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Raging Angels (1995)
About as bad as it gets...
It's sad to have to say that a film is bad but this one really should have been binned. The acting is poor, with the sole exception of Diane Ladd who struggles with a script that needed a lot more editing before it got into the actors' hands.
It is, in many ways, a film that illustrates how not to do it. So many scenes are too long that I was left feeling that the director had undershot and was keeping anything that he could just to make up the footage. The photography is barely adequate and there is an air of confusion hanging over most scenes. After a while, I found myself watching the actors eyes as they desperately searched for their cues.
This film reminds me of the worst excesses of British television in the sixties. Does anyone remember the late and totally unlamented 'Doomwatch'? Well, this actually succeeds in making Doomwatch seem like good film making. Not only is the plot paper thin but half the time the director gives an amazing impression of having forgotten it.
And did I mention that most of the scenes are too long?
Santa Fe (1997)
you'll finish with a smile on your face....
The cast, all relatively unknown apart from Gary Cole in the lead role and Jeffrey Jones in a brief but effective cameo, don't try for 'excellent' but succeed very well at 'good'. It's actually much more like a French than an American film in its use of humour and its clever timing. Indeed, some of the scenes could have been lifted straight out of the comedies of Jacques Tatti.
Watch out for Phyllis Frelich as a psychiatrist who has a communications problem and Tina Majorino as a little girl who often seems more grown up than the adults around her. There's also some excellent support from Mark Medoff and Tony Plana as the Mayor and police chief respectively. Michael Harris is solid as Gary Cole's long-suffering partner as is Lolita Davidovich as the object of Cole's unwilling affections.
All in all, this isn't a film for people who want to achieve instant gratification but if you just let it roll over you you'll finish with a smile on your face.