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serial killer

Child 44 (2015)

889372DIRECTOR: Daniel Espinosa

CAST: Tom Hardy, Noomi Rapace, Gary Oldman, Joel Kinnaman, Paddy Considine, Fares Fares, Jason Clarke, Vincent Cassel, Charles Dance

REVIEW:

Adapting a book can be a tricky task; change too much and outrage its adherents, but follow the text too slavishly and risk a sluggish motion picture. Book and film are different mediums and should be treated as such.  With its myriad subplots and in-depth exploration of life in the 1950s Soviet Union, Tom Rob Smith’s best-selling historical crime novel (loosely inspired by the case of 1980s Soviet serial killer Andrei Chikatilo) doesn’t lend itself to being inherently cinematic, and director Daniel Espinosa and screenwriter Richard Price’s attempt to bring it to the screen is sometimes murky, scattershot, and difficult to follow.   Continue reading

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

THE-GIRL-WITH-THE-DRAGON-TATTOO-2DIRECTOR: David Fincher

CAST: Daniel Craig, Rooney Mara, Christopher Plummer, Stellan Skarsgard, Robin Wright, Joely Richardson, Steven Berkoff, Geraldine James, Yorick van Wageningen

REVIEW:

I’ll just get this out of the way right upfront. I have never seen the 2009 Swedish film adaptation of late author and journalist Stieg Larsson’s crime novel, which featured a much-praised performance by Noomi Rapace in the title role (nor have I read the book), so this review will not include any comparisons between the two versions, merely evaluate this one on its own merits. Continue reading

Mr. Brooks (2007)

DIRECTOR: Bruce A. Evans

CAST: Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, William Hurt, Dane Cook, Marg Helgenberger, Danielle Panabaker, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Lindsay Crouse

REVIEW:

According to star/producer Kevin Costner, Mr. Brooks was conceived as the first film in a trilogy, but in the wake of modest box-office earnings, whether or not any other installments will get the greenlight is up in the air.  That’s kind of a shame, because Mr. Brooks is actually a lot of fun: a deliciously devious little thriller that combines plenty of twists and turns with a macabre sense of humor. Continue reading

Disturbia (2007)

DIRECTOR: D. J. Caruso

CAST:

Shia LaBeouf, David Morse, Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Aaron Yoo, Viola Davis, Matt Craven

REVIEW:

The sole crediting of Disturbia’s script to Carl Ellsworth (Red Eye) and Christopher Landon seems a little disingenuous, as the movie is as obviously an updated Rear Window as they come. Continue reading

Zodiac (2007)

zodiacDIRECTOR: David Fincher

CAST: Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Anthony Edwards, Chloe Sevigny, Brian Cox, Elias Koteas, Dermot Mulroney, Philip Baker Hall, John Carroll Lynch

REVIEW:

While it tells the true unsolved story of one of America’s most notorious serial killers–at least that which is publicly known–Zodiac is not a thriller, at least not in a conventional sense.  Rather, it’s a police procedural and docudrama.  Based on a true crime book by Robert Graysmith, it puts the focus not on Zodiac himself, who remains a shadowy, elusive, nameless and faceless figure (although the movie’s viewpoint is blatantly slanted toward one suspect), but on the men (including Graysmith himself) who were involved in the long-running, ultimately fruitless manhunt.  To this end, Zodiac is a bit like a souped-up, two-and-a-half hour episode of Law & Order, and will appeal to some of the same audience fascinated by the details of police procedure and investigating.   Continue reading

Red Dragon (2002)

DIRECTOR: Brett Ratner

CAST:

Edward Norton, Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Mary-Louise Parker, Harvey Keitel, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Anthony Heald, Bill Duke

REVIEW:

Following in the footsteps of 1991’s The Silence of the Lambs and 2001’s Hannibal, 2003’s Red Dragon was purported to complete the Hannibal Lecter ‘trilogy’ (but then came the ill-conceived flop Hannibal Rising, detailing Hannibal’s childhood and thus removing the last shred of the character’s enigma- and whose bright idea was it to try to make a Hannibal Lecter movie without Anthony Hopkins?). Continue reading

Hannibal (2001)

DIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST:

Anthony Hopkins, Julianne Moore, Giancarlo Giannini, Ray Liotta, Gary Oldman, Frankie Faison, Zeljko Ivanek, David Andrews

REVIEW:

As a follow-up to 1991’s Oscar-winning The Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal was one of the most anticipated movies of 2001, but its journey from Thomas Harris’ page to the screen was a tumultuous one. Continue reading

Switchback (1997)

DIRECTOR:

Jeb Stuart

CAST:

Dennis Quaid, Danny Glover, Jared Leto, R. Lee Ermey, Ted Levine, William Fichtner, Leo Burmester

REVIEW:

Unlike most entries in the serial killer/thriller genre, Switchback moves at a leisurely pace, relying more on character development than jolts, but screenwriter Jeb Stuart’s (The Fugitive) directorial debut is a solid effort that sets itself apart from standards of the genre in some ways yet is a worthy entry among them. Continue reading

Kiss the Girls (1997)

DIRECTOR: Gary Fleder

CAST:

Morgan Freeman, Ashley Judd, Cary Elwes, Tony Goldwyn, Alex McArthur, Bill Nunn, Jay O. Sanders, William Converse-Roberts, Brian Cox, Jeremy Piven, Gina Ravera, Richard T. Jones, Roma Maffia

REVIEW:

Serial killers make dependable villains. From Victorian London’s still nameless, faceless Jack the Ripper to cinematic icons like the diabolical Hannibal Lecter, the public has always had a morbid fascination with murderers, and of course an endless string of films has capitalized on this. Continue reading

The Silence of the Lambs (1991)

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Demme

CAST:

Jodie Foster, Anthony Hopkins, Scott Glenn, Ted Levine, Anthony Heald, Diane Baker, Brooke Smith, Chris Isaak, Charles Napier, Daniel von Bargen

REVIEW:

Few cinematic villains are a source of as much morbid fascination as Hannibal Lecter. Like the heroine Clarice Starling, we are frightened and disturbed by him, and yet we are too intrigued to turn our eyes away. Continue reading

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