Film Openings

Week of February 25, 2004

Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (unrated) Nick Broomfield and Joan Churchill. The world can always use another documentary that makes a passionate plea against the death penalty. That's why it's such a shame that Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer -- the second documentary by Nick Broomfield following the misfortunes of a Florida prostitute-turned-killer -- is marred by gratuitous narration and a tone of tabloid sensationalism. In 1992, Broomfield released Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer; ten years later (and with Patty Jenkins's drama of the same events, Monster, currently wowing audiences in theaters), Broomfield returns with the rest of the story. His loud, leaden voice powers over too much of the footage; he pounds the viewer with exposition that we could have gleaned in other ways. The film's strongest segments are its interviews with Wuornos, who rises above the film like a force of nature: No matter how much of himself Broomfield allows into the film, it's Wuornos and her shell-shocked, ravaged face that we remember -- that, indeed, we can't possibly forget. Opens Friday, February 27, at the Tivoli. (Melissa Levine)

Broken Lizard's Club Dread (R) Jay Chandrasekhar. Given Broken Lizard's cinematic output, it's tempting to rename them Broken Record, as they've tended to take worn-out ideas and present them in a worn-out fashion. At least this slasher spoof is a bit more amusing than their Police Academy-inspired Super Troopers, and it features some gratuitous nudity to distract from the dumb-ass dialogue and feeble gore effects. A machete killer is offing partygoers at the hedonistic Pleasure Island resort run by Coconut Pete (Bill Paxton), a booze-addled burnout musician in the Jimmy Buffett mold who looks and sounds almost exactly like The Muppet Show's Rowlf the Dog. Many of the staff, played by Broken Lizard (director Jay Chandrasekhar, Kevin Heffernan, Steve Lemme, Paul Soter and Erik Stolhanske) have ridiculously petty motivations for murder, and as usual, sex plus drugs plus scary woods equals death. The Broken Lizard gang bring the best out of Bill Paxton, only to abandon him in the second half and focus on themselves. A bit more humility might have served them in better stead. Opens Friday, February 27, at multiple locations. (Luke Y. Thompson)

Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (PG-13) Guy Ferland. Opens Friday, February 27, at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

The Passion of the Christ (R) Mel Gibson. Opens today at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

Twisted (R) Philip Kaufman. Jessica (Ashley Judd), a female police officer whose own father was a serial killer, investigates a series of horrific murders. The "twist"? Each of the victims is one of Jessica's past lovers. Samuel L. Jackson and Andy Garcia co-star as Jessica's mentor and current love interest (uh, look out!), respectively. Opens Friday, February 27, at multiple locations. NR

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