Screened at Montreal. Here, director/co-scripter Margarethe von Trotta ("Marianne and Juliane") sets her sight on another German symbol, the Berlin Wall, but unlike in her past films she never delves deeply into her subject. In fall 1961, a few months before the Wall is built, two young East German lovers, Sophie (Corinna Harfouch) and Konrad (Meret Becker), try to escape to the West. She makes it, he doesn't, and over the next three decades -- until the Wall falls in 1989 -- the two weave in and out of each other's lives. Meant to be bittersweet, "The Promise" is so contrived and cliched as to be almost meaningless. Sophie and Konrad reunite in 1968 Prague; the Soviets promptly invade Czechoslovakia and they're separated again.Read more
Given the rather intense backstage drama that has erupted over the release of Chen Kaige's "The Promise," briefly retitled "Master of the Crimson Armor" before distributor Weinstein Co. abruptly dropped out over a reported marketing dispute with the film's producers, one might expect an epic martial arts fantasy to rival the likes of "Hero" or "House of Flying Daggers," directed by Chen's friend and onetime cinematographer, Zhang Yimou. Sadly, such expectations are not to be met, for this strangely disappointing Golden Globe nominee (20 minutes shorter than the version being released in China) represents an agonizing mismatch of director and material, compounded by uneven production values and embarrassingly substandard computer effects.Read more
Richard Chamberlain stars in this unusual Australian film which sustains a foreboding atmosphere throughout. Chamberlain portrays a lawyer who becomes deeply involved in a case defending some Aborigines accused of murder. Hailstones pummel the earth in the opening scene, making water an ominous symbol, perhaps warning of the giant tidal wave that comes at the end of the film. The shock ending could represent another deluge--or the end of the world.
The film is an interesting mixture of dreams and reality, of occult Aborigine tribal rituals and of modern-day Sydney.
Tie in with book stores dealing with Aboriginal, supernatural and occult themes. Play up the name of Richard Chamberlain.
A remake of the classic 1977 Wes Craven horror/thriller, this version of "The Hills Have Eyes" works the sci-fi thriller and political elements of its narrative over the horror and gore, which is both a surprising and welcome interpretation of the material, given the recent rash of intentionally vicious horror films that have leaned on the nastier aspects of the genre ("Saw," "High Tension" and "Hostel," just to name a few). Not that there isn't plenty to squirm about here, considering the dastardly albino desert mutants and all. There is, of course, a gruesome element as the kills are played out. What's worse, we like the victims; they seem like real people rather than just grist for the mill, which makes it tough when it turns out that's exactly what they are.Read more
In a summer season laden with sequels, remakes and otherwise unoriginal, rehashed material, Disney's updated "Freaky Friday" comes as a pleasant surprise, actually offering some fresh comedic twists on the familiar tale of a mother and daughter who learn the great lesson of empathy after literally seeing the world through each other's eyes.Jamie Lee Curtis and Lindsay Lohan reprise the roles of a single working mom and rebellious teen daughter first played by Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster in the 1976 version of the film, with both actresses in the new release effectively making the parts their own. Curtis' Tess Coleman is a workaholic perfectionist about to be remarried, while Lohan's Anna favors grunge-style clothing, guitars and her bad-boy classmate Jake (Chad Michael Murray).Read more
Since 1976's "The Omen" is considered an iconic classic of the sub-genre of horror movies known as Films of the Apocalypse (including "Rosemary's Baby," "The Seventh Sign" and "Prophecy"), its remake bears a particular responsibility -- namely, to be necessary. "The Omen" 2006 is not necessary. This is true for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that the original "Omen" is, in hindsight, a silly movie taken entirely too seriously by a superstitious and unsophisticated mid-'70s moviegoing public still hyped up from Linda Blair's head-spinning in "The Exorcist" some two years earlier. This fact renders the current incarnation of this tale of the Devil's spawn, born to the halls of American political power, all the more moot. What it also isn't is scary.Read more
A faithful retelling of a story that didn't need to be retold, "Bad News Bears" is infused with the spirit of the 1976 original, but the experience can be likened to dusting off an old recipe and leaving out the tastiest ingredients. The earlier version, which starred Walter Matthau as droopy dyspeptic Morris Buttermaker, was downright profane, which wound up being its primary legacy. The revamped "Bears" comes during a politically correct era inconsistent with what the original film had to offer. Had this film been as wicked as the Matthau edition, we undoubtedly would have survived as a nation, but now we'll never know.Read more