comment

NEWLY REVIEWED:

BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP

Nicole Kidman, one of the finest actresses to ever grace a movie screen, completely wastes her time in this meandering, hackneyed thriller from writer/director Rowan Joffe. Kidman plays Christine, a woman who loses part of her memory every time she goes to sleep at night. When she wakes up, she's a 40-year-old woman who can't remember past her twenties, or something like that. Her husband (Colin Firth, another Oscar winner wasting his time) soldiers through with her as she struggles to recognize him. A doctor (Mark Strong) calls her every morning to try and make the memories rush back. Christine lost her memory allegedly after somebody beat her to near death. Can you guess who almost killed her? Yes you can, you really can, and that's one of the big reasons this movie stinks. Another reason would be that it is nothing but a "Memento" rip-off, minus the style and surprises that made that movie so much fun. It's a true task to sit and watch Kidman struggle through this embarrassing script. She, and basically everybody involved with this mess, deserves much better. – Bob Grimm

HORNS

Harry Potter goes over to the dark side in "Horns," a nasty little movie from director Alexandre Aja, maker of "Piranha 3D" and the decent remake effort, "The Hills Have Eyes." Danielle Radcliffe plays Ig, accused of killing his girlfriend Merrin (Juno Temple) after an ugly breakup. Not too long after this event, Ig starts sprouting horns out of his head, much to his chagrin. When people see these horns, they behave rather badly, but they also have a hard time lying. So Ig uses the horns to not only bring out the worst in people, but to start solving the mystery of his lover's death. Radcliffe is great here, utilizing a strong American accent and getting a nice chance to let his nasty side come out. Temple is adorable as Merrin, her story told in flashbacks and leaving no mystery as to why Ig is so messed up after the loss. Joe Anderson is good as Ig's musician brother, strung out on drugs and hiding a few secrets. James Remar, David Morse and Kathleen Quinlan all make their marks in supporting roles. The movie is a hard R, with crazy violence. Mommies and daddies, don't let your young kids watch this one, no matter how much they want to see the new flick from the Harry Potter guy. As a mystery, the movie is a complete failure in that it is obvious early on who did the killing. It doesn't matter, because the film is very strong as a horror comedy. It's Aja's most fully realized film to date, and it's arguable that it contains Radcliffe's best performance. – Colin Boyd

LAGGIES

It's been a pretty good year for Keira Knightley. She flexed her singing pipes in the quiet summer flick, "Begin Again," and she's part of the big British ensemble bound to make some hay next month in "The Imitation Game," which, if nothing else, might produce Benedict Cumberbatch's first Oscar nomination. Sandwiched in between those, she's practicing her comedic timing and acing her American accent in the I'm-almost-30-and-I-need-to-grow-up comedy, "Laggies." Beyond its very basic premise, regrettably, "Laggies" doesn't have much on its mind. Nice, lived-in portrayals by Knightley, Chloë Grace Moretz and Sam Rockwell notwithstanding, it should be a crime to waste all three of those actors on a movie that merely exists and doesn't ever go anywhere. It's pleasant, and it shows again that Knightley is more than a pretty face, but if anything is lagging here, it's the movie itself. – Colin Boyd

LAST DAYS IN VIETNAM

I thought I knew a lot about the final days of the Vietnam War, and then I watched this documentary. This is the story behind some footage you have seen over the years, including helicopters getting pushed into the ocean off of warships by crowds, and people hopping the fence of the American embassy in Saigon. Rory Kennedy's film covers the final weeks of the war, as North Vietnam ignored the peace accord and rumbled through South Vietnam after President Nixon resigned. After Gerald Ford ordered the evacuation of Americans, many South Vietnamese allies risked being stranded. This film examines how American soldiers and diplomats had to ignore orders and smuggle people out of the country. Many did not make it, and were shipped to camps or executed. But many were, in fact, saved in the final hours before the fall of Saigon. The movie uses stock footage and interviews with actual survivors to put together one of the more comprehensive looks at America's involvement in Vietnam you are likely to see. It also stands as a clear depiction of why Gerald Ford never won a presidential election, and certainly inherited one of the greater messes in political history. – Bob Grimm

NIGHTCRAWLER

Jake Gyllenhaal has pretty rotten luck. If anyone ever sees his movies, they're usually awful. Burned by the likes of "The Prince of Persia," people don't go see his good stuff. Opening weekend box office suggests "Nightcrawler" might be largely ignored, but it's a great satire on the media, a great movie period and it features Gyllenhaal's best work to date. He plays a freelance videographer who sells crime scene footage to a local news station. "If it bleeds, it leads," he's told, and he leaves his ethics at the door when sniffing out compelling, graphic video. If "Network" slightly exaggerated TV news in the 1970s, "Nightcrawler" does the same now. It's tightly written and fast-paced, and it makes you feel a little unclean. But Gyllenhaal's performance—he's not playing a person so much as he is raw ambition—is gutsy, creepy and a deep shade of sensational. – Colin Boyd

Add a comment