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Driving Miss Daisy (1989)
Spike's right: Freeman does everything but shuffle and shine shoes
This thing has been re-filmed on television so many times, it's clearly a sentimental bonbon for Hollywood's ethnic powerhouses. 'Why' isn't mysterious. Its plodding plot line confirms what I bet most African Americans suspect is their propositional status with Jews: We're all in this together as long as you dusky folk know your place. Finally, we have PC-certified condescension. Breakthrough.
It's all about the 'relationship' between Miss Daisy of the title and her black chauffeur Holk - except its key points generally are tipped by incursions of that ol' debbil racism and what modern-day Northern Jews determine is virulent anti-Semitism that's always infested the South like a boll weevil in a cotton ball. That there's only subjective 'evidence' of this is minor detail. In one turning point, Daisy and Hoke find common ground after her synagogue is bombed; that actually happened mid-1950s, but as reaction to its role in Atlanta civil rights protests, not so much hatred of Hebrews. Obviously, tales of victimhood and suffering - fabricated though they are - are much more in sync with today's political ambiance than recalling Jewish role in the Atlantic slave trade, or that the Confederacy's Secretary of State blew the shofar.
There's an amusing moment in which their limo is pulled over by two state troopers with oddly subtle approach to their Bull Connor obligation in the movie. They ID Miss Daisy as Jewish but... how? Is there a Mogen David on her license plate? Appearance? I look more Jewish than Jessica Tandy.
You owe yourself a pass on this one.
Why are Spike Lee movies so dumb?
He produced this one, but it's filled with his touch: 'CSA' is graced with all the subtlety and intelligence of a surly chimp squatting in a mud puddle. At some point, satire must be based on something like reality. So the South takes over and REQUIRES everyone in the country own slaves? Things are gonna get crowded for all them po' folk in Manhattan studios and one-bedrooms. This isn't satire; it's malicious propaganda by a lackluster filmmaker elevated to star status not because of his artistry or even popularity, but because his vision matches the stagnant 'progressive' worldview so beloved by corrupt, creatively arid Hollywood. Do yourself a favor and pass on this. We've been told that ANYTHING bashing white people is "brilliant" and "insightful". Buy into that crock, and you'll looove this charmless garbage.
Punishment Park (1971)
Dreary relic of a dreary era
I remember a contemporary review of this film from a major news magazine - Time, Newsweek, that level of profundity - juicily enthralled with this insipid cartoon, a psychobabble valentine to an endlessly self-aggrandizing generation. After seeing it a few years later at a student cinema, I realized one of the reasons I hated American pseudo-radicals is their utter contempt not only for "law and order", but for ordinary Americans, as well. ...For me. One visionary hippie burbles, "we don't have to call them pigs because they know what they are." That pretty-much sums up the world-view of all our trust fund revolutionaries in that thankfully ancient era. They grew up to be Wall Street traders, bankers and other affluent thieves who've reduced the American working class to near-poverty status. They won. The pigs are suffering.
Like some overheated reviewers here, the alternative press often has praised "PP" as a "chilling vision of the future". OK. It's 43 years later. Hippies have vanished as counterculture vanguard - not because they were hunted down in the desert, but because they outgrew their own retarded fables. So... Where are these killing fields? Where are the American gulags? This turgid agitprop is for true believers, the ones too tendentious to realize this musty dream failed decades ago. Power to the people. ...But only in Malibu and Great Neck, apparently.
Lead foot. Rough ride.
Hollywood really has it in for auto racers. Whenever they're portrayed on screen - by Kirk Douglas, Clark Gable, Jeff Bridges, anyone - they are God's own SOBs, selfish, brusque, users. 'Corky' takes the cake. The makers of this movie evidently don't know the difference between 'anti-hero' and 'bust-out a**hole'. 'Corky' is one piece of work.
But it's worth a gander for seeing Charlotte Rampling - a real favorite of mine - pushing a baby carriage around a low-rent Southwestern carnival. It's THE milieu that's dead last in any list of places Rampling would be least likely to show up. ...Something of a mind-bender, that scene.
The Fog (2005)
"The Avengers" with Uma Thurman a few years back is actually a reboot, so as the worst reboot made it leaves worst remake title to be filled by this utter dreck. Carpenter's 1980 original was economical, atmospheric and well-acted for the most part. The update evidently was made by gathering the cast beside a road and driving by with a camera hung out a car window until enough film was shot to destroy an hour and a half of viewers' time in a way almost criminally pointless. Miss Grace is awfully nice to look at but simply cannot act. The rest of the cast appear to be playing their characters as industrial soot - blank gray, irritatingly smudgy and immaterial to point of blowing away with a puff of wind. An actor named DeRay Davis was killed off and brought back to life simply because he's the only person on screen showing any vital signs. Early on, he hides in a freezer to escape (The Fog doesn't like frozen yogurt and Mexican TV dinners). And he lives! We're to believe that for hours he's a fishstick, thaws out awhile in a hospital bed and - boom! - it's comedy at the Apollo time. Beat that.
Jean-Paul Marat, where yo guillotine?
If you look at the cast names, as I did when the credits rolled, you may think you're in for a wonderful time. You're not. There is something about Western society in the past half-century or so: Our self-appointed social visionaries can't relinquish the silly idea that sex and more sex will release us from our backward hangups, usher in a new era of equality and peace, and maybe do the ironing, too. Despite all evidence to the contrary since the '60s, this conviction is advanced with energy and enthusiasm bordering on obsessive/compulsive disorder. The rest of us can only watch in bored disenchantment and growing impatience.
This movie really has nothing to say. It makes a few gestures about free will clashing with priggish authoritarianism. There's some gas-bagging about importance of ahhht and ahhhtists. Some women are stripped bare by a director who evidently feels he has something to say. ...And ...we watch in bored disenchantment and growing impatience. There's a scene about halfway in, set as theatrical production by asylum inmates under direction of the Marquis (Geoffrey Rush, in acting service above and beyond the call of duty). He's burdened with a thudding, anachronistic line about shocking his audience with... the truth or something. It would be fine burbled at some academia cocktail party; not so convincing a sentiment in 18th-century France. The scene is supposed to be deliriously funny and invigorating as the prudes have their nose rubbed in clumsily staged sex acts. It fails on both counts. This is the time to go out front for a cigarette, beer or mind-numbing narcotic, just to shake out the fake laughter banging in your head.
Where's Peter Brook when we really need him? I give it three stars for great cinematography and art direction. Minus-two for storyline philosophy that should've been junked with all those old Hot Tuna albums.
Road Train (2010)
Not as bad as some IMDb reviewers indicate
Make no mistake, this is pretty run-of-the-mill horror - as scripted. Four young people on a road trip in Australia's starkly beautiful Outback have a very bad encounter with a very frightening truck that may or may not be possessed. Or maybe the driver is. Maybe the kids are? Or maybe they died in a crash and have gone to hell? What sets this one apart is good acting and tight direction. The quartet is flawed with banal shortcomings we all have - jealousy, disloyalty, arrogance. I can't believe there are so many reviews here dismissing this as terrible. There are worse horror films than this one. Try out one called "Buried Alive" with a bunch of young adults getting carved up at a Southwestern ranch. On second thought, DON'T try it out. It's the worst of the worst. Pour your contempt on that one.
Beach Ball (1965)
Catch a wave and you're sittin' on top of the dumper
I don't know what I'm more angry at - frittering away an hour of my life watching a chunk of this stinker or that it was released by Paramount Pictures. What were they thinking? Yeah... yeah. We're the oldest studio in Hollywood. Know what? Let's chuck all that and put out a retarded beach movie.
When you see Edd "Kookie" Byrnes on any credit crawl, you know you're deep in the Bay of Crap. He's the leader of a surf band - right! - and they must raise a grand to keep their instruments out of hock. That's it. That's the movie. And there's skydiving, race-car driving, surfing and bikini waxing. ...All at the pace of glacier retreat at the end of the last Ice Age. There are four very lovely young gals who are uptight, neurotic Sybils until some bongo thumping gets them to unwind and uncork the cocoa butter. I hung around until I saw them in some rather tame bikinis and then hung it up.
This should be a drinking game. Everyone can knock one back every time someone in the cast says "daddio". Then, relax wait for those DTs to kick in. Oh... and vomit your guts out.
I criminali della galassia (1966)
Bad, bad dubbing
Interestingly, the original title, "I criminali della galassia" translates "It-a so crummy gave-a me gassa". In the 1960s, school kids enjoyed twilight of the Saturday matinée at local movie theaters. Soon television technology - big screens and better color - would end this vestige of a gentler, more homespun America. But by that time, instead of wholesome singing cowboys and super heroes in saggy long underwear, we were treated to lightweight erotica and poorly staged violence of all cheapies foreign and domestic. Dime-store sword and sandal extravaganzas, schlock science fiction and bargain-basement spy adventure were favored genres. Somehow, all that sizzling excitement is sprinkled on the bubbling cinema pizza that is "Wild, Wild Planet". Let me add my two cents on this two-bit wonder with this proviso: I saw it in its element almost a half-century ago, so give me some slack. There are joltingly bad martial-arts battles in which tiger women in granny-pants underwear attack and fight to the death for no discernible reason. (Actually, it's not to the death - they just sort of... disappear... leaving cheesecloth negligees to float to the floor.) This is topped only by terrifying super-villains with mannequin limbs hideously attached to their black-vinyl overcoats - creating horrifying effect of four inefficiently operating arms! Heroes look like the head puppet from contemporary Saturday morning fave "Fireball X-L5"; they are impossibly square-jawed and blondie-blond. I wanted to beat them half to death myself, with four arms or even just a forearm. The Italian movie has a lot of familiar faces from Euro peplum films of the era, so any minute you expect Steve Reeves to bolt through a scene in his gladiator jock strap. Another element borrowed from those masterpieces is lurid color that seems to jump right through the screen and pound your eyeballs to full-spectrum jelly. An absolute must-see!
Next Day Air (2009)
Any dumber and it would club itself to death
I'm trying hard not to think all that stuff is right about Mayan doomsday later this year. Over the weekend, I saw a grating 15 minutes of this atrocity (that's all I could STAND) and was sure it's a sign End Times are upon us. "Next Day Air" is stupid. It's loud. It's pointlessly violent. It's an Egyptian soccer match of a movie. In one scene, a character cuts out someone's tongue - and that's the punchline! Hilarious! Someone must tell Yazmin Deliz that no one is sitting around missing Rosie Perez performances; foul-mouthed and screeching just isn't attractive. I'd like to know who gave this piece of crap a green light. Who? Who could hate us so much as to allow this to be made? It earned just over $10 million box office on its release - domestic and foreign - which probably was far under its budget. Many here have noted the movie is unfunny. That description doesn't suffice. "Next Day Air" is anti-funny; it explodes any wit or comedy in comes in contact with.