Movies

Instead of Seeing Scream 4, Watch Keanu Reeves Act Like a Human

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Scream returns, Keanu Reeves charms, and Robert Redford does something tasteful. Who gets your ticket money?

Scream 4

Director: Wes Craven

Cast: Neve Campbell, Courteney Cox, David Arquette, Emma Roberts, Hayden Panettiere, Rory Culkin, Alison Brie

Let me get this straight — this is a horror movie where everyone talks about the rules of horror movies? Very clever, especially if the characters in Wes Craven's latest rerun acknowledge how the fourth installment of a film franchise is usually a wheezy disaster. (Except, of course, when it involves Captain Kirk saving whales.) Unfortunately, as the original Scream demonstrated, simply calling attention to cliches doesn't necessarily improve them — it merely allows everyone to feel clever and edgy without all the hard work of committing to an actual vision. To be fair, series regulars Courteney Cox and David Arquette have always been charismatic, and maybe their real-world relationship woes will add tension to their performances here. But nostalgia is the main draw with Scream 4, and since I lost interest in this series approximately five minutes after Drew Barrymore's character was offed back in 1996, this is one reunion I won't be attending.

Henry's Crime

Director: Malcolm Venville

Cast: Keanu Reeves, James Caan, Vera Farmiga, Judy Greer

The remaining One Movie contenders both sound fairly intriguing, at least on the surface. In Henry's Crime, the titular offense is a bank robbery which Keanu Reeves' eponymous character didn't actually commit but served time for anyway. While in jail, Henry meets an affable old con played by James Caan, which (combined with the offbeat characters' eventual decision to pull an actual heist) suggests Henry's Crime may be a spiritual cousin to Wes Anderson's quirky charmer Bottle Rocket. Add smart, criminally underused actresses Vera Farmiga and Judy Greer to the mix on top of what seems like an unusually charming performance from Reeves, and this one is a potential diamond in the rough. Also: bonus points for Reeves's deadpan "I'm not an actor," when he discovers he'll have to join the cast of a community-theater production as part of the caper.

The Conspirator

Director: Robert Redford

Cast: Robin Wright, James McAvoy, Justin Long, Evan Rachel Wood, Alexis Bledel, Kevin Kline, Tom Wilkinson

And finally, there's The Conspirator, which has an interesting setting (the aftermath of Lincoln's assassination) and a topical premise (the struggle for justice and constitutional rights versus a desire for partisan revenge in a passionately divided nation). Unfortunately, with talented but humorless Robin Wright in the lead role of proud Southern mother Mary Surratt, and earnest but pedantic Robert Redford in the director's chair, the film's almost guaranteed to be exactly the turgid, high-minded civics lesson it looks like in the trailer. (Seriously, that trailer comes off like one of the gag trailers from Tropic Thunder. The only difference is that Robert Downey, Jr.'s Kirk Lazarus would be playing Surratt.)

The One Movie You Should See This Week: Henry's Crime