While there wont be a print edition of RED for the next month,
www.red-mag.com will be up-to-date with films opening each Friday
(or, on some occasions, Wednesday).
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RED was on hiatus over Thanksgiving, quite a few films came out.
Heres a rundown of the big, if not so impressive, efforts.
(A full-length article on the best re-viewed film of the weekend,
Bad Santa, is available online in the archives at here.)
Walt Disney Pictures
Disneys adaptation of rides like Pirates of the Carib-bean
and The Country Bears comes the family comedy, The
Haunted Mansion. Eddie Murphy plays a workaholic real estate
agent in business with his wife (Evers and Evers, nudge, nudge).
He decides to stop to look at a big, fancy house in whats
supposed to be a family trip, and ends up in a ghosts trap.
Terence Stamp as the butler and Jennifer Tilly as a crys-tal ball
all give enjoyable family performances, and the film will be fun
for older kids, although some scenes, one in which zombies chase
Murphy and his daughter in a crypt, might scare the young-sters.
Overall, however, the film is flat, with nothing but a fun checklist
of haunted-house clichés to move it along. It might make
a good first ghost movie for the kids, but the comedy doesnt
go as far as it could and simply leaves the film
Sony Pictures Entertainment
normally sentimental direc-tor Ron Howard has proved that he can
work effectively in a dark tone at the same time hes failed
to make a good movie. The Missing is a hardened Western
that de-grades into a stagnant work by the second of two and a half
film starts out interestingly enough, with Cate Blanchett as an
all-purpose doctor and widowed mother in New Mexico during the 1800s
whose estranged father (Tommy Lee Jones) pays a surprise visit.
The father has adopted the culture of the American Indians, still
looked at as savages by most, and Blanchetts character, Maggie,
wont forgive him for abandoning her and her mother. Aaron
Eckhart plays a man who helps with the cattle and loves the doctor,
al-though she only allows him in the bedroom for quick sex.
a big, ugly American Indian witch kidnaps Maggies city-adoring
daughter to take her on his caravan to Mexico to sell his hostages
into prostitution, the father, whom Maggie initially chased away,
suddenly becomes useful as a tracker.
what seems to be an effort to apologize for having American Indians
be the bad guys, we not only have Jones character, but also
some helpful Indians, white men working with the kidnappers and
a statement explaining that despite selling the women as sex slaves,
the kidnappers dont have sex with them.
so the film trudges on, becoming increasingly uninterest-ing with
false ending after false ending. While Blanchett and Jones have
some nice scenes together, theres no real character develop-ment
like Ethan Edwards in John Fords The Searchers,
a much better film dealing with the same subject matter. Several
well writ-ten and beautifully acted scenes keep the film from becoming
a complete failure, but it simply becomes too unbelievable and immobile
as it progresses to be worthwhile.
(out of four)
battle sequences in Time-line look impressive, unlike
some of the computer generated fakery in many action films, but
unfortu-nately, all the fakery is in the plot. You can hear the
time travel setups clanking along from the references to mysterious
finds at a medieval French archaeological site. The slapdash tale
of corporate greed during the time travel, however, surpasses all
the other stupidity.
usually skilled action direc-tor Richard Donner (Superman,
The Goonies, Lethal Weapon) lets the script
(based on a Michael Crichton novel) get the best of him. A group
of archaeology students in Castleguard, France, have to rescue their
professor, who is trapped in 14th-century France after team-ing
up with a sinister technol-ogy company. The company was trying to
develop a transportation device, à la Star Trek,
to put the other shipping companies out of business, but progress
became as slow as a UPS delivery truck when it started sending things
through a wormhole and to France. So they sent an archaeologist
far, this all makes sense. But nothing interesting happens in 14th-century
France. Youd think thered be a certain interest and
wonder that went beyond stan-dard action, but its just a tradition-al
period action film with boring characters, led by Paul Walker as
the professors son.
only time-travel rule our he-roes dont follow is dont
change anything because it might alter the world as we know it.
These guys help determine the outcome of a historic battle like
Marty McFly got his dad to stop being a loser.
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(out of four)
Alba's choreographer in "Honey" prepares her troupe
for a dance-off with Michael Jackson. danununu danununu da!
Alba of Dark Angel plays Honeys titular
role, a torso-exposing music video choreographer whose life changes
when her mentor threatens to blacklist her from the industry if
she doesnt sleep with him. Expect as much sexiness as is allowed
in a PG-13 film.
Opening at Madstone
same lonely mind that conquered the New York City party scene in
the 80s may be the mind of a psychopath. Party Monster
chronicles the rise and fall of an arrogant, drug-addled hipster
who grew dangerous as his fame inflated. Its surprising how
much a film about partiers resembles the structure of a gangster
Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, who made a documentary of the same
name in 1998, have created an interesting, uneven, amusing and disturb-ing
dramatization of the real-life events.
St. James (Seth Green), who wrote the novel Disco Blood Bath on
which the film is based, introduces Michael Alig (Macaulay Culkin)
to the party world and teaches him how to stage interest-ing theme
parties that people will attend. Then he watches Alig go mad with
the power of being a popular hipster, delving into drug abuse and
displaying a sexual preference for anything. Alig collects people
for his entourage, ordering them to do things like dress like a
drag queen angel and deal drugs.
films uneven form, some-times with Alig and St. James fighting
about whose film it is, creates an interesting mood as a light-hearted
atmosphere becomes the home of horrific actions. Culkin, in his
first film performance since Richie Rich, works bravely,
if not perfectly, to represent a reprehensible charac-ter. This
film might make you start staying home on the weekends.
Opening at the Broadway
Green and Bill Siegels documentary, The Weather Underground,
explores the highs and lows of the endeavors of the radical political
group from the 60s. In protest of the Vietnam War, the group
went as far as to stage such direct actions as bomb-ings. Find out
if it was worth it.