Film Openings

Week of September 14, 2005

Crónicas. (R) John Leguizamo, in a rare watchable performance, is Manolo Bonilla, an arrogant Miami TV journalist, who regularly appears on a popular newsmagazine. Like most everyone else in the media and law enforcement, he's fascinated with the case of a child killer on the loose in Ecuador, a man dubbed The Monster for obvious reasons. At the funeral of the most recent victims, however, Manolo witnesses another monstrous act -- the twin brother of one of the dead children is killed by a careless driver named Vinicio Cepeda (Damián Alcázar). Cepeda claims that he once picked up The Monster as a hitchhiker, and the man confessed some of his crimes to him, including the murder of a girl whom the police have not yet found. If Manolo will agree to do a feature on Cepeda's unfair conviction, he agrees to reveal everything he knows about the killer. Cepeda himself may be the killer, but writer-director Sebastián Cordero is more interested in exploring the role and responsibility of the media in society. (Luke Y. Thompson)

Cry Wolf. Take some high school hooligans, some Internet shenanigans and the murder of a young lady and you get Cry Wolf. Following a murder, some teenage kids try to get their fellow classmates to crap in their pants by dropping hints about a made-up serial killer ("The Wolf") who's lurking online and picking out his next victims. But -- wait for it -- the shenanigans end up being real, as those victims actually start being killed. And Jon Bon Jovi is part of the cast! Jeff Wadlow directs. (not reviewed)

Genesis. (G) This second film by Claude Nuridsany and Marie Pérennou (makers of 1996's remarkable Microcosmos) is a disappointment. That's largely the fault of its framing conceit: a man who appears to be an African bushman but is in fact a French actor (Sotigui Kouyaté) who serves as narrator. With an air of primitive purity, the narrator discusses the nature of existence, beginning with the origins of the universe and continuing through a rough picture of evolution. When we get to the animals, Nuridsany and Pérennou are in their element, and much of the footage is mesmerizing and gorgeous. As in their last film, they capture breathtaking minutiae and shocking natural events, such as the way one creature lures another into its mouth. They also get shots in astonishing locations: inside a pregnant human uterus; inside a bird's egg that's just beginning to hatch. But the frame is silly, and the film ends up feeling like rickety science instead of mind-blowing art or spiritual meditation. (Melissa Levine)

Just Like Heaven. (PG-13) Reviewed in this issue. (Thompson)

Lord of War. (R) Reviewed in this issue. (Robert Wilonsky)

Venom. So you know how you always get the heebie-jeebies when you're running through a swamp? And you're being chased by this dude named Mr. Jangles, who's possessed by thirteen evil souls? And he (or they, whatever) wants to kill you? Yeah, so do these teenagers. Jim Gillespie directs and Agnes Bruckner stars. (not reviewed)

Yes. (R) Sally Potter's solemn political parable, calculated for post-9/11 sensibilities, concerns the passionate, traumatic love affair between an unhappily married American molecular biologist (Joan Allen) and a displaced Lebanese surgeon (Simon Abkarian) now working in London as a line cook. It's a kind of grad-school essay on love, God, and power, filled with ceaseless hand-wringing and tortured poetry: The whole thing is written and performed in rhyming iambic pentameter, à la Shakespeare. Fans of Potter (Orlando, The Tango Lesson), may find it adventurous, but there's something so precious and consciously literary about the whole enterprise that it feels more self-important than meaningful. (Bill Gallo)