Archive for September, 2008

Jackson’s bad cop role highlights LaBute’s newest thriller

Posted in Reviews on September 19, 2008 by Steve Mesa

What if the best police officer on the LAPD turns out to be a bad neighbor?
In Lakeview Terrace, Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson) is a respected LAPD officer who roams the streets with his partner (Jay Hernandez) to learn what the word on the street is according to his informant (Keith Loneker). While Turner is a respected individual on the force, he also commands respect from his kids. He even demands that his son wear a Shaquille O’ Neal jersey instead of a Kobe Bryant jersey.
Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) are an interracial couple who move next door to Turner.
They become a target for Turner, who disapproves of their relationship. Determined to have the new neighbors move out quickly, Turner relies on annoying tactics such as security lights aimed at Chris and Lisa’s bedroom. When that fails to help carry out his mission, he uses scare tactics. Due to Turner’s constant harassment, the couple decides to fight fire with fire. Will cooler heads prevail or will this end in tragedy?
While the movie contains strong performances from Wilson and Washington as the terrified couple, the highlight is Samuel L. Jackson’s performance. When Jackson is present in any scene, he commands attention with his facial expressions and his unpredictably. When another character is doing something he or she is not supposed to, it will keep the audience on its toes because in this movie, you do not know what Jackson’s character is going to do next.
The screenplay is very revealing as soon as the movie begins. While race is one of the reasons for Turner’s disapproval of the couple’s relationship, the movie goes deeper and deeper into Turner’s psyche and ultimately reveals his reasons for doing what he does. The neighbor on a warpath theme is something that has been torn from the headlines, most recently where a man killed his neighbor over a strip of grass in Lauderdale Lakes.
Film director, screenwriter and playwright Neil LaBute does a great job in making a movie that contains dramatic themes set up like a thriller. In one amazing scene, LaBute uses his direction to frame Abel and Chris’ face during a showdown in a bar where Abel ultimately reveals his motivation.
Lakeview Terrace is a movie that contains a great villainous turn for Samuel L. Jackson.
LAKEVIEW TERRACE: 3 stars out of 5

Babel’s Barraza keeps the faith during newest project

Posted in Features on September 4, 2008 by Steve Mesa

Adriana Barraza got her first big break two years ago with her role as Amelia, a Mexican maid, in the multicultural movie, “Babel.” When the movie was released, she received many nominations for her role, including Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for Best Supporting Actress.
Following her Oscar-nominated role in “Babel,” Barraza joins Luke Wilson and Rhada Mitchell (Finding Neverland) in the film, “Henry Poole is Here.”
The movie is about Henry (Wilson), a man with little religious faith who has isolated himself from the world in a cramped house. His neighbor Esperanza (Barraza) sees the image of Jesus on a wall outside of his house and brings the “miracle” to Henry’s attention, possibly restoring his belief and faith.
When Barraza read the script, she thought the script had an amazing story with great characters.
“If the story did not feel realistic, I would not have done it,” Barraza said.
Barraza believes she shares similar beliefs and characteristics with her character.
“We share the same energy,” she said. “Esperanza has a beautiful energy and never quits what she starts.”
When it comes to images of Christ on walls, trees or sandwiches, Barraza believes these phenomena are real.
“Religious signs are everywhere and for me, it is all about faith,” she said.
Barraza has enjoyed working with her movie cast, especially Wilson.
“He is not only beautiful on the outside, but on the inside. He has a beautiful soul,” she said.
Besides Henry Poole, Barraza will appear in “Drag Me to Hell,” a Sam Raimi directed horror film starring Justin Long, due in theaters May 29, 2009. She is also working on a cooking project with her manager and agent.