering with the reality of Roger and Me was well documented, director Myles Berkowitz doesn't have qualms about staging scenes to boost the drama of his project. The problem with that approach is that it calls into question the "truth" of all of Berkowitz's footage. Consequently, despite Berkowitz's protestations to the contrary, 20 Dates has to be seen as a semi-fictional account.
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Where the Truth Lies
Welcome to the lurid world of Atom Egoyan, B-grade schlock filmmaker. Until seeing Where the Truth Lies, I never would have considered applying this title to Egoyan, the eclectic filmmaker of some of the '90s most compelling features (Exotica and The Sweet Hereafter, to name a pair). But the evidence speaks for itself. Where the Truth Lies is a potboiler (based on the novel by "Pina Colada" songwriter Rupert Holmes) - a whodunnit/whydunnit filled to the brim with genre clichés. It's compelling in the way many B-movies are - cheap, sleazy, and lacking the depth we have come to associate with this director.
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History of Violence
David Cronenberg, the director of such films as Dead Ringers and The Fly, has a reputation for being a little "out there." It may come as a surprise, therefore, to learn that his latest, A History of Violence, is almost mainstream in the way it tells a linear story and curtails freaky images. The movie, which is at its heart a meditation upon the meaning of identity, is not perfect. Although there's little wrong with the first two-thirds, A History of Violence slides onto a tangential path during its final act, and this misstep reduces the production's overall effectiveness. Nevertheless, there's a lot to admire here.
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In Her Shoes
Some movies are simply made for women, and heterosexual men have no hope of appreciating them, I suppose. Do you like shoes? False sentimentality? Something that mistakes generalizations for insight? Then In Her Shoes is the film for you. Curtis Hanson's slack follow-up to his rapper hero-worship outing, 8 Mile, is a disappointing look at sisterhood based on the chick novel by Jennifer Weiner. A frequently saccharine and false motion picture, In Her Shoes wants to elicit tears it never earns and tie everything together into a tidy bundle that leaves no cliché untouched. Artificial in both its dialogue and its construction, the film only works - on those occasions when it works - because of the sincere performance by the underrated Toni Collette.
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"And to all the critics who hated our last flick -- all is forgiven."
-- Chasing Amy's closing credits
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When the collaboration of Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen on a new production company was first announced, it became the talk of the entertainment world. Soon, deals were being signed, contracts inked, and films placed into pre-production. Now, more than two years later, Dreamworks SKG is ready to release its first motion picture. Much is riding on the pairing of George Clooney and Nicole Kidman in The Peacemaker, a marginal thriller that isn't likely to electrify the early Autumn box office.
"We're gonna be too big for Hamburg. We're gonna be too big for Liverpool. We're gonna be too big for our own bloody good."
- John Lennon, Backbeat
Oliver Stone probably loves this film. Not only is Backbeat a story from "his" era, the early sixties, but it bears more than a passing resemblance to one of his own pictures, The Doors (although it should be noted that Backbeat moves a lot faster). If nothing else, however, Stone usually gets his characters right, but the failure to create a compelling protagonist is this movie's greatest flaw.
Inertia. The dictionary defines it as "a property of matter by which it remains at rest or in uniform motion," and this is an apt descriptor for Paul Thomas Anderson's debut feature, Hard Eight. During the first half, virtually nothing happens -- the characters are stuck in a stasis from which escape seems impossible. Then, during the second half, momentum carries the story to its inescapable conclusion. The dualistic nature of Hard Eight makes it a difficult picture to size up. At times, it's engrossing, but, on other occasions, it's a lesson in frustration.
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The Onion Movie
We watch the Onion News, Americas Finest News Source, with Dana Dobbs, Senior Correspondent Kip Kendall, and award-winning anchor Norm Archer. In addition to watching the news, we see the programs commercials, some commentary on the film as it proceeds, and we watch some terrorists in training. Behind the scenes, Onion Newss corporate owner, Global Tetrahedron, seeks synergy by promoting its other products within Norms news broadcast. Norm doesnt like it, especially when a toy penguin (think Energizer Bunny) waddles across his desk promoting a Global Tetrahedron film starring Steven Seagal. But Norm may end up needing Stevens help.
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A successful New York attorney, Gavin Banek, is in a rush to file a power of appointment, which will prove a dead man signed his foundation over to Banek's law firm. He has a collision with another car, belonging to an insurance salesman, Doyle Gipson, who is also in a rush to a hearing to try to gain custody of his children and to prevent his estranged wife from taking them to Oregon. Banek tries to brush Gipson off with a blank check thereby disobeying the law. After Gipson refuses to accept the check and voices his desire to "do the right thing", that is, filing a police report and insurance claim, Banek strands Gipson, telling him, "better luck next time". After arriving to the court late, Gipson learns that it proceeded without him and that it didn't go in his favor.
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After moving to Florida, Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron), a female prostitute, meets Selby Wall (based on Wuornos' real life lover Tyria Moore) (Christina Ricci) in a gay bar. After initial hostility and declaring that she is not gay, Aileen talks to Selby over beers. Selby takes to Aileen almost immediately, as she likes that she is very protective of her. Selby invites her to spend the night with her. They return to the house where Selby is staying (temporarily exiled by her parents following the accusation from another girl at church that Selby tried to kiss her). They later agree to meet at a rollerskating rink and kiss for the first time. Though their passion and emotion is clear, they have nowhere to go and Selby goes home.
A Walk in My Shoes
Jake (Philip Winchester) has not been able to focus on a single job orstay in one place ever since the death of his wife. But shortly beforeChristmas, the brakes go out on this pickup and a mysterious womannamed Molly (Yara Martinez) shows up and knows exactly what is wrongand even his what he needs to fix the truck. She disappears as suddenlyas she appeared, but she has given Jake an address and a job.
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Lure: Teen Fight Club
An undercover female cop enters Belmont High as a transfer student, after several girls in the area go missing. While trying to assimilate in the school, she and her new friends are lured into a place where they must fight for their lives.
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Love and a .45
Watty has made a living out of robbing convenience stores, but after one of these job turned into murder by his partner, the psychopath Billy Mack, he is on the run with his fianc Starlene and with both Billy Mack, the police and some loansharks on his trail. Their plan is to go to Mexico but before they do that they want to get married and visit Starlenes parents.
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