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Cruel Intentions 2 (2000)
Too Stupid to be a Parody!
This movie is not even intelligent enough to rate as a parody. By the time it ended, I found myself hating all of its shallow, wooden, vapid characters. The story begins as a rather derivative teenage moral tale, punctuated with ample doses of juvenile nastiness (reminiscent in many ways of Mean Girls). However, the last half hour can only be described as a descent into moral oblivion and confusion. The final scenes are intended to be a surprising plot twist, but they fall rather flat. The lead actors are suddenly out-of-character and the sudden detour appears to be seeking approval from the more juvenile members of the audience. Those who enjoyed the kind of sleaze and vulgar innuendo that was rife in the American Pie movies will probably enjoy the ending of Cruel Intentions 2. But to most mature members of the audience, the final scenes come across as little more than poorly contrived softcore porn. I could not see the point of a film that spent so much time setting up a plot that revolves around a "nice son" versus "corrupt father" scenario, only to have the son suddenly abandon his brain and follow his genitalia. The female characters are viewed as little more than spoilt, shallow, manipulative or unintelligent nymphomaniacs. The acting also starts off okay but gets noticeably worse as the movie progresses. The worst acting is in the final scenes. It is almost as if the actors were also confused by that time. There really is no point to such a movie apart from the cheap thrills contained in the frequent sexual references and innuendo, the one rather long scene containing gratuitous nudity, and the sudden reversal of moral expectations at the end. I am sure that many porn movies have done this all before, and have probably done a far better job of it than this flick! I give it a rating of 1 out of 10. The only thing that saves it is the comic delivery of the actors. The comedy is often surprisingly well executed and manages to hit the mark perfectly, especially in the early parts of the movie.
Life Is Wild (2007)
Poor copy of a great English drama
One of the most gratingly annoying things on this planet is when Americans try to make cheap and patronizing Americanized versions of great British TV shows. Moreover, the series "Life is Wild" was set in Africa, so we could have expected to hear at least one Afrikaan accent now and then. But no, even the African characters all had distinctly American accents! Surely the American ear is not so fickle that it cannot tolerate the sound of an authentic English or Afrikaan accent?
I tried to sit through several episodes but found the characters to be totally irritating, unbelievable, poorly constructed and 2-dimensional. The poorly woven character threads meant that the rather thin plots came across as boring and shabbily portrayed. I could not relate to any of the characters, nor identify with them as being part of an African setting.
The family came to Africa on the premise of having serious family problems, but this came across as being vaguely comedic and trivialized, and almost seemed reminiscent of a family crisis from the Brady Bunch. After sitting through the first episode I found myself wishing that a rampaging lion or hippo would come racing on to the set and devour the whole cast and crew.
I am so glad that this show was cancelled. If anything, the series did, by way of comparison, manage to place the spotlight firmly back on the UK version called "Wild at Heart". Of course it too has its occasional lapses, such as the rather disjointed and emotionally bereft episode following the muddled and poorly conceived death of Sarah, as well as its occasional sojourns into excessive sentimentality. But I am prepared to forgive these lapses in the knowledge that "Wild at Heart" is the version that has justifiably stood the test of time and has faithfully established itself in the hearts and minds of audiences around the world. Clever direction and precise casting is clearly evident.
As for "Life is Wild", I still cannot understand why any producer would have invested in an Americanized copy of a successful English drama. As the old saying goes, "If it ain't broke, why fix it?" I am convinced that American audiences are not so fickle as to ignore a show just because the characters have unfamiliar accents. It is the accents that help establish the characters within the setting. This seems like a simple and logical point of direction, but one that was apparently lost on the directors of "Life is Wild".
I have read the book several times, but I yearn to see the series again.
I was still a teenager when this series aired on ABC in Australia. I immediately fell in love with Jenny Seagrove, but I soon became enchanted by the characters, the settings, and story as a whole. The show was magical from beginning to end, and the plot never failed to surprise me with its unpredictable turns to new directions. I did not wish it to end. I have read the book several times, but I yearn to see the series again. I cannot understand why there has been such a long delay releasing this series on DVD. There are certainly many people who would not waste any time placing an order if it becomes available tomorrow. Every so often I do a Google search to see if there is any word on its release, but I am always disappointed. I hope that those who own the rights to this series can please re-release the series on DVD.
La belle histoire (1992)
La Belle Histoire: a truly captivating movie
A truly captivating movie, or is it actually several movies wrapped up in one? The religious twist caught me completely by surprise and once I got into the first few minutes of this movie I was hooked. The movie is unique and spellbinding and somehow manages to synchronize Christianity with a gypsy-imbued belief in reincarnation, in a way that comes across with conviction and a sense of powerful reality. There is also a huge dose of simple humanity added to this magical recipe, thus separating it from any danger of mere pedantry or instruction. A rather long movie, but it manages to sustain the viewer's attention throughout. In fact I could not keep my eyes off the screen for the whole viewing. The emotional undercurrent at first seems subtle and subdued, but has a constant underlying intensity that is unavoidable and finally sweeps you away with it. You cannot help but get carried away by this movie. I love this movie and have watched it many times. Possibly my only criticism is with the use of the same song/music, repeated many times throughout. Clearly real gypsies would have a much greater repertoire! Another minor problem I feel, is that many of the philosophical concepts were overtly and therefore unnecessarily stated, when the story itself should have been allowed to put forward these concepts. The new release on DVD comes as part of a set of Lelouch movies, but appears to be a director's cut(?). I say this because it is sequenced a bit differently to the original film version that I saw on television many years ago. It is also missing the intro, which (if my memory serves me) had a radio announcer waxing philosophical on air, and sped up footage of car lights on busy multi-lane motorways. This introductory footage was superb in that it related directly to the later concepts of bees, and so I cannot really understand why it was left off of the later DVD release. Whatever the reasons I still give this movie a top rating, four stars, the best! This has become my favorite movie of all time.