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Slipped into release with an ominous lack of fanfare, this star-studded noir thriller is a halfhearted attempt to recast The Honeymoon Killers and Deep Crimson, both of which were based on the 1940s case of a couple who preyed on and murdered lonely women. Lonely Hearts is more humdrum than terrible, in large measure because writer-director Todd Robinson drains the focus from the killer couple—rendered with panache and self-amused flourish by Salma Hayek and Jared Leto—and places it on Elmer C. Robinson, the damaged but dull policeman who's on their trail, played in a sepulchral monotone by jowly John Travolta, as his more worldly sidekick James Gandolfini superfluously narrates. Todd Robinson is the grandson of the real-life Elmer, which may be why the movie, shot in trite period sepia and littered with the usual blood-red fingernails, never fully commits to the heartlessness of the genre as Arthur Penn did in Bonnie and Clyde. Robinson insists on saddling his prize psychos with Motives, and evil invariably loses its pizzazz when it's explained away. Neither funny nor persuasively tragic, Lonely Hearts ends up merely unpleasant in its fixation with the hydraulics of orgasms and electric chairs. (Ella Taylor) (Regency South Coast Village, Santa Ana)

From beheading babies to gouging eyeballs, director Marcus Nispel continues the gory/lame tradition he began with his Texas Chainsaw Massacre remake in Pathfinder. Based very loosely on a 1987 Norwegian Viking drama of the same name, Pathfinder follows a Viking child—the sole survivor of the original Norse journey to the new world—who has been adopted by Native Americans and renamed Ghost. Fifteen years later a second Viking ship arrives in America, and the hairy, fur-clad warriors are out for revenge. Killing indiscriminately with faces smeared in war paint, the one-dimensional Vikings are pure evil, while the Native Americans are pure benevolence. (Nispel loves his martyr imagery, even hanging the dead natives on crosses.) It's immediately clear that Ghost will heroically save his adoptive brethren and the day, leaving the repetitive and poorly lit battle scenes without tension. There is one redeeming skirmish—the climatic fight involving a snowy cliff and an elaborate pulley system—but from the guy who's directed videos for Cher, Amy Grant, Billy Joel, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony? We expected more. (Jessica Grose) (Countywide)

When the powers-that-be fuck her over on her expose of an intern-fucking U.S. senator, star newspaper reporter Halle Berry says "Fuck you" to the world of print journalism—until, that is, her old childhood friend (Nicki Aycox) washes up dead in the Hudson and Berry sets out to put the screws to the smarmy ad exec (Bruce Willis) who was fucking the dead woman behind his wife's back. Pulling her best Lois Lane, Berry goes undercover in Willis's glass-and-steel office and, with a little IT help from her own Jimmy Olsen (Giovanni Ribisi), starts giving the boss virtual cock teases under the IM handle "Rocketgirl." Directed with palpable fatigue by James Foley (who once made good movies—At Close Range), Perfect Stranger derives some novelty value from its colorblind casting and from being the most ludicrous Hollywood fuck-fest since the Willis-starring Color of Night (minus that movie's comic self-awareness). But as a thriller, it's so by-the-numbers that it's hardly worth keeping count. In the end, so much damning evidence has been amassed against nearly all the main characters that the final revelation feels like the one that merely tested the best. Perhaps, Clue-style, they should have included them all. It certainly would have lent new meaning to the expression, "Colonel Mustard did it in the pantry." (Scott Foundas) (Countywide)

A review appears ASAP. (Countywide)

Star Trek fans have been abuzz with talk about Jolene Blalock's sex scenes in Slow Burn—does Enterprise's Vulcan hottie finally lower more than just the deflector shield? Indeed, you do get to see T'Pol's T'itties, but only for a second or two; hardly worth the price of admission, unless you also have an affinity for low-budget crime flicks that want to be The Usual Suspects when they grow up. Blalock, rather unconvincing as an assistant district attorney and an African-American (!), is Nora Timmer, found at a crime scene claiming she shot a would-be rapist (Mekhi Phifer) in self-defense. Her D.A. boyfriend Ford (Ray Liotta) initially believes her, but then a stranger (LL Cool J) walks into the police station with a different story, one in which Nora courted her "rapist" for weeks, and was trying to seduce him into testifying against a mysterious crimelord that no-one has ever seen. Yep, it's Keyser Soze time, and writer-director Wayne Beach (screenwriter of The Art of War and Murder at 1600) figures if you liked Bryan Singer and Christopher McQuarrie's big climactic reversal, you'll love four of them in a row! It's much more likely, however, that you'll have stopped paying attention by then. (Luke Y. Thompson). (Countywide)


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