Thursday, December 11, 2014

Lakeview Terrace (2008) 2.5 of 4

** this review contains only mild spoilers **

I'll marginally recommend this film, but I have to feel that the subject matter deserves more than a serviceable and glossy thriller.  The film did well in theatres, where it doubtless sparked some conversations that were more potent than the film itself.
Samuel L. Jackson stars, proving again he's one of the few black stars with the balls to play a racist.  Or is he the only one who gets asked?  In any case, his Abel Turner has a burr up his ass about the new interracial couple on his UMC L.A. cul-de-sac.  If that's not bad enough for the characters played by Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington, their new hater-neighbor is LAPD.
Watching the first half of this movie I felt like it could have been written by a computer: "Suri, give me a rewrite of Unlawful Entry, making both the cop and the female lead African-American."  But then we learn some personal backstory that helps explain Abel's actions, and the film gains enough of a skeleton to carry it through to the violent and ironic ending.
This is one of many recent movies that feels Los Angeles is the perfect setting for the crumbling and cracking of America, with various perils as symbol or metaphor: car accidents (Grand Canyon, Crash), corruption (L.A. Confidential, Dark Blue), enemy attack (Right at your Door, Battle Los Angeles), paranoia (The End of Violence, the films of David Lynch), and here, wildfires.


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