Film reviews

  • 2004-02-19
Cold Mountain
Director: Anthony Minghella.
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Jude Law, Rene Zellweger
It is crucial for this film that the pivotal love story works, but it all comes crashing down because Kidman and Law fail to show convincing affection for each other. The American Civil War is on and "Cold Mountain" strives to portray the time and the people in it, but the many-sided stories make the film too episodic rather than a round whole. The various well-known supporting actors sometimes do a better job than the main performers, but I found Zellweger's overacted Ruby absolutely horrifying. This limp epic was real Oscar bait, but I'm glad that the Academy was able to see through the visually stunning surface and into the core of this film, which proves to be utterly futile and, yes, very cold. II1/2
Julie Vinten

Only in the movies can two strangers fall obsessively in love while exchanging a few spoken words. After the lovers (Jude Law and Nicole Kidman) passionately kiss, he goes off to war. He almost dies a couple of times, becomes a deserter and meets a bunch of kooks worthy of Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales." He is only trying to get back to the love of his life in Cold Mountain, North Carolina. Once again, actress Kidman is astonishing in every possible way. But so are handsome Law and the spunky Oscar-nominated Renee Zellweger. Director Anthony Minghella ("The English Patient," "The Talented Mr. Ripley") certainly has a way of taking difficult material and adapting it to the screen. "Cold Mountain" will not satisfy everyone, though this reviewer would like to see it again. III
Laimons Juris G

Director: Joseph Kahn.
Starring: Martin Henderson, Ice Cube, Matt Schulze.
Trash. Utter trash. "Torque" is riddled with stereotypes and cliches and has a plot that seems like (and most likely was) scribbled out on one side of a paper napkin. But the biker flick is not exclusively bad, and there is no reason to become angry at it or take it seriously (though it seems that to a certain extent the filmmakers did), it is simply too brainless to bother with. Only 81 minutes long, "Torque" is a short, fast, painless procedure, a sit-down-enjoy-and-forget picture. The rapid pace and the over abundance of special effects that plaster the film together helps remove the focus from the cheesy one-liners and Ice Cube's facial tics. And nice bike chase on top of a moving train. Duh. II
Julie Vinten

The motorcycles may look fabulous and no matter how tempting the scantily clad buxom starlets may be, this has to be one of the most ridiculously moronic movies ever made. Come on - black bikers? Give me a break! It seems Hollywood will stick an African-American into anything these days to make a quick buck. In this case it's an overweight rapper called Ice Cube pretending he knows how to act. It's a wonder he can even get on a bike. It's so pitiful. And young mister lilywhite (Martin Henderson) fares little better. A few group therapy sessions would have helped the entire crew get this stalled scooter to putt. "Torque" has some groans and hoots, but it's simply too crass and commercial for this reviewer's tastes - Mountain Dew, anyone? I 3/4
Laimons Juris G

The Texas
Chainsaw Massacre
Director: Marcus Nispel.
Starring: Jessica Biel

The main problem with this remake is that it is superfluous. The concept and ideas of Tobe Hooper's 1974 original have been ripped off so many times since that the remake becomes yet another replica. Stylewise, this is a true Michael Bay (producer) film, but the glossy look would better fit a Pepsi ad than a creepy horror film, so "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" 2003 loses the gritty look that made the original so sinister. It is a lot less eerie and disturbing and more senselessly gross than the first. The hick family in the 1974 film was inexplicably, terrifyingly plain old psycho, so giving Leatherface a motive for his insane actions in the remake is plain old stupid. II
Julie Vinten

First of all, this is not a sequel to the cult film classic made in 1974. This is a remake of that same historic suspense-comic-thriller. The cinematography is captivating throughout, though one innovative shot is more than memorable - it's positively brilliant. And no wonder, as cinematographer Daniel Pearl also shot the original exactly 30 years ago. You have to have a damn big bullet hole in your head not to enjoy this stylish and professionally crafted production. It comes as a pleasant surprise that this motion picture turns out to be a decent, entertaining horror flick. You'll be sitting on the edge of your seat or laughing your head off, it's that good. III
Laimons Juris G