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Reviews for February 4th, 2011

Cold Weather

Directed by Aaron Katz.

      Doug (Cris Lankenau) recently dropped out of college where he studied forensic science. He moves in with his older sister, Gail (Trieste Kelly Dunn), and accepts a menial job working at an ice factory. It’s there that he befriends his co-worker, Carlos (Raúl Castillo), and eventually introduces him to Gail. You’ll probably find yourself wondering where the plot will go from that point because for at least the first half hour or so, all that Doug, Gail and Carlos do together is hang out and bond with one another. Suddenly, the film takes an unexpected turn when Doug learns that his ex-girlfriend, Rachel (Robyn Rikoon), has gone missing. He takes that as an opportunity to utilize his detective skills by trying to find clues that might lead to her whereabouts. Gail and Carlos join him on his investigation which starts with Doug buying a pipe to imitate his idol, Sherlock Holmes. If only Doug were even half as cunning as Sherlock Holmes, though. The details and twists of the investigation itself won’t be spoiled here, but they’re neither intricate nor imaginative enough to be truly gripping or intriguing; this isn’t Tell No One after all, and it doesn’t even aim for that kind of mystery. Writer/director Aaron Katz instead opts for a low key comedic drama with a few ephemeral moments of palpable suspense. The dynamics of Doug and Gail’s relationship as brother and sister end up slightly more involving than the actual mystery of Rachel’s disappearance. Katz should have fleshed out their relationship much more or at least kicked up the suspense full throttle so that you’d be consistently captivated.

      Unfortunately, the combination of comedy, drama and mystery creates an slightly uneven tone that never quite gels into something truly compelling; instead it feels rather awkward and a bit bland. A few scenes drag, especially during the very first act which goes on too long. On a positive note, Trieste Kelly Dunn gives a performance that radiates in oodles of much-needed panache. She helps to keep you at least moderately engaged. If only the same could be said for the film’s screenplay. At a running time of 1 hour and 37 minutes, Cold Weather is mildly compelling and amusing, but somewhat uneven and dull. The sexy Trieste Kelly Dunn invigorates the film in a radiant, charismatic performance.
Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by IFC Films.
Opens at the IFC Center.


Directed by David John Swajeski.

(Please check back soon for a full review)

Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Onerock Moving Pictures.
Opens at Chelsea Clearview Cinemas.

The Other Woman

Directed by Don Roos.

(Please check back soon for a full review)

Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by IFC Films.
Opens at IFC Center.


Directed by Alister Grierson .

      Carl Hurley (Ioan Gruffudd), a wealthy businessman, arrives in the jungles of Papua, New Guinea, to join a group of adventurers who are exploring the world’s largest cave. The explorers include Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh), his 17-year-old son, Josh (Rhys Wakefield), George (Dan Wyllie) and Carl’s girlfriend, Victoria (Alice Parkinson). Frank holds a grudge against his son for a tragic underwater accident that took the life of one of his fellow explorers. Soon enough, a storm approaches that causes them to lose contact with the communication team above ground, and, worst of all, the storm brings in flash floods that threaten their life. They’re now desperate to find an escape route out of the labyrinthine cave as their basic necessities for food and light slowly dwindle. If co-writers John Garvin and Andrew Wight were to merely focus the explorers’ struggles for survival against nature, that would have been enough to sustain your entertainment. Unfortunately, they lazily tack-on some contrived dramatic tension that transpires between the explorers. Do Frank and Josh really have to have such a lengthy heart-to-heart in the middle of their life-threatening attempt to escape the cave? Could the dialogue between them be any more corny and awkward? You’ll find yourself laughing, rolling your eyes or shaking your head at their bonding scenes while yearning for the plot to return its mindless action/adventure sequences. What Sanctum could have used instead of its silly dramatic subplots is some comic relief which every movie ought to have in some shape or form. None of the performances rise above mediocrity, so that makes the characters even less believable and worth caring than the script does. The setting of the cave becomes a more interesting character than any of the humans.

      On a positive note, director Alister Grierson knows how to provide eye candy galore through the use of 3D and nifty CGI effects that will keep you slightly engaged on a purely aesthetic level. The same can be said for the impressive musical score. Sanctum is a thrill-less, contrived albeit visually stunning adventure with laughably stilted dialogue and characters so devoid of life that you’ll end up rooting for mother nature.
Number of times I checked my watch: 6
Released by Universal Pictures.
Opens nationwide.

What Women Want

Directed by Daming Chen

In Chinese with subtitles

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by China Lion Film Distribution.
Opens at AMC Empire 25.

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