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Indecent Proposal (1993)
Indecent Proposal is not the worst film I've ever seen. However, it is my most hated film.
Indecent Proposal could have been a very thought provoking look at the struggle of love, fidelity and morality when money is offered, but in the far from expert hands of Adrian Lyne it's become a biased look at prostitution that's shot like an ice cream commercial.
Adrian Lyne is known for making films that involve some type of male to female dilemma: 9 1/2 weeks, Fatal Attraction et al. But, as in the two mentioned films, he always seems to take the male point of view. Woody Harrelson's character is the central character in this film. After Demi Moore sleeps with Robert Redford who does the film focus on? Him. We see his despair, his pain, not hers. She seems to take to prostitution like a duck to orange sauce. So what is Lyne saying? Is he saying its harder to become a pimp than to become a prostitute? That's the impression I'm getting.
Look at Demi's character before and after her night with Robert Redford. In all the scenes before she seems awkward and certainly not happy. In all the scenes after she seems to glow with confidence and contentment. What is Lyne saying here? Is it that money DOES buy happiness?
Also, the casting is an expert exercise in marketing. The concept of sleeping with Robert Redford for a million dollars is definitely one of the things that drew many women to this film. I think many women would do it for their taxi fair home and no complaints. Demi and Woody are also gorgeous enough to make it work. Imagine if the couple were black, Hispanic or any minority group and the rich man was some slobbish red neck - the film take on a much darker tone altogether.
I can understand why so many women liked this film, but the chauvinistic nature of this film is staring you right in the face. I'd suggest people watch the film again bearing in mind the points that I've made.
This Is Spinal Tap (1984)
Biting satire, brilliant execution, but not that funny
This is Spinal Tap is a modern cinematic masterpiece, but it's not that funny. If you know nothing of the subject matter then you'll sit stone faced through it. I've put this to the test, using relatives who know nothing about rock music, and found it to be true. I think all the people who consider it to be the funniest film of all time are sadly deluding it and themselves.
This is Spinal Tap is, however, a true bona fide modern day classic.
The script seems episodic and rambling but is actually fairly tightly plotted. The actors should have all been up for Academy Awards. Their accents were spot on. Many British people, myself included, find American actors trying British accents to be one of the most hilarious things imaginable. Most American actresses tend to think all British women talk like the Queen and most American men seem to end up somewhere between Hugh Grant and a bad Mick Jagger. These actors kept their accents good and strong for the whole film. These elements and the brilliant idea of giving the whole film a documentary feel - including some obviously improvised dialogue - propel this film to a status above all satires.
This is Spinal Tap is, certainly, one of the best films ever made and also very influential - if This is Spinal Tap never happened then I think we'd have never had the Larry Sanders Show - But for shear comedic value it's not as funny as say the Preston Sturges/Howard Hawks screwball comedies of the 30's and 40's, the insane gag a minute films like Airplane; Something about Mary; American Pie or Showgirls.
The Piano (1993)
Wildly over rated
It looks great, it sounds great, especially the scenes on the beach. Holly Hunter's acting cannot be faulted. Critics and the public loved it, yet it failed to impress me. The Piano is, in my opinion, the most overrated film of all time.
The problems are many.
The actors, Hunter aside, are atrocious - How Anna Paquin won an Oscar is beyond me and as for Harvey Keitel with biro all over his face. What were those accents? Both wandered from Irish to New Zealand to whatever.
The characters are inconsistent - The Anna Paquin character claims she loves her mother but not five minutes later rats her out. The Sam Neil character attacks Hunter in a fit of rage yet later is the calmest man on the planet. The Holly Hunter character decides to kill herself but a minute later changes her mind. I know that in real life people are inconsistent but in a movie consistency gives characters much more plausibility.
The saddest thing about this film is that it won an Oscar for best Screenplay. HOW?
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
I'll agree From Dusk Till Dawn is very entertaining. However, that doesn't mean it's any good.
There's nothing wrong with mixing genres within a movie - Woody Allen did it very successfully in Crimes and misdemeanours - but Tarantino needs to use more subtlety than he shows here. This films starts as a crime thriller then suddenly, and I mean suddenly, turns into a horror flick. The change of genre and the ham fisted way it's done indicate, to me, a lack of direction.
I get the feeling Tarantino started writing this film fully intending it to be criminals on the run drama. However, half way through writing he realised he had no second act, let alone an ending. He could have gone down the Wild Bunch or Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid roads, but instead he decides to take it into a completely different film all together. That doesn't work and I'm amazed more people didn't pick up on it.
This is a truly appalling film. For all the talent on show here is this best they could do? All should hang their heads in shame. Tarantino's a great writer and director; Rodriguez a great action director; Clooney a leading man of some repute; Keitel and Lewis are outstanding talents but they're all upstaged by the vampire special effects. A sorry state of affairs.
The only positive thing is that I liked the references to Assault on Precinct 13. First through the boys T-shirt and, best of all, the scene where they fight off the vampires at the end of a corridor. The scene bears an uncanny resemblance to the ending of Assault on Precinct 13.
The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990)
You need to have read the book
I'd like to ask all the people who have written positive reviews of this film - Have you read the book?
I saw this film on video in 1991 after being stunned by the vitriolic nature of its reviews. I, at that time, hadn't read the book and concluded that the critics had totally over reacted. A friend gave me their battered copy of the book in 1996, by which time I'd forgotten the basic plot of the film. I read the book and totally enjoyed it. I then watched the film again and suddenly I fully understood why the reviews had been so hateful.
The novel is a bitter satire on greed, racism and social values during the late eighties. The key word here is - bitter - because the film was a much more sunny, almost happy, comedy on a similar theme. De Palma through awful casting and, almost certainly, pressure from the studio managed to lose the whole spirit and integrity of Tom Wolfe's novel. The influence and desires of Hollywood had conspired to take away everything that was edgy. Instead they managed to Hollywood-ise Wolfe's brilliant novel - for example, in the novel Sherman McCoy is found guilty, in the film he is acquitted. The critics, not surprisingly, decided to focus on this dumbing down and hence the over the top reviews.
In cinematic terms, and with no knowledge of the subject matter, Bonfire of the Vanities is not a bad film, but with knowledge of the book it's unequivocally the worst adaptation ever made.
Lock, Stock and not much else
Guy Ritchie is a tremendous visual director, but someone needs to teach him how to tell a story. Snatch is a shallow, undisciplined, poorly structured piece of work. Undeniably, its very entertaining but a little more substance is needed in order to make great cinema and Snatch does not provide it.
The film is so unstructured that even the trailer and the video description fail to accurately synopsise this music video of a film. If you are a product of the MTV generation and have little more than a three-second attention span then you'll probably like it, but I couldn't possibly sit through it again because there cannot be anything more for me to see.
Like Lock, Stock this film is a classic triumph of style over substance and like Lock, Stock it left me feeling like I'd seen the work of an adolescent schoolboy. Snatch was ultimately frustrating in that - not unlike Pulp Fiction - it presented a number of great ideas that in themselves would have made good films but failed to adequately explore any one idea to a fulfilling conclusion.
On the positive side, I liked Jason Statham's performance and I particularly like his real life girlfriend. Brad Pitt was a revelation as the totally incoherent "One punch" Mickey and the comedic aspects of the film worked very well. The plotting, however, though initially fairly tight developed into little more than a series of sketches based upon the loose theme of the stolen diamonds. Hence, my feeling that I was watching an immature piece of work. A less visual and more plot driven director could have made Snatch into a funny yet gritty drama on the pursuit of the diamonds by the various criminal elements. Instead we're given a hotchpotch of, funny, but loose ideas and very, very violent sketches giving an overall impression that's massively different from the impression we're given from the trailer. I found it very disappointing.
I have to apologise to all the people who have written positive comments on this film and also to instruct the bloke who's seen it sixteen times to get a life, but the movie Snatch has much less to it than meets the eye.