Daily Archives: May 13, 2005

Mindhunters

Eight FBI trainees are sent to a deserted island by their bossy instructor, who wants to test their abilities as psychological profilers, but as they’re bumped off one by one, they begin to wonder who’s really calling the shots. Wayne Kramer and Kevin Brodbin scripted this gory thriller-whodunit, whose premise is loosely derived from Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. The plot twists are so preposterous that you can enjoy this only if you reject any relation to the real world, yet director Renny Harlin (Cliffhanger) is so adept at delivering this nonsense that you may find your task an easy one. With Eion Bailey, Clifton Collins Jr., Val Kilmer, Jonny Lee Miller, Christian Slater, LL Cool J, Patricia Velasquez, and Cassandra Bell. R, 106 min. (JR)… Read more »

Yellow Sky

William A. Wellman’s 1948 western, beautifully shot in Death Valley by Joe MacDonald, is gritty and ambitious, but the story, adapted by producer Lamar Trotti from a short story by W.R. Burnett, grows more conventional as it develops. A group of bank robbers fleeing the law (among them Gregory Peck, Richard Widmark, John Russell, and Harry Morgan) happen upon a ghost town where a prospector (James Barton) and his tough granddaughter (Anne Baxter) have been mining gold; some nearby Apaches serve to heighten all the tensions and conflicted loyalties. 98 min. (JR)… Read more »

Mondovino

Pared down from a French TV miniseries, this cagey and compelling 2004 documentary looks at the world of wine, but it’s actually a nuanced, provocative piece of journalism about globalization and its discontents. Filmmaker Jonathan Nossiter contrasts various vineyards as well as philosophies of wine making around the world, concentrating on France, Italy, and California. (Considering his eccentric focus on the dogs at each vineyard, he might well have titled this Mondo cane, but that’s already taken.) An American who grew up in Europe and India, Nossiter is mainly known for fiction features like Sunday and Signs & Wonders, which show some of the same political savvy displayed here. In English and subtitled French and Italian. Rated PG-13 for its fleeting image of a nude pinup. 135 min. (JR)… Read more »