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“Camden, N.J., is one of the worst places in the world,” he said. But his dad, who worked for RCA, had cameras. Davis learned how to turn them on and shrink the world into a frame. Then he would manipulate what fell inside the frame, usually his siblings, into make-believe drama. Holding a camera and visiting the theater “was an escape for me,” he said. He began studying composition at Rutgers but later switched to music composition. This was his gateway into the entertainment industry. Now he lives in Royal Palm Beach with his wife, Sonjia, teaches film part time at Toussaint L’Ouverture High School of Arts & Social Justice and makes some money doing commercial video production. “He’s addicted,” Sonjia Davis said. It was getting late, and her house was still being used as a production studio. She glared out the door, shook her head almost imperceptibly and closed the door again. “This is my home, but it’s also his studio, movie set,” she said.

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(Has any actor ever so expertly conveyed “needs a hug” “needs to be left alone” “needs to be cooperated with” or “needs to be kissed”as Jake at his finest. I mean… (not a still from Prisoners) come on. It’s those inescapably big pleading eyes you can get all but lost in. (But enough about my boyfriend.) These Zodiac comparisons are merely cosmetic. The film it most calls to mind deep in the marrow is actually Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River (2003), both for the starry miserable cast (beloved faces in pain everywhere you look!) and the moral rot of “is that my daughter in theeeerrrrrre?” parental grief and intimations of long ago child abuse. Prisoners also shares with Mystic River a barely noticeable thin sheen of flop sweat, as if every moment could tip over into the risibly pretentious, weighed down by the self-regard of High Art treatment of Low Brow genres. This filmmaking team isn’t kidding around: Villeneuve and his editors are giving us everything they’ve got with the pacing (despite a lengthy running time); famed cinematographer Roger Deakins (True Grit, Skyfall) is making sure every wet windshield and flashlight makes the visuals sing; and the actors all attack the material full throttle, though some chew scenery with more realistic delicacy than others. My favorites among the cast were Viola Davis (who is, no joke, always perfect. Why can’t Hollywood give her leading roles after her sensational work inThe Help?), Hugh Jackman (too fine and appealing an actor to make this angry dangerous man tip over into the insufferably hateful), David Dastmalchian (who some will remember as one of the Joker’s henchmen in The Dark Knight) who is both unnerving and weirdly sympathetic as a suspect Loki pursues, and Jake Gyllenhaal himself, who works so hard at making this earnest detective three dimensional (with virtually no help from the screenplay since the detective’s persona is the least of its concerns). I’d gladly follow Loki into a whole film franchise of his own. Prisoners drives so forcefully into its various climaxes of conscience or bodily harm in the final hour that it continually risks running head first into a calamity of silliness (the plot is, how shall we say,… baroque) including, quite literally, in a terrible ‘there’s not much time!’ driving sequence to an Emergency Room. We know how that scene is going to turn out (despite plentiful well crafted surprises elsewhere) which makes it embarassingly gratuitous. Yet to the great credit ofPrisonersand its strong cast, most of the time you’re too tense to think about jumping ship.

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The Chicago and Rome locations add tremendous flavor. Jet Lag Heres another solution to bad romantic comedies: go to France. American moviegoers will already be familiar with the charismatic stars Jean Reno and Juliette Binoche, and theyre wonderful together in the light-as-air Jet Lag (2002). She plays Rose, a cosmetics expert who is slathered in layers of makeup. Reno plays Felix, a former chef-turned-frozen food magnate. An airline strike strands them both at the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, and fate brings them together when Rose accidentally drops her constantly-bleeping phone down the ladies loo and asks to borrow Felixs. Writer/director Daniele Thompson not only concentrates on getting these two together, but getting them back to basics: Felix back to real food, and Rose back to her natural, fresh-faced look. A reverse-makeover scene, just after Rose emerges from the shower, is breathtaking. The Emperors New Groove Its hard to imagine a Disney animated movie that goes under-appreciated, but its not an entirely uncommon occurrence. After Tarzan became a huge hit in 1999, the goofy, erratic The Emperors New Groove (2000) only earned about half as much revenue, and yet it remains one of Disneys flat-out funniest movies. The wild, angular animation filled with ridiculous one-liners is more reminiscent of Tex Avery or Chuck Jones than any of the Disney classics, which may be what turned off some viewers. David Spade provides the voice of an egotistical emperor who is turned into a donkey by a witch (voiced by none other than Eartha Kitt). John Goodman is the poor, but kindly villager who helps him out.