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Wet Hot American Summer (2001)
"It's fun to get away from the camp, even if it's just for an hour."
The strangest point in this film is a point, about a half hour through, when all of the seemingly normal camp counselors go out in to the city. In a montage shot, they slowly go from reading books at the library, to smoking cigarettes, to smoking joints, to buying cocaine from a guy on the street, to becoming prostitutes, then becoming strung out heroin-addicts at the local crack house. This is not your parent's parody movie.
From this point on, the film is never the same. Seemingly normal character development goes out the window, and characters jump from one complete different personality to another within seconds. We get brilliant lines of dialogue that could only be brought from members of The State, like: "Hey, there's a problem. I've got something I need to tell you." "Oh no! You have crabs." "No. Well, yeah, but that's not the problem." "Oh good."
Pure genius!!! Why don't more comedies have lines of dialogue like this?
Some other great points: "There is a way we could save everyone's lives. Well, no that couldn't work. In order for it to work, we would need to have a device that could randomly generate numbers between 1 and 20." "That's impossible. That would take some sort of highly advanced supercomputer to work." "Not necessarily. No dungeon master goes anywhere without his...20 sided die."
I sort of wish I had known what films were being parodied in this movie. I saw strands that sort of matched what I had seen from old Summer Camp movies I had seen back in high school during the wee hours in the morning during comedy central. But, there were many things here that seemed like they must be references to other films. Oh well. It's just all crazy.
Anyway, I guess I should say that this isn't a really good...movie, per se, but...well, I have no excuses for it. Wet Hot American Summer rules! Dolphins suck it!!!
Birthday Girl (2001)
Nicole is the only bright spot in this otherwise unfocused, unbelievable, and totally forgettable film
Never have the Miramax Meddling Machine been at work more than with BIRTHDAY GIRL. I can tell you one thing for certain-The Butterworth Brothers did not have "final cut".
The music used in the film was awful. I could feel some sort of editor slicing and compressing scenes to their bare minimums. The overall cheesiness of the film came just as much as whatever Miramax producer got their hands on the film. I think we would have seen a very different film if the Jez Butterworth actually got the chance to finish the film that he and his brother had started, perhaps more of a Coen Brothers Fargo/Something Wild type of film. Thanks to the cheesiness, we have what is a total chick flick.
However, I am not saying that the film would have been competent without the meddling. I don't really think much original thought went into the making of this film. This is basically a "high concept" picture, meaning that its easy to put the premise into a one sentence summary: "A man orders a Mail Order Bridge, only to find out she wasn't the woman she pretended to be." This isn't a very interesting concept, and the Butterworths are not talented or experienced enough to sustain this idea into an entire motion picture. The final version that we have in screen is definitely a failure, an anti-noir that ends up being more and more preposterous and unbelievable at every turn. I felt so uninterested with what in the story came next because I just couldn't believe any of it. I really don't think any of the larger issues which kept the film from being a success would have played out beautifully if the Butterworths had their way in the film's completion.
That isn't to say that the film was entirely without bright spots. Nicole Kidman, obviously, is perfectly cast in the lead role of Nadia. With perfect to almost-perfect Russian dialects, she makes the turns at every corner as easy as her part in the film will allow. Playing the game of "Keep your eyes on Nicole Kidman" will probably be the only reason to rent this film once it comes out on video. Also good is Mathieu Kassovitz, who gives an inferior performance to Kidman, but nonetheless creates a confident, always believable character that creates a bizarre awkwardness and typical Russian scariness. Vincent Cassel, on the other hand, becomes desperately unbelievable, and any conflict he has with Kidman seems forced, rushed, and strangely incompetent. Vincent Cassel should stick to films where he speaks French and roles where he doesn't play the villain. Ben Chaplin does not belong in this film either, and doesn't pull his part of the weight in getting the film off the ground. He never seemed to know what type of film he was in, which perhaps wouldn't be a negative, per se, but when Nicole Kidman is so confident at every change, he seems to be rather apathetic and uncertain of what emotion he's supposed to display.
When the film actually slows down to let Nadia and John actually talk to each other, this is where the film actually has some positive momentum. This is what the Butterworths are good at, creating character development based on dialogue between two people. Its a shame that there is so little of it, as Kidman is forced to speak Russian for the majority of the film, and they seem to continually be separated throughout the rest of the film. I also don't like the way the director decided to stage some of the set-up, as in certain scenes, the actors only acted in a certain way to fool the viewer, who has been provided with subtitles and close proximity camera angles to Nadia while she was supposed to be in private. For instance, Nadia should know that John doesn't speak Russian, but when she speaks to the Russian friends for the first time, they all speak dialogue that is made to mislead who ever is listening, and in this case, it was only the person watching the screen. In my book, this type of tom-foolery gets a thumb down.
I find Birthday Girl to be a forced yet unfocused botched job that just happens to have one tremendous performance at the center and offers a few lines of good dialogue. I would not suggest anyone to go out of their way to see this film, but perhaps worth the time to turn on if its on basic cable. My advice to the Butterworth brothers is: Stay away from noir, stay away from thrillers. Your strong point is character development and dialogue. Make a nice comedy.
Overall: ** out of ****
It is difficult to write this review, as the experience of viewing "Rollerball" has destroyed my ability to form complete thoughts and express myself using words and sentences. Perhaps this should be a warning to anyone that is thinking of going out and seeing this film, but I would have to say that this moviegoing experience has given me more respect for the craft of filmmaking. No matter how bad I thought any movie I had ever seen in the past was at the time, I now realize that the film projected onto the screen during those viewings could have been replaced by the film under the heading "Rollerball". I now have more respect for anyone who did not, in anyway, participate in the making of this film. I also have more respect for films that did not fail in the ways
Watching this movie approximates doing acid. If you have never done acid, and do not wish to try, you can watch this movie to assimilate the effects that the substance does to the human brain.
RollerBall is a game that takes place in the future...way, way in the future...all the way in the year 2005. Chris Klein plays Jonathan Cross, or, as his many fans in Southeast Asia would refer to him, "Jon-a-ton". Jonathan was at one time considered to be the "Next Wayne Gretsky", which I find to be quite incredible since he had refused to play professional hockey LL Cool J plays Marcus Ridley Jean Reno plays the villain, Petrovich Rebecca Romijn-Stamos plays the part of Aurora, or as the fans know her, the "Black Widow" Half the time, there was never a ball in place. Another amazing fact is that there never was a score shown.
I think this movie has the greatest example of unintentional Dadaist scriptwriting that has ever been done. This film was a fantastic combination of nonsensical dialogue, pl
I think everyone that has any respect for the craft of filmmaking should go see this movie as soon as possible. Note that, only two weeks after the film was originally released wide into several thousand theaters, it is nearly impossible to find a theater that is still showing this film. I found that there were only two showings of this film in the entire city of Indianapolis that could be viewed. At one theater, it only played at 4 o'clock, while we see it at a different theater, where there was only one 9 o'clock showing. If you don't see this film now, you may have to wait until the film comes out on video, which would be a complete travesty. The full experience of realizing the horror of this travesty can only truly come to life on the big screen, and any disgust this movie would cause watched in the context of a 20-odd inch screen would be filtered. You owe it to yourself to see how corrupt and ill-managed the Hollywood system truly is, and you must realize that a film this horrendous was made to go on the big screen. This garbage was made with the idea that it would gross more than it cost to make, which was, quite embarassingly, an excess of 80 million dollars. Think about it. 80 million dollars. An amount of money that could have been used to build a much larger studio at MGM. An amount of money that could have been used to finance 80 small 1-million dollar budget films based on good independently written screenplays. Heck, an amount that would be much better given to charities to feed hungry people. Do you have any idea how many people 80 million dollars could feed? The fact that this mass of money, the majority of which will never be made back and is simply gone forever, was used for the soul purpose to create "Rollerball" sets a new low for the studio system. The very fact that producers at MGM thought that mainstream audiences would go for this trash makes me pessimistic in the Hollywood system, while the fact that audiences were smart enough to stay away from it gives me optimistic for the integrity of humanity. There is no reason for this film to exist. The fact that a major film studio would spend so much money on a film this bad shows that there is something wrong with the way the system works now. Wake up, Hollywood, wake up. 1/10
Funny while watching it, even funnier while thinking about it
ZOOLANDER is one strange film. Its sort of like a full on assault on the brain, spitting out so many weird ideas and creative jokes all at once that its impossible to catch them all. The plot is so bizarre and haphazardly constructed that talking about the story almost seems irrelevant. It is probably useful information to say that the plot has to do with assassinating the prime minister of Malaysia and involves a somewhat disturbingly funny funeral scene that overlooks the city of New York. These events would be disturbing enough if we hadn't all witnessed the WTC attacks a few weeks ago, but now they seem just so disturbing that the scenes seem appropriate. This perhaps made the film much darker than it needed to be when released, but perhaps the way in which these events are presented, as being rather dark and still humorous, that this film seems awkwardly precient in a way.
Still, as I said, the plot is irrelevant. What makes ZOOLANDER important is that it is probably the funniest film of the year, at least for me. Sure, its not as wholesome as BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY, and it perhaps didn't have the unexpected charm of RAT RACE, and it wasn't as much fun as RUSH HOUR 2, and it wasn't as good of a film experience as SHREK. However, it is perhaps the most consistently funny film I have seen, and the biggest laughs are probably the most creative of the year. Overall, the film is so packed with cleverly conceived and executed ideas that just thinking about each individual scene provides entertainment in itself. My favorite scenes include what happens when Zoolander and his friends go out for Orange frappucinos, the orgy scene, Zoolander's film prepared for his nomination VH1 fashion awards, and the quite unexpected yet wholly appropriate 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY reference. I'm laughing very, very hard just thinking about these scenes. I wasn't quite certain how much I liked the film right after seeing it, but now I'm certain that it has provided quite enough entertaining memories to sift though.
If you let your mind think about it too much, it is perhaps easy to find ZOOLANDER offensive, or find the plot ludicrous, or realize nothing makes sense, or realize that you can't explain why your laughing. But I would advise you just let your inhibitions go. The good laughs here are some of the most refreshingly original laughs in years. The only thing keeping this film from achieving cult comedy status from the likes of films such as THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY, WAYNE'S WORLD, or AUSTIN POWERS: INTERNATIONAL MAN OF MYSTERY is that it isn't quite well thought out enough to truly be as effective as a whole. It all just sort of fizzles out at the end, when everyone realizes that there's no way you could possibly lead up to with that incomprehensible of a plot.
If the trailer of Zoolander seemed incomprehensibly stupid to you as well as unfunny, don't go and see it. However, if you laughed at Zoolander's trailer and are dying to see it, go on, as it is at least as funny as the film's trailer. There's a lot of weird stuff here, but it all flashes by so quickly that it will all wash out of your brain very quickly. Unlike many comedies, the hilarious moments are the parts that stuck in my mind after the film and all the bad stuff washed away, which is something I truly appreciate.
The Doom Generation (1995)
So bad its good...only in an intentional way.
I saw Nowhere previously to my viewing of this film, and I felt it didn't succeed on any level. It was very messy, oddly apocalyptic, and not very funny or sensical. Watching "Nowhere" was not a pleasant, or thoughtful experience.
But, then I saw the tremendously entertaining "The Doom Generation". Never before has a film decided to make such a point of self-mocking as this film. It throws odd and idiotic plot elements, and then the characters mocks them, while the screenplay mocks the characters. It introduces three strange people, gets them on an odyssey to hell, and then doesn't stop to explain anything. Everything that happens is ridiculous in some way, and the film knows this and milks the humor from this. Basically, what happens is this: A couple find a renegade, go to a store, buy $6.66 worth of food, and then end up accidently killing people in a very awful and gruesome way. Then, they go to another store, spend $6.66, and are forced to kill someone else. This is the plotline. Yes, Gregg Araki is aware of how awful of an idea this is, and milks it for every cheap thrill and laugh he can.
I loved this film, and should truly qualify as one of the well done cult films I've found. I'm unsure of why more people I know don't know of this film, but I certainly found it a blast. It's a head trip that you can make fun of every bit as much as the film makes fun of itself. A fun movie experience.
Harold and Maude (1971)
Not as bad as I first thought.
In my first review for this film, I called it "Terrible, terrible, terrible." However, I felt this was perhaps too strong, as I have many intelligence friends that enjoy this film.
I had many discussions about the nature of the plot and the nature of the relationship between Harold and Maude. A few of my friends said they loved this film, simply, because they were were female and thought it would be cool to have an affair with a 20 year old guy when they were in their seventies. This was not a good enough answer to me, but other friends liked it for better reasons, more to do with the psychology of the characters and why they are attracted to each other.
I understand the appeal here. The suicide humor felt a little bit too much like a writer begging for a laugh, and I did feel really bad for Harold going through such an emotionally devastating experience. However, Maude's character is often hilarious, and Harold provides a lot of charisma in a "Ghost World" Enid-type way. I guess the best thing that could be said about the relationship is that it is unconventional, and therefor provides a new perspective on just what love is. My main problem with the film has always related to this as well, which is why a character as thoughtful and (secretly) good-natured would fall as Harold would fall into someone as self-serving as Maude. Perhaps I can never get over this fact, but the second viewing provided me with more amusement than the first. I think knowing how the story ended helped me "live in the moment", and enjoy the film's direction a whole lot more.
I now feel this film can at least being considered as being close to the same level as Hal Ashby's other masterpieces, such as "The Last Detail", "Coming Home", and, my favorite, "Being There". There is a lot in this film to love, even though I'm not the biggest fan of the "nature-of-true-love" story that the film contains. I will probably see this film a third time one day, and perhaps I'll change my opinion of it again. Current rating: 7/10 (or **1/2 out of 4)
The Others (2001)
A Shockingly Good Time...A Movie Lover's Tribute to Ghost Stories.
I have seen this film three times with a total of 9 different friends. Out of the 10 of us, only one person didn't get completely frightened out of his wits, but every other person I saw it with couldn't stop talking about the film after we saw it. We couldn't stop thinking about the film after it was over.
"The Others" is a difficult film to describe but not give away. For this reason, READ AS LITTLE OF ANY REVIEW AS POSSIBLE. I will attempt to keep this review concise and spoiler free.
Nicole Kidman plays Grace, a mother who has been left alone with her two children after a mysterious event that forced her house maintenance workers and daycare helpers away from the house. Alakina Mann and James Bentley play Nicole Kidman's children Anne and Nicholas. The brother and sister are apparently unable to leave the house due to a mysterious skin condition. This is all of the plot that is fair to give away before seeing the film.
The film is obviously a labor of love for director/writer/composer Alejandro Amenabar, and never have I remembered seeing a film that the screenwriter had such malicious fun writing. There is a great amount of mischievous glee in seeing Grace reveal the rules of the house, the other characters revealing what they know about the house's secret, and in Amenabar slowly turning the screws of terror with his masterful compositions of visual cues and sound effects. The first time seeing the film is one of the most terrifying film experiences I've had in my life. There is just so much here to get worked up over. Even as Amenabar turns up his orchestral hits, its evident he's not doing it just to get a scare out of the audience. Each scene has one character in the middle of the scares who is in absolute terror, and the music represents his/her fright at that moment.
So, the film has about a dozen little scares, about 2 or 3 real big ones, and a general undying creepiness that lasts throughout the entire film. Happily, there are also a few laughs and loving moments thrown in so it isn't a completely dark experience. There is also a strong intelligence and development of themes in the entire film, giving it a true importance, allowing for endless thought and discussion about the film. The film asks difficult and meaningful questions about conditional/unconditional love, religion, and the nature of existence. Of course, during the first viewing, none of this will go through your mind as you will be scared out of your wits. Any question you are likely to have the first time will relate to "What the @#%& is in that house?", so the other themes will likely enter your mind after the film and during subsequent viewings.
Also, the film's three lead performances rank as the best performances I've seen this year from any film. Nicole Kidman is outstanding as Grace and I would rank this as the best performance so far this year, perhaps tied with Haley Joel Osment's performance in "A.I. Artificial Intelligence". Alakina Mann and James Bentley also give exquisite performances, and, after Osment's last performance, I would say they give the best English-speaking child performances I've ever seen.
In summary, I would say that "The Others" ranks as one of the few films this year that could be deemed "unmissable". It is a eerily beautiful film that releases its nuances slowly, during the course of its plot and also over subsequent viewings. I've also never been as scared during a film as I was in "The Others", and every audience I have seen it with couldn't help but randomly scream and jump during every part of the film. The more I analyze the film, the more I am in awe of its technical wizardry. The film is so dense and complex that it is worth more thought and discussion than the typical horror film, or even the typical Hollywood drama.
While I haven't mentioned it yet, I believe that Amenabar's motive for making this film was the same reason Baz Luhrmann made "Moulin Rouge!". This film was meant to be an ode to the ghost-story film, taking every piece possible from every well known ghost film and fashioning a very thoughtful puzzle of artwork out of the pieces. The film is a movie lover's tribute to ghost stories.
This is a truly wonderful film experience. I give it **** (out of 4).
Spanking the Monkey (1994)
woah. (Spoilers as noted)
This movie disturbed me greatly. This was the third film I'd seen by David O. Russell after "Three Kings" and "Flirting With Disaster", and I had been expecting a more comedic tale than the one I had seen. I expected perhaps a pre-curser to "Flirting", with similar humor and similar themes. I perhaps should have found out more about this film before seeing it, as I came very close to just stopping it about halfway through and not continuing through it. This film made me so uncomfortable that I had to fast forward through some of the darker parts. Where "Flirting with Disaster" offered relief after some of the uncomfortable moments, this one progresses those moments to the point that they become unbearable.
The film shows the relationships of a college student returning home after his first year of college. We meet his work-obsessed father, his attention-demanding mother, his often uncaring peer group, his condescending aunt, and his perpetually confused dog that just can't seem to get the idea. All of these characters seem to dedicate their lives to making Ray Aibelli's life a living hell to as much of an extent as they possibly can. There are two characters that genuinely seem to care for Ray. There is one friend from high school that genuinely cares for him and likes hanging out with him, only he appears to be attached to his other friends that make it clear how much they do not like Ray. Apparently, hanging out with Ray without the other characters is not an option. The other character that cares for Ray is a girl from high school that finds Ray's success in college uplifting and attractive. She is attracted to Ray, at least emotionally, but is still too emotionally awkward to allow him to form a connection with her.
As a movie experience, this film worked well. It set up a theme I had seen little about in the films that had shocked me and forced me to think. However, it's purpose was not to scar, but to just examine part of human behavior that isn't discussed very often. This film was actually very amusing during certain sections as well, and created characters that were at the same time both likeable yet despicably hurtful. I personally cared for all the characters in the film, with the possible exception of the father, who seemed too detached and too self-serving to care about anyone other than himself. This film has enough good elements to allow itself to remain fresh in my mind for a while.
I'd like to talk about some of the deeper underlying themes in this film that will require SPOILERS. (1) Notice how much more of a passionate lover Ray becomes after his relationship with his mother. He becomes so much less aggressive with the girl from high school while making out that you can tell they are both genuinely enjoying it. Although his relationship with his mother is disturbing we find out that it might be beneficial, in some ways at least, although certainly not enough to make up the psychological scars that would occur from sleeping with one's mother. (2) The viewer gets the chance to witness that while the son is sexually frustrated by not having any other opportunities to relieve himself sexually, we do not see the same from his mother. The viewer witnesses the father with a nude woman that he's having an affair with, and that sets up the belief that perhaps the mother is frustrated because the father is finding sexual satisfaction somewhere else. However, he comes home and we witness that he is still very much interested in her, but that she isn't interested in him. Perhaps he began having an affair to find satisfaction somewhere, anywhere, and perhaps that's why he loves going on trips. Perhaps he began going on trips, and the mother stopped having interesting in him. This is one aspect of the film that perhaps deserves discussion. (3) Note the mother's unlacking charisma. She knows how to get exactly what she wants from just about anyone. She's very much a social animal trapped in a cage. When she gets the chance to associate with any other character who isn't her husband, such as her son, her doctor, or a psychologist from down the road, she ends up having them get perhaps way too interested and too comfortable around her. All it takes is about a 10 minute conversation with someone to get a step or two away from sleeping with them. (4) I love the line about how the psychologist says Ray is in a crisis over his sexual orientation. He denies it, of course, but we learn very quickly that he is sexually confused. It's interesting that the Psychologist here is given the opportunity to seem both all-knowing and human; it seems like the film is trying to find a firm base to analyze the film psychologically. Also, it's interesting that Ray denies there's anything wrong with him and always assumes that the problem is someone else's. Perhaps this is how he has been so successful in school. He represses everything he knows is wrong, and anything that he's done that might be wrong but isn't set in stone with firm rules wasn't his fault. There is much else to discover about this film that would be very valuable and educational.
Neither of O. Russell's other films were nearly as dark as this one, nor painted quite as much of a psychological portrait. This is a film I would have expected to come out of the hands of Neil LaBute or Todd Solondz. It perhaps paints the dark side of the psychological disfunction a little lighter than either of those other directors; he wasn't nearly as hateful to its main characters as LaBute, nor did he show as many absolute lows of the human psyche as Solondz. The story ends in hope, loves all of its characters, and tries to allow everyone figure out where they've gone wrong and what they can do to repair the damage. The film is in a way uplifting, as it shows a problem that is perhaps nearly as serious as one could possibly have, yet shows that there can still be a way out. This is a more satisfying film that anything the other mentioned auteurs have done so far (with the possible exception of "Nurse Betty", which isn't really the same type of film as this one).
I did have one problem with the film that would require a few more SPOILERS to talk about. As anyone that's read any of the other reviews should know that the main character and the mother achieve an incestuous relationship during his stay home. Well, this is believable. However, I found it believable because I didn't have much evidence from anything that the son and mother actually grew up together. I mean, from the film, we know that the son supposedly grew up in that house, but I don't see much evidence of that from how he acts. He doesn't know his friends, he talks to his mother like they've never had discussions about any of the topics before, and he doesn't even know how to deal with his dog while he's trying to perform the act mentioned in the film's title. I believe that the relationship could happen because the characters don't seem like a mother/son. The dialogue we hear is the dialogue of a couple of characters who have just met, not the dialogue of a couple of characters that have known each other for their entire lives. (speaking of which: now that I think about it, the dog did a very good job of making the audience believe he's known the other characters his entire life. Maybe he should give the other characters acting lessons...) This aspect of the film didn't ruin the experience for me, nor did it make the story unbelievable. But it did come close... (SPOILER end)
Overall, I very much would recommend this film, under the circumstance that you know what you're getting yourself into and that you are not seeing it with anyone that would create an awkward experience. That means: don't see it with mentally or morally feeble people, and especially don't see it with relatives. The film does have many entertaining moments, many memorable scenes, and creates some relationships that have a psychological value to examining. Plus, the film has one of the funniest lines I've heard in a long time. If interested, this is it:
(Nicky apologizes and witnesses Ray sprawled across the floor after attacking his mom) NICKY: Hey, what are you doing anyway? RAY: I'm choking my mother. NICKY: Well, it sounds like it's time to get out of the house then.
A total charmer
I have to say that this film plays out like a dream if you enjoy seeing Kirsten Dunst really rip into a role. It's wildly uneven, but there are so many sweet moments of confusion, with double-entendres and minor drug jokes to boot. It's a fun show to see Dunst as well as Michelle Williams wonder through the Watergate scandal, at first sheepishly and by accident, but slowly changing their motivation to the bigger issues. This is a coming of age film that functions as political satire. Dan Hedaya is also an appropriate Nixon for this film, taking on the role with enough conviction to make us forget who he is as an actor. There are many parts of the film that are classics in their own right, such as Williams' slowly falling for "Dick" and what was really deleted from the 18 1/2 minutes of tape.
The biggest weakpoint in the film is Ferrell and McCulloch as the two reporters that discover Deepthroat and the Watergate secrets. I know this isn't a very serious movie, but they ruined the suspension of belief for me by making their scenes seem about as realistic as an SNL skit from which Ferrell is so used to doing his schtick. They have some good lines, but mostly at the expense of losing some of what makes this film so charming.
Overall, this is a very cute film that is lighter than air to watch. The joy of watching Dunst and Williams going through an odyssey of the dark side of politics is something that could warrant many viewings of this film. It's not necessarily a great film, but it is one that you could watch 20 times without it losing much of it's charm. 8/10
Flirting with Disaster (1996)
Very, very funny
This movie made me realize why I thought "Meet the Parents" was so empty. Both basically have different versions of the same theme; trying not to be too embarrassed while meeting people who are about to be part of your family. This movie is just so light hearted with such colorful but realistic characters that it was impossible for me not to just absolutely enjoy. While "Meet the Parents" seemed to be more about forcing it's main character into public humiliation (which is something I don't find very amusing), this film allows a little bit of embarrassment to every character, and as a result the characters grow and understand each other. The plot twists because of how the characters would naturally react to a situation and not just for the fact of creating more laughs. There's a strong comedic balance here that makes you have actual care for the characters. I'm not sure why there aren't more films made like this, that don't rely on too many sight gags and bathroom jokes and just allow the personalities move the plot. After getting to know the people in this film, I wanted to watch the film go on for ages, just as I do all great comedies. To be fair, the ending did seem to come out of nowhere, but the ending didn't seem to happen too quickly. We are given a few quick shots afterward showing the lives of the characters after the end of the story occurs. The film also has a bit of a fate's destiny forcing the main characters together, and that, by the end, there are some firm yet awkward relationships that will repair themselves and create some larger family. Anyway, I'm just rambling.
I saw THREE KINGS not too long ago, and I'm surprised by how diverse of a writer/director David O. Russell is. He appears to take a little longer than most directors in coming out with new movies, but it's easy to understand why when the films he makes are so different from one another. He's not a director that's afraid of doing something different and challenging himself. Seeing THREE KINGS makes me respect this film so much more and vice versa. Oh, and in case you didn't know, this was one of the best reviewed films of '96. My personal rating: 9.5
Dr. T & the Women (2000)
An opus to chaos
There are very few words that could be used to describe this film. I hate to use the word weird, but this film is VERY weird. It's the strangest film I've ever seen. It is disguised as a romantic comedy with a gynecologist trying to sweep a tennis instructor off of her feet. However, it's really an amusing spiral downward through a chaotic life.
As with many films, it appears that this is one of two films out at the same time that attempts to understand women and women's effect on men. The other film, "What Women Want", was a successful mainstream film that said basically nothing so convincingly that it was difficult not to love. This film is so bizarre that it will send home many of "Brazil"'s biggest fans home scratching their heads.
The opening title sequence sets up the mood of the film, beginning inside of an office with the secretary making small talk with a patient. Then, she makes small talk with another patient while the first patient talks to someone else. Eventually, the sounds of the conversations keep building and building, until by the end of the sequence, all of the voices are so loud that the sequence is confusing and nearly unbearable. This is what the film is like from beginning to end. It begins simply with a very soft, romantic view of the subject matter (in this film, the subject is "women") and then slowly progresses into insanity with no exact conclusion.
This film can be called misogynistic, and to some extent that's true. It's written by a woman, but by the end, we see Gere's character get so worked up over the women in his life that we think they are what causes his misfortune. However, I don't even think it's so much a movie about women; it's a film that represents women as an obsession. Gere's character surrounds himself by women almost exclusively; even his hunting friends are associated with him through patients at the gynecologists office. He ignores that this could be a problem in his life and goes on without dealing with the negative aspects of women and only the positive ones.
The charm of this film is difficult to put your finger on. The dialogue here isn't written in a way to flesh out the characters. The characters are not developed by the dialogue, so it's difficult to see what their inner motives are. Altman here tries to develop characters more by their actions and by the movements. The film doesn't so much have plot twists as it's plot slowly twists throughout. It begins seeming like it will be one type of movie, slowly morphing into a different type of movie, and then ending up being totally opposite of either. We begin the film wanting to like the characters, and by the end we end up wanting to dislike them but are strangely engaged by their presence. Nothing here ever fits together the way it seems like it should.
DR T is not a perfect movie. The one aspect of the movie that I personally would have welcomed was more of an insight to how Hunt's character was special. The only reason we realize she's special is because Dr. T says she is. Sure, she is different in that she wants to pursue her own career and remain the one that's in control of her life, but we weren't given the chance to see what makes her so likeable. Hunt basically plays the exact same role as she did in "What Women Want", but in that film she is given ample opportunity to have the viewer to know what about her makes her so special, so genuine, and so compassionate. Her character in "Dr. T and the Women" is to be examined with the assumption that different is good, but in "What Women Want" it was explained why being different is good.
And, although the film is about chaos, it would be nice if we were given a little bit more of a reason of why we watched the film after it was over. The themes are all broken apart by the end, going through a fantastical ending that puts the ending sequence of "Magnolia" to shame. This ending is fun, different, and thoughtful, but it leaves absolutely no sense of conclusion to what just happened. The ending is just as much frustrating as it is entertaining.
Despite the flaws, "Dr. T and the Women", as long as it didn't offend you, takes too many chances for it not to be loved. It falls on its face, of course, but gets up every time and keeps moving along. It's unmissable by anyone that found "What Women Want" to have been too predictable and too mainstream. Don't expect to leave the theater (or finish the video) settled with a proper ending, completed themes, or a firm grasp on what happened in the film. This is a masterpiece of chaos with the Altman directing style that many of us have come to love over the years. The film doesn't really end up saying a whole lot of anything, but that appears to be sort of the point. 9/10
Problem Child (1990)
As with any piece of "no-brow" entertainment, the positive values end up being even more effective
First off, I'd like to say that I never once cheated on a test, smoked a cigarette, did any drugs, stolen anything, had a sip of alcohol, or caused physical harm upon someone else, and, generally, I consider myself a humanitarian in every way. Secondly, I would like to say that I once loved Problem Child when I was 10 years old, and I still do even today. Also, Beavis and Butt-head is also my favorite TV show of all time... Problem Child is the first piece of entertainment of the '90s that fits into the category of "no-brow" humor. "No-brow" humor is something that adults should find distasteful and something where a lot of the jokes are too sophisticated for kids to understand. South Park is probably the most famous example of a "no-brow" show in the '90s.
I would like to add, however, that many kids out there can handle a "no-brow" movie like Problem Child, I being one of them. If you're a kid, in most cases, you realize that Junior is not a type of role model. When I was watching it, I never once considered chopping off a girl's hair, stealing my parents' money, or any of the such. I found it funny, though, and Junior is quite a well developed character. Kids will realize he has been doing bad things since he was born, and that Junior will never be like any kid watching the movie.
Most importantly, the values in the movie are right on. The movie is about a kid that does bad things, but the moral of the story isn't "It's ok to do bad things." It's about a special father/son loyalty; it's about unconditional love. Because every character in the entire movie is pretty despicable except for the father, the positive values shine out ever brighter than they would in an entirely typical, entirely positive family movie. Perhaps I saw the movie at an older age than the kids that people that usually saw this movie: I was 9 going on 10. I think most people don't remember what being like a kid was like. If a kid is too young, and I'm talking in mental years, don't take them to see it. I think a well-raised child that knows not to emulate every action he or she sees on the TV screen could enjoy this movie every bit as much as I did and not be affected negatively. A child that would be able to handle this type of movie should have a firm grasp on reality(important one), social-values, and the ability to follow a plotline. And, in a pure Skinnerian view of the movie, Junior is never rewarded for the bad things he does. An intelligent child should be able to tell that his father, who has genuine care and love for his new son, is angry at him when he does something wrong. This, as much as anything, had a true effect on my as a growing 9 year old.
Nurse Betty (2000)
The most magical film in years, and the year's best so far
If you've heard from a friend or from someone online that Nurse Betty was a waste of time, don't listen to them. Chances are, you were talking to one of the few people alive that would not absolutely cherish this movie. What we have here is not just a brilliant screenplay that pays homage to many of the best films of all time(the screenplay is a modern Wizard of Oz, but calls to other great films like Being There and Pulp Fiction), or just a film made to give the actors a chance to showcase their talents. Every part of the film is exquisite and came together just right for this movie; Neil LaBute has finally created a cinematic masterpiece.
We have Betty(Renee Zellweger), a modern "Dorothy", who has so many gifts that she's unaware of. After a horrible event, she enters a fantasy world, determined to meet the "Wizard of Oz"(Greg Kinnear) to return her back to home and make everything alright again. Of course, she does meet this "Wizard", who of course turns out to not be the one that can answer all of her questions.
What is so amazing about this film is how uplifting it is. This is a twist-at-every-turn movie, and the twists are always spectacularly good hearted that it's hard not to get goosebumps at every new idea. Of course, this is a LaBute movie, so there are many ugly moments here, as well, including a very violent, spine-tingling violent scene. This is certainly one of the most gruesome scenes of any movie this year, but there is a very obvious point behind it, so it is in very good taste.
The cinematography is wonderful, the music is spectacular, and there isn't one part of the movie that is not treated oh-so delicately so it can create the perfect atmosphere. However, the movie never forgets to allow these aspects to outweigh what is truly important-the story and characters.
This is a rare movie where every character ends up growing, becoming more mature, and allows the viewer to never second guess the outcomes. It has such great character development. Kinnear, Zellweger, and Freeman all deserve Oscar nominations, and many other characteristics of the film should be recognized as well. The only weak point here is Rock's performance, which takes half the movie before we forget it's Rock and truly focus on his character.
So, if you have a love for the black but oh-so uplifting story, see Nurse Betty. Hell, even if you're not sure this movie is for you, give it a chance. It would take an awfully sour person to not enjoy this spectacular movie experience.
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Same disappointment as many others, I'm sure.
I shall be crucified by so many other people, but I must state my opinion on this movie. There is so much plot in this movie(which is a good thing), but never once was it backed up by characters that were believable or likeable. There was no character development, and I thought the acting was so bad that it deserved to be in stupid comedy movie. Therefor, I thought it was very boring.
I would also like to add that this is another one of those movies that had a twist ending I could see long before it got to the end of the movie. I just had this feeling Kevin Spacey was going to be the mastermind behind everything, and low and behold, I was correct. I just thought that he could have been making up some of the story as it was all being told from his point of view. I thought his acting seemed so obvious, and it seemed like he wasn't telling the truth, as he seemed to be purposely acting. Then, we find out that nothing in the story could have necessarily been true, and that he was most likely making up every detail in the story. I'm sure if you put enough interest into it, you could have separated what actually happened from what he read off the wall, but I'm not sure why anyone would want to.
Happy, Texas (1999)
A very entertaining off-beat comedy with very touching(mostly) characters.
The comments thus far on this movie rather sums it up. It has so many touching characters in it, and some moments were just plain adorable. First off, I don't think anyone can deny that Steve Zahn's character is absolutely perfect for the role and the movie. His character is quite definitely the heart of the movie. When he first arrives in Happy, he is utterly clueless when it comes to matters of the heart, and finally learns compassion and empathy. It is somewhat a stereotype that a good environment saves the bad guy, but at least it's better than what would have happened if the bad guy comes and saves the town.
I think Jeremy Northam's character is compassionless. His decisions don't make him seem at all likeable, and his relationships with the banker and the sheriff just make him seem like a shady, sneaky backstabbing creep without any desire to even help out anyone. He also never gives a helping hand to Zahn with the Happy Girls. By the end, we're left with a guy that broke and betrayed everyone he had fooled into loving him. Worst of all is the banker ended up falling in love with him, even though he wasn't going to see her for two years. The only reason this happened was to make him seem like a good guy even just because he happened to be one of the main characters. This all comes after he made her realize long distance relationships are the perfect recipe for heart break. By the end, I was hoping she would just run away from that creep. By comparison, Steve Zahn's relationship with Schafer was much more touching and realistic, and I believed they could actually end up living together in a happy relationship.
The other character worth noting is William H. Macy as Sheriff Chappy. He, along with the Happy Girls, made the film seem overly sweet and good-hearted. He was certainly the most touching character in the film, and he is the perfect archetype for the town of Happy. He is cheerful, hopeful, good-hearted, and always willing to do his share of everything. He is also the only main character of the film that is gay in this gay comedy so, without him the film would be rather annoying. Actually, when he falls for Northam's character, you feel both happy and melancholic for him. You're happy he's found something to love and to relieve his loneliness, yet you know the relationship is going to end badly, and that he will be hurt. He is just as important for the momentum of the film as Zahn. Without him, the film would be lacking so much.
I do not think this movie is overly stereotypical or holds an intentional agenda. I read one review of this by a gay reviewer that said it was the most homophobic film of the year, but I don't think that was true at all. While it is true it is slightly absurd to think a couple, gay or not, would get excited to see their trailer was stolen, I think it makes perfect sense as part of a zany comedy. I don't think it is offensive to have the gay characters in a film to act ridiculous in a comedy where every character is ridiculous.
The greatest moment of the film was when The Happy Girls performed Bjork's version of "It's Oh So Quiet". It is one of my favorite scenes from any movie made in 1999, partially because I am a huge fan of Bjork. I really enjoyed the lighthearted touch the girls offer during the end of the movie. When they help save the town with their somewhat impressive, and totally unexpected, fighting techniques, I was truly touched. I realized how Steve Zahn's character really affected the town, and how he affected the town just as much as the town affected him. The movie needed more of Zahn and Miss Schafer and the girls and less of Northam's manipulation of the banker. The movie would have been nearly perfect if Northam seemed to have the same sort of affect on the town as Zahn had, and if Macy's character had been focused on a little more. As is, Happy, Texas, is merely a good standard comedy that is not afraid of breaking a few of the traditions of the stereotypical jargon Hollywood thinks we need to see. Overall rating: 8/10.
Moving, thoughtful, more affecting than meets the eye.
*warning: I might give subtle hints in this that could spoil the surprises of the movie.
I just saw Limbo today, and the more I read the reviews people have written about it, the more I think people missed the point. This story is about victims; the three main characters are victims even before the tragedy occurs. Joe tragically lost his boat, the life of a friend, and much of his hope in life in an accident so long ago. Donna seems to be victimized by men, even more than she lets on. She seemed to be hurt by someone a long time ago, and keeps looking for men that will satisfy her in a way she's unsure will ever happen. Noelle seems to be outcasted, and feels abandoned. She has become somewhat of a narcissist, assuming the physical pain will relieve the pain she feels inside. She seems to also have a poor self image and, like many teenage girls, forces herself to pay way too much attention to the commercial and material world. All three characters were wrongly harmed, as they're all good people, yet they're lives have been stunted and destroyed. There are many scenes in the movie that are so moving and so painful and so cathartic, they would make the movie great by themselves. And we feel so bad that they are where they are in life.
And we hope, we really do, that when Joe and Donna meet and speak to each other, that they will fall in love and cure what ails them. This is what the story is about. It is about how victims can come together and rid they're terrible losses.
Yet Sayles might or might not have a different story to tell from this point on. Without giving away too much, he seems to always be looking at everything from two opposite angles. Look at, for instance, the completely pessimistic daughter and the overtly optimism her mother preaches.
The daughter is always looking at everything in the past as being better than what could possibly happen in the future. When the mother leaves the boyfriend, her daughter gets angry, saying the man wasn't that bad. She doesn't really hate her mother; she just gets angry that the existance that she just was coming to terms with seems to keep being destroyed. Perhaps she only came to terms with the life after she had to leave the situation, so perhaps she could never be happy. The mother, though, always looks at the future as being someplace good, and that she isn't really a victim; she just hasn't figured out how not to be one yet. Joe is sort of the middle ground. He seems to be content wherever he goes; sometimes he hopes to the future, while other times he doesn't mind being just where he is. Sometimes, being an optimist is good, as with the relationship with Donna. Sometimes, his optimism creates a tragic happening; such as his hope of sailing and becoming a fisherman again.
I do not think the strengths of this movie are that it keeps you guessing every turn of the way. Instead, it answers the question "Is the glass half empty or half full?" in a new way. The answer is every bit of cryptic as the question, and how the movie ends even depends on what type of person the viewer is. Is he or she(the viewer) more like the daughter or the mother? Or maybe the viewer will be more like Joe and try to make logical sense out of the mess. If Joe were asked the glass question, he'd probably answer "If the glass was empty and was only poured half full with water, then it's half full. If, however, it was completely full and someone drank half, it's half empty." He is more of the logical person, always seeing both sides, and wondering if it's in the best decision to be pessimistic or optimistic. Each type of person(the pessimistic, the optimistic, and the logical) will end up watching a completely different movie, and also goes through life with a different point of view. Sayles is trying to point this out. One of my favorite lines in the movie, and one of the best lines that points this out, is said by Donna, who says "If you think bad things are going to happen, they will." The optimist will respond, "Well, yeah." The pessimist will say "It will because it's going to happen anyway." The logical will say "What an absurd thing to say!" The movie somehow allowed me to think all three things at once right after she said this line.
Perhaps Sayles isn't answering the half full half empty question, yet asking it, in a more subtle, artistic way. The viewer will answer without even thinking about it. My biggest compliment I could pay to this film is there is not one person that allows himself to watch the film that won't be affected by it, even if they think they hate it. If there is one director whose goal in mind is more to affect the person watching it than he cares about how someone will review the movie, it's Sayles. If Sayles wanted to end the movie in a more traditional and cinematic way, it would have been considered more of a Fargo type masterpiece. Yet, he decided to sacrifice this in order to let the viewer think, which is what he feels is important. Limbo is one of the most subtly thoughtful and moving movies I've ever seen, and what's spectacular about it is that Sayles doesn't even want the viewer to realize the movie was the reason he reaffirmed or changed himself and his views on the world. I loved this movie, and there is so much more here than meets the eye, and much more than I caught after one viewing. I think Limbo has to be the best movie I've seen from 1999. My rating 10/10.
The Hurricane (1999)
A fairy tale disguised behind the immortal five words "based on a true story".
This movie is one of those films that says it's based on a true story, but seems more like a fantasy; sort of a dumbed up modern fairy tale. The first half is implausible, poorly written, poorly executed, and underminds the viewers intelligence. The evil sheriff was such a needless and undeveloped addition to the story. The inclusion of the child molestor was also unnecessary, and also manipulative, since that one incident seems to shape the rest of his life. Worst yet is the fact that Carter most likely did commit the murders. The screenplay never allows for any character development or any logical connections between the themes in different scenes. The editing between the flashback scenes is sloppy, and, while the plot points aren't confusing, the pondering viewer is likely to get frustrated because the movie barely ever questions or answers "Why?". Why are they like this? What's wrong with society to allow this to happen? It also seems like all the times that the movie does give some insight of why people are who they are, the explanation the movie gives is completely untrue.
Ok, so the first half is pretty awful whether or not anything happened in it was actually true. In my opinion, the second half was well worth the wait. Regardless of how likely the events were, the story told a more interesting, less manipulative theme. The first half was manipulated to show how evil white people are, and how the African Americans in this country have been greatly oppressed for so long. This is definitely true, but you will never get an accurate or complete understanding by the this movie. The second half, however, becomes a story about hope, and a very interesting one as well. Ok, so it also becomes a courtroom movie, a genre that's been overdone, particularly when it's supposedly "based on a true story". But it also has a message of persistance, about never giving up. It's a story about friendship, a story about letting yourself open to avoid self destruction. Ok, it's still a little hokey, but at least it's better than mindless drivel of the first half. It's also hard not to like the characters in this movie, particularly Carter, Lezrah, and the three Canadians.
This movie has it's share of problems, and BIG problems none the less. However, overall, the film is worth the time it takes to see it. People that are afraid of prison movies because the intense drama should not be afraid of this movie, as it does not tackle any issue very deeply. People that like intense drama might like this movie as well. Just be aware that it's more than just a little like Patch Adams. My rating: 7/10.
Exit to Eden (1994)
Uh, look at the cover
Anyone that sees this movie should be well aware of what they're getting into before they rent it. I mean, just look at the poster. If you see the poster and think, "Ugh, what a terrible looking movie," don't rent it. Your instincts are probably correct. However, if the thought of seeing Rosie O'Donnell and Dan Aykroyd in bondage outfits seems just dopey enough to see, then you might want to check into it. It isn't that good of a movie, but you should have known that just by looking at the premise. It's a true cult movie. It's a movie you look at and think, "How did this ever get made?" Then you watch it and laugh, both at the comedians and the goofy seriousness of the sex scenes. And, no, O'Donnell and Aykroyd never take off that much clothing on, as dissappointing as that may seem... My rating: 7/10
It's Pat: The Movie (1994)
If you have an album by the band Ween and listen to it on a regular basis, this movie is for you. Most of it is bad, but not unwatchable. People that watch the old Saturday Night Lives repeatedly on Comedy Central shouldn't have a problem digesting this. The ending concert scene is pretty funny, and the music is appropriately horrible yet hilarious. Sort of like the Pat bit itself. This is one of the few places you can actually see Ween outside of their videos. This is their only feature length picture. For this reason alone, the movie has a real cult value.
Night of the Living Dead (1990)
This movie doesn't make that much sense without the sound!?!
When I was eleven, this film was a new release. After the first time watching this movie, and my brother and I thought this would be the greatest movie to make fun of. So we got out the tape recorder and recorded our own plotline of what was happening and then dubbed it onto another video tape. It was extremely silly, and we had a lot of fun doing it. If you ever do this with this movie, you'll realize there can be no logical plotline for the movie if you think the Zombies are regular living people. I guess what I'm trying to say is it's one of the silliest movies ever made if you turn down the sound and add your own words. I guess Weekend At Bernie's II would be another good one to make fun of as well.
As for the movie itself, it really frightened me when I watched it the first time with sound. It was one of the scariest movies that I had seen when I was a child. Later I saw the original and felt it was missing something the updated version had. I could definitely see why it was considered a masterpiece, but it didn't quite give me the same chills this one gave me. I also thought Barbara was a bit disappointing in the first one. I wanted someone that would fight, and not just sit on a couch staring into space. I think this movie was partly responsible for the concepts of the Resident Evil games. Overall rating 7/10.
Fight Club (1999)
A cinematic thrillride and a warning to society. Two great movies that don't necessarily gel together.
Fight Club is the type of move that jumps up and screams "I'm a good movie." It offers so many good ideas and so many cinematic elements that it creates one heck of a wild ride. It is a film that reveals the plot pieces so delicately that you have to care about what's happening.
Fight Club is a thoughtful movie that thinks it could work best as a thriller disguised as an intellectual movie. The ideas are used to distract the viewer from trying to understand the underlying plot details. The ending is a bit of a stretch...to say the least. The somewhat bizarre chemistry between the two leads ends up slapping the viewer in the face. This is a good thing, however, but it is very difficult in determining if this has anything to do with the ideas. Perhaps there are some underlying thoughts to this deception, but I thought it was a bit of a distraction from determining why the movie was made.
There are certain thoughts I thought were very valuable in determining the purpose of the movie. When Tyler gives the Fight Club members an assignment to get in a fight with an ordinary person and lose, the Norton character says, "This is not as easy as you think, because most ordinary, normal people would do anything possible to avoid being in a fight." There is a breath of relief in this statement, and it says that most people are not the people in Fight Club. However, the knowledge that there are enough people that could cause a terrible revolution is terribly frightening. The best part of this idea is the culminating scene between Norton and his boss that turns out to be the most humorous and just downright worthwhile scenes of the past year.
Many people have said that Fight Club is corrupting our youth, and, yes, there has been a new upheaval of violent fight clubs spawning throughout the country since the movie's release. Whether it has something to do with the movie, I have no idea. I think we've been building up to it, through the violence our children see through movies, news, and on shows that present violent and aggressive characters as role models, like WWF and WCW wrestling. Perhaps Fight Club is more of a warning than an attempt to cause trouble. The authors have a somewhat resentment to the societal factors that deprive humans of obeying their nature. It is a call out to say that perhaps our image of the "perfect society" is not attainable. Deprive people of what comes natural, and there will be a nasty, unhealthy revolution. This can be used as a metaphor to the movie industry itself. After a prohibition by a board of ethics in the late '30s decided what would be appropriate to show in the movies, movie makers were angered for not being able to show their entire artistic vision. As time went by, filmmakers became so fed up with these restrictions that they started breaking and bending the rules wherever they could, without realizing the ethical consequences. The moviegoers went to see these movies because they had never been able to see them. No one really cared about what the negative repercussions would be from showing these movies, or whether these movies would make the world more perverted or violent. So now, we have Fight Club, a movie that is about the negative backlashes drawn from a deprivation of human nature, presented in a form that tries to break from the restrictions of film. The movie is overly violent, but I think that is part of the point. I don't think it criticizes the violence it portrays because it allows us to understand the thinking behind the violence. Instead, it exists on screen to wake the viewer up, and say "This is what society is becoming. Is this what we want? Are our solutions ever likely of determining the goals?" Fight club is definitely against restrictions, and that is apparent both in the plot of the movie and the actual existence of the movie itself.
The main criticisms I have against this movie deal with the fact that the blend of cinema and ideas don't seem to quite come together in any cohesive fashion. The cinema distracts from the ideas while the ideas are used as a distraction for the cinema. These are minor complaints, though, as there are so many valuable gifts from examining both of the film's elements. My rating: 9/10
A war movie in the office. It's a serious look at a comical situation.
So many people write that this movie is about temporary replacement workers. It is not. It is a warfield with the soldiers disguised as office workers. It's a look at humanity, it is a look at human trust, compassion, greed, and ambition. It is a look at the every thing that divides people, no matter how silly the things may seem. One may look at everything people do in this movie, and think "Why are these people getting so upset. Nothing here REALLY matters, but they pretend like it's the end of the world." Well, this is the only world they know. This is the world they are stuck in, and this is the only world they think they'll ever be a part of. The little things show just as much about character as the killings in a war. Some of the characters kind of realize there's more to life, and these are the ones we hope for. There is so much in this film that could be observed. Saying this is a movie about a bunch of office temps is like saying "American Beauty" is a movie about a man going through mid-life crisis. There is so much more in it. It is possible to learn as much about human nature in this as it there is in an epic war movie.
The cast is particularly superb. Parker Posey was born to play her role. There is no actress that can play the arrogant, hyper, rude yet somehow lovable female as Posey. Lisa Kudrow adds a thorough discomfort the movie is trying to achieve. In "Clockwatchers", she plays her stereotypical "comic bimbo" role in a way that doesn't seem funny. Her character is more sad. In a typical office comedy, her character would get the most laughs. Not here. She plays it in a way you can only feel sorry for her, and you can only hope she finds a better life. Somehow, you know that she can't.
This is certainly not a comfortable movie to sit through. You have to be more in the mood to see "Saving Private Ryan" than you would, say, "Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion". It digs too deep, and most people wouldn't be in the mood to see that on a Friday night. If you look deep enough, however, and are patient enough, there are so many great gifts this movie can provide. My rating: 10/10.
The Next Karate Kid (1994)
Thank god! A Martial Arts movie with morals!
OK, so this is a complete rip off of the first Karate Kid. However, I think there can never be too many movies like the first Karate Kid. There's something about this type of story that particularly seems to apply to people like me. You get a overall sense of being able to overcome adversity by finding out new things about yourself. In this movie, Hillary Swank is a particular gem as the Next Karate Kid. You can really tell that she has a bright future ahead of her.
Not to say this movie is not without it's problems. Unlike the first one, Mr Miyagi appears to be a little to eager to get Julie to learn martial arts and get her involved in fighting. It almost seems like he forgot what his values were from the first movie. Also, one must have a suspended disbelief when examining the monks. The movie makes the monks appear to have a way too simplistic view of life, and doesn't really explain why they do what they do in the plot-line. The villains are also a bit questionable, even though truly hateable bad guys. I also have a suspicion about Martial Arts movies that end on prom night.
So maybe this isn't a perfect movie. So maybe this wouldn't be the greatest movie to rent on a Friday night. However, in more ways than one, it's a guilty pleasure. Hillary Swank is just so loveable, and the story, even though unoriginal, works. In a genre of movies that seems to be based around nothing other than action and violence, this is a breath of fresh air. Unlike all those Steven Seagal and Jean Claude Van-Damme, this is a movie about the spirit and the heart. There are some people that need movies like this, and we'll take whatever we can get. My rating: 8/10
Four Rooms (1995)
Seems terrible, but Rodriguez and Tarantino give the movie a reason for being.
The first sketch is a poor excuse for a titty movie. The second sketch has barely enough plot or script to give it any reason for being filmed. The third and forth rooms, pure genius. Or at least, watchable. I've only seen this movie once, and I remember loving the second half, although, I'm not quite sure if I really want to see it again.
If at all possible, rent this movie and skip out on the first two rooms. This would be one of the worst movies ever made if the entire movie was like the first half. However, Rodriguez and Tarantino's rooms have every dramatic element in them to make them worth watching: a bet based of a Hitchcock feature, the antics of two quarrelsome kids, a huge kitchen knife, a trusty lighter, erotic chemistry featuring Antonio Banderas, a bucket of ice, and a mysterious odor.
Overall, there are plenty of surprises here, but not much else. I think most people would at least enjoy one out of the four rooms. Good for one viewing only. My rating: 6/10
Weekend at Bernie's II (1993)
Full of more terrible ideas than any other movie in history. However, that might be the point.
This has to be the most terrible movie EVER made. How terrible could it be? Well think of the first movie, think of a sequel that has no reason to exist. Add voodoo, chase scenes involving stealing the corpse, and a conga line with Bernie in the front. Think of the most terrible acting in history, irritatingly bad music, and the lack of any sort of a basic plotline. Oh, it's worse. It's much, much worse.
OK, they threw in the jokes that worked in the first one, most concerning the complete abuse of the corpse. However, this movie threw other ideas that don't make sense, such as voodoo for no particular reason whatsoever. This movie is particularly hilarious if you miss the scene where Bernie has voodoo stuff done to him. The scenes involving the dancing Bernie are so hilarious for no other reason besides they are so stupid.
Not only does it have one terrible idea, but it will surprise you with how many terrible ideas it was able to come up with. There ends up being about 8 different plotlines that make no sense, and you have no idea what the movie is about or where it is going.
This movie is terrible in every conceivable way. Why does the voodoo only make Bernie dance? Why did they bring Bernie to Hawaii? In the first movie, at least they were fearing for their lives. The scenes that involve acting are the most boring and show how terrible the actors really are. And it certainly is conceivable that Lysol will certainly make a corpse smell minty fresh. And think of how abused the corpse must the corpse be. They appear to have absolutely no respect for the dead. However, if you miss a couple of key scenes, this movie will provide the most uncontrollable laughs in your life. There are even a few genuine laughs as well, particularly those that include the mortician. Characters like him seem to know how terrible the movie is. They seem to know what the audience is thinking and base the laughs around that.
They must have known how terrible this concept was from the beginning, so they had to make it as terrible in every conceivable way. If I gave someone an assignment to make the worst movie ever made, and they came back with this movie, I'd pat them on the back and give them an A+.
My rating: 6/10(for it's camp value, and the laughs I had during my first viewing.)