PSIPOOK | reviews | nutshell reviews | april 04



Peter Pan
Fantasy/US/ English (Japanese subtitles)/113mins
Starring: Jason Isaacs, Jeremy Sumpter, Rachel Hurd-Wood
Director: PJHogan

This made-for-instant-success CG fest tells the classic Peter Pan like it really was in JMBarrie’s book.

The Disney-panto sentimentality is gone. Instead we have the stirrings of sexual awakening and intimations of mortality. Peter and Wendy actually kiss and Hook is a mess of jealousies, bitterness and hatred of youth. Hook, played by Jason Isaacs, is also Wendy’s dad, so the Freudsters will be working overtime on this one.

However, the psych stuff does not take away from the ripping yarn. This Pan is fun, arresting and brings us a bright new talent, Wendy’s Rachel Hurd-Wood in her first role.

Out of Time
Thriller/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/114mins
Starring: Denzel Washington, Sanaa Lathan, Dean Cain
Director: Carl Franklin

Denzel Washington is the wonderfully ambivalent hero of this film. Is he the bad guy, or the good guy who’s a bit bad — is he getting his just deserts for actual crimes, or is he being punished too much?
Washington is the sheriff of a small, sleepy Florida backwater. His marriage is collapsing and he gets into a torrid affair with a woman who happens to be dying of cancer. He borrows — or steals — to pay for his mistress’ treatment a big wad of cash impounded by the narcs. She dies mysteriously. He becomes the suspect. Things get hectic.

In the Cut
Thriller/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/113mins
Starring: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh
Screen Gems

Meg Ryan, whose face is an synonym of girl-next-door-niceness and innocence, takes the audience aback by playing a frowsy teacher who is obsessed by sex. She bonks guys for the exercise. She even bonks guys when they are creepy cops she suspects of gruesome murders.

Someone has left a chopped up piece of murder victim outside her home and Ryan and the investigating officer get mutually hot. How’s that for a chat up line: ‘Is that a dismembered limb in your garden or are you just pleased to see me?’

In the Cut is by turns cool, novel and shambolic.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Horror/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/98mins
Starring: Jessica Biel, Jonathan Tucker, Andrew Bryniarski
Director: Marcus Nispel
New Line Cinema

This Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a pointless remake of the 1974 splatter movie. Whatever you thought of the original TCM, it had raw power and some genuine menace. This version adds nothing to the original. Modern digital technology allows the makers to up the yuck factor, but mostly it is a procession of tried and tired out horror flick clichés, cynically strung together to make a bit more dosh out of the name. For all the hi-tech, TCM 2003 fails to scare, provide catharsis or even make us care.

Drama/ Denmark, Sweden, UK, France, Germany /English (Japanese subtitles)/177mins
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Paul Bettany, Lauren Bacall
Director: Lars Von Trier
Special Presentation

Dogville is a brave cinematic experimentation in which a conventional set is eschewed for some chalk lines on the studio floor in an attempt to give this film the ambience of a stage production. The story psychologically intense. Nicole Kidman is on the run and seeks shelter in a small town in the Rockies. At first the townsfolk are kind and supportive, but as more is learned about the woman, the locals’ attitude changes to bullying and abuse. Dogville presents a bleak view of human nature but the artful direction and acting never permit it to become depressing.

Thriller/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/101mins
Starring: Gabriel Byrne, Stuart Townsend, Thandie Newton
Director: Damian Nieman

Shade is a run-of-the-mill card sharks and gangsters flick. You’ve kind of seen it all before, but there’s enough here to keep your interest. Townsend and Byrne are professional cheats playing the LA underground poker circuit. No one here seems to be a genuine card player, there are just a lot of cheats cheating other cheats. The winnings from one game turn out to be gangster money and the boss wants it back. The two card sharks weave a complex mess of lies and borrowed money and you can see the big scam coming down, but not on whom.

Reviews by Chris Page

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