Death and the Maidens

Washington is more personable than the film deserves, and it's outrageous that he's only allowed to have a romance with a white woman when he's been virtually castrated (although that index finger should not be underestimated). Given the circumstances, Jolie takes herself a bit too seriously, but Queen Latifah and Luis Guzman are breezy comic relief. Noyce, who directed the truly terrifying Dead Calm, does this one strictly by the numbers. A measure of how not scary The Bone Collectoris: Although the killer uses a yellow cab to kidnap his victims, I leapt into the first one I saw outside the theater.

Journey man: Hoskins examines the relics of an agonizing childhood.
photo: Sophie Baker
Journey man: Hoskins examines the relics of an agonizing childhood.

Details

Felicia’s Journey
Written and directed by Atom Egoyan
An Artisan release
Opens November 12

The Bone Collector
Directed by Phillip Noyce
Written by Jeffrey Iacone
A Universal Pictures and Columbia Pictures release

Oxygen
Written and directed by Richard Shepherd
A Unapix release
Opens November 12

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Oxygenis not strictly a serial-killer movie but a no-frills psychological thriller about a nasty sociopath who kidnaps a woman and buries her alive, knowing that there's enough air in her coffin for her to survive for 24 hours. His ostensible motive is ransom, but, in fact, he's turned on by the prospect of her dying a slow, horrible death. Directed by Richard Shepherd, Oxygenis so low-key as to seem like real life, which makes it disturbing in the extreme. It benefits from an excellent cast: Terry Kinney, James Naughton, and particularly Maura Tierney as a detective whose deep masochism makes her a doppelgänger for the kidnapper. As the kidnapper, Adrien Brody is in another league entirely. Brody has gone deep inside himself, searching out empathy, pity, compassion, and guilt, and turning them off at the source. The killer is like a dark star-emitting no light or heat even when he explodes in violence. If Oxygengets more than a very limited release, Brody risks being typecast for life.
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