Film Openings

Week of September 10, 2003

Cabin Fever. Eli Roth. Unfortunately, since we haven't yet seen a genre-redefining horror movie in the 21st century, it's repackaging time again. Here we have some frisky youngsters à la Evil Dead, who venture to a remote location à la Evil Dead, to die grotesquely à la Evil Dead. For "variety," the youths (Rider Strong, Jordan Ladd, some others) are attacked not by demons, zombies, slashers, Fate or menacing twigs, but by industrial-strength flesh-eating bacteria. They freak out and bleed all over everything en route to a predictable revenge-of-the-nerd ending. There's a modicum of lazy cheek here and there -- a freakish campfire tale and some forced "amusing" behavior -- plus some eerie thuds by composer Nathan Barr (modestly assisted by David Lynch scorer Angelo Badalamenti) to frame the formula. People will probably like this fledgling effort from wannabe director Eli Roth because it tries to be loose and outrageous, but the only thing scary about it is that well-connected hacks get deals. Opens Friday, September 12, at multiple locations. (Gregory Weinkauf)

Masked and Anonymous. Larry Charles. Opens Friday, September 12, at the Tivoli. Reviewed this issue.

Matchstick Men. Ridley Scott. Opens Friday, September 12, at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

Once Upon a Time in Mexico. Robert Rodriguez. Opens Friday, September 12, at multiple locations. Reviewed this issue.

Stone Reader. Mark Moskowitz. For filmmaker, failed novelist and lifelong bibliophile Mark Moskowitz, an obscure 1972 novel by a completely forgotten writer became the emotional trigger that set him off on a two-year search for the book's lost author -- and for the truth about himself. What ever happened to Dow Mossman? Why did he write just one brilliant book, The Stones of Summer? What has befallen serious literature in America? How about publishing? Part detective story, part obsessive quest, part requiem for the very act of reading, this fascinating documentary gives us an old-fashioned romantic's view of writers and their craft -- complete with the hint of a happy ending. Rediscovered after three decades, Mossman is now a semi-hot topic for cultural buzzmeisters, and thanks to his own doggedness, Moskowitz has become the co-author of a pretty good story about art and survival. Opens Friday, September 12, at the Plaza Frontenac. (Bill Gallo)

The Trip. Miles Swain. Encompassing a tumultuous decade in the gay rights movement, while charting the ups and downs of an equally tumultuous love affair between a gay radical (Steve Braun) and a just-out-of-the-closet conservative (Larry Sullivan), this romantic drama bites off a tad more than it's able to properly chew. But you can't fault writer-director Miles Swain for his ambition or his sensitivity to the nuances of self-discovery and true love. While the action goes a bit off the rails in the second act, as Swain attempts to add a bit of farce to the proceedings, the film soon rights itself with a finale that's deeply moving in a truly surprising way. That's the mark of a filmmaker of talent, from whom greater things should be seen in the very near future. While the leads are the film's heart and soul, The Trip also boasts good supporting turns by Sirena Irwin, Alexis Arquette and Jill St. John. Opens Friday, September 12, at the Tivoli. (David Ehrenstein)

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