⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Unrated by the MPAA
Theater: Heights.


Oscar nominee John Hawkes probably can’t be called an underrated actor at this point, but he’s not as regularly employed as his talent deserves. He’s riveting in “The Playroom” a trim but powerful indie drama from last year’s Tribeca film festival that’s now in limited release.

Hawkes and former “Deadwood” co-star Molly Parker play parents of four in 1970s suburbia. The film is told almost entirely from the point of view of the kids. They congregate and tell each other stories in the upstairs playroom to distract themselves from what’s going on in their parents’ rumpus room. With their eldest teen sister filling in as mother substitute, the kids get scant attention from their parents. Mom and dad, meanwhile, act like undisciplined children. They dutifully maintain a façade of normality while scandalous secrets percolate to the surface.

Newcomers Ian Veteto, Alexandra Doke and Jonathon McClendon are impressive as the youngest kids. Standout Olivia Harris and Parker are heart-wrenching as the vitriolic mother and neglected teen daughter. Hawkes gives us a man whose wholesome demeanor conceals a badly damaged moral compass. With his button-down shirts, tidy blazer and proper tie at war with his mussy hair and outlaw goatee, he’s a would-be swinger in a plain brown wrapper.


Jurassic Park 3D
⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rating: PG-13 for intense science-fiction terror.


Forget about the 3-D — the best reason to revive “Jurassic Park” for its 20th anniversary is Jeff Goldblum.

As “chaos theory” expert Dr. Ian Malcolm, Goldblum is the “Jurassic Park” skeptic in a cluster of greedy entrepreneurs and spellbound paleontologists (played by Laura Dern and Sam Neill).

Adapted from Michael Critchton’s conceptually brilliant novel about an island theme park populated by brought-back-to-life dinosaurs, this is a horror movie wrapped in the trappings of early ’90s speculative science.

Steven Spielberg’s film captures the terror in thunderous approaching footsteps that could only belong to something bigger than King Kong, in breathy sniffs from a nose as powerful as an air compressor. The dinosaurs, impressive in their animated actions and leathery digital texture in ’93, haven’t lost much of their moist, tactile menace over the decades. The frights still work, super-sized and turned into 3-D for your viewing and recoiling-from-the-screen pleasure. It’s not nearly as scary on TV as it is in theaters.
Roger Moore, Mcclatchy News Service