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Embrace of the Vampire (1995)
For boob lovers only
Two stars, one for each of Alyssa Milano's nipples. This snore fest is notable only for Alyssa's nude scenes, obviously at a time in her career when she was concerned that she'd be relegated to the child star dump bin unless she did something drastic. No sense belabouring the plot; it doesn't even function much as a vampire movie, so don't include it your 'Fangoria list of vamp flicks.' And Alyssa's hooters, while substantial, aren't even that attractive, IMO. Oh, and Martin Kemp, who WAS effective in the great English flick 'The Krays' with brother Gary, must have had a lobotomy in the interim, because he walks through this like a man relieved of his frontal lobes. And no-one else, including the fetching Jordan Ladd (Cheryl's little girl) can act, not that they have anything to work with. My advice? Fast forward to minute 50 and get an eyeful of Alyssa's considerable assets, and abandon as soon as she puts her shirt back on.
Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Can I give this a zero?
Well to do American divorcée with more money than brains buys a rundown villa in Tuscany. (Much more money; whilst having to dicker over the price, she subsequently manages to cook sumptuous buffets for her workmen and wander around Italy indefinitely with no job or apparent means of support.) Interminable boredom and the inevitable Italian lover ensue; this is a chick flick in the most pejorative sense of the term. Lane acts like an unskilled clueless teenage ingénue throughout - which dynamically clashes with her seriously fading looks - along the way smashing into a variety of (mostly Italian) cardboard stereotypes, dykes, divas, senile contessas and gigolos among them. Bloated with unnecessary scenes, the most ridiculous being a clumsily inserted and pointless recreation of the fountain scene in 'La Dolce Vita'. (A similar conceit was used in an effective and appropriate narrative context in 'Only You', Norman Jewison's vastly superior ode to Italy and romance). 'Tuscan Sun' may be the most vacant piece of cinema of the last decade, despite its admittedly well-lensed panoramas of Italy. Bonus negative point for the extraneous lover parachuted in at the last minute to provide requisite Hollywood ending for its targeted audience of Oprah-brainwashed housewives. Avoid at all costs, unless, of course, you view Oprah and Dr. Phil as pinnacles of intelligent discourse.
Treacly, miserable dross
As fetching as Roberta Weiss is - and she is extraordinarily pretty - this Canadian-made monstrosity is as vacuous and predictable as the Harlequin Romances it mimics. Even as a romantic chick-flick, it fails miserably. And a big anti-Oscar to the male lead, Marshall Colt, who wisely left the acting game a decade ago. It's watching laughable performances by pretenders like Colt that gives one an appreciation of real acting ability.
Rescue Me (2002)
Vacuous Yuppie Angst....
Soap opera dressed up as comedy-drama. A crashing bore, and crushing disappointment, after Sally Phillips' hilarious 'Smack The Pony' sketch series. Avoid, unless you _enjoy_ watching bland 30-somethings wrestle with their extremely trivial lives.
A tenuously connected series of boring, static vignettes collectively struggling to suggest something about dehumanization through bigotry/intolerance. Witless, and yet oh-so-pretentious, crap. Literally mind-numbing - but then Haneke goes on to create the challenging, visceral, thought-provoking 'The Piano Teacher'.
The Watcher (2000)
Flat, empty, predictable, pointless....
Normally I wouldn't weigh in on a movie this inconsequential, especially when my impression of it has been so adequately represented by previous comments, but I wanted to go on record with this one. The direction ranges from tired to inept, the script is generic, the dialogue is banal, the casting is ridiculous (Keanu Reeves), the characters two-dimensional and completely under-explained and Marisa Tomei, an actress whose work generally runs from workmanlike (The Paper) to wonderful (Unhook The Stars, My Cousin Vinny) is reduced to playing the damsel on the train tracks - the role shouldn't even have been first billed as it barely rates a cameo.
Bottom line? Keanu had a buddy who directed a few rock videos for his band dogstar and threw him this very meagre bone to direct. And he did an appalling job. (In his defense, he had very little to work with.) Don't quit your day job, Mr. Charbanic.