Scott Marks 12:30 p.m., July 26
Socially conscious monstrosity on the stitched-together topics of violence in America, tabloid television, and the cult of celebrity. A couple of new-generation American Dreamers ("You think I came to America to work?"), a Russian and a Czech whose feverish sweat and shifting glances unaccountably fail to set off any alarms at the JFK immigration checkpoint, pick up a camcorder in Times Square ("Make Your Own Movies!"), to document their upcoming murder spree, and pick up a ready-made lawyerly defense ("low self-esteem") from the Roseanne talk show. (The cameraman gets additional jollies by registering in hotels under the alias of Frank Capra.) They also pick up a pursuing posse led by a media-friendly homicide cop (Robert DeNiro) and an above-it-all, TV-illiterate arson investigator (Edward Burns), aided along the trail by a frightened eyewitness and fellow Slav (the always striking Vera Farmiga: eyes by Jean Cocteau). The video "special effects" -- paint-by-numbers Pop Art color, etc. -- give license to the actual filmmaker, John Herzfeld, to wallow in all manner of visual gimmickry, and not just when looking through the first-person camcorder. Similarly, in his penchant for formula, platitude, sensationalism, sentimentality, hyperbole, hypocrisy, he proves himself to be no less crass than the fictitious tabloid show ("If it bleeds, it leads") he is ostensibly commenting on. Kelsey Grammer, Karel Roden, Oleg Taktarov, Melina Kanakaredes. 2001.