1408 seems to prove the existing axiom that, when adapting Stephen King to the screen, restraint trumps excess almost every time. The best adaptations of the author’s work, The Dead Zone, Stand By Me and The Shawshank Redemption, eschew raw grand guignol gore for the rich characterizations that exemplify King’s best writing. Ninety-percent of the disposable films bearing his name are guilty of the same crime, namely tossing overboard the elements that raise even mediocre King stories above the genre’s normally low standards.
The last time Kevin Costner got anywhere near John F. Kennedy’s presidency, namely Oliver Stone’s cinematic hallucination known as JFK, history took a beating like a narc in a biker bar. Thankfully, Roger Donaldson’s Thirteen Days doesn’t take anywhere near the number of liberties with the truth (how could it) and its historically questionable aspects are minor and forgivable as necessary dramatic licenses in the service of a tightly honed political thriller that also happens to be mostly true.
Media manipulation in cases like the rescue of Jessica Lynch and the death of Pat Tillman have somewhat cheapened the meaning of the word hero. This film attempts to look beneath what we think we know about our heroes at the real men beneath the image. It might have succeeded if the film weren’t such a disorganized mess.
Lady In White in an Old-Fashioned Ghost Story in every sense of the word, probably more effective told around a camp fire than it is as film, but it’s no slouch on the screen, either. Writer, director, producer and composer Frank LaLoggia obviously saw this film as a labor of love and, despite occasionally spoon-feeding the audience a little too much, he has crafted a warmly affectionate look at small town life in 1962. In fact, the portrait of Willowpoint Falls is so vivid that the ghost story almost seems like an intrusion. On the other hand, I guess that’s what ghosts do, dramatically speaking.