My Soul to Take

My Soul to Take
Wes Craven is a revered name in the horror industry. One cannot run down a list of the greatest horror films of all time without at least mentioning A Nightmare on Elm Street. But the nasty little secret about Wes Craven is that, apart from that spark of competence, he is one of the most overrated directors of our time. The man has no grasp of performance, storytelling or cinematography and has limped along since A Nightmare on Elm Street traded upon his own name. The only other rays of light in his otherwise bleak filmography are A New Nightmare and Scream. But the appeal of both of those films is how self-aware and referential they are, not only to other, better horror films but, again, Craven’s own work!

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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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Jesus Camp

Jesus Camp
Many movies skirt the question of how the growing influence of Evangelical Christians as a voting block is impacting politics. Jesus Camp, from co-directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (The Boys from Baraka) plunges headfirst into these murky waters. The resulting production is both disturbing and enlightening. In addition to providing a first-hand view of this landscape, it raises a question that will earn Jesus Camp the label of "controversial": to what extent does the indoctrination undergone by the children depicted in this film cross over the line into child abuse?

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Feast
Zero-star movies are a rare and terrifying breed - films that warrant recommendation only as an alternative to physical distress. Sitting in a theater as one of these examples of cinematic diarrhea unspools creates a curious tug-of-war within the viewer. On one hand, there's an almost overwhelming desire to flee from the auditorium, to get away as far and as fast as is humanly possible. On the other hand, there's a compulsion to stay - the result of a sick fascination to see if the production can possibly get worse. Such is the case with Feast, a "horror/comedy" whose dreadfulness has defeated the marketing whizzes at Dimension Films. Rather than merely dumping Feast into theaters, Dimension has elected to do a "limited dump" - the film is showing only twice (Friday at midnight; Saturday at midnight). After that, it will move to the DVD realm, where its midnight exposure will allow it to avoid the ignominy of being labeled a "direct-to-DVD" feature.

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Flags of Our Fathers

Flags of Our Fathers
Flags of Our Fathers is Clint Eastwood's homage to the honored dead of World War II as well as a meditation upon how an icon is formed. Based on the book by James Bradley and Ron Powers, the movie centers around the Battle of Iwo Jima, one of the key late war conflicts in the Pacific Theatre. However, unlike other films that have trodden similar ground (in particular, the John Wayne vehicle The Sands of Iwo Jima), Eastwood's movie does two things differently. First, it uses the Saving Private Ryan approach to battle (not surprising, since Steven Spielberg is a producer) by showing all the blood and viscera older war movies kept hidden. Secondly, it intercuts the Iwo Jima sequences with those happening Stateside several months later, where key events are transpiring.

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Charlie's Angels

Charlie's Angels
When Charlie's Angels first hit the TV airwaves in the 1976-77 season, it was a national phenomenon. Every Wednesday night, millions of household sets would be tuned into ABC for the further adventures of the three "legs" of millionaire private investigator Charles Townsend. Although the TV program was popular across-the-board, it drew its greatest interest from two demographics: prepubescent females, who saw the Angels as strong role models, and post-pubescent males, whose interest lay in the Angels' other... ahem... assets. For five seasons, Charlie's Angels flourished before being consigned forever to rerun limbo.

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Mindhunters

Mindhunters
What should a viewer expect from a movie that has lain in limbo for more than two years while at least three aborted release dates passed it by? Pretty much what Mindhunters delivers. The only outstanding question is why Dimension decided to dump this film into theaters in May instead of February or August. The mystery/thriller, directed by Renny Harlin and scripted by Wayne Kramer and Kevin Brodbin adds a few unconventional twists to the tired "tracking down a serial killer" plot, but ends up outfoxing itself with a few too many narrative convolutions and contrivances. Mindhunters starts out strong - despite some clunky acting, the first hour is nicely paced and the time passes effortlessly. But the final 45 minute stretch is clumsy, inelegant, and repetitive.

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Step Brothers

Step Brothers
When did Will Ferrell stop being funny? It wasn't that long ago that this Saturday Night Live alum looked to be following in the footsteps of the likes of Jim Carrey and Adam Sandler but, somewhere along the way, Ferrell's train derailed. Now, once again paired with John C. Reilly, he tries so hard and with so little effect to make us laugh that the result is almost physically painful. Few films are worse to sit through than comedies that don't work. Step Brothers is one of those. Humor is subjective, but this movie made me feel as if I had been subjected to something unpleasant.

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Martin and Lewis

Martin and Lewis
When lounge singer Dean Martin (Northam) and burlesque comic Jerry Lewis (Hayes) clicked during an impromptu pairing in 1946, neither anticipated their unparalleled success as a team. Lewis was going nowhere fast with an act built around miming to records, while Martin was making a decent living as a crooner. Lewis had beseeched his agent to reteam him with the reluctant Martin;

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Embrace the Darkness II

Embrace the Darkness II
A sultry vampire acts as mentor to a reluctant recruit.

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Beyond the Sea

Beyond the Sea
Rather than providing a straightforward biography, the film weaves fantasy sequences with scenes containing somewhat fictionalized accounts of events in Darin's life, and throughout it, the adult singer interacts with his younger self. It chronicles his determination to rise from his working class Italian-American roots as Walden Robert Cassotto, a frail Bronx boy plagued by multiple bouts of rheumatic fever, and become a singer more famous than Frank Sinatra. To achieve that goal, he

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Metrosexual

Metrosexual
Four friends each receive phone calls to meet a fifth friend for lunch at MK Restaurant, a popular hot pot chain in Bangkok. The friends are:

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Horror Of The Zombies

Horror Of The Zombies
When a publicity stunt of two models on a boat goes horribly wrong and the two get lost in a fog. They end up on a creaky floating tomb of the blind dead. Thats right, these sea going Templars make short work of the Supermodels and move along. The head of the modeling agency and a group of employees start looking for the babes and too meet the Templars Pirates. But can they escape the fate of the models or will they too succumb to the monsters of the deep?

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Harvest

Harvest
Gathered one summer in a beautiful shoreline town, three generations are drawn together by their patriarch. With endearing moments of humor and uplifting spirit, Harvest is a portrait of a family awkwardly yet delicately hanging on to what was, what now is, and to one another.

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Lifeblood

Lifeblood
Fueled by vengeance and nightmares, Carl Spencer seeks out his wifes killer. Across town, two sisters are dying of a rare blood disease. In a darkened warehouse, an ancient vampire has spawned a clan of servants that unite the destiny of all.

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Love Thy Neighbor

Love Thy Neighbor
Plagued by flashbacks of a violent home invasion, Laura Benson is on the brink of a nervous breakdown. Looking for a fresh start, she and her husband sell their house and relocate to a seemingly idyllic gated community. But, little do the Bensons know, evil not only dwells in the neighborhood...it lives next door. As strange and terrifying events unfold, Laura doesnt know whether her sinisterly sweet neighbor is to blame, if shes been targeted for revenge...or if shes losing her mind.

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