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She's all that: Or how I learned to stop worrying and make a teen movie by blueprint
11 January 2000
Warning: Spoilers
*Spoiler Warning*

I've sat through bad movies. The most recent Batman movie comes to mind. I've sat through boring movies. Lost In Space comes to mind. I've sat through movies with awful dialogue. You've Got Mail comes to mind. But there is something about She's All That that elevates the film above mere crap into what Fredrick Nietzsche called the overcrap. There is no real redeeming value in this film whatsoever. It's paint-by-numbers all the way.

Start with the casting. Freddie Prinze Jr., while attractive to the ladies, is an awful actor. He seems to think his job is "stand here and look cool right?" Rachel Leigh Cook, on the other hand, is at least solid in the acting skills department. However, she seems woefully miscast. She is simply too pretty to really understand what it is to be an outcast. She probably used some sort of anecdote about not being able to sit at the popular girl's table in the 7th grade to "inspire" her. From the moment you see her, you know she can be made into the prom queen, because she isn't weird-looking or fat, nor does she have any characteristic of an outcast aside from the clothes. Others are brought in and given nothing to do. Matthew Lillard, the actor I consider to be the white Chris Tucker (just wind 'em up and let 'em go, they do the rest) is given a part that does not fit his underappreciated comedic skills. Usher Raymond and Little Kim are given nothing to do either, as an inordinate amount of screen time is given to the prom-queen in waiting (her name evades me) who simply cannot act her way out of a paper bag. Alas, poor Kevin Pollack also gives the worst performance of his career. It's a shame really, the guy is an unappreciated actor and deserves better material than this. The film's script is awful as well. While the whole cinderella-type idea the film is based on (take the freak and make her prom queen) is enough to support a film, albeit barely, you need real DIALOGUE to make it work! Lines like "thank you" after having a drink poured down your dress simply won't cut it. Especially embarrassing is the scene where Kevin Pollack's character watches jeopardy. Yes, the man is supposed to be rather unintelligent, but the scene is quite simply cringe-inducing. And why would a 12 year old be skating around a cafeteria putting fresh-ground pepper on Buffy Sommers' plate? Wouldn't he have school to go to as well? Never mind the nonsensical final scene. He couldn't graduate dressed like that period!!

Don't waste your time with this. Go for a walk instead. Spend time with your family. Next time you see this in the video store, smash it with your heal and go rent SLC Punk. You won't regret it.
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Communion (1989)
defining film
6 December 1999
For me, Communion is one of the few films I can say have had a profound effect on me. No, not because I was looking for aliens around every corner after watching it. Exactly the opposite. I forced myself to watch this film when I was 15 and it was airing on FOX one night. From the time I was nine on, I had a terrible fear of aliens. Couldn't even look at the cartoony faces it was so bad. Yet, I was fascinated by the UFO phenomenon. When I was eight years old, a reporter named George Knapp here at the local tv station did a five-part series on UFOs that introduced Area 51 to the world. Before that NO ONE knew about it except military personnel. Knapp's series was a groundbreaker. I saw every part of it, and it launched my fascination. But back to the point. Forcing myself to look at those big black eyes, I was finally able to not lose sleep over aliens for the first time in over six years. Watching this movie is great therapy for any kid with a UFO phobia. And that scene with the kid in the bug mask is a classic.
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eXistenZ (1999)
A fascinating film in its own right
19 November 1999
Warning: Spoilers
*Warning potential mild spoilers*

Do NOT compare this film to the Matrix. They are totally different movies. eXistenZ is without question one of the most original things to come down the pipe in some time. I recently bought the soundtrack, Howard Shore really did a hell of a job on it.

There are no weak performances in this film. Yes, Jennifer Jason Leigh seems flat...but when you find out the true nature of transcendenZ it all makes sense. By the way, she looks great as always. Jude Law shows a range I didn't know he had. I was used to pretty boy roles like Bosie Douglas in "Wilde." The guy can can flat-out act. I look forward to seeing him again. Dafoe is...well Dafoe. Mr. Testosterone-head. But it makes sense in the context of the film. I have only one complaint, casting wise. That would have to be the complete misuse of perhaps the best young actresses in Hollywood, Sarah Polley. Her repugnant politics aside, she is a truly outstanding performer and deserves more than three lines in a movie like this one. Surely she did the film as a favor to her fellow Canadian, David Cronenberg. Still her role is the biggest waste of a good actor since Robin Williams in Branagh's Hamlet.

The trademark Cronenberg creepiness is on full display in this film. Every shot makes you uneasy, no matter how mundane. The soundtrack certainly helps there too. David Cronenberg is truly one of Hollywood's unappreciated talents. This film is not a "wanna-be Matrix" or a "Thinking man's Matrix." This film is something wonderfully original. Here's hoping studios spend more money on movies like this and less on things like re-making Willy Wonka.
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The Horror!!! The Horror!!!
6 September 1999
Warning: Spoilers
*Warning contains spoilers*

Devil Doll. Manos, the Hands of Fate. An American Werewolf in Paris. To this top-notch company we can now add Teaching Mrs. Tingle, a movie so bad it makes you forget how extraordinary attractive Katie Holmes is. There is not a SINGLE redeeming quality in this film aside from the acting of Helen Mirren. The camerawork is non-existent. The story? Same thing! In middle eastern countries they probably cut writer's hands off for creating something this horrible!

Why is it so awful, you ask? Well let's start at the beginning of the film. Leigh Ann Watson is another pretty girl who wants to go to college, but apparently has to be valevictorian(sp?) to get a scholarship to so much as the local state U. She puts a lot of effort into a school project, but not a lot into actually acting opposite the actress that plays the mother. She ends up with a C+ on the afforementioned assignment, and so she manipulates her fellow talentless hottie and a guy who can't act to go the the evil teacher's house. Whackiness ensues, and Tingle somehow ends up held hostage by (gasp!) a crossbow!!! Where do they come up with this stuff! Tingle spends the next hour manipulating the trio (which they never catch on to) until the boring, unrealistic climax.

Katie Holmes manages to be better than her material, which doesn't say a whole lot. Barry Watson should be shot with that crossbow. Marissa Coughlan is going to find work in Hollywood very tough to come by once her abundant beauty fades. And Kevin Williamson? Can we say flavor of the month? He needs to go back to high school if he thinks this is how kids really act. Nothing he creates has any tension or authentic emotion.

There's two scenes that really stand out in this movie (though not for the right reasons). First is Coughlan's re-enactment of "The Exorcist." It's so bad I had to lock my eyes firmly on the floor the whole time. No nude scene has ever been so downright embarassing to watch as this fully clothed display of "talent." The other scene to stand out was when Katie is looking at the coach's wife reading her Bible. Katie's reflection is projected unto a covered window. However, it's so faint you can barely see it! It's funny, Williamson inadvertently stumbled into a semi-artistic shot!

There is nothing worth seeing in this film. I don't even reccomend it to Holmes lovers. Avoid at all costs.
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