Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
Military marksman Col. Jim McQuade (Gregory Hines, Running Scared) is called into top-secret duty to neutralize a surveillance robot gone haywire in San Francisco. It won't be easy, because for one thing, the android is undetectable from a human. For another, it has a built-in nuclear bomb that will detonate upon imminent threat.
I plead guilty: My friends and I have goofed around with a camcorder before and made stupid movies, but we were smart enough to know that no one outside ourselves would think they were funny. If only the makers of Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas realized the same.
With "A Lonely Place to Die," we have an excellent example of why I
neither climb mountains nor go hiking. In the Australian film by
director Julian Gilbey (the dreadful "Doghouse"), five bikers (two
couples and one fifth wheel), tummies full of smoked-mackerel-and-egg
sandwiches, have just embarked on their high adventure when one hears a
muffled cry for help.
It's coming from a pipe poking out of the ground. Digging into the
earth, the hikers find a little girl, alive, scared and speaking only
Croatian. They assume someone with sinister motives put her there and,
given the pipe that allowed her to breathe, would be coming back for the
girl. They are correct, and they learn this the hard way, because they
fail to get out of the peaks and into peace quick enough.
Gilbey's man-vs.-man-vs.-nature tale, however, has no such speed
problem. It moves at a consistently rapid pace until the third act, when
its "Deliverance"/"The Most Dangerous Game" hybrid throws some new
characters into the act to shave the remainder down to a more
conventional crime edge. All along the way, however, Melissa George ("30
Days of Night") is our guide, being at once maternal (protecting the
kid) and masculine (kicking ass). It's a rather physical role, not to
mention mostly stripped of vanity, and George wholeheartedly accepts the