Thursday, December 19, 2013

Be Careful Which Way You Turn

From time to time, I plan to use this space to repurpose film reviews I wrote for several local independent newspapers during the previous decade:

THE OCTOPUS: 1999-2000
CU CITYVIEW: 2002
THE PAPER: 2003-2004
THE HUB: 2005-2006

During my tenure as a professional (re: paid) film critic, I wrote about both new releases and cult classics. The date provided below is the date the newspaper issue containing the review hit the streets.

This review has been slightly edited from the original published piece.


LOST (2005)
Rated R
Running Time 1:25
Directed by Darren Lemke
Stars Dean Cain

“Relaxed” isn’t a word anyone will use to describe LOST, which is a real low-budget gem that managed to eke out a short theatrical run before hitting video stores. Dean Cain has been one of Hollywood’s busiest and most dependable leading men since rising to stardom as the Man of Steel on ABC’s LOIS & CLARK: THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, sliding effortlessly between television parts and leading roles in independent genre films. LOST is a revelation, providing Cain with one of the juiciest roles of his career to date. Indeed, the edgy thriller is practically a one-man show.

Cain plays Jeremy Stanton, a Pasadena bank vice-president driving alone across the Nevada desert. He has only a few hours to reach an important destination--the small, insignificant town of Red Ridge--but his outdated road map and an outwardly stressed demeanor helps him to become lost. Only his cell phone, which the anxious yuppie uses to soothe his wife (Irina Bjorklund) and bark at an overly cheery Road-Aid operator (Ashley Scott), keeps him company (perhaps implausibly so, considering that the little bugger manages to consistently get a signal out in the middle of nowhere).

Writer/director Darren Lemke teases us early on with radio news stories about a $6.5 million California bank heist, and it’s inevitable that the crooks will cross Jeremy’s path. However, Lemke deftly dangles the how’s and the why’s before us in an assured manner atypical of a first-time director, carefully doling out plot twists that dangerously toy with our suspension of disbelief.

One reason we go along with it all--the biggest reason, really--is Cain, who isn’t afraid of appearing unsympathetic. Lemke is a little heavy on the symbolism, making it crystal clear to us many times over that Jeremy is not just literally lost on the highway, but has fallen off his moral path out of desperation. It’s obvious that Jeremy is not a particularly nice guy, but Cain’s multi-faceted performance draws us in to a point where we root for him to escape his inevitable doom.

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