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Save Me (1994)
Save me, indeed
One of the curses of the night owl life is that movies like this surface on the cables at 3am, and for whatever reason I must watch the whole bleepin' thing sunrise be-darned.
I saw this on, what else, the Showtime Women's channel. I hate to admit it but I agree with the IMDb reviewer from 1999: the only reason to watch this nonsense from start to finish is to see Lysette Anthony naked. Everything in between is the bonehead self-absorbed stuff that burns through the Gross Domestic Product of whole countries in a Hollywood week. I can not believe people get paid to do this stuff.
Whatever else there is to say about this, it is always good to see Steve Railsback on screen, even when his dialogue is worthy of a 7th grade playwright. This is a really stupid movie, full of zero- quality acting.
Chelsea Walls (2001)
"Fame" was better than this
I connect with what this thing is supposed to be, but the substance of these artists is poor. Nothing we see from them rises above the level of teenage poetry. The Chelsea Hotel is still a mecca for poets and artists, even if today it's more a mecca for kids of Kerouac. This movie shows the Chelsea as a mecca for 21st century sulking hipsters who learned hippy-dom from Woodstock DVDs. I don't think that's accurate. If you take away the artist premise and the reputation of the Chelsea as a setting, and replace it with a college dorm full of political science majors, you'd have an equally fascinating film.
But I find the building, the inside of that building, to be beautiful.
Disney turns light drama into high comedy
I guess I first saw this on cable, complete with all the curse words.
I last saw this on ABC Family, where Disney's ludicrous voice overlays censored out the dirty words. These overlays transformed this light drama into pure comedy. Watching the Disney's overdubbed version, I laughed loud at the dramatic moments. Seriously loud laughter where the original director intended something else.
I was transported from the experience of watching the movie to the experience of producers and lawyers and sound/film editors arguing over how best to convert a four letter word into something the Whole Family© will enjoy.
That's not to say that the "dramatic moments" of this thing were anything but predictable. Class is little more than fluff, but it's fun and well acted. It's a good-when-you're-tanked story, with entertaining performances by then-young actors we now know for other things.
This is a good teenage boy angst fantasy romp, and at best it ends with ... well, no spoilers, I guess. But that was a sudden ending, wasn't it.
One Hour Photo (2002)
Good, but not convincing
The first 45 minutes or so are pretty slow. Half of that time could have been better spent getting to know the family that so fascinates Sy.
What happens to Sy? What about the not-so-happy family? The looks in peoples' faces and the ambiguous way we leave them begged for at least a block of text on screen explaining "Sy was sentenced to 10 years..." or whatever. I guess that level of reality isn't *that* important, but it seemed lacking to me.
But I'm not complaining. This is a good film that simply could have been more tightly wound.
p.s.: The image of Robin Williams sitting on the can will not leave my mind any time soon, I'm sorry to say.
Goodbye, New York (1985)
Worthless caricatures, vapid storylines, punctuated by moments of decent to above-average cinematography. This is not plain awful, but it is tiresome and boring.
I saw this on the Channel 55 WLNY Late Show and positively savored the commercials that broke this thing up.
I give credit where it's deserved: moments of good cinematography, color, and calm textures. Really, to me those moments stood out during and after.
Negative points for bad film editing, neanderthal script and story, bad camera work to make you forget about the good moments, and good actors wasting their time on this nonsense.
Joy Ride (2001)
A laugher, but in the good way
What could have been a real laugher, turns out to be a real laugher. But in the good B-Movie way, not because it's a joke of a movie. Solid directing and acting make you realize just how bad those bad B-Movies really are. This flick is a lot of fun. I found myself tolerating the occasional lapse into incredulity for the sake of giving the whole thing the chance it deserves.
Playing Mona Lisa (2000)
Credible piano playing, for once
The movie itself is what it is. A tolerable, at times engaging chick-flick with good writing and a good balance of storylines.
As someone who's played piano most of my life, I usually roll my eyes at Hollywood's depiction of performing pianists. Usually, the pianist sways one way when they should sway the other, they gesticulate extravagently for no reason reflected in the music, or they rotate their arms back and forth like they're churning butter when they're supposed to be playing the piano.
Most of Alicia Witt's playing was believable, presumably because she was actually and in fact playing (she was classically trained and is credited as the performer in the film's credits).
The only exception I noticed: the scene where she's playing the Chopin G minor Ballade while talking in a full, articulate voice to her piano instructor (Harvey Fierstein). Not impossible, but not typical either for a pianist to whip through a pretty demanding piece such as that Chopin and carry on a full-throated conversation at the same time. To me it looked like a Victor Borge routine for just a moment.
Other then that, this film gets high marks from me for its believable piano playing. As for the rest, well, let's just say I wouldn't even be commenting on this film were it not for the goofy scene with the G Minor Ballade.
Root root root for the home team
I liked the band related parts of this.
As in most movies from the last 30 years, the time wasted on the absolutely pointless romantic interlude could have been better spent developing other parts of the story.
I liked the story of the competitive world of marching bands, but think we could have seen more of the heart that the A&T band put into its work.
I liked Orlando Jones, even if he did not quite seem to carry the torch as a serious but compromising leader.
At the end of this I found myself checking to see if there is a real documentary about this intense world.
Nevertheless, on balance I found myself rooting for the home team all the way to the end. This film sends you on a fun trip, and I enjoyed the time spent.
Style over substance
This movie is a beautiful looking package with nothing going on inside. It reminds me, strangely enough, of Warren Beatty's "Dick Tracy," which in my opinion looks great but gives you nothing to think about.
I recommend watching "Three" without listening. Turn the sound down. This way you'll get the best part of this film without being annoyed by the rest of it.
The Late Shift (1996)
A creditable gossip film
I remember this movie getting a lot of flak from reviewers when it was new. Letterman and Leno themselves had objections. Letterman called it (paraphrasing) the biggest waste of film he'd ever seen, and Leno objected to the simpleton portrayal of himself. But Letterman had John Michael Higgins as a guest on his show so it seems he didn't take anything too personally. A DVD re-release, with opinions and such from those involved, could be interesting, though I suspect the days when late night talkshow wars captivated the nation are gone and not returning soon.
I preferred the Letterman impersonation to the Leno, but could never buy in to either. They never rose above caricature, and I never simply accepted them as actors. For comparison: Paul Sorvino as Kissinger in Oliver Stone's "Nixon" comes to mind as an impersonation which may have seemed laughable in the first few moments but which seemed at least plausible after the first moments of amusement wore off.
The highlight of the show for me was Treat Williams as Michael Ovitz. Williams' speech to Letterman was not as great as but reminiscent of Alec Baldwin's entrance (and quick exit) as Blake in Glengerry Glen Ross.
They could have done more with Johnny's role in all this. I know he was mostly uninvolved in the events portrayed in this movie, and most audiences will be familiar with his reputation such that Johnny Carson needs no introduction. But more context about why Dave and Jay and all comedians revere Johnny would have given this flick the substance it lacks in being a gossip film.
Guess I should read the book...
Rich Little imitating Johnny Carson, unfortunately, came across as nothing more than Rich Little imitating Johnny Carson.
I tell you what, after watching this movie, then watching either the Letterman or Leno show, all I want to do is crack open my Johnny Carson DVDs and see the real thing.