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PCR # 368  (Vol. 8, No. 15)  This edition is for the week of April 9--15, 2007.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Perfect Stranger"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith
Three stars

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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Don Imus....The Masters of Horror....Congrats, Nol  by Matt Drinnenberg
Black and White....Grindhouse....Passing On....Whatever Happened To..? Chapter 15: James Woods  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Halle Berry, Bruce Willis and Giovanni Ribisi
Directed by: James Foley
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hours 49 mins

It's been five years since Halle Berry won a much-deserved Academy Award for "Monster's Ball." Since then, she's done one James Bond film, two "X-Men" adventures and "Catwoman," among other forgettable movies. Her best work was on television in the film, "Their Eyes Were Watching God." I point this out because "Perfect Stranger" finally gives Berry a screen performance to validate that Oscar.

Rowena (Berry) is an undercover reporter for a popular New York City newspaper. Using the alias David Shay, she has turned a spotlight on many unsavory stories. She has just gotten a scoop concerning a U.S. Senator and a male page. However, before the story can go to print, it's killed by the newspaper's owners, fearing embarrassment as they supported the senator. Furious, Rowena quits. A chance meeting with her friend, Grace (Nicki Aycox), who soon turns up dead, leads her to the advertising agency of Harrison Hill (Willis), who Rowena suspects in Grace's murder. With the help of her smitten co-worker, Miles (Ribisi), she slowly begins an investigation that may be her last.

A top-notch thriller with more twists and turns than "Dancing With the Stars," "Perfect Stranger" easily folds several different characters into a whodunnit the likes of which I haven't seen since "The Usual Suspects." Director James Foley ("At Close Range," "Glengarry Glen Ross") smoothly paces the film, allowing the audience to jump one step ahead of the action only to slap itself on the forehead when it discovers it's jumped the wrong way. The cast does a great job keeping the story moving. Berry shines as the deeply troubled Rowena, who must wear many hats as she goes undercover to investigate Grace's murder. No one does smirky and self assured better then Bruce Willis, and here he turns on the cool. Ribisi, so frighteningly thin here that he makes Barry Pepper look portly, is outstanding playing Jimmy Olsen to Rowena's Clark Kent. Or, even better, Clark Kent to Rowena's Lois Lane. It's clear he has a thing for Rowena but it's even clearer that she's not interested. Technically, the film makes great use of the big city. In fact, "Perfect Stranger" is the first movie to film at Ground Zero (Willis' company is housed in the rebuilt 52 -story 7 World Trade Center building). The score by Brazilian composer Antonio Pinto helps set the many moods screenwriter Todd Komamicki has created.

With theatres about to be bombarded by pirates, ogres and a certain friendly neighborhood web-slinger, "Perfect Stranger" is an ideal film for suspense audiences.

On a scale of zero to four stars, I give "Perfect Stranger"  Three stars

This week's movie review of "Perfect Stranger" 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.