Movie Reviews: Badland, Divine Intervention, Forfeit, He Was a Quiet Man 

Also: The Sasquatch Gang, Sex and Breakfast, Yiddish Theater: A Love Story

Wednesday, Nov 28 2007

AWAKE A medical thriller with a noggin full of novocaine, this shocker about botched heart surgery evidently suffered brain surgery to match. Think of writer-director Joby Harold’s autopsy-turvy tale as The Death of Mr. Lazarescu with a high-concept lobotomy: instead of some wheezy old Romanian dude descending the lower-depths of health-care hell, we get doe-eyed Hayden Christensen as the world’s most naïve billionaire and unlikely heart-transplant candidate, whose troubles begin when “anesthesia awareness” leaves him conscious but paralyzed and unable to scream as doc Terrence Howard revs up the ol’ bonesaw. That would be contrivance enough for most thrillers, but factor in blushing bride Jessica Alba, suspicious mom Lena Olin, and sinister cardio czar Arliss Howard — not to mention astral projection, supernatural visits, repressed memories, and not one but two pivotal heart transplants — and you’ve got a movie that sucks more than it inhales. Harold’s glum overplotting squashes the sick humor and the innate fear of hospitals that gives the premise what kick it has; not even Craig McKay’s clever editing can defibrillate the preposterous ending. Even at 78 minutes, though, this definitely communicates a sense of anesthesia awareness — at least to your ass. (Citywide) (Jim Ridley)

BADLAND Barely a ripple in this year’s wave of Iraq war–veteran dramas, writer-director Francesco Lucente’s overconfident, emotionally forced 160-minute opus offers trite antiwar platitudes — at best — in chronicling the anguished existence of a soldier who can’t shake the horrors he experienced in Fallujah. After being framed for theft at work, and then discovering that his trailer-trash wife has been stealing from him, disgraced Marine reservist Jerry (Jamie Draven) snaps, shooting the spouse and his two young sons before stopping just shy of killing his daughter and himself. Now experiencing her own PTSD, precious little Celina (Grace Fulton) has put all her stock in God to bring back Mommy as the two go on the lam and settle in a fresh town. Incessantly scored with the most lachrymose flourishes, and shot almost entirely during magic hour, Badland practically begs “For Your Consideration.” Big Statements come in bursts — from a TV news reporter offering an out-of-left-field lesson on the My Lai massacre, to a drunken monologue by Joe Morton’s traumatized veteran turned sheriff. What sticks in the memory, though, is the ending: a cheap shot as shameful as Redacted’s, and, if you can believe it, even less nuanced. (Sunset 5) (Aaron Hillis)

DIVINE INTERVENTION Cocky young Reverend Robert Gibbs (Wesley Jonathan) has just been tapped to fill in as pastor for a black South Los Angeles Baptist church while Reverend Matthews (James Avery), the church’s longtime patriarch, recovers from a stroke. With his affinity for hip-hop culture and penchant for welcoming homosexuals and gang members into the congregation, Gibbs runs afoul of the church’s conservative board of deacons, then raises even more eyebrows when he starts wooing lovely Divine (Jazsmin Lewis), the minister’s daughter. Structurally, writer-director Van Elder’s spiritual romantic comedy resembles one of those inspirational-teacher dramas where the preternaturally confident outsider eventually wins over the naysayers with his unconventional methods. Though meagerly plotted and devoid of narrative surprise, the micro-budgeted Divine Intervention cuts slightly deeper than your typical Hollywood rom-com because of its willingness to address real problems confronting the African-American community: drugs and gangs; the battle between spiritual and secular urges; the struggle over the future of the fundamentalist Baptist movement. But Elder and his weightless cast merely brush up against these thoughtful topics, simplifying the issues so they can be cheerily resolved with unconvincing “trust in Jesus” banalities. As for the family-friendly love story between Gibbs and Divine, like so much of Divine Intervention, its aggressively vanilla tone unintentionally makes a strong argument for the hedonistic lifestyle. (Grande 4-Plex) (Tim Grierson)

Related Stories

  • The Secret Club On Fairfax 7

    A black hearse pulls up out front of a club at 432 N. Fairfax, two blocks north of Beverly. On this stretch, most of the bars and restaurants have neon signs, but this club looks different. It's a dark, stone storefront with no sign and blacked-out windows. The door of...
  • 'Operation Guacamole' Targets Latino Suspects in SoCal 5

    We can't imagine cops using the title "Operation Fried Rice" to go after an Asian American gang, or "Operation Fried Chicken" to target an African American one. But the cowboys at the San Diego County Sheriff's Department continue use the title "Operation Guacamole" to describe their ongoing crackdown on a...
  • Madzilla Blows Up

    Madzilla is here to pick up her money. Wearing a Rastafarian backpack, a fake gold watch and a gray tank top, she strolls into Crooks & Castles, a streetwear store on that trendy stretch of Fairfax. The clerks recognize her right away. They may have seen the 25-year-old, Long Beach...
  • Plan Check Fairfax Opens Tomorrow

    When we last left Plan Check in mid-June, the popular Sawtelle home of chef Ernesto Uchimura was busy building out their next iteration on Fairfax. Well, after the tenderest two-day soft open (République, by contrast, was soft open for somewhere between two weeks and a decade), Plan Check Fairfax is
  • February Roundup of Restaurant Openings and Closings

    After much anticipation, Roadhouse LA, brought to you by Umami Burger's Adam Fleischman and pitmaster Robbie Richter, is now serving up "international barbecue"  at the Hollywood Improv. Meanwhile, downtowners no longer have to make the trek to Culver City to experience City Tavern's local craft beers. And in more opening news, Whiz brought cheesesteak...


FORFEIT Despite his good looks, actor Billy Burke carries in his eyes the look of a perpetually guilty man. Onscreen, he specializes in playing men who’ve done somebody wrong but who feel guilty about it. This sense of unceasing inner turmoil brought a much-needed rough edge to the recent Feast of Love, and also buoys the smaller-scale Forfeit. Here, Burke plays Frank O’Neal, a guard at one of movie history’s least-convincing armored-car companies, a place owned and operated by thieves and near-bums, all of whom seem blind to the fact that Frank’s planning a heist. The heist isn’t merely a heist, but part of a revenge scheme meant to land Frank’s high-school sweetheart (Sherry Stringfield) in jail for murder — a scenario screenwriter John Rafter Lee, who appears to have read more Flannery O’Connor than Elmore Leonard, complicates even further by having Frank become obsessed with a ranting TV preacher (Gregory Itzin). Director Andrew Brendan Shea can’t seem to decide if he’s making a thriller, a boozy blue-collar melodrama or a religious parable. Forfeit ends up as a muddled mix of all three, but we keep watching, if only because Burke manages to make his character’s confusion weirdly resonant. (Sunset 5) (Chuck Wilson)

Related Content

Now Showing

  1. Tue 22
  2. Wed 23
  3. Thu 24
  4. Fri 25
  5. Sat 26
  6. Sun 27
  7. Mon 28

    Find capsule reviews, showtimes & tickets for all films in town.

    Sponsored by Fandor

Box Office

Scores provided by Rotten Tomatoes

Join My Voice Nation for free stuff, concert and dining info & more!


  • Cowabunga! 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
    The COWABUNGA! - 30 Years of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles tribute show opened Friday night at Iam8bit. Guests donned their beloved turtle graphic tees, onesies and a couple April O'Neils were there to report on all the mean, green, fighting machine action. Artist included Jude Buffum, Tony Mora, Nan Lawson, leesasaur, Jim Rucc, Mitch Ansara, Guin Thompson, Stratman, Gabe Swarr, Joseph Harmon, Alex Solis, Allison Hoffman, Jose Emroca Flores, Jack Teagle and more. All photos by Shannon Cottrell.
  • Are Westerns For The Weak? Not According to "Sensei" Martin Kove
    Decades ago, the western film was king, with nearly 100 produced every year at their peak in the 1940s, and their popularity extending years beyond. But today, other than rare successes like Django Unchained or True Grit, the genre is not in great shape. Films such as Cowboys and Aliens and The Lone Ranger failed to spark new interests in the western. It's a tough nut to crack, but veteran movie bad guy Martin Kove -- most well known for his role as Sensei John Kreese in The Karate Kid -- is passionate about the classic American film genre and is trying to revive it. We spent an afternoon at his home talking about westerns and how to make the genre interesting again. All photos by Jared Cowan.
  • Scenes from The Gallery of Film Poster Art at CSUN
    The Gallery of Film Poster Art at Cal State Northridge is the country's only permanent university exhibit dedicated to the art of the movie poster. The gallery houses rare and international film posters from the collection of Steve Olson, whose business card reads "Buyer of Investment Properties -- Collector of Rare Movie & Art Posters." John Schultheiss, Professor of Cinema and Television Arts at CSUN as well as the curator of the poster gallery, says he's heard from visitors that it's the best-kept secret in L.A. CSUN doesn't advertise the gallery so people have to stumble across it or hear of it somehow. Schultheiss hopes that people will begin to associate CSUN with something particularly important and special after visiting the gallery. All original photos by Jared Cowan.

Movie Trailers

View all movie trailers >>

Now Trending