Review: Hide and Seek
If nothing else, the new horror flick Hide and Seek confirms
something we’ve suspected all along: therapists have the most screwed-up
kids. Robert DeNiro plays David Callaway, a rich Manhattan shrink
whose wife offs herself in front of their young daughter, Emily
(Dakota Fanning) — who, in turn, starts getting a little
freaky. The story meanders along from there, with few surprises
and not even one good scare. As far as creeped-out, possessed kids
go, the over-exploited Dakota Fanning doesn’t measure up to Linda Blair.
It’s unfortunate, too, because DeNiro is great. He is the
perfect mealy-mouthed, “let’s talk about our feelings,” New York shrink. And,
when we’re given the surprise twist ending, he lays it all out there — investing
himself completely in the absurdity of the role. It’s a turn reminiscent of his
work in Cape Fear.
Still, one pines for a small (or rather, large) distraction in a movie this dull.
I mean, how many times can someone open a closet, music building to a crescendo,
only to have a cat dart out, making that ridiculous “meow” noise? — Nic Sheff
Review: Alone in the Dark
back, hotties! In case you were wondering what happened to Christian Slater and Stephen Dorff, Alone
in the Dark has your answer: They’ve been making cheesy monster movies.
Yes, Christian Slater has returned in all his eyebrow-arching
glory, bringing pretty boy Dorff along for the ride. They’re
back and ready to take on hordes of slithering CGI creatures,
bent on human destruction. The convoluted, ultimately irrelevant plot has something to do with a secret government agency which
fights these reptilian beasts. Dorff is a member, Slater is an
ex-member and there seems to be some conflict in all that, though
it’s never clear exactly what that is. Mostly we just try to
enjoy the mass slaughters and devourings, ignoring whatever human
interest the filmmakers half-heartedly tried to throw in there.
Stephen Dorff was wonderfully over the top as John Waters’s Cecil B. Demented and courageously self-effacing as drag queen Candy Darling in I Shot Andy Warhol, but none of that comes through here. He screams, overturns tables and curses, but the emotions are all forced and incongruous. Christian Slater is, well, Christian Slater. The female lead, Tara Reid, plays Slater’s love interest and drew titters from a preview audience every time she spoke. With her squeaky voice, overdone makeup, and tight halter top, she was a hard sell as a leading archeologist/scientist — those certainly weren’t the first professions that came to mind. Her obligatory sex scene is about as cold as they come, and somehow she and Slater manage to keep most of their clothes on. Neither horror devotees or early-’90s Tiger Beat subscribers will be satisfied. — Nic Sheff
Date DVD #17: The Warner Gangsters Collection
With its Film Noir Classic Collection, Warner released one of the best DVD sets
of 2004. But this week the studio tops
that with the DVD debuts of six crime films that introduced a new
kind of sexiness to American movies.
The Warner Gangsters Collection compiles The Public Enemy, White Heat, Angels with Dirty Faces, Little Caesar, The Petrified Forest, and The Roaring ’20s. On prominent display are the pugnacious performances of Edward G. Robinson, Humphrey Bogart, and, of course, James Cagney, the guys who redefined how good it could be to be a bad guy. Often bookended with some Hollywood Production Code moralizations (i.e., “Crime doesn’t pay”), these films created a whole new way of appreciating corrrupt, gun-toting men. Who would have thought a young Deniro or Pacino was hot, without these cool, sinister gangsters?
Several of these tough-guy classics have been hard
to find, but none is more welcome than 1931’s The Public Enemy.
The film made Cagney a star, and famously pushed the limits of the Code
(even if you haven’t seen the film, you’ve seen Cagney squash that grapefruit
into Mae Clark’s sweet face). From the film’s first scenes — when
Cagney leans his dirty mug up against a wall and moseys through a room
of dirty, rotten crooks — to his blaze-of-glory death, Cagney jumps
off the screen, fire-breathing that boilerplate bad-guy dialogue with
some gutsy spit and halitosis you can almost smell. This new edition
restores seven more minutes of awful behavior cut for the censors — but
more importantly, it restores Cagney’s irresistible swagger. — Logan