Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Or Reset Your Avatar
Two Weeks Notice (2002)
Peters off into boredom
It would be nice to see a Trivia entry for this movie, stating the all the writers handed in their notices halfway through filming. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem be the explanation for the way TWN dies a tedious death halfway through. In the first act of the movie, we get a surprisingly good script with lots of good one-liners and character development, but as soon as the message comes in from HQ to make everybody fall in love, the whole thing goes to pot. Bullock and Grant, normally not very inspiring actors, turn in pretty good performances with lots of verve and fun, but bring a magazine for all the scenes with Lucy's parents. It's too bad the movie couldn't find a way to deliver the conventions of the romantic comedy while still keeping the script alive--in the end it seems we might as well be watching Meg Ryan and Alan Alda. Get it on video and stick to the first 45 minutes. You've already seen the second half.
O Fantasma (2000)
Dull and directionless
O Fantasma is one of those tedious works that invariably draws words like "subversive" from the mouths of the adoring. Rodrigues postulates that the entire night-shift of Lisbon's garbage collection is staffed by aspiring gay porn stars, who have lots of time to do interesting side-work like tearing open bags of garbage with their teeth and peeping into other people's windows. There are lots of "edgy" shots of genitals, and lots of "cinematic" scenes of voyeurism. Sometimes we get to watch the main character float on his back in a pool, genitals blazing forth, for at least five minutes. Sometimes (actually many times) we get to watch him stare into the same living room window, with a Versace-stern glare clearly meant to imply something tremendous. Finally, we get to see him prance around half the city at night in a black rubber fetish-suit. And of course there's lots of brief anonymous sex, just in case the director's intent wasn't already clear. In the end, our hero defecates on the floor of a machine-shop (but not until after slo-o-o-wly unzipping the back side of his rubber outfit and wagging it all for the camera) then runs out the back door, and the credits roll. Boring.
Funny, but a kind of one-liner mockumentary
As everyone else on this site has acknowledged, Fubar is an eerily accurate portrayal of the headbanger life and mind at its most marginal. The portrayals by the two leads are definitely very funny, as are some of the typical situations they get into. However as a movie, Fubar is like watching a man slip on a banana peel 150 times; the same joke--stupid people acting stupid--gets a little tiring after a while. The use of cancer seems initially like a cheap attempt to introduce depth into the movie, but the pathos is mercifully small and most of the cancer plot is turned into humor. The only problem is that the humor is still repetitious and limited. Although the characters aren't real in Fubar, it's hard not to compare it to American Movie, which although real was far more varied and engaging. The "losers with a dream" theme was far more believable in that movie.
The Limey (1999)
A dynamic study of strength and frailty
Cross-breeding the British gangster movie with revenge movies like Payback, Soderbergh put together a smart, almost intellectual movie with Terence Stamp as a newly-released con out to investigate, but not necessarily avenge, his daughter's mysterious death in L.A.
Because he chose the route of a revenge or discovery plot with the gangster theme more as a background, Soderbergh used frequent intercutting across time to enforce the intentional, single-minded nature of Wilson's quest. Present-time dialogue running across images from various moments in the film tightens Wilson's inquiries like a net to create an almost fatalistic feel of foregone conclusions. Wilson's discovery at the end when he confronts Peter Fonda unfortunately provides him with insights into more than just the facts, and it is more than he would have wished to know. The underlining of this with scenes from his earlier film Poor Cow implies a fatalism governing not only his successful search, but also those disconcerting, fundamental flaws as a father that will unfortunately outlive the macho satisfactions of his quest. Like the brief pleasure of a successful crime followed by decades of imprisonment, Wilson quickly finds an answer that leaves him to face an unresolvable weakness.
The Black Cat (1934)
Daring and incisive
Ulmer's Black Cat is one of those rare moments when a major studio used big stars in a stylistically daring and dry work to great effect. There's some unexpectedly nasty violence and extreme Expressionist compositions that only heighten the tremendous tension already built into the story. Also of interest is the bizarre, bastard-Latin Black Mass that Karloff intones, whose opening translates as, "Take this with a grain of salt...". Not for all tastes, but enduring.
Conan the Barbarian (1982)
Swallowed up by the subsequent two decades of top-dollar techno-porn, the charms of Conan the Barbarian are not as evident as they should be to younger viewers. The consistent pace, virile soundtrack, surprisingly good acting, and terrific fight scenes all make for a well-rounded and durable entertainment. For some this movie will be what the Sinbad movies of the 60s and 70s were for others, but it will certainly outlive its cheesy and boring follow-ups and spinoffs. With all this competence built into it, one wonders why Milius found it necessary to overload it with several erudite Bergman references (von Sydow sitting at his table in furs worried about his daughter), a superfluous joke probably only of personal interest. Basically it's just a great movie. See it next to Star Wars and shudder for Mark Hamill.
Curiouser and curiouser
Whatever one thinks of the recent rise of Sade as a darling of the intelligentsia and pseudo-intelligentsia, it must be admitted that some not-bad films have been made about him. This film, unfortunately, is evidence more of the trendiness than the historical interest, as its whimsical and overly-bizarre production attests. Only if there is a future sub-genre in which giant rats are sodomized by lobster tails is it likely to remain more than a curiosity. Yes, I know it had a talking penis in it. Tee hee. I still found it empty.
A step down from the original
(Spoiler ahead.) The most obvious thing about this movie is its frame-for-frame replay of the original Under Siege, but bigger weapon, smaller transportation, and much smaller breasts in the female lead. Otherwise the plot and characters are the same, right down to the final knife fight. Continuous action alone maintains the interest, which somewhat distracts from the unfortunate presence of Segal, not only at the twilight of his career but of the 90s-style action movie. A high cheese factor is at work here, not the least of which is his awful black lumpen-Armani outfit and slicked-back hair, hardly as dashing as it was before his very obvious weight gain and loss of facial tone. Ah well. If a movie features almost every conceivable form of land- and air-based armed transport, can it really be so bad?
Mesmerizing and compelling
The first time I rented this movie, I saw it with a friend. We quit halfway through after groaning with boredom, then spent the rest of the evening making fun of it. A year later I tried it again, and have seen it five times since. It is extraordinary and is more gripping and absorbing each time I watch it.
There is of course no plot, only a loose story which illustrates, both in its whole and many fragmentary parts, core questions and ideas of Buddhism regarding the impermanence of all things and the corrupting nature of human desire. I know only a little about Buddhism, but what little I had read since the first unsuccessful viewing was probably what helped me see it subsequent times. Like Buddhism, it employs profound calm to upset some fundamental attitudes about the world and makes these disturbances fascinating: suffering, loss, the desire to hold on to things, and the vanity of intellectual growth.
This is however not by any stretch an "ideas" movie. It was made by a painter and remains very much a kind of tone-poem for the screen. I recommend it highly.
Deep Impact (1998)
...and co-directed by Celine Dion
Think of a movie that contains: a giant asteroid, planetary destruction, the full resources of the world's and especially the U.S military, panic in the streets, and hardcore techno-babble.
Who would have guessed this was a movie about...relationships?
Rather than play out a sci-fi action drama with high-end special effects, the film makers chose to follow a weird synthesis of "Armageddon" and "Steel Magnolias". In the fantastical context, the outcome is deeply ludicrous, and one weeps at the wasted opportunity for more dynamic entertainment. Bizarre.