Posted: October 18, 2013 at 2:26 a.m.
High Plains Drifter (1973) directed by Clint Eastwood (R, 105 minutes)
This strange and compelling revenge drama, now on Blu-ray, is Clint Eastwood’s second directorial effort (his first is 1971’s Play Misty for Me), and his first Western. Adapting the amorally enigmatic and violent Man With No Name persona from his films with Sergio Leone, Eastwood plays a drifter who rides into a lakefront settlement called Lago. Lago’s residents are not particularly friendly, but once the Stranger shows his skills as a gunfighter, they beg him to defend them against a group of outlaws (led by Eastwood regular Geoffrey Lewis) who have a score to settle with the town. With Marianna Hill, Verna Bloom.
At Any Price (R, 105 minutes) Ramin Bahrani (Man Push Cart, Chop Shop, Goodbye Solo) explores the competitive world of modern agriculture through the eyes of a father and son in Iowa in this often uncomfortable film that lacks any sympathetic characters. At Any Price centers on ambitious huckster Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid), who wants his rebellious son Dean (Zac Efron, too pretty to play a no-account bumpkin) to help expand his family’s farming empire. But Dean has his sights set on becoming a professional race car driver. When a high stakes investigation into their business unfolds, father and son are pushed into an unexpected situation that could end in a family tragedy. With Kim Dickens, Heather Graham, Maika Monroe.
Maniac (unrated, 89 minutes) An artistically graphic gore-fest, Maniac stars Elijah Wood (Frodo in the Lord of the Rings films) as Frank Zito, owner of a mannequin store (not your most common occupation) who is a serial killer with a fondness for scalping his victims. This undesirable aspect of his personality becomes evident when he helps attractive young photographer Anna (Nora Amezeder), with her new exhibition, falling in love along the way. It’s a remake of the 1980 low-budget sleaze film with the same name. “Like a cover song that takes an original tune in a fresh new direction, Franck Khalfoun’s remake of William Lustig’s notorious 1980 slasher flick Maniac boldly serves up a familiar story with an exciting twist,” says critic Jason Buchanan in TV Guide’s Movie Guide.
The Frozen Ground (R, 105 minutes) Based on a true story, crime thriller The Frozen Ground follows Alaskan state trooper Jack Halcombe (Nicolas Cage) in his effort to stop Robert Hansen (John Cusack), a murderer of Anchorage prostitutes who has been at it for 13 years. With Vanessa Hudgens and Dean Norris; directed by Scott Walker. “The Frozen Ground trucks in cliche, as most serial killer and police procedural films do, but the strength of the acting - from the leads down to people with only oneor two lines - helps ground the film,” says critic Sheila O’Malley on RogerEbert.com.
Eyes Without a Face (rating, 84 minutes) French director Georges Franju’s Eyes Without a Face (Les Yeux Sans Visage), released in 1960 and now on Blu-ray, is a disturbing, haunting and eloquently muted horror film. Pierre Brasseur plays plastic surgeon Professor Genessier, who is determined to restore the face of his daughter, Christiane (Edith Scob), who was mutilated in an automobile accident. With the help of his assistant (Alida Valli), he kidnaps young women, surgically removes their facial features, and attempts to graft their beauty onto his daughter’s hideous countenance. Subtitled.
Notting Hill (PG-13, 124 minutes) Back in 1999, when Julia Roberts was still America’s sweetheart, she starred in this charming romance in which an internationally known American actress meets (cutely) a self-deprecating bookseller (Hugh Grant, back when everybody still liked him) in the Notting Hill district of west London. The cute meet turns into a series of same, paving the way to an unlikely but endearing, believable romance. With Rhys Ifans, Hugh Bonneville, Emma Chambers; directed by Roger Michell.
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (R, 75 minutes) The energetic, noisy, sold-out Madison Square Garden appearance of comedian Kevin Hart during his 2012 “Let Me Explain” concert tour, which visited 10 countries and produced more than $32 million in ticket sales, is now on Blu-ray and DVD. It gets off to a slow start, then manages to build momentum while bumping along. Probably best suited to those who are already fans.
MovieStyle, Pages 35 on 10/18/2013