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Match Point (2005)
I would rather watch a bad Woody Allen movie than most box office hits.
His films are usually remarkably well constructed, written, and directed, and I love how Allen as a director takes a back seat to his performers, letting them act them for the most part in the master shot, instead of interrupting the flow for the two shot, over the shoulder shots, and close-ups. Having said that, I'm very disappointed in "Match Point," because I have seen this very same Woody Allen movie before, except it was set in New York and was called "Crimes and Misdemeanors." Intead of a tennis pro who marries into a privileged family, it involved an already privileged, well established ophthalmologist who was a pillar of his community. Both stories follow a very similar path and even end pretty much the same way. Come on, Woody, don't you think it's time to take a break from the yearly film to write something fresh instead of recycling nearly twenty year old scripts? This can't be about money, so I have to ask: exactly how insecure are you?
Soul Survivors (2001)
Attractive young people, a lovers' triangle, and motiveless creepy guys
An incoherent mess with a gratingly deafening sound track, "Soul Survivors" is the latest entry in the "who's dead and who's alive" genre of horror films. Two teenaged couples, Sean and Cassie and Matt and Annabel, prepare to go off to different colleges, but before they part until Thanksgiving Break, they attend one last fling at a rave-type party in some burnt-out church at the suggestion of lusciously slutty Annabel (Eliza Dushku, a.k.a. Faith, the other vampire slayer). Motiveless creepy guys start paying far too much attention to Cassie (the generic Melissa Sagemiller) for reasons that are never explained, and before long, the quartet leave the party. Driving away in their SUV, they are pursued and then passed by the motiveless creepy guys, who promptly and inexplicably do an intentional 180 in the middle of the highway, causing a nasty and fatal accident as the SUV flips over an embankment and plunges into a river. Sean is killed (or is he?), and Cassie spends the rest of the movie coping with loneliness and guilt (she was driving) when she's not being haunted by Sean's ghost or chased by those motiveless creepy guys. Much unexplained incoherence follows as Cassie's mental state degenerates further, until we reach the predictable conclusion. So, who is dead and who is alive? After ninety minutes of this purgatory, who actually cares?
The Perfect Storm (2000)
Das Fishing Boot
In the brilliant 1981 Das Boot, Peterson gave us the stench, claustrophobia, boredom, and terror of a German U-Boat in WW2. In Das Fishing Boot... I mean, The Perfect Storm, Peterson gives us the stench, claustrophobia, boredom, and terror of a fishing boat somewhere on a sound stage that's supposed to be the northern Atlantic. What's missing are any real characters to care about. A collection of men with lame back stories find themselves in contrived situations, performing utterly incredulous feats of derring-do while we wait for them to die. George Clooney manages to climb a 30 to 40 foot metal scaffold one handed, holding a blow torch in the other, while riding 50 foot waves in 100 plus mile an hour winds. Reaching the top, the scaffold drops back to the deck, dangling Clooney over the side of the boat, yet he manages to hang on to both it and his blow torch. Holy Incredulity, Batman! Except for the special effects, The Perfect Storm is a waste of time and can be summed up by an old Saturday Night Live skit where a choir sang... "the ship that went to sea.... sank!"
The Omega Code (1999)
If this film represents evangelicalism's best interpretation to the book of Revelation (and for the most part it does), is it any wonder that most educated, critically thinking people avoid Christianity? Based on a childish, literal reading of the Apocalypse of John (they should have given him a screenwriting credit), this film throws in equal measures of Bible Code and hack writer Hal Lindsay to create an unintentionally laughable story about the end of the world.
Shame on the evangelical church, which claims that the Bible is the inspired, authoritative word of God, to give even an ounce of credence to the ridiculous Bible code theory that asserts a deeper meaning to the scriptures, a closer relationship to God, and the ability to predict who will win the World Series await those who can crack its code. A much better thriller is the independent feature "Pi" with its story of a mathematician who theorizes that the mysteries of the universe can be unlocked and comprehended in light of mathematics. He is pursued by both Wall Street, who thinks he can predict the market, and a crazed Hasidic sect who thinks he unlock the secrets of the Torah.
Avoid the Omega Code like an Old Testament plague.
Macchie solari (1975)
That 70's mindset
Armando Crispino's "Autopsy" begins deliciously enough with a two minute montage of solar flares and grisly suicides over the orgasmic moaning of a woman. We then find ourselves in the city morgue where we're introduced to the protagonist - a young, beautiful (is there any other kind?), and bra-less forensic pathologist (Mimsy Farmer) - who begins hallucinating that the mutilated bodies of the suicides are rising from their slabs. Regrettably, the remaining eighty-eight minutes illustrate that Crispino didn't have a clue what to do next. The stylish and intriguing opening is a bait-and-switch to lure us into a substandard drama about family blackmail, treachery, murder, and the 70's mindset that all a troubled woman really needs to feel better is to be roughed up and screwed. Farmer, who spends most of the film in shirts opened to her naval , is a sexually repressed woman who teams up with a priest with a past (again, is there any other kind?), to investigate the apparent suicide of his sister, and together they uncover a scheme about... well, I'm not really sure. There is lots of gratuitous nudity, bad dubbing, and lousy foley. Don't bother.
The Dead Hate the Living! (2000)
Children Shouldn't Steal From Other People's Dead Movies
Interesting that one reviewer's "homage" is another reviewer's "rip-off," which is precisely what "The Dead Hate the Living" is. This movie is nothing more than a collection of badly filmed scenes that were stolen from any number of sci-fi/horror flicks: The X-Files, Evil Dead, Night of the Living Dead, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, James Whale's Frankenstein (just take a peek at that set graveyard), and probably a dozen others that I haven't seen. While there are definitely production values (courtesy Charles Band), the script is pathetic, the acting is strictly "community theater," and there's not a shred of originality to be found. Don't waste your time.