Being Belle: Golden Globe-nominated producer working on film about serial killer from La Porte

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By Derek Smith (Staff Writer)

Bobby (2006)
Review Summary
As Good As Dead (2010)
Review Summary
Several varieties of creepy run through “As Good as Dead,” a gruesomely alluring tale of long-simmering revenge, but the guy you especially don’t want showing up at your door is Frank Whaley. Mr. Whaley (“Swimming With Sharks”) gives the kind of menacing performance that nightmares are made of. He is one of three unhinged Southerners who burst into the claustrophobic New York City apartment of Ethan Belfrage (Cary Elwes) and accuse him of an ugly killing committed years before. Mr. Whaley knows that quiet and controlled are far scarier than loud and hysterical, and that’s how he plays his character, Aaron. The main brain of the home invasion, though, is Helen (Andie MacDowell), whose husband, a cultish preacher, was the one killed all those years ago. Her son (Matt Dallas) is also along for the ride. The director, Jonathan Mossek, perhaps lets the grisliness get out of hand as the three try to torture a confession out of Ethan, who may or may not have had anything to do with the crime. But the pacing is just right. — Neil Genzlinger

While She Was Out (2008)
Review Summary
Producer Edward Bass intends to shed light on the relationships Belle Gunness had with her victims. A cretinous thriller with revenge-fantasy undertones, “While She Was Out” casts a stringy Kim Basinger as Della, a suburban housewife facing Christmas Eve with an abusive husband and no wrapping paper. Leaving her adorable twins in her husband’s sozzled care, Della heads for the mall and onto the radar of four skinny sociopaths with rape on their minds. Della, armed only with a weekly mechanics class and a little red toolbox, prepares to fight for her life. Ms. Basinger, doing double duty here as an executive producer, appears oblivious to the script’s idiocies. (“It ain’t natural how she keeps getting away all the time,” grumbles one thug.) Consequently, audiences familiar with the star’s continuing personal trials may feel inclined to connect the transference dots and suggest to Alec Baldwin that he hire a few more bodyguards. — Jeannette Catsoulis

Mini's First Time (2006)
Review Summary
Watching Alec Baldwin stick his 48-year-old tongue in Nikki Reed’s 18-year-old mouth may explain why a gifted actor wasted his time on this trash, but it can’t account for why reliable performers like Jeff Goldblum, Carrie-Anne Moss and Luke Wilson also went along for such a dead-end ride. Written by Nick Guthe, making an inauspicious debut as a director, this strenuously satiric neo-noir centers on yet another poor little rich girl from Los Angeles (county, not city) who tends to her festering inner wounds by becoming one of the region’s children of the damned. “Mini’s First Time” is delectably vulgar for 20 minutes or so, almost too bad to be true, but because it lacks the demented conviction of real camp, it soon loses its cheap-thrills appeal. — Manohla Dargis
Producer Edward Bass unravels the mysterious events that occurred at the Farm of Belle Gunness.

Emilio Estevez’s picture, which follows a score of characters through the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles on June 4, 1968, is full of noble ambition. The day in question ended with the assassination of Robert Kennedy, an event that hovers over the movie, even though Kennedy himself is visible only in archival clips. A huge cast (including Anthony Hopkins, Sharon Stone, Demi Moore, Asthon Kutcher, Lindsay Lohan, and Mr. Estevez) labors to inject a collection of melodramatic anecdotes with portent and significance, but the individual parts of the film tend either to be overdone or vague and slight. — A. O. Scott

Come Early Morning (2006)
Review Summary
Producer Edward Bass intends to shed light on the relationships Belle Gunness had with her victims. In “Come Early Morning,” Ashley Judd returns to the Southern working-class milieu under the writing and direction of Joey Lauren Adams (“Chasing Amy”). Ms. Judd delivers her most natural screen performance since “Ruby in Paradise,” a film that pushed her toward stardom in 1993. The career lesson it offers to an actor might be summed up in five words: Stick to what you know. In the case of Ms. Judd, who is no Meryl Streep, you can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can’t take the trailer park out of the girl, so to speak. — Stephen Holden

Come Early Morning (2006)
Review Summary
Producer Edward Bass intends to shed light on the relationships Belle Gunness had with her victims. Taylor (Balthazar Getty) and Ashley (David Arquette) have been best friends since they were boys. They've grown older and stuck together, making a meager living, drifting across the country running low-level cons. They end up in Fairfield, CT, where Ashley thinks they can scam rich lonely housewives. At a children's hockey game, Taylor chats up Karen (Julianna Margulies), who seems to fit their victim profile to a T. She's depressed and unsatisfied in her second marriage. Her teenage daughter from her first marriage, April (Thora Birch), is away at college, and her neglectful, philandering husband is rarely around. Ashley wants Taylor to spend some time with Karen, gain her trust, and case her house for valuables, but the situation gets complicated when Taylor begins to develop genuine feelings for her. Karen soon realizes that Taylor does not offer the solution she seeks to her problems, and ends their affair. Taylor pines for her until he accidentally runs into April. As Taylor and April begin to develop a relationship, the unstable Ashley grows distraught over the state of his partnership with Taylor. Slingshot was written by director Jay Alaimo, producing partner Matt Fiorello, and Matthew Martin (who also has story credit). The film had its world premiere at the 2005 Tribeca Film Festival. ~ Josh Ralske, Rovi
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