Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
Camp Stories (1997)
This is really one of the absolute worst films I have ever seen, and I do not mean that hyperbolically. I came into the film with fairly low expectations -- and even *they* weren't met.
All the characters are weakly drawn. There is a paucity of conflict throughout. Scenes go by with little purpose or even base entertainment value. The writing is dull to bad; a structural and dramatic mess. And the film-making itself was just awful. Things like a softball game and a dance are shot so dully, the life seemed literally sucked out of these "easy" scenes. Like the filmmaker didn't even care about trying to make these visually engaging.
The premise seemed like shooting fish in a barrel. The fact that the film failed even to live up to the clichés of a drama like this is remarkable. The protagonist is vaguely defined and motivated. (Though "Zachary Taylor" tries hard to make it work, there's nothing for him to work with.) I didn't care about any of the characters. The "bookend" scenes with Elliot Gould are simply absurd.
This is a very bad movie. Not even enjoyably so.
Brilliant Children's Film
Why has this film gotten such a bad rep in the Indiana Jones trilogy? I think it's loads better than "Crusade". It's trying to do something different.
Yes, Kate Capshaw's a little too whiny, in hindsight. (Is Allison Doody any better?) But I saw this in the theater when I was a kid and I responded to it a lot more strongly than I did to "Raiders". Looking back on it, I realize it's much more of a children's film. The cartoony woman. The wise-cracking child sidekick of Short-Round (my childhood idol).
The opening musical number? Followed by Indy in a tuxedo? And the big chase for the antidote/diamond? You don't get much better than that, anywhere. Nobody's coming up with that much imagination anymore.
And Indy's really FIGHTING for something here. The sight of all those children running free at the end? It's exultant.
It's disheartening to hear Spielberg/Lucas downplay this one. I think it's a really special one. I know it's slightly more special because I grew up with it, but I really hope kids find this one in years to come...
Who's the Caboose? (1999)
Great and Unseen
A coworker let me borrow a tape of this unreleased gem. I'm not even a big fan of "mockumentary". But this really works. The performances are just right, not overplayed. The writing or the improvisation is very nicely done, it feels real without being too campy. David Cross has two riotous cameos. It even works dramatically.
It seems like an obvious subject -- actors flying out to L.A. for pilot season -- but I've seen a lot of actor friends make that pilgrimage and I haven't seen too many shows that really deal with it. (Well, except "The It Factor".)
If you can find this somewhere, watch it.
Chuck & Buck (2000)
Creepy/Funny As Hell
Watching this the first time, it seemed like a horror film. I sensed it was supposed to be funny, but Buck seems like a retarded, perhaps homicidal gay man. His obsession with this childhood friend of his, his obsession with all his childhood toys -- and then he starts hanging out at this children's theater company? Pedophile alert. I haven't been this creeped out watching a film since "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer".
Afterwards, I watched some of the extras on the DVD and it's suggested that Buck really represents Chuck's inner child. Chuck's trying to grow up, become an adult, but his inner child's demanding to be recognized.
Watching it with this in mind frees you up to enjoy it a bit more. Of course, film is a very literal medium and so it *is* a problem. I don't care if Buck's supposed to represent an inner child: he's played by a grown man who seems mentally slow and sex-crazed, and at one point he even lets a child steal of lick of his "blow-pop". You can't show all that and say that you're not implying this guy may be a pedophile...
THAT BEING SAID...
I think it *is* a very funny, poignant film. Describing it to other people afterwards, it *sounded* like a riot. I've had a lot of experiences with people who've wanted to be much closer friends than I've wanted. It's a tricky process to remain "arm's-length" friends with someone who wants more. Watching the film again, I could enjoy it more -- I was less afraid that this character was going to go on a homicidal/sexual rampage.
Even with its underlying flaw, I really, really liked this film. I feel like it grows on you. I'd put off seeing it for quite a while, but I'd highly recommend it... And like "Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer", it gets much funnier the more you watch it...
Roger Dodger (2002)
Terrific (Just Wait)
I found the film mildly annoying at the very beginning. The character of Roger is a real pseudo-intellectual, misogynistic dirtbag -- and for a while it seems that the film is sympathetic to him.
Stick with it. It gets better. I don't know the last time I had such a negative immediate reaction to a film turn around into an extremely positive reaction. We see Roger's ways turn on him. We see him fail in a very realistic way. We see a man whose whole world is dependent on him being in control of everything -- we see it all go wrong beneath him to the point where it seems like the film is poised to become "American Psycho"... and then his nephew comes into the picture. Suddenly, he's in a position of power again. And we're afraid for this poor kid.
This film actually made me fall for Elizabeth Berkeley. And the presence of my childhood crush (the ageless Jennifer Beals) was pitch perfect. The segment with them is simply magical. I would have fallen in love with this film as an adolescent.
The journey this film takes you on is just wonderful. I ordered the DVD for a friend before the film was even over. It's the kind of film you want to share with people who'll get it. Can't say enough about it.
Guns N' Roses: Once and Future King
Okay, the truth is that I hated a lot of GNR's videos, and watching them again hasn't altered my appraisal too much. Andy Morahan was such a hack and those sprawling, meaningless, pseudo-narratives really helped to make the band more of a joke than it should have been.
IMHO, they should have aligned themselves with more visionary people. Mark Romanek and David Fincher -- I would love to see what those guys would do with a GNR video. Spike Jonze, maybe. Any of those "Director's Label" DVD guys.
I guess it's all moot right now. I'm just thankful I got to see the last show of the New GNR's Chinese Democracy tour before the whole thing got pulled. Say what you will, and I know that they canceled a bunch of shows during that small, aborted tour: on December 5, 2002, at Madison Square Garden in NYC, Guns N' Roses lived. They sounded incredible. They looked incredible. (Though I miss Axl's more flamboyant styles -- he just wore sports jerseys throughout, no kilt/catcher's mask combos...)
I pray they/he gets their/his act together. As appreciated as they were, I've always felt they were underappreciated. Or rather, I've always felt they represented much more potential greatness than they ever fully realized. CHINESE DEMOCRACY will be something to behold...