Arlington Road

Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:16 am

This is a very scary movie about a very scary subject — terrorism. Indeed, its release was delayed due to concerns about the sensitivity of the material. Jeff Bridges plays Michael Faraday, a professor who specializes in terrorism, still grieving for the loss of his wife, an FBI agent who was killed in a Ruby Ridge-style shootout. He is befriended by a new neighbor, Oliver Lang (Tim Robbins). At first, Lang’s family seems like an all-American family straight out of an “Up With People” concert, but Faraday begins to suspect that under their bright smiles and peppy friendship might be something very sinister.

Faraday’s friends think that he has become a little unhinged from his wife’s experience. But as he continues to investigate, he discovers more and more disturbing information about the Langs.

This movie will give thoughtful teens some things to think about — balancing the need for security against individual rights, the difficulty of deciding whom to trust, and the factors that lead to hate crimes. The references to acts of terrorism in the US that are so close to reality you will think you recognize them make this more thoughtful than the usual thriller. The very first image, of a boy walking in an immaculate suburb, bleeding from an accident, sets the stage for the unsettling story, and the ending is not only scary, but hauntingly so.

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Drama Horror Thriller

Enemy of the State

Posted on December 13, 2002 at 5:16 am

This movie is what I call a “soft R,” the rating based on limited bad language and violence, but not really unsuitable for younger kids. Will Smith stars as Bobby Dean, a successful Washington lawyer, who in true thriller fashion is inadvertantly drawn into a paranoid nightmare. An old acquaintence on the run from the CIA drops a computer disk into Dean’s Christmas packages just before he is killed. Dean does not know that he has the disk, much less that the disk proves that CIA operatives killed a senator (an unbilled Jason Robards) because he opposed their plans to expand surveillance. The head of a rogue operation within the CIA (current default bad guy Jon Voight) goes after Dean, who quickly loses his job and his wife, who leaves him after she learns that he has been seeing an old girlfriend. Every aspect of Dean’s life is scrutinized by the CIA and the chase scenes are very exciting, showing their ability to track every move he makes with the use of technology from satillites to to phone logs to tiny tracers in his clothes. Parents should know that there are four-letter words, references to infidelity, and bloody scenes, but fewer than in most R movies. Families may want to talk about the issues raised by balancing the right to privacy with the need for protection.

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Action/Adventure Thriller
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