Thursday, June 07, 2007


Cheering for Kevin Costner, or should I say, ‘Mr. Brooks’

At a recent screening, a colleague responds with an are-you-kidding-me stare when I share my excitement for director Bruce Evans’ Kevin Costner thriller “Mr. Brooks.” I happily explain the reasons for my high anticipation without an ounce of guilt.
It’s not enough that “Mr. Brooks” is the increasingly rare adult movie surrounded by an ever-growing pile of family-oriented blockbusters. Better yet, it’s also a suspense drama, a clever Jekyll and Hyde-inspired psycho-thriller co-written by Raynold Gideon (John Carpenter’s “Starman”) and Evans.
Post-viewing, I have to admit that “Mr. Brooks” relied a bit too much on action chases for my taste — I don’t care how geriatric it sounds to say, Imagine what Hitchcock would have done with this story, I’ll say it anyway. Still, “Brooks’s” adult pleasures far outweigh its faults. Kevin Costner (left) finds believable creepiness in his character’s blonde, bland persona. As a hipster artist looking to blackmail Brooks, Dane Cook keeps his smarmy brand of comedy in check. Demi Moore is all surface-level gusto as the police detective trailing Brooks. Still, it’s good to see Moore back on-screen. Only the William Hurt truly stumbles as a character best described as Brook’s devilish advisor, a Jekyll-like cliché. Like I said, Hitchcock would have done things better but the very fact that I’m even mentioning the one-time Master of Suspense says there’s plenty to like about “Mr. Brooks.”

“Mr. Brooks,” released by MGM, is playing in commercial theaters across America throughout June, or however long it can last against more popular summer blockbusters.

Monday, June 04, 2007


New BBC Screenplay puts spotlight on Paul Andrew Williams, but will U.S. Audiences ever catch ‘London to Brighton’?

One talent who benefits from the recently announced joint productions between BBC Films and Pathe is up-and-coming British filmmaker Paul Andrew Williams. Hired to write “The Choir,” an original script about a widowed old man whose life changes upon joining a strange choir, Williams will be working for producer Ken Marshall, who produced his fantastic debut feature “London To Brighton.”
No director has been announced for “The Choir.” Perhaps, Williams may get the nod. “London To Brighton,” one of my favorite films from last year’s Toronto Film Festival, shows Williams to be a talent worth celebrating.
A woman’s tale about a middle-aged prostitute, Kelly (Lorraine Stanley in a standout performance), who befriends and protects an eleven-year-old runaway, Joanne (Georgia Groome, pictured left), “London To Brighton” has the energy and visual spark of the best British gangster films. What separates Williams’ debut feature from the crime genre pile is its substantial storytelling, believable grit, fully drawn characters and humanistic heft. “London To Brighton” has earned Williams comparisons to Mike Leigh, which after watching the film, is a celebratory but fair review.
Currently, as far as U.S. audiences are concerned, “London To Brighton” has yet to break out of the film festival bubble and enjoy a full, theatrical release. Perhaps Williams’ BBC Films deal will help get “London To Brighton” into stateside theaters. It deserves to be seen.

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