Heart of Justice, The (1992 TVM)

US / 88 minutes / color / Amblin, Brandman, Planet, Turner, TNT Dir: Bruno Barreto Pr: Donald P. Borchers Scr: Keith Reddin Cine: Declan Quinn Cast: Eric Stoltz, Jennifer Connelly, Dermot Mulroney, Dennis Hopper, Harris Yulin, Vincent Price, William H. Macy, Bradford Dillman, Joanna Miles, Katherine LaNasa, Keith Reddin, Gail Neely, Felicity Huffman, Ross Leon, John Capodice, Hawthorne James, Paul Teschke, Arthur Eckdahl, Issac Clay, Donald Craig, Kurt Fuller, Richard Grant.

Heart of Justice - 0 opener

After having finished lunch with his old friend Reggie Shaw (Price) at the Arts Club on Gramercy Square, successful novelist Austin Blair (Hopper) is gunned down on the sidewalk by rich kid Elliot Burgess (Mulroney), who then kills himself. The editor of the New York Globe, Keneally (Yulin), gives scruple-free reporter David Leader (Stoltz) the task of investigating the story.

Heart of Justice - 0a somewhere (or drop)

At first David doesn’t get too far, because the rich Burgess family is circling its wagons. Dad (Dillman) is a powerful corporate lawyer but gives the impression of being a wheeler-dealer in the Mitt Romney style; Mom (Miles) lives in her own little cocoon; while Elliot’s sister Emma (Connelly), despite seeming barely out of high school, is an enigmatic figure of great allure. David, who is entirely self-absorbed, has a habit of using his own allure to exploit women of all ages and who treats his current girlfriend Hannah (LaNasa) atrociously—when she’s finally had enough and dumps him, his only regret seems to be that now there’s no one to cook his meals—regards the fresh-faced Emma not just as a possible route to his story but also as, potentially, another notch on his belt.

Trouble is, she wants nothing to do with him.

Heart of Justice - 1 David's first sight of Emma

David’s first sight of Emma (Jennifer Connelly).

Heart of Justice - 2 Hannahtries to relate to David

Hannah (Katherine LaNasa) tries unsuccessfully to get David to relateto her.

From the Burgess family maid, Jean (Neely), David discovers that Elliot was always passionately defensive of sister Emma and used to have lots of fights with his father on her behalf. From Emma’s old schoolfriend Annie Hodges (Huffman) Continue reading

Stoker (2013)

US, UK / 99 minutes / color / Indian Paintbrush, Scott Free, Fox Searchlight Dir: Park Chan-wook Pr: Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, Michael Costigan Scr: Wentworth Miller Cine: Chung-hoon Chung Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Phyllis Somerville, Nicole Kidman, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Brown.

It’s a tradition that every year on her birthday India Stoker (Wasikowska) should seek a hidden box containing her new pair of shoes. Today, on her 18th birthday, she finds the box but it contains not the shoes but a key. She barely has time to register this before the news arrives of her father’s horrific death in a car accident.

What’s a girl supposed to do when a date goes horribly wrong . . .?

At the funeral India meets for the first time her Uncle Charlie (Goode), her father’s younger brother, of whose existence she’s been ignorant; she’s informed that he has spent many years traveling the world. Possessed of a sort of poisonous glamour, he announces that Continue reading

Trade of Innocents (2012)

US, Thailand / 91 minutes / color / Dean River, Thai Occidental, Monterey Dir & Scr: Christopher Bessette Pr: Laurie Bolthouse, William Bolthouse, Jim Schmidt Cine: Philip Hurn Cast: Dermot Mulroney, Mira Sorvino, Trieu Tran, John Billingsley, Vithaya Pansringarm, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Guzjung Pitakporntrakul, Jonathan James Isgar, Ashlyn Bellamy.

Noirish in terms of the nightmare it portrays, and the seeming inescapability of that nightmare, this resolutely uncommercial, often clumsily scripted and acted movie somehow manages to build up, by its end, an almost overwhelming level of emotional suspense.

Some years ago, while Alex Becker (Mulroney) was serving in Afghanistan and his wife Claire (Sorvino) was raising their daughter Abigail (Bellamy) back at home in the US, Abigail was seized and, a year later, found murdered, buried in a field. Now Alex, with Claire at his side, is leading an international taskforce in Cambodia aiming to stamp out the abduction of children for brothels serving international—mainly US—sex tourists. The latter are epitomized by visiting US businessman Malcolm Eddrey (Billingsley), a “good family man” who wants to buy the services of children under seven so long as they can be guaranteed “fresh”—i.e., virginal.

While the taskforce’s efforts are aided by a diversity of Cambodians, they must fight against the cultural custom of accepting vile deeds in silence and the local recognition that many rural families are so enmired in poverty that they can see no alternative but to sell a daughter here and there, “for the sake of the others”; this is the attitude of the local police chief, Pakkadey (Boonthanakit), although in the end he comes round to Alex’s viewpoint: that in the rampant child trafficking lies an evil that will eventually destroy Cambodian culture. The traffickers are personified in the form of local boss Duke, a monster depicted by Tran with an evil power that burns from the screen; who can guess why this performance was ignored by the various awards committees?

As noted, though, some of the other acting is lesser. Pansringarm is good as local tuk-tuk driver and taskforce ally Nath and Isgar equally fine as Alex’s Australian assistant Stan, but Mulroney somehow fails to convince as the avenging knight and his woodenness seems to rub off, too often, on Sorvino. The real stars, though, aside from Tran, are the local actors, especially the kids, whose often impassive faces convey more than anything else the horror and the tragedy that’s still unfolding as you read this.

This is a US/Thai coproduction, with much being shot in Thailand with Thai actors. Since the problem depicted is generally associated more with Thailand than any other nation, it seems odd the tale should be offset into Cambodia.

On Amazon.com: Trade of Innocents