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Its all about the bread, man
A very entertaining look at naive hippiedom. The glimpses and interviews with the not-so-well-groomed attendees are often hilarious (unintentionally) and sometimes heartbreaking (A man admits to regularly giving his 3 year old son acid and marijuana) The hippyspeak is also very enjoyable. The word "money" is never used--its always "bread, man" etc. The hippies feel that they have an entitlement to free music, (It was only $3 to get in. Boy, hippies were cheap) ,while the promoters claim that they are just trying to break even. Meanwhile some of the artists (Never "musician" or "bands", always the "artists") are not being paid. Tiny Tim wisely demands to be paid up front in cash. The diverging interest set up an interesting backdrop for the music- like when one promoter states that not so many port-o-johns are needed because its a well known fact that everyone gets constipated on vacation. This guy has never been to Mexico. With some exceptions, the music is of the plodding, indulgent, extended jams variety. Thank goodness, punk rock came around and ended people like Emerson Lake and Palmer from doodling on the synthesizer for ten minute stretches. Mix in a hook, ok? Their performance in particular reminded me of Spinal Tap as their pyrotechnics accidentally catches the entire stage on fire. Meanwhile the emcee asks the crowd if there are any fireman out there. We did like Ian Anderson's codpiece, though.
Spun has lots of interesting parts that dont add up to much of a whole. I liked the actors, but all the directorial flourishes (too many) can't hide the flimsy narrative. The direction-crying-out-to-be-noticed becomes annoying ultimately. Rent Salton Sea instead. SIDE COMMENTS AND POTENTIAL SPOILERS AHEAD: (1)Mena Suvari should fire her agent for allowing her to take such a small, thankless part. Is she trying to establish herself as "a serious actress" here? (2)Frisbee's acne makeup belongs on Telemundo or something. (3)The movie derailed completely for me when Jason Schwarczman's (Sp?) character sadistically leaves the stripper tied to the bed and goes out on an endless string of misadventures. I think the movie wants us to take this as drug induced absentmindedness. But why does he need to leave her tied in the first place. I could not really get behind his character thereafter.
I saw this film in the 70's (on PBS i believe) and remember laughing out loud at the unlikely inventions offered up with earnestness and enthusiasm by their slightly delusional inventors(before watching them go wrong, horribly wrong). Great b/w vintage footage. Its like America's Funniest Home Video's for The New Yorker readers.
Flawed, but watchable
Probably the worst of Mamet's recent entries. Some of the action/suspense sequences are laughably unbelievable, but I'll watch any movie with a line like "She could talk her way out of a sunburn". Shades of Raymond Chandler. There were enough snappy one-liners to barely keep my interest and forgive the indulgences. I liked the affected delivery of the actors, unlike a lot of my fellow amateur critics. (Hey, its a movie about a "Heist", what do you expect?) See Spanish Prisoner or State and Main well before this.
As noble and as grandly ambitious as this film is, the characters and their relationships are never fleshed out and each generation's narrative resolutions are annoyingly abrupt, almost as afterthoughts. I believe the characters were meant and used as symbols more than as actual humans. I never sensed much difference between each of the three protagonists (nor in Mr. Fiennes portrayal of same) and the total effect was numbing. I applaud the film's reach and assimilation-at-what-cost? themes, but the disjointed narrative and thin characters proved its undoing.
Scary Movie (2000)
I laughed several times during the course of this movie. But those few laughs did not redeem this mess. I liked that the film was overtly sexual...it just wasnt very funny. Very juvenile, and the bad, groan-inducing jokes outweigh the funny ones by a factor of 20. I mean, were the makers trying to set the cinema record for most fart jokes? I prefer a movie that keeps the number of flatulence gags in single digits. Another gripe-other than a nod here and there, the film was a send-up of Scream only. I would have liked some parody of older horror movies. But thats probably not where this film was targeted. Verdict-Skip if you're over 12.
Waking the Dead (2000)
I suppose its easy to simply dismiss a film like this that mawkishly wears its heart on its sleeve with each and every scene. I tried to resist this impulse and was able to look past the first 20 groaners. The film beat me into submission. I love Jennifer Connelly and really wanted to like this film but the corny dialogue, too-artsy pretentious editing and monotone emotional stance (Supersensitive Fielding is "forlorn" the entire running length) ,wore out their welcome. The leads did have a good chemistry and I applaud the ambition of the film (as well as the maker's non-use of worn out Big Chill-like music to soundtrack the flashback scenes), but mark this one as an earnest failure.
The Beach (2000)
I wanted to like like this film. Having spent some time in Thailand , I was eager to see a film in which Koh Phagnan was portrayed. Wow, was this dissappointing. No character development. Implausibility. Silly changes in tone. This film has more shark attacks than Jaws. In warm water Thailand? The community's compound was reminiscent of a luxury resort, not a slacker hangout. The film's final third simply makes no sense. While I applaud the audacious and Non-Hollywood approach this film takes, it is a bold failure. Pretty locales, though.
Outside Providence (1999)
A movie with heart, but little else
Something About Mary showed signs, beyond the hilarious and ribald gags, of emotion and real storytelling in the filmmaking of the Farrelly's. It was a quantum leap beyond their previous efforts. Unfortunately, with this entry, they focused too much on those new aspects at the expense of their strengths. In fact, I do not believe this film was intended as a comedy. As such, Dumb and Dumber fans be forewarned. While I applaud this attempt at a heartfelt, personal film, the movie fails. The simple kids vs. establishment narrative is lame, the characters are stock and the inclusion of a handicapped brother seemed pandering and desperate to me. I did like the father-son relationship and Alec Baldwin's non-leading man turn as well as some of the well observed period details (Remember "clackers"? ---- I ,too, got "Goodbye Yellowbrickroad" as a Christmas gift). The soundtrack is also solid. Rent Dazed and Confused instead.
Brokedown Palace (1999)
Have you ever wondered what would happen if a couple of characters from Beverly Hills 90210 were thrown into a Thai jail?If so, this is your movie. This is Midnight Express for the MTV crowd. That would be ok, but the story was poorly executed. Contrived plot twists, poor dialogue and unresolved issues abound. This slight film did not earn the right to be as cryptic as it ends up being. Potential spoiler and impossibly preposterous plot line-the faux tension filled moment when the hotel employee discovers the girls do not have a room there and is about to kick them out. (This moment is innappropriately played with the same solemnity and gravity as the moment when they are arrested at gunpoint). Later the same hotel employee is somehow found-and Bangkok is a big city, mind you, Ive been there- and testifies against the girls, as if a couple of free Mai Tais warrant 40 years in prison. C'mon. Rent Another Day in Paradise instead.