Must-see movies (finally) in Bangor

Posted Jan. 22, 2009, at 9:27 p.m.

In theaters

MY BLOODY VALENTINE, directed by Patrick Lussier; written by Todd Farmer and Zane Smith, 101 minutes, rated R.

Talk about a last-minute rewrite. You’ve got one here.

Initially, this column was going to take on the local moviegoing scene by giving voice to all those people who have filled my e-mail box, wondering why, in the wake of the Critics Choice Awards and the Golden Globes — and with the Academy Awards only weeks away — we had yet to see most of the heavy-hitters.

Where was “Milk,” many asked. And how about “The Wrestler,” “The Reader,” “Happy-Go-Lucky,” “Waltz with Bashir,” “Man on Wire” and “Rachel Getting Married”? Would we never see them? Beyond those films, where were three of the bigger movies — “Revolutionary Road,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Frost/Nixon”? Would our cinematic experience forever be the equivalent of Allen’s Coffee Brandy?

And then good news struck — at least for now. Apparently, the movie gods clapped their hands, opened the skies and partly came through to help.

Starting tonight in the Bangor market are “Revolutionary Road,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “Frost/Nixon.” Just saying it feels like a lie. As to whether you should see them, the short answer is yes, yes and yes, particularly “Revolutionary Road,” which deserves an “absolutely.” As to whether the other aforementioned films will open here, that’s likely going to come down to attendance. Local theaters don’t care what they show — it’s filling seats that matters. So, all of those who wrote to me griping about how rotten the film scene is here, might I suggest that you grab a friend, buy your pails of Pepsi and get your butts into those seats?

But back to reality. This column also is meant to offer a brief review of “My Bloody Valentine,” a remake of the 1981 original, with the gimmick being that it was shot in 3-D. While the story itself is a mixed-bag at best, you have to give it up for the technology, which uses the 3-D platform to such a successful extent, it takes a mediocre movie and turns it into a reasonably fun, camp contender.

Without diverting much from the original, director Patrick Lussier takes us back to Harmony (the irony!), a mining town in which a massacre happened 10 years earlier on Valentine’s Day. Then, 22 people were murdered. Now, it’s all happening again, with a host of suspects offered up as to who might be the pickaxe-wielding maniac behind the gas mask.

Is it Tom (Jensen Ackles), who escaped the original massacre and now is back in town for business — and apparently to wax cute with his former flame, Sarah (Jaime King)? Or could it be Sarah’s husband Axel (Kerr Smith), who is the town sheriff, Tom’s former best friend — and now his enemy?

Whoever it is (and audiences likely will figure out who it is in spite of the film’s trick ending), the good news is that Lussier manages to offer a genuine genre throwback. All of the staples are here. The movie sports over-the-top gore, go-go girls on the nudie run, flashes of tension, and a key ingredient for any slasher film — some of the most appealing bad acting since Bush and Cheney were forced to grin their way through Obama’s inauguration.

Grade: B-

New on Blu-ray disc

UNFAITHFUL, directed by Adrian Lyne, written by Alvin Sargent and William Broyles Jr., based on a script by Claude Chabrol, 123 minutes, rated R.

From Adrian Lyne, a cautionary tale about marital infidelity that’s fascinating for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is its white-hot trashiness, which liberates the film to become the guiltiest of pleasures — a pure, unadulterated melodrama about adultery — while also rendering large chunks of it an unintended comedy.

It’s never boring, though it is fair to say that a good deal of it is beautifully, unforgettably cheap in its own pretentious way. Imagine a General Foods International Coffee commercial whipped into a sexual frenzy that includes public sex, sadomasochism and some other notable acts of indecency, and you have a good idea of what to expect in Lyne’s film.

Inspired by Claude Chabrol’s 1969 French film, “La Femme Infidele,” “Unfaithful” remains true to the core of its predecessor’s European sensibility while also underscoring an American accountability. It tries to have it both ways, but since it can’t, it doesn’t.

Diane Lane is Connie Sumner, an upper-middle-class suburban New Jersey housewife who has a great husband in Edward (Richard Gere), a great son in Charlie (Erik Per Sullivan), a sprawling house overlooking a lake, an active social life and is the envy of her friends.

But on what must be the biggest windstorm to hit New York, Connie, who is called “Con” by her husband, begins a whirlwind affair in SoHo after she’s literally blown into the arms of Paul Martel (Olivier Martinez), a swarthy, stubbly rare book dealer from Paris who quickly offers 40ish Connie the one thing her life is missing — a rock-hard, 28-year-old body that can go all day and night.

Lane, who has been acting for more than 30 years, becomes so unhinged in “Unfaithful,” you half expect her heart to give out midway through. The film is redeemed by a final act that turns deadly serious as Edward becomes wise to Connie’s affair — and Lyne brushes away the silliness with devastating moments that recall the more sensational aspects of “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “In the Bedroom.”

Grade: B-

WeekinRewind.com is the site for Bangor Daily News film critic Christopher Smith’s blog, DVD giveaways and archive of movie reviews. Smith’s reviews appear Mondays, Fridays and weekends in Lifestyle, as well as on bangordailynews.com. He may be reached at Christopher@weekinrewind.com.

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