Movie reviews - 2004-06-17

  • 2004-06-17
This week:- Twisted- Buffalo Soldiers- Who Killed Bambi?

Director: Philip Kaufman
"Twisted" is yet another one of those lame Ashley Judd thrillers. Judd plays a homicide cop, Jessica, whose father went on a killing spree when she was a child that ended with his killing her mother and then himself. When Jessica's former lovers are brutally murdered one by one, the question is if Jessica is a potential killer. If you know the formula to this cheesy and predictable kind of thriller, it won't take you long to figure out whodunit. There isn't a single gripping moment in the movie, and the more you start to think about it, the more stupid the whole thing appears. Andy Garcia's and Samuel L. Jackson's talents are utterly wasted and Judd, well, she clearly feels at home in these kinds of movies. **
Julie Vinten

Here's a perfectly fine example of how truly awful a movie can actually be. First of all, whatever you do, don't hire actress Ashley Judd for the leading role. She only guarantees some excruciatingly bad acting, accompanied by an abundance of inappropriate moaning and groaning in all the wrong places. The TV-movie plot is so dreadful that this reviewer wanted to change the channel every few minutes. This boring B-movie is one long hackneyed cliche, repeating moments from the worst movies ever made. It's a shame, but even the engaging Samuel L. Jackson can't work a miracle by showing up at the last minute. "Twisted" clarifies that Judd can't act her way out of a plastic bag. However, she definitely knows how to deliver a bona fide dud. * 3/4
Laimons Juris G

Buffalo Soldiers
Director: Gregor Jordan
This military satire spent years awaiting distribution after Sep. 11, 2001 - and for good reason. It is a straight-up, anti-flag waving, bold, black comedy that superbly mocks the U.S. military. The story takes place at a U.S. army base in West Germany in 1989 where cocky young soldier Ray Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix) engages in heavy black-market dealing out of sheer boredom. However, when he deliberately ticks off discipline loving, Vietnam War veteran Sergeant Lee (Scott Glenn) by going out with his daughter, Elwood turns out to be in over his head. "Buffalo Soldiers" is a perceptive movie with just the right blend of gloominess and farce, and it is truly very funny. It can't top "M.A.S.H.", but is still a more than praiseworthy example of the genre. ****
Julie Vinten

"Buffalo Soldiers" is a satirical tongue-in-cheek romp about a young U.S. army scoundrel named Elwood (Joaquin Phoenix). In this dark comedy he's king of the black market, cooking heroin on the side and generally screwing around. Based on the 1993 fictional novel by Robert O'Connor, the title comes from the name of a post-Civil War regiment of freed slaves who were assigned to kill Amerindians of the plains. Unfortunately the second half of the movie develops a mean-spirited viciousness, bordering on the absurd. This almost destroys the enjoyable first part of the tale. It's the top-notch cast that pulls this motion picture up by its military bootstraps. Phoenix carries the film with aplomb and vigor. The versatile 30-year-old is always interesting to watch in whatever role he plays. ***
Laimons Juris G

Who Killed Bambi?
Director: Gilles Marchand
This French psychological thriller is about the loss of childhood innocence and sexual awakening as dealt with through using stiff symbolism and notes from page one of "The Little Book of Psychology." Isabelle (Sophie Quinton) is training as a nurse when she starts to suspect the young Dr. Philipp (Laurent Lucas) of drugging girls at the hospital and sexually molesting them. She is both intensely drawn to and terrified of the doctor who nicknames her Bambi since she helplessly faints whenever around him. The slow pace makes the film plain boring rather than intense, and the artsy fartsy dream sequences look contrived instead of profound. First time director Gilles Marchand is clearly inspired by Hitchcock and Lynch, but his film lacks the bite and brains of these masters. **
Julie Vinten

Leave it to our Gallic cousins to come up with something unique, slightly strange and a tad mysterious. Better known as a writer, Gilles Marchand ("Harry is Here to Help") stretches illusion as far as possible in his directorial debut. Yes, perhaps "Who Killed Bambi?" is too long and cumbersome with a completely impractical conclusion. Confucius wisely said: "Patience comes to those who wait." The provocative and captivating Sophie Quinton saves this simplistic celluloid oddity from being just another forgettable melodrama. A veteran of over two dozen features, actor Laurent Lucas is excellent as the creepy Dr. Philipp. This subtle thriller will leave you either bored, asleep or totally hypnotized by the story's pulse. Maybe it's a figment of your imagination. Or is it all only a dream? ***
Laimons Juris G