Saturday, October 22, 2005

Movies opening this week

Chaos (Kevin Gage, Maya Barovich, Chantal Degroat, dir. David DeFalco)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
This is only playing a total of four times over the next two weeks in Vegas, but I thought it was interesting to note, and I did not only a review but also an interview with the director. This is a terrible movie, but it's really no worse than dozens of other straight-to-video horror movies that come out every month. What impresses me about this film is the way that the marketing campaign has so effectively built it up to be far more than it is, with their spin about "education," their well-designed website and, most notably, the feud between the filmmakers and Roger Ebert, who gave the film a savage review, and then responded point-by-point to the filmmakers' open letter disagreeing with his review. All the subsequent attention (including, hey, my interview) has come about as a result of that exchange. A columnist in Canada's Globe and Mail takes the Chaos filmmakers to task without even having seen the movie, the sure sign that the marketing has eclipsed the product. Which, of course, is best, since the product is completely worthless.

Hellbent (Dylan Fergus, Bryan Kirkwood, Hank Harris, dir. Paul Etheredge-Ouzts)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
A very different horror movie from Chaos, but also pretty firmly in the straight-to-video-quality camp. Other than its "Wow! Gay people! In a horror movie!" angle, this is a predictable and perfectly competent slasher movie with passable acting, some okay scares and an anemic storyline. It's nice to see that gay people are becoming so accepted in movies that not every film about homosexuality has to be a Big Statement, but that still makes this more of a historical curiosity than a movie worth seeing. Opened limited Sep. 16; in Las Vegas this week

North Country (Charlize Theron, Woody Harrelson, Frances McDormand, dir. Niki Caro)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
Good old Oscar bait. This is a sturdy but predictable Hollywood melodrama that takes on social injustice in a typically award-winning fashion. It doesn't come off as overly cynical, though, and even if it's a bit manipulative, I still think it's well-constucted and genuine, and it's full of good performances. You probably have to be receptive to a little sentimentality, but if you appreciate inspirational true stories, this does exactly what you want it to. Wide release

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