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Cold Feet (1989)
A Fun, Goofy, Road Movie/Caper
Written by the tandem of Tom McGuane and Jim Harrison, this movie had fun written all over it from the start. Listen: Keith Carridine, Tom Waits, and Sally Kirkland hide some emeralds in a horse. The plot is to smuggle the emeralds into the US, kill the horse, and fence the emeralds.
Of course Carridine is the no-good brother of Bill Pullman, who ranches in Montana. And of course he doesn't want to kill the horse. And of course he double-crosses his partners.
That's it, really. Waits and Kirkland chase after him, and hijinks ensue.
Waits is particularly fun as Kenny, a sociopathic killer who thinks he's smarter than anyone else, and Carridine is just enough of a likable rogue that you can follow him through the movie without getting too angry with him. Add in Pullman (who appeared in just about every movie shot in Montana in the late '80s...my understanding is that he was teaching in either Bozeman or Missoula), and Rip Torn as the local sheriff, and you've got a fun, goofy movie that's harmless and has a truly inspired moment or three.
Worth a rent. Worth owning if you're a Tom Waits fan, as this is one of his more prominent roles.
Seven of ten.
30 Minute Meals (2001)
Impossible to Watch
I have no doubt that Rachael Ray is a fine cook, but she's just too damned perky. I can't stand watching that ever cheery mug grinning like a maniac at the camera. If I flip the channel and unexpectedly see her face, I'm put off my feed for a week, which is exactly the opposite of what the food network is supposed to do, isn't it? I honestly don't see her appeal. Not to mention the fact that I don't have anyone to keep my fridge stocked with just the perfect ingredients and fresh herbs that she seems to chop and use constantly.
Again, I'm sure she's a wonderful cook, and might be just fine in private, but her public persona annoys the expletive deleted out of me.
This was neither appallingly bad or terrifically good. The premise isn't bad (changing history), but the idea that the future would be incredibly rosy if JFK had not been shot is politically naive at best, and interfered with my enjoyment of the film.
Barry Corbin is woefully miscast as Lyndon Johnson, and Bruce Campbell is shoehorned in as a director who gives us some framework for how the world has changed.
Final analysis: good concept, ok script, ok direction, ok acting, politically a head scratcher. Rent it on a slow night and then forget about it.
Saving Silverman (2001)
It gets a 7 only for plot predictability. The plot is wafer thin, but it's a vehicle for the comedic interaction of the 4 leads, tied together by experience and Neil Diamond. Black and Zahn are particularly wonderful, Biggs plays just the likable nebbish you want to see him as, and Peet is wonderful as the psychobitchfromhell that she plays (or is is "PsychyatirstBTH?) Neve mind.
Top it off with the wonderful R. Lee Ermey (FullMetal Jacket) doing a comic riff on his tough guy persona.
All in all, a fine comedy for a light evening...just relax. Being a Neil Diamond fan is a plus. Being a REFORMED Neil Diamond fan (like me) is even better.
Good times never felt so good.
This is not Kevin Smith's best film.
This is not Kevin Smith's best script.
This is not the flawless satirical fairy tale it wants us to believe.
What it is is....
A satiric, oftentimes downright nasty (to the truly devout) dissection of what can only be thought of as "Christian Mistakes". Smith makes it clear in his script that the worst ideas don't come from God. ("wars...televangelism").
It seems to be a philosophical film disguised as satire...and guess what, it works well as such. Alan Rickman employs his peculiarly British authority as the Metatron (Voice of God)...and Linda Fiorentino is wonderfully guilless as the Last Scion (Last Remaining Descendant of Christ)...the casting is perfect.
Meanwhile, Cast-off angels Bartleby (Affleck) and Loki (Damon) are on their way to New Jersy on their quest to get back into Heaven. It gets confusing...(well, not really, I just don't want to spout spoilers).
This happens to be one of my favorite movies, so I guess I should say what's wrong with it. It's not as fluid as it should be. The performances are a little more broad than I think they should be in a religious satire. The score is too traditional for my taste.
It still works, minor quibbles notwithstanding.
9 of 10
Blue Velvet's Nicer Nephew
But not in the way we were led to suspect from the packaging. If you believe the box, Bruiser is a thrilling joy ride from acclaimed director Romero, or something like that.
What Bruiser really is is psychological melodrama/thriller, mixed in with some wicked black comedy. Jason Flemying is excellent as Henry, and Stormare surprised me incredibly as the flamboyant, bad-ass publisher of the in-movie magazine, entitled (what else?) "Bruiser."
I've grown used to seeing character actor Stormare in character roles, usually benign or slightly creepy (Dancer In The Dark, Million Dollar Hotel), and Flemying as vaguely menacing (Lock,, Stock; From Hell), but here both actors play against their normal image to reveal great depths of skill...both are totally believable in their roles, which adds a lot to the film.
For those who know nothing about it...Flemying plays a mag exec who is downtrodden and stomped on by nearly everybody...Romero really makes you feel the depths of Hell this poor guy's in. One day, he wakes up to find that his face has been replaced by a featurless white mask...what does this say about his identity? Who IS this faceless man?
Over the rest of the film, Flemying and Romero explore the subject ruthlessly (with plenty of violence, of course, because, well, this is George Romero here)...and the viewer is left with a conundrum similar to the end of a Lynch film: Did this happen? And if it happened, well...what next?
For lovers of challenging film, this one is a keeper....bizarre, disturbing, and ultimately meaningful, this is Blue Velvet's benign nephew. Go see it or rent it ASAP.
Who Is Cletis Tout? (2001)
A Worthwhile Diversion
Not that this would stick in your head, but...it's an enjoyable caper movie. We get to see TIm Allen playing against type, Christian Slater doing his eyebrow thing), Richard Dreyfuss as a wizened mentor (sort of a criminal Yoda), and Portia DeRossi looking gorgeous.
The story is mostly told in flashback form, as a bound Christian Slater relates his tale to hitman Allen. It's predictable at times, but worth a look, especially on video. I understand it hasn't had a wide theatrical release in the US yet, and that makes a certain amount of sense. It's just not violent or flashy enough for the average US filmgoer. Oh well. Everyone's missing out on a good natured, likable film.
Best line, from Allen to Slater: "Has anyone ever told you you sound EXACTLY like Jack Nicholson?"
Phantasm IV: Oblivion (1998)
Finally, An Interesting Phantasm Film!
Phantasm 4 deals mainly with the main conundrum: is Mike the Tall Man's Successor or just walking around with a sphere in his head? (Both seem more or less true).
The great thing is that this time we are treated to a story, and not just a gross-out violent scene with the Tall Man, as has happened in the other 3 films.
The only thing missing from our disjointed tale of silver spheres is the true origin of the Tall Man himself...we now know that he replaced Mr. Morningside, but what after that...?
I understand that the team is producing one more picture...hopefully it will answer my question.
BTW, I called it interesting because it's the only Phantasm segment that I didn't leave the room for a john break while it was playing...I needed to know what happened next...
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
...but not enough to warrant the attention it's received. The musical numbers were brilliantly executed, it's true, and there was terrific chemistry between Kidman and McGregor during their duets.
But the story itself, was just a retread of so many other stories...just a sort of tragicomic fairytale. Stunning to look at, occasionally touching, but overall an empty exercise in film. Kidman should have been nominated for The Others, where she gave a MUCH more subtle, nuanced, and effective performance. Again, Moulin Rouge is not a bad movie, but it could have been and should have been much more.
An Underrated Gem
I rented Carnosaur because I saw Adam Simon's name on the video box. His cameo in the Player made me curious to see if he really had talent. SURPRISE! He does, and he has it in spades.
He took a cheesy idea (basically, the Mad Scientist makes a monster), and got some true scares out of it. The baby carnosaur is shocking and frightening. I noticed that other reviewers have pounced on the shoddy special effects, but...come on! It's a low budget cheapie made before CGI became affordable...for what they are, they work well. At no time was I taken out of the movie by a poor effect.
It begs comparison to Jurassic Park, of course. And well it should. Jurassic park is, mostly, a better movie. But Carnosaur makes for a good, fun, monster movie. Not ideal for a night out, but a must-see when you're in a B-movie mood. Rent it alongside a Romero film or an Evil Dead flick and enjoy the fun!