Movie Guide

New in Theaters

Down in the Valley (R)

Director: David Jacobson. With Edward Norton, Evan Rachel Wood. (125 min.)

Edward Norton plays Harlan Carruthers, a gangly guy in a cowboy hat in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley who hooks up with a smitten teenager, Tobe (Evan Rachel Wood), against the wishes of her policeman father (David Morse). This being a Norton vehicle, you can expect that Harlan will turn out to be more than a harmless hayseed. Writer-director David Jacobson has a good eye for widescreen compositions and sustains a low-key note of dread but is less successful in his attempt to graft a neo-Western to a neo-noir. Grade: B
- Peter Rainer

Sketches of Frank Gehry (Unrated)

Director: Sydney Pollack. With Frank Gehry, Bob Geldof, Dennis Hopper. (83 min.)

Sydney Pollack directed with mixed results this adulatory documentary about his famous architect friend. The footage of Gehry's work, notably the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao and the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, is often startlingly beautiful, and Gehry is forthcoming about how he achieved his effects. But too much of the film is taken up with gushy self-serving talking-head testimonials by the likes of Michael Eisner, Barry Diller, Michael Ovitz, and even Gehry's celebrity therapist, Milton Wexler. So much for patient confidentiality. Grade: B
- P.R.

Still in Release
An American Haunting (PG-13)

Director: Courtney Solomon. With Donald Sutherland, Sissy Spacek. (91 min.)

The "only recorded case in American history where a spirit caused the death of a living person" announces a title card, but after the spirit wreaks much havoc - pulling hair, slapping faces, shredding the family Bible - the death is anticlimactic. The narrator tells us the spirit eventually ceased its assault on a child to concentrate solely on her parent, but this spirit doesn't seem to listen to voice-overs. Cheap effects disrupt the brooding atmosphere, suggesting a failed attempt to rescue this disaster in postproduction. Grade: D+
- M.K. Terrell

The Promise (PG-13)

Director: Kaige Chen. With Dong-Kun Jang, Cecilia Cheung. (102 min.)

Kunlun, a slave warrior in medieval China, is so fast he can outrun - on hands and knees with a fallen comrade on his back - a herd of angry bulls. Meanwhile, a sea goddess grants a homeless girl beauty and wealth if she agrees to forgo romantic love forever. Somehow you just know these two will get together - after epic war scenes, kung-fu battles, and a genocide or two. "The Promise" is photographed in the wildest colors and doesn't ask anyone to believe it for a second - not that it makes one iota of sense. Grade: C
- M.K.T.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to Movie Guide
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today