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Cold Creek Manor

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Cold Creek Manor

Starring: Dennis Quaid, Sharon Stone
Director: Mike Figgis
Rated: R
RunTime: 118 Minutes
Release Date: September 2003
Genres: Suspense, Thriller

*Also starring: Stephen Dorff, Juliette Lewis, Christopher Plummer, Dana Eskelson, Paula Brancati, Raoul Bhaneja, Shauna Black, George Buza, Aidan Devine, Jill Fleischman

Reviewer Roundup
1.  Harvey Karten review follows movie reviewvideo review
2.  Dustin Putman read the review movie review
3.  Steve Rhodes read the review movie reviewvideo review

Review by Harvey Karten
1½ stars out of 4

Many years ago when I was looking at apartments in Manhattan, I happened upon a nice place overlooking the late great Balducci's on West Ninth Street in the Village. The cost was not really affordable. I asked the realtor why the former tenant was moving. "This building has just gone co-op," she replied, "And the tenant was unable to meet the purchase price and will have to move out once her apartment is sold." I felt guilty. Would I buy into the game of gentrification, a process that revitalizes neighborhoods at the cost of driving out those unable to afford the new payments? I can understand the resentment of people who have to leave areas that were their homes perhaps for decades, and wouldn't be surprised if many of these unfortunate folks focused their resentment not on the developers but on the specific guys who took over their residences. "Cold Creek Manor" is about one such fellow whose resentment expresses itself in pure hate. In this case, the aggrieved party did not really deserve to remain in his manor, as we find out during the course of the story. His villainy is such that he has the patience to toy with those who move in.

Not a ghost story as some might believe, "Cold Creek Manor" is a straight-as-an-arrow psychological thriller that challenges credibility: even worse, it plays out like scores, perhaps hundreds, of other tales. What's more, "Cold Creek Manor" is short on suspense because we know who the bad guy is from the very beginning and, since we're dealing with a commercial film, we can guess the ending, taxing our gray matter to the extent that the current administration in Washington intends to tax the super-rich.

What Cooper Tilson (Dennis Quaid) and his wife Leah (Sharon Stone) do near the very beginning hasn't a shred of credibility. Living in Manhattan apparently on the paycheck of Leah, the family, which includes young Kristen Tilson (Kristen Stewart) and Jesse Tilson (Ryan Wilson) decide abruptly to leave New York, with Leah throwing away her promotion to the vice presidency of a major corporation. Why? While their preppy kids cross the street one day, Jesse, who darts out between parked cars, comes within a hair's breadth of being run over. They don't move to Great Neck or Scarsdale as you might expect. They buy a dilapidated place in the sticks of upstate New York, a manor with 1200 acres of what was once farm land and would need at least a million dollars of renovation work to be livable. They have no idea who their neighbors would be and are unable to guess that these long-term residents might just resent a foursome of city slickers taking on a good piece of local land, only because the former tenant, Dale Massie (Stephen Dorff), was unable to prevent foreclosure.

While Dennis Quaid has the classic good lucks that served him well in an array of genres including the rah-rah "The Right Stuff," the intriguing sci-fi enterprise "Frequency" and in Oliver Stone's story of the world of pro-football "Any Given Sunday," he's trumped by the manly, devilish charm of Stephen Dorff as the calculating villain bent on recovering his lost property by foul means. What's most surprising is that this utterly conventional thriller is under the direction of Mike Figgis, whose intense "Leaving Las Vegas" (the attachment of a depressed prostitute to a man determined to drink himself to death), whose "One Night Stand" is an unusual study of interracial romance, and whose "Time Code" broke new ground with its screen divided into four parts, different actions taking place in each segment. While "Cold Creek Manor" is not exactly a bore to sit through, it could easily pass for a mildly intriguing TV movie. One could almost say that just as Sergie Prokofiev was once dared to write a symphony in the classic mode rather than in his usual atonal style, Mike Figgis had a bet about whether he could produce a formulaic story.

Copyright 2003 Harvey Karten

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