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Movie Review: House of Sand and Fog

Alternate Title: House of Pretense and Drivel was submitted by pal, Stephen R. as an alternate title for this film and I could not agree with him more. The only other title that is appropriate would be House of Doom and Gloom.

Story: House of Sand and Fog, written by Andre Dubus III was an Oprah Book Club Selection. I did not read the book but hope it was better than this train wreck. Scripted and directed by TV commercial director Vadim Perlman this House simply has no credible foundation.

Ex-junkie, recovering alcoholic, homeowner Kathy Niccolo, has lost her house due to a combination of errors by both the state of CA and her own negligence. An ex-Colonel and Iranian immigrant buys the house for a very small amount in a foreclosure auction. And that is our conflict. She wants the house back and he won't budge an inch.

The film, had it been done well, should have delved into the concept of home and place and the complexities of different cultures. What we get instead are two stubborn lead characters whose behavior and actions escalate with each scene to the point where I started to chuckle at what idiocy might unfold next.

It is a pretty film with talented actors who just could not get beyond their roles.

Moral of the story: Open your mail.

Acting: Jennifer Connelly had her sad and teary face on for the entire film. Her character was too one dimensional for her to have any range. Ben Kingley, is always larger than life, and as the new House owner he tries his best with sadly, another one dimensional character. Shohreh Aghdashloo, an Iranian actress has the best role in the film and does a very good job as the immigrant wife. Ron Eldard, (who I like a great deal) is the one dimensional cop gone wacko.

Predilection: I like Ben Kingsley.

Critters: Birds

Visual Art: The interior of the House are decorated quite differently by each owner. I liked the Middle Eastern flavor much better than the early rubble decor that she had when she owned the house.

Blatant Product Placement: Mountain Dew

Soundtrack: Endlessly annoying and cloying

Opening Titles: Superimposed over the set up for the ensuing dilemma.

Theater Audience: A handful of gloomy patrons.

Squirm Scale: 2 - Could not wait until it was over.

Predictability Level: Over the roof top.

Tissue Usage: Cried tears of joy when it was finished.

Oscar Worthy: A resounding NO.

Nit Picking: There were many plot points that left me laughing but the single most annoying moment came when the new owner of the House seems able to get a construction crew out to his home the day after moving in and to also be able to get them to start working on his project that very same day. I don't know about you but that type of thing has never happened to me or to anyone I have ever known.

Big Screen or Rental: Neither. Some other films to rent with the word House in it and all that it implies, try: The Cider House Rules, Animal House, Bringing Down the House, House Divided, House Is Not a Home, House of Cards, The House of Dracula, The House of Frankenstein, House of Games, House of Horror, The House of Mirth, and The House of Rothschild.

Length: Two hours.

LOBO HOWLS: 5 (I would have given it a lower number but the cast was too good and the scenery too pretty).