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PCR # 354  (Vol. 8, No. 1)  This edition is for the week of January 1--7, 2007.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Little Children"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Four stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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2006: The Year in Retrospect  by William Moriaty
"Little Children"  by Mike Smith
The Top 10 Movies of 2006  by Mike Smith
An Open Letter To The Publishers of Creative Loafing  by Paul Guzzo
A Message from PUTZO, the Clown Who Loves Lousy Fandom!....Don Dohler is Gone  by Andy Lalino
What A Swinger....So Does Billy Preston Own "Get Back"?....Don Dohler....Indy 4....Whatever Happened To..? Chapter 1: Tim McIntire  by Mike Smith
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New Line Cinema     
Starring: Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Jennifer Connelly and Jackie Earle Haley
Directed by: Todd Field
Rated: R
Running Time: 2 hours 14 mins

It seems impossible that it has been five years since director Todd Field's last film was in theatres. That film, "In The Bedroom," went on to earn five Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture. And if the Oscar gods are wise this year, Field's newest film, "Little Children," will earn the same fate.

In the small bedroom community of Wyndham the citizens are in an uproar because Ronnie McGorvey (Haley) has just been released from prison and moved in with his mother. Ronnie has spent the last two years behind bars for indecent exposure and part of his parole requires him to stay away from children. A local parents group, led by former policeman Larry Hedges (Noah Emmerich) has plastered posters all over the neighborhood warning of the danger.

In the local park, mothers and children gather each day, almost like clockwork. Each day is structured, right down to snack time. Sarah (Winslet) and her daughter, Lucy, are part of the group, though Sarah finds the other mothers too uptight. They spend each day waiting for a man they refer to as "the prom king," an attractive man who brings his son to the park each day. The "king" in question, Brad, is a stay at home dad who is working on passing the bar examination. For the third time. On a dare from the others, Sarah approaches Brad and a friendship begins. Well, maybe a little more.

Though the film is titled "Little Children," the focus is firmly on the adults and their often childish behavior. Sarah feels she is in a rut. She lives in a house she doesn't like and has a husband who is addicted to internet porn. Brad is a former college jock whose documentary film maker wife, Kathy (Connelly), feels Brad isn't taking his studies seriously. And she's right. Rather then study, Brad often watches the local boys skateboard or plays on Larry's touch football team. Meanwhile, Ronnie's mother (an outstanding Phyllis Somerville) is encouraging Ronnie to put a notice in the personal ads. "You should find a girl your own age," mom tells him. The plot twists come fast and furious, as more and more secrets are revealed. Emotions are raised and lowered at a dizzying pace, no more so then when Ronnie decides to take a dip in the community pool. Swimming underwater he is unrecognizable. However, once he's spotted, chaos ensues. I haven't seen a body of water empty that fast in a panic since the kids with fake fin showed up in "Jaws."

The performances are excellent across the board. Both Winslet and Wilson do fine work here as they run the gamut of emotions. From sadness to elation and everything in between, they hold nothing back. Both Connelly and Emmerich are just as solid but the star turn here belongs to Jackie Earl Haley. That's right. Kelly Leak from "The Bad News Bears." Moocher from "Breaking Away." After more then a decade away from acting, Haley had a small part in this past years' "All the King's Men." He followed that with this role in "Little Children," and his performance is a revelation. .Is Ronnie the "good boy" his mother begs him to be, or is he really the monster people believe he is. That you can never really tell is a testament to Haley's talent.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Little Children"  Four stars

This week's movie review of "Little Children" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2007, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.