Jan 282004
 
Authors: Jeremy Anderson

Actors and actresses frequently play against type in an attempt

to prove their range. Consider Robin Williams in “Insomnia,” Meg

Ryan in “In the Cut” and Adam Sandler in “Punch Drunk Love.” Now

jokester Ashton Kutcher gives it a shot in the dark thriller “The

Butterfly Effect.”

Kutcher plays Evan Treborn, a – believe it or not — smart,

college student wrestling with the demons of his disturbing

childhood. A lot of bad stuff happened to him and his friends as

youngsters and when Evan’s childhood sweetheart Kayleigh (Amy

Smart) commits suicide promptly after the two reunite in their

twenties, Evan discovers that he has the power to go back in time

and change the past.

While growing up, Evan suffered mysterious blackouts during

traumatic events in his life and he finds that these moments serve

as bookmarks in time for him to revisit and alter his past. This is

all made possible due to a seemingly genetic brain abnormality Evan

inherited from his father who is locked up in a mental

institution.

However, fixing the past proves more difficult than was

expected. Once an event is altered, the lives of those involved

often change for the worse in the present. This causes Evan to

repeatedly revisit these horrible moments in a desperate attempt to

achieve the “perfect” outcome.

Having seen the trailer, I wasn’t expecting a feel-good comedy,

but the trailer in no way prepares you for what you’re really in

for. I have barley touched on the movie’s complex and grisly plot,

however the film deals with a lot of very sensitive issues and also

contains several random acts of shocking violence. I’m talking

pretty rough stuff. In other words, beware.

This is a very difficult, love-it-or-hate-it type film, and it’s

almost impossible to decide what to think of it in one viewing.

Part of me wants to say, “Don’t miss it” while the other part of me

wants to say, “Don’t bother.” Regardless of its worth, though, it

definitely could have been done better.

The film takes a surprisingly long time to set up the plot and

its confusing narrative is often more frustrating than intriguing.

Also, the characters of Kayleigh’s sadistic brother and Evan’s

gothic roommate were so ridiculously over the top that they seemed

more like cartoon characters than actual people.

2.5 out of 4 rams

“House of Sand and Fog”

Forget what you’ve seen in horror movies about haunted houses,

because the house in this movie is the real deal. Never before has

a home been the cause of such anguish and heartbreak as in this

fantastic, yet devastating film.

Ben Kingsley gives a powerhouse performance as Massoud Amir

Behrani, a former Iranian colonel who brings his family to the

United States in hopes of experiencing the American dream. Though

after it becomes increasingly hard to keep up a fa�ade of

wealth, he is forced to move his family from their posh, upscale

apartment to a more reasonably priced abode.

As the Behrani family settles in to a simple ocean-view house,

little do they know that its previous occupant, Kathy Nicolo

(Jennifer Connelly), was rather unfairly evicted due to unpaid

taxes. Behrani sees the house as an investment opportunity and

quickly begins improvements on it to increase its resale value.

Meanwhile Kathy desperately seeks help from a lawyer and a cop to

help her reclaim her home.

From here on the characters enter into an intense battle over

rightful ownership of the house. The drastic measures these

characters take are incredibly dramatic yet believable,

accumulating in a stunningly tragic final act.

“House of Sand and Fog” is the “feel bad” movie of the year, but

Kingsley, Connelly and Shohreh Aghdashloo as Behrani’s wife bear

the heavy dramatic weight with gripping performances. It is one of

the 2003’s best films and one you won’t soon, if ever, forget.

3.5 out of 4 rams

 

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