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Vertical Limit (2000)
The year's finest beats 'The Perfect Storm'
'Vertical Limit' is a real surprise and could be a winter smash, a sleeper hit that no-one's expected. It's an up-to-date version of the traditional disaster movies that much more powerful, entertaining and exciting than this summer's 'The Perfect Storm' or any of the year's blockbusters and wannabes.
I saw 'VM' at a special screening held by its Hungarian distributor. During the opening credits one of my colleague said: "I bet this one'll fall into the <straight-to-video> territory." Fortunately he wasn't right: the opening sequence was so intense and energetic that took every present critic breath away. And then everybody catch that breath simultaneously. And that was the way it went till the very end.
Mountaineer (Robin Tunney) and millionaire (Bill Paxton) are bound to the top of K2, the second highest mountain in the world, and buried alive by an avalanche. While they are fighting for life, Tunney's cliffhanger brother (Chris O'Donnell) put together a rescue team of volunteers. And the climbing is getting started...
Movie screens has lacked mountaineers since 1993's unsurpassable 'Alive' and no-brainer 'Cliffhanger'. So 'VM' is an example of perfect timing. In a survey managed by the Box Office Guru ("Which December release are you looking forward the most?"), contenders got cca. 200, while 'Vertical Limit' got more than 2000 (!) votes.
The engine of the movie is director Martin Campbell's outstanding achievement. Though Robert King's ('Red Corner') and Terry Hayes's ('Dead Calm') screenplay has it tiny flaws (e.g. nitro-glycerine), Campbell cuts in time and never misses. He was the only good thing in 'Escape from Absolom/No Escape' and the one who once again infused life into the 'James Bond' series with 'Goldeneye'. Not to mention 'The Mask of Zorro', another surprise blockbuster from 1998.
'Vertical Limit' has a typical disaster-movie casting: no stars but recognizable faces. Here are Chris O'Donnell, whom Hollywood has almost buried alive after 'Batman and Robin', Bill Paxton, who plays small roles in big movies, Robin Tunney ('End of Days', 'Supernova'), whose performance could be a breakthrough for her, and last but not least Scott Glenn, whose part would probably be played by Sean Connery if 'VM' were an A-star vehicle.
Will 'Vertical Limit' be a winter blockbuster despite lacking for A-listers? Sure it will. Skip the others and get this to take your breath away. 9/10
Pleasantville in the Bermuda Triangle
This film comes from the writers of "Cocoon 2" and tells the story of a family that gets lost in the Bermuda Triangle. Finally we're told what the secret of it.
"Bermuda Triangle" is a cheap tv-show with an almost perfect sreenplay and an average cast. The film keeps us excited to the very last and maybe inspired writer/director Gary Ross to create the world of "Pleasantville".
8 stars of 10.
The Practice (1997)
Probably the best series in TV-history
David E. Kelley's "The Practice" is a high level, energetic series that unites the professialism of the "ER", the terrific performance of Dylan McDermott and the best tradition of the legal dramas.
The episodes - written by Kelley, connected with each other - follow the work of a small lawyer's office consists of honest and gifted people.
This community is probably the nicest in TV-screen history as well as the series the best I've ever seen. Though I've seen more than you think.
Wild Wild West (1999)
Disappointment from 'MIB' team
'WWW' is probably the biggest disappointment of 1999. Director Sonnenfeld was unable to handle the four screenwriters' awful work. George Clooney (Artemus Gordon) and Jim and John Thomas (story) left the project before it stinks like Titanic in the cinemas everywhere. Some sources report a budget near $175 million, however Warner Brothers claim that 'WWW' costs a hundred. Doesn't matter. Smith and Kline acts as awful as their characters make 'em to. So terrible comedy from WB that lacks humor. Just imagine the level below 'Batman and Robin', and don't try this at home!
Fair Game (1995)
Bad movie we love
'Fair Game' belongs to the area of bad movies we love.
The action-pope Joel Silver just wanted to introduct top model Cindy Crawford to the mainstream business. It didn't work as we know it.
But Cindy's not so bad. Nor Billy Baldwin.
'Fair Game' is a brainless action-thriller a la 'Terminator'. And sometimes is bad enough to be good.
The Hunger (1997)
Meaningless, empty minies with impressive images
Scott Free produced this series based upon the Tony Scott movie 'The Hunger'.
The meaningless stories have talented directors like Russel Mulcahy or the Scott brothers. Unknown actors and actresses play among the soft-sex, soft-horror elements and the impressive production design.
So if you want sex, see something else. You like mystery? See the 'X-files'. Looking for crime? Stay tuned with 'Columbo'. But don't even waste your time on 'The Hunger'. Unless you want something called 'art'.
Nowhere to Run (1993)
Van Damme makes audience wanna shout!
So here's this guy, some Belgian import who regards himself as a star continually. However he's sinking with movies like 'The Quest', 'Maxumum Risk' and 'Knock off'. 'Nowhere to run' was a tomb too.
From Joe Eszterhaz' story Leslie Bohem ('Daylight') and Randy Feldman ('Tango and Cash') wrote an uneventful script about a prisoner who protects an innocent family from bad guys. Beginner Robert Harmon directed a half-action, half-romance movie that won't please anybody.
5 of the 10.
Made in America (1993)
Trash made in America
Richard Benjamin's 'Made in America' keeps harping on a theme in vogue.
According to the script Nia Long realizes that her father was a sperm from a sperm-bank. Whoopie Goldberg - her mother - denies everything. Even that she was born at all. And then comes a white man called Ted Danson and upsets their whole world.
So that's the story. Goldberg extravagant performance is annoying. However she and Danson falls in love with each other on the shooting.
Will Smith has eyeglass, the script has no gags, and we have to see something else.
4 of the 10.
Inspired by 'Maverick' and 'Back to the Future 3' Jeffrey Boam screenwriter ('Funny Farm') created the son of Brisco County's unbelievable adventures.
I've seen the pilot film. Good script (by Boam), witty editing, catching melodies (by Randy Edelman) and so-so acting characterizes this well-done western/comedy directed by the talented Bryan Spicer.
The cult-actor Bruce Campbell ('Evil Dead') was the best choice for the leading part. His humorous performance surpasses Mel Gibson's or James Garner's in 'Maverick'.
Altough some bad guy's role is too comics-like (Billy Drago as John Bly is awful), the gags and actions make the viewers want to see the sequels of the film's adventurous events.
'Brisco County Jr' has one of the best pilot I've ever seen. I rank it 8 of the 10.
Chances Are (1989)
A big mistake
'Chances Are' a big mistake to see. You could know director Emile Ardolino from 'Dirty Dancing' and 'Sister Act' and should expect something amusing from him. But I guess I have to disillusion you. He made a really, really bad movie.
According to the story Christopher McDonald dies to reburn as a baby. The baby grows up Robert Downey Jr, and Jr returns his former home town where she meets his former daughter, Mary Stuart Masterson (complicated, huh?).
They fall in love with each other. Then appears Jr former wife, Cybill Shepherd, and Jr falls in love with her too. I guess I don't even have to mention that she loves Ryan O'Neil.
In one of his first roles Robert Downey Jr's on his worst. He copies Michael J Fox.
After the 'Moonlighting' Shepherd proves that she's not suitable for acting in movies.
Anyway, there's one thing this unfunny comedy can be used: as antidote to insomnia.
Foul Play (1978)
Foul play with audience
In Colin Higgins' 'Foul Play' the greatest stars of the '70s save the pope.
The beautiful Goldie Hawn gets in trouble and detective Chevy Chase is there to save her and the pope visiting USA. Dudley Moore doesn't wanna shut up but dances like Travolta.
This weak crime/comedy is watchable if the rest of your channels are gone with the wind.
5 of the 10.
Once Around (1991)
Dreyfuss and Hallström on his best
I don't agree with whom esteem "Once around" nothing. "Once" is a good movie owing to director Hallström ("Gilbert Grape") and stars like Richard Dreyfuss ("The Goodbye Girl"), Danny Aiello ("City Hall") and Gina Rowlands ("Something To Talk About").
Writer Maria Scotch Marmo tells a story about a young woman, Renata (Holly Hunter is on his worst) who falls in love with a contradictary personality called Sam Sharp (Dreyfuss). Sharp is a rich and successful agent who has an ability to persuade everybody to love him except Renata's father, the newly retired Joe Bella (Aiello). But at the end Hallström makes his character closer to each other and the viewers.
So this is not a well-known romantic comedy/drama but you gotta get it in some cable program. The only vulnerable point of "Once" is the lead character Holly Hunter herself. But the names above compensate us for her.
Egri csillagok (1968)
The greatest Hungarian production from the 60s
There was a time of expensive films supported by the state in the middle-European-area. Like SU made his "War and Peace"-blockbuster (cca.$300 million), his political partner Hungary made him too. It is called "Stars of Eger" from Geza Gardonyi's classic novel. Eger is a town that won a match against theTturkish army in the 16th century.
Finally a good Hungarian movie
There are problems with Hungarian cinema. After the death of the kommunist regime filmmakers don`t know whom could they attack all the time now. Pure comedy already seems to re-burn, but exciting dramas like Presszo are just in a few number. Sas Tamas photographer-director in his first movie uses only one camera-station, and in the other stuffs he trusts his actors and actresses. The whole movie takes place in an espresso (presso in hungarian), that has several funny guests. For example three women love the same man who lets down all the 3. The women want revenge so they turn to the local godfather called The Professor. Excellent characters, a good script and a fresh directing from Hungary.
Wild Side (1995)
One of the worst pictures of all time
If a director hides his name, it means the film`s got some problem. This erotic/thriller trash called Wildside you gotta see `cause of lesbian scene between Anne Heche and Joan Chen. However Wildside ain`t got a script or something like this. It`s about nothing you could understand. This is the film of all B-movie stars like Christopher Walken and Steven Bauer who make some gay-like scene but nothing else. Terrible movie, just for mazochist!
Lake Consequence (1993)
Soft sex from Zalman King and Team
After writing "9 and a half weeks" Zalman King begin to make well-lit soft sex movies. He and his partner Rafael Eisenman their best TV-movie's "Lake Consequence". An erotic drama with real screenplay (!) and talented, beauty stars like Joan Severance and Billy Zane. Some word that you'll might never forget: "You got many fish, darling?"
Heart Condition (1990)
It's like the Ghost - but Bob is not Demi
"Ghost" was a huge success. In the same year James Parriot's "Heart Condititon" made us feel deja vu. His film is boring, brutal and too serious for a comedy actor like Bob Hoskins (who really made us nervous with his personal "Mona Lisa"-style by the end of the movie). Denzel Washington seems to be boring too. Parriot ain't got gift for filmmaking.
Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989)
A real pulp fiction from Howard Brookner
Love, laugh and a tragic comedy from the Broadway of the 1920s. Based on novells by Damon Runyon director Howard Brookner (who died of AIDS) in his first and last movie "Bloodhounds" shows the world of gangsters, go-go girls and other bastards. Madonna, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Grey, Esai Morales , Steve Buscemi are all very good, but Randy Quaid takes the palm. Gotta see it!