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Reviews for October 19th, 2012

Holy Motors

Directed by Rob Cohen


Dr. Alex Cross (Tyler Perry), a police detective/psychologist, goes on the hunt for a ruthless serial killer, Michael "The Butcher" Sullivan (Matthew Fox), whose next targets might be two executives from a powerful corporation: Erich Nunemacher (Werner Daehn), the CFO, and Leon Mercier (Jean Reno), the CEO. The Butcher has already murdered the corporation's COO, Fan Yao (Stephanie Jacobson). Tommy (Edward Burns) and Monica (Rachel Nichols) help Alex to hunt The Butcher down. The stakes get higher, though, when the serial killer threatens the life of Alex's wife, Maria (Carmen Ejogo). Now, it's up to Alex to take matters into his own hands.

      There haven't been too many crime thrillers as of late, so it's hard to compare Alex Cross to recent American film. This isn't a who-done-it though along the lines of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Tell No One because the identity of the serial killer is revealed within the first half hour. A twist or two in the third act, which won't be revealed here, feels tacked-on and gimmicky. The moderate amount of tension throughout the second act derives from the cat and mouse chases between Alex and The Butcher.

      Screenwriters Marc Moss and Kerry Williamson build that tension effectively, but without enough realism, attention to detail or cleverness to turn this into an intelligent thriller instead of a merely a mindlessly entertaining one. You'll find yourself cringing at the stilted dialogue and contrived, awkward attempts of poignancy before reminding yourself that you're watching a modern Hollywood movie loosely based on the novel by James Patterson. By "loosely" it's probably safe to say that the movie version has been dumbed-down and oversimplified for mass appeal which explains why the characters are essentially lifeless, one dimensional ones. If only Hollywood were to recognize that there are intelligent audience members out there.

      Admittedly, Tyler Perry is actually acceptable for the most part as Alex Cross, although it does take a while for you to get used to him in that role after getting accustomed to him for such a long time in the role of Madea. Matthew Fox gives a convincingly malevolent performance as The Butcher, and, as usual, the scene-stealing Jean Reno is a pleasure to watch albeit he's not given much screen time. Fortunately, director Rob Cohen moves the film along at a brisk pace with slick visuals/editing and an ideal running time of 1 hour and 42 minutes.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Summit Entertainment.
Opens nationwide.

Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes

Directed by Corey Grant

      After his last reality-TV project ended up being based on a hoax, Sean Reynolds (Drew Rausch) hopes that his next project will be more of a success. He assembles a film crew and heads out into the woods to investigate the alleged sightings of a Bigfoot by a mountain man, Carl Drybeck (Frank Ashmore). He also claimed to have seen a dead body of a baby Bigfoot that had been buried. Is Carl telling the truth or is it all merely a hoax? That's up to Sean and his crew, Daryl (Rich McDonald), Robyn (Ashley Wood) and Kevin (Noah Weisberg), to decide, but it's also up to you to decide as an intelligent audience member.

      Director Corey Grant and co-writers Bryan O'Cain and Brian Kelsey generate scares that are quite palpable because you don't get to see images of the Bigfoot. You do get to hear its sounds, though, or at least what you imagine that its sound would be like, thereby leaving you with some grey area for your own imagination to run wild. Grant wisely chooses not to rely on gore as a means of scaring you--gore is more disgusting than scary anyway. The quiet moments before the intense ones also work well because you're anticipating something to happen at every moment. It's safe to say that the forest becomes a character in itself and quite a powerful, horrifying yet wondrous one for that matter. Moreover, Grant, O'Cain and Kelsey should be commended for including a few instances of comic relief, i.e. when one of the crew members gets irrationally scared of a small tree.

      To compare Bigfoot: The Lost Coast Tapes to other films within the found footage horror genre is tempting, but ultimately futile because it only shares a few similarities with them: a shaky handheld camera, potentially supernatural experiences, and editing that makes you think that you're watching found footage. Beyond that, the analogies stop right there, and Bigfoot becomes its own unique take on the genre. For all of it to work there has to be uniformly natural performances. In other words, you should never get the sense that anyone is "acting." Some of the scenes, unfortunately, suffer from the problem of sub-par natural acting that immediately briefly makes it hard to believe that you're watching found footage. Then again, as Roger Ebert once wisely stated, in horror film, the real star is the horror itself, and in this case, Bigfoot offers plenty in that department.

      As long as you're willing to suspend your disbelief and forgive the film for its minor aforementioned setbacks, you'll find it to be a chilling, unnerving and psychologically horrifying experience.

Number of times I checked my watch: 1
Released by Xlrator Media.
Opens at the Laemmle Music Hall 3 in Los Angeles.

Brooklyn Castle

Directed by Katie Dellamaggiore


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Producers Distribution Agency.
Opens at the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center and Landmark Sunshine Cinema.

Paranormal Activity 4

Directed by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman


Number of times I checked my watch: 2
Released by Paramount Pictures.
Opens nationwide.

Question One

Directed by Joe Fox and James Nubile


Number of times I checked my watch: 0
Opens at Clearview Chelsea Cinemas.

Tai Chi Zero

Directed by Stephen Fung


Number of times I checked my watch: 3
Released by Well Go USA.
Opens at AMC Empire.

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