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PCR # 204  (Vol. 5, No. 8)  This edition is for the week of February 16--22, 2004.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

Book Review: "Welcome to Paradise"
 by William Moriaty
 by Mike Smith
Music News...Letter Re: Missing Persons
 by Andy Lalino
30 Bands That Made The '80s NOT Suck, PART II
 by Terence Nuzum
The Return off "Horror"....R.I.P., Julius Schwartz
 by John Lewis
Hate Groups in America
 by Joshua Montgomery
Super Commercial Sunday Follow up....More on Why EW is Full of Idiots....A Night Out with Uncle Creepy....Slushpile
 by Brandon Jones
Masters Of Horror Axed....The Monster Classics Are Back!
 by Matt Drinnenberg
In Defense....Movie News....The Brits Award Show....A Plug....Mel's Movie....Oscar Time....Meet The Beatles, Part 5
 by Mike Smith
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Newmarket Films     
Starring: Charlize Theron, Christina Ricci and Bruce Dern
Directed by: Patty Jenkins
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 11 minutes

Whoa! No, that wasn't my Keanu Reeves impression. That is the sound I make after I have seen a performance that just blows me away on film. I've made that sound a couple times in my life. I made it when I saw Jack Lemmon in Glengarry Glen Ross. I made it when, in a seat fourth row center, I heard Betty Buckley sing "With One Look" during her Broadway engagement in Sunset Boulevard. I made it a couple years ago when I saw Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry. And I made it this evening when I caught Charlize Theron in Monster.

Theron plays Aileen Carol Wuornos, the first (and only) female serial killer put to death in the United States. Wanting to fit in at an early age, Aileen began lifting her shirt for the neighborhood boys in exchange for a couple dollars. Of course, as she got older, she began showing more and more, finally ending up in a life of prostitution. The film begins with Aileen sitting under a highway overpass as the Florida rain pours down. Down to her last five dollars, she walks into the local alternative bar and soon begins a conversation with a quiet girl named Selby (Ricci). Aileen sees in Selby her vision of herself as a young girl.......shy and innocent......wanting to be liked and fit in. After a few pitchers of beer, Selby invites Aileen to spend the night (platonically) with her. The next night, they go roller skating, with Aileen, who Selby calls "Lee," guiding Selby along the floor. As "couples dance" is announced, complete with what each says is a song they love ("Don't Stop Believing" by Journey) the two embrace and share a kiss. Making plans to meet again the next night, Aileen is taken into the woods by her latest "date," who proceeds to beat her and violently rape her. Escaping her bonds, Aileen shoots the man to death. She returns to Selby and tells her that their lives are going to change. Sadly, she's right.

Like Boys Don't Cry, Monster is based on a true story who's facts are already known. You go into the film knowing what's going to happen and how it's going to end, yet it is a credit to the two main stars and writer/director Patty Jenkins, that your attention is held throughout. Theron is, in a word, brilliant! Her beauty virtually hidden under 30 extra pounds, her skin a leathery texture and her native South African accent exchanged for a central Florida one, Theron actually becomes Aileen Wuornos. Through her performance, you feel her pain, her loneliness, her anguish at failing in her attempts to quit her lifestyle and settle down with Selby. And Ricci more then holds her own. With her round face and wide eyes, she innocently takes in the world around her. There is no doubt that these two women loved each other and it shows in the performances. And it is always good to see Bruce Dern on screen.

Plenty has been written about Aileen Wuornos in the almost 14 years since she was executed. She has been portrayed as both an innocent victim of the worse of all crimes or as a cold blooded murderer, bent on revenge against the male race that harmed her. After killing her attacker, Wournov killed six more men that had picked her up looking for sex. After more then a decade on death row she was executed in 1990. Whether she was justified in her actions is something that is never forced in the film. You are allowed to make your own decision. On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Monster  Three stars

This week's movie review of "Monster" is ©2004 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2004, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.