THE BRIDGE (2006) (****)

22 06 2007
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More than 20 people leap from the Golden Gate Bridge each year and this film watches them do it. There is an allure to the location that draws more people to end their lives there than any other spot on Earth. It’s a dramatic way to go. Eric Steel’s gripping documentary about the phenomenon is chilling as we watch in horror as 24 people jump from the bridge. For many this film will certainly fall into the category of a great film that they will never want to see again. For others it may be a film too disturbing to watch one time. It profoundly tries to step into the darkness that causes people to take their own lives and it’s not a comfortable place to go.

Through the course of the film, we see many people jump, we see a few people stopped, we hear from the family and friends of the dead and also hear from one very lucky survivor. The 220-foot fall takes 4 seconds; most die on impact, others drown. Roughly 1,300 people have killed themselves at the Golden Gate Bridge, only 26 jumpers have survived.

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ICE AGE: THE MELTDOWN (2006) (**1/2)

22 06 2007
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Luckily there’s a 4-star Scrat short interspersed between the weak sitcom plot of this disappointing sequel to Blue Sky’s surprisingly good debut film, ICE AGE. The characters made the original so wonderful. The new characters in MELTDOWN make the sequel annoying. And there are too many of them. This overshadows poor Manny, Sid and Diego. Scrat fares much better because he’s out on his own.

Our loveable trio each has their own separate issues to deal with this time around. Manny (Ray Romano, TV’s EVERYONE LOVES RAYMOND) is sad over the possibility that he may be the last mammoth alive. Sid (John Leguizamo, SUMMER OF SAM) gets no respect from the kids in their new larger tribe of various prehistoric animals. Diego (Denis Leary, TV’s RESCUE ME) fears water, which is a real problem when the land of ice you live in is melting all around you. It appears that the valley where they all reside is going to flood soon, so they head off to the far end toward a rumored boat. Along the way Manny, Sid and Diego get separated from the mass of annoying characters, to end up with three other annoying characters — possums Crash (Sean William Scott, AMERICAN PIE) and Eddie (Josh Peck, MEAN CREEK) and their adopted mammoth sister Ellie (Queen Latifah, CHICAGO), who doggedly refuses to accept that she is indeed a mammoth.

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ALICE, SWEET ALICE (1976) (**1/2)

22 06 2007
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Originally titled COMMUNION upon its theatrical release, this horror thriller peaked my interest when it made Bravo’s top-50 horror list and features Brooke Shields first film performance. Horror fans may find the core premise an interesting twist on the slasher genre, but others will find the tone and pacing all wrong. Most of the ingredients are fresh, but the meal gets overheated and goes down rough.

Catherine Spages (Linda Miller, AN UNMARRIED WOMAN) has two daughters — the perfect beauty Karen (Shields) and the troublemaker Alice (Paula Sheppard). Alice torments her sister with creepy masks and mean pranks. We suspect that she is up to no good. Then on the day of her first communion, Karen is strangled by a masked killer who hides her body and sets it on fire. Catherine is devastated. Her strict sister Annie (Jane Lowry) moves in with her. The beloved Father Tom (Rudolph Willrich, THE NUMBER 23) tries to consol her. Her estranged husband Dom (Niles McMaster) comes into town. Det. Spina (Michael Hardstark) and Brennan (Tom Signorelli, THE COTTON CLUB) want to talk to Alice about the murder, but her family can’t believe that she could be involved. But Karen’s attack will not be the only victim of this killer.

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SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY (1991) (**)

22 06 2007
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Prior to making this film, director Joseph Ruben made another film called THE STEPFATHER, which dealt with a domineering male who loams over his family. Both films share similar plot themes, positive points and problems. They start convincingly and contain strong performances, but spiral off into ridiculous slasher movies in the end. Ruben sets up well, but doesn’t deliver.

Laura (Julia Roberts, PRETTY WOMAN) meets and marries Martin Burney (Patrick Bergin, PATRIOT GAMES), who is suave, charming and wealthy. He seems like a catch. But after the honeymoon is over, he becomes controlling and ultimately abusive both mentally and physically. After three years of being trapped, Laura devises a plan to fake her own death then run away to Iowa to start her life anew. In her new life, she meets theater professor Ben Woodward (Kevin Anderson, CHARLOTTE’S WEB), who she has a problem opening up to. Laura is afraid that Martin will find out about her deception and come looking for her and she has every right to fear this happening.

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