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The Stickup (2002)
I don't review films often, and I'm not really sure why this was a film that suddenly stirred in me the passion to share my viewpoint over the Internet, but here I am, so let's get down to it: This film is actually far more entertaining than I ever expected. I get on little kicks with certain actors and will plunge through their filmography, warts and all. Having seen basically everything left of value in Spader's catalog (Secretary aside), I've now arrived at films similar to this one. Bottom of the barrel would be putting it lightly.
This film is an editor's worst nightmare, though. The flash backs are retreads of footage we've already seen, the only useful one really being towards the end of the film, wrapping up the big twist. There never seems to be any indication of whether we're in the past or the present, for most of the first hour of film, save whether or not David Keith's black eyes are present or not. The very first flashback, a 10-15 minute scene of Spader being picked up in a bar by Stefanson left me completely confused as to why Spader was able to walk around town without anyone batting an eyelash, especially Keith. It was only clear after the segment was over that I was watching a flashback.
The jumps through time continue until about the midpoint of the film, when the focus shifts more to Spader's character on the run from the law. At that point, I found myself far more enveloped in the story, which is actually pretty decent, if not generic. Crooked LA Cops, A young FBI agent on his first gig, crooked small city cops, hard-edged damsel, etc.
If you were to catch this movie on TV, I wouldn't say not to watch it, just prepare yourself for a pretty much skin-deep film. You're not going to have a life altering experience viewing this, but you'll be entertained and sometimes, that's all we really need, right?
The Shining (1997)
Leaves me Wondering...has ANYONE read the book?
I am a person who only likes to see a movie after reading the book, however, sometimes, I let myself slip, like I did last year when I finally saw the Kubrick version of the Shining. It was all right. I didn't really understand why it was so special to people...I felt no connection whatsoever. As a big fan of Stephen King, I did not feel his presence in the film at all. Then, last week, I watched Kubrick's Shining again, and I couldn't help myself, I had to finally read the book. And when I did I was left wondering what exactly Kubrick was thinking when he decided to call his film The Shining. As a stand-alone, it's a decent film, but it is nothing of what Stephen's vision was, and Stephen even hints at that in his 2001 introduction to the book. So, I remembered seeing some of the mini-series when it originally aired on television, and all I could remember, is that most people seemed to hate it, but I had also hear that it was very similar to the book, and sure enough...It even contained the Stephen King seal of approval, a cameo. Usually I'm only this pleased with a Stephen King film if Frank Darabont is directing, but, this film may very well be my favorite Stephen King movie now. I have NEVER cried so hard in seeing a horror movie, but with Steven Weber's final utterance being, Kissin' Kissin' That's What I've been Missin' as he sacrifices himself to save his son's life, I couldn't help but shed more than a few tears. Also, someone mentioned that the casting of Steven Weber was terrible. I heartily disagree. Jack Torrance, if you've READ the book, which I'm beginning to believe that anyone who sees these movies has NOT done, you would know that Jack and Wendy were suppose to be fresh-out-of-college, semi-attractive people. No offense to the original cast, but...who are we kidding. Jack Nicholson and attractive are rarely heard in the same sentence. And Steven Weber just gave off a feeling of love towards "Danny" so much more than Nicholson did. It's not that I don't like the original, but it left me yearning for something that I felt Stephen King's presence in, and this mini-series was it.
My advice, read the book, then watch the two films side by side and see which one you prefer. This book was about a father's love for his son, and Kubrick seemed to miss that somehow, and decided to make a edge-of-your-seat thriller instead. That's all well and good. But make your own film, and don't take away from what The Shining was meant to be.