Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead [unrated]

Wrong Turn 3: Left for Dead [unrated]
It is always nice to have a day off of work. I decided to do so after traveling two hours to Philadelphia to watch the opening night of the Pearl Jam dates to close down the historic Spectrum where the Flyers won their two Stanley Cup trophies and Kate Smith sang "God Bless America." What I question about my decision to take off and catch up on sleep is the idea I had to watch the two direct-to-video sequels of the subpar "Wrong Turn" film back-to-back. The second film wasn´t too terribly bad and was marginally better than the first. However, the second sequel was an entirely different story and whereas I applaud writer Connor James Delaney for trying to create a deep and involved situation for the cannibal Three Finger to enjoy a romp through the woods of West Virginia, this film is an example of horrible execution and I´m not talking about the gory death scenes.

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Cop Out

Cop Out
Kevin Smith has had a bit of a dry spell lately, hasn't he? We all loved the guy when he first emerged with the indie hit Clerks, and the unique voice exhibited in his films that followed was a welcome break from the usual Hollywood dreck. But in recent years his acting credits have provided more amusement than his directing and writing work. So what's been the problem?

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Suburban Mayhem

Suburban Mayhem
The American cinema has a long, rich and beautifully sordid history of diamond-hard, viciously conniving and casually emasculating "bitch heroines" that stretches from the smoky days of forties film noir through the pop art porn of Russ Meyer's female aggressors and right up to devious modern minxes like Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction. In Australian films, however, this feminine rogue's gallery (save for a few minor exceptions) is remarkably and disappointingly empty, until now.

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Cry of the Owl

Cry of the Owl
Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) was an American mystery writer of novels and short stories who came to fame in the 1950's with "Strangers on a Train" and "The Talented Mr. Ripley." Her most-popular character, the amiable antihero-murderer Tom Ripley, became so famous, she wrote four more books about him (but he's not in the movie reviewed here, more's the pity). Filmmakers have also loved her work, and even one of her lesser efforts, "The Cry of the Owl," which she wrote in 1962, has now seen two screen appearances, first in 1987 from the French New Wave director Claude Chabrol and in 2009 in this direct-to-video production from British writer-director Jamie Thraves ("Negative," "The Low Down"). Unfortunately, neither filmmaker could make much of Ms. Highsmith's somewhat dour, slow-moving book.

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King of California

King of California
King of California is the second movie opening this month to feature Evan Rachel Wood and, while it's better than the other one (Across the Universe), it's not that much better. Wood's performance is at about the same level, albeit without the singing. Here's she's paired opposite Michael Douglas, who plays her father. This is the art-house answer to National Treasure - it's about a mentally ill man who believes he has found a treasure map. The movie develops in two pieces - one dealing with the quest for the hidden riches and once concentrating on the relationship between father and daughter. The latter works; the former doesn't. The ending is touching without being too melodramatic.

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Beautiful Boy

Beautiful Boy
When a murderous rampage occurs involving a high school or college-age perpetrator, the initial spotlight shines upon the killer. The usual questions - notably "Why?" - are asked. Inevitably, others, especially the parents, will be pulled into the discussion. Speculation, often misrepresented as fact, will question the upbringing and family life of the murderer and the mother and father will be forced to cope not only with the death-by-suicide of their child but with the perception that they are unindicted co-conspirators. Beautiful Boy, although a fictional account, postulates how such a tragedy might impact the parents of a killer, who are assailed not only by grief but by an almost overpowering sense of guilt.

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Broken English

Broken English
For her feature debut, writer/director Zoe Cassavetes has elected to tread into territory where even the best stories feels like clichés. Broken English is competently made and features a solid performance from lead actress Parker Posey, but it's the kind of film that will resonate only with a tiny fraction of the available audience. Unless a viewer's age and situation mirrors that of Posey's Nora Wilder, odds are that this movie will generate a sense of déjà vu. Casavetes tells her tale, but it's one we've already seen, and she doesn't bring much that's new or fresh to the narrative.

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Dead Man

Dead Man
Dead Man, Jim Jarmusch's first feature since 1992's Night on Earth, is a quirky chronicle of one man's physical and spiritual search for a place of belonging. Jarmusch chose to make Dead Man a western because, according to him, the genre is "very open to metaphor, and has deep roots in classical narrative forms." Actually, any kind of road picture could have been used to tell this oddly-compelling tale.

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Rob Roy

Rob Roy
Ultimately, it's of minor import how much of Rob Roy is based upon historical fact and how much has been embellished by the pen of screenwriter Alan Sharp. As a hero of 18th century Scotland, Robert Roy MacGregor is known to have walked through the mists of the Highlands, living by the code that made his name a legend. This film takes the skeletal myth and builds a real person around those bones. As embodied by Liam Neeson, Rob Roy is a tremendous protagonist -- a naive man whose belief in honor and whose love for a woman, family, and clan make him a figure to cheer for.

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Octopussy

Octopussy
It's probably just a coincidence, but the two Bond films that Maud Adams appeared in -- The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy -- are easily the silliest entries in the long-running series (not counting the intentional spoof Casino Royale). In a duel of dumb storylines, Octopussy loses, but only by a length. There's a fine line between wit and absurdity, and this particular movie too often falls on the wrong side.

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Two Soldiers

Two Soldiers
Mississippi, just before Pearl Harbor. Two brothers, Pete, about 19 and Willie, about 10 years younger. They are clearly close friends. The news arrives, and Pete goes to enlist. Willie wants to come along, but is told he cannot. After his brother leaves, the boy walks 30 miles to the nearest town, where the sheriff eventually puts him on a bus to Memphis where his brother is. At the recruiting office, Willie proves even more determined to see his brother eventually, sympathetic Col. McKellogg takes care of him.

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The Man Who Cried

The Man Who Cried
Fegele Abramovich (Christina Ricci), a Russian Jew is separated from her father (Oleg Yankovsky) as a child in 1927. Her father has traveled to America to seek his fortune and plans to send for Fegele and her grandmother. Before leaving, he sings in Yiddish to his daughter Je Crois Entendre Encore from the opera Les pêcheurs de perles by Georges Bizet. This song recurs throughout the movie. After her father leaves, the Jewish village is attacked and burned in a pogrom. Fegele escapes with the help of neighbors but they encounter several obstacles along their route, and she finds herself separated at the docks from the young teenage boys looking after her. Fegele is soon crowded onto a boat headed for Britain, without her compatriots. In her hand she clutches a photo of her father, and in her pocket a coin given to her by her grandmother. These are her sole possessions.

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While She Was Out

While She Was Out
On Christmas Eve, suburban housewife Della Myers (Kim Basinger) gets into an argument with her husband Kenneth (Craig Sheffer). After putting her two children to bed, she drives to the mall to buy some wrapping paper. At the mall, she can't find a parking space and angrily leaves a note on the window of a car that is parked using up two parking spaces. By the time she finishes her purchase, the parking lot is nearly deserted, and the note is gone from the car. As she enters her own car, the car on which she had left the note pulls up behind her.

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The Legend of Aerreus Kane

The Legend of Aerreus Kane
Hero Aerreus Kane attempts to rescue Lucinda has been captured by an evil vampire who resides in a church crypt.

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I Can See You

I Can See You
Three young ad-men enter the woods for a photo shoot, but a girlfriends mysterious disappearance sparks a harrowing descent into unreality.

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Night Dragon

Night Dragon
A dark thriller twisted around a love story. A criminal has the dilemma of whether to risk her life to save her lover, who shes betrayed.

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