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By All Means Avoid,
15 October 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I cannot believe I am driven to comment but I feel the need to warn others who may simply assume, as did I, that any film adapted from a le Carre cold war novel would be worth seeing.

If, as it has been said, le Carre wasn't happy with the Richard Burton adaptation of "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold", then I can't imagine he knew that this particular film was even *made* -- for he would have gone berserk.

Unless you wish to utterly waste ninety minutes of your life, steer completely clear of this horrifically tedious, disjointed, pointless, nearly unwatchable film.
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One of the Worst Movies I've Ever Seen (Possible Spoilers? Who could give a damn?)
5 December 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A soon to be ex-friend of mine lent me his DVD copy of this trash, and it may very well be that "Hollywood Knights" is the, repeat, the worst movie I have ever seen, ever. It is no more than a meaningless collection of unfunny vignettes that had to have been embarrassing to film for the poor people involved on both sides of the camera.

I cannot get over how bad either the writing, or the acting, or (at times) the writing *and* the acting was. To get it out of the way early, every single thing involving the cops was completely unfunny, terribly written, and terribly acted -- every single thing. The terrible writing is not the actors' fault, but the absolutely horrid acting is. Oh, and I forgot to remember to have tears come to my eyes whenever The Serious Moments were spewed across the screen, meaning the dude going to Veet Nam and that incredibly well fleshed-out relationship between the Tony Danza & Michelle Pfeiffer "characters". Um, right. I'm running out of brain capacity trying to think of all the other "um, right" moments...a cheerleader "forgets" to wear underwear -- um, right...the pledges run across not one but three stereotyped groups of blacks -- um, right...the cops...the kid with the skateboard...the "college guy" with the pipe...two Asian senior citizens hot-rodding a Cobra...repeat after me: "um, right".

Among the few (hell, the only) who marginally escape the carnage, well, Wuhl showed maturity beyond his (29!) years by clearly recognizing he was saddled with absolute dog schism, but deciding to play it out just like the brass said to, subsequently giving them (and the public) no one to blame but themselves. Meanwhile, The Nanny gave some proof she might eventually be able to act -- might -- but clearly wasn't shrewd enough to play above the material. So aside from her giving the audience a little crotch shot from the back of Newbomb Turk's van, there wasn't much else to go on. Meanwhile, by the time the flick was over, I realized that the only laugh I got -- the ONLY LAUGH I GOT -- was when the poor geek walked balls-first into that concrete pole. OK, maybe that, and the fact that someone would be named "Newbomb Turk".

Oh, and thank God the DVD comes in widescreen format too, because I would have been disappointed if I had missed something important in the way the director framed some of the shots.

Ninety minutes you can never have back.
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Intriguing (Long, with Spoilers)
30 September 2003
Warning: Spoilers
I recently paid up on eBay to purchase this film after my interest was piqued by what I read on the web and IMDB. I had stumbled across it during a search for pictures of Candy Clark that didn't quite pay off, but that's another story...

I liked this film. I'm glad I watched it. It isn't easily "recommended" because it isn't exactly "pleasant" or "fun", but I think it's worth seeing for the subject matter and message.

After the fact, I no longer agree that the first half-hour was bad. It might have unfolded slowly, but I relished the vignettes on the night before the action started. I then realized that the characterizations trotted out, which seemed one-dimensional at first, were actually comments on the lives that these people were dealt (Angel, Red, Red's mom) or themselves pursued (the Ethridges). I think it set up the understanding of who these people were and how they would react to the goings-on in the diner.

I found Teddy's initial discourse, when he's warming up and testing the crowd, to be more rewarding than the showy exposition that developed afterwards. Still, it was the latter part that forced the gang to face (what *Teddy believed* were) their weaknesses and failings. For Angel, Red and Lyle it was the first time they had been brought to their attention. It was clear, though, that the Ethridges knew exactly what Teddy was talking about. This dichotomy drove my opinion about what the film's message is.

(Spoiler Alert)

What I found most interesting is that, as intelligent as Teddy is portrayed to be (rage notwithstanding), he gets it dead wrong on Angel, Red, and Lyle. I believe this is the point of the film.

When Teddy finally turns upon Angel in the simple terms she can understand, his comments are certainly cruel and "revealing" of things she never considered or talked about -- but his points are not character failings. He calls her fat. So what? It runs in her family, she is neither in denial nor sad because of it, and it does not bother her or inhibit her self-awareness. Is she "too sweet" for him? Is she wrong for being genuinely nice to people in a place where - until Teddy showed up -- the ugliness of the "real world" hadn't tarnished everyone's view of it? Should she distrust others more? He's off base. There's nothing wrong with how she lives her life, other than that (he thinks) she hasn't reached high enough. If she hasn't, it's because she doesn't really know what's out there, but she's giving it her best shot here.

Next, Red is clearly Teddy's main target. He's the first to flash an attitude when Teddy enters the diner, but that's the same look he shows everyone. More important is that Teddy doesn't think Red's rebel act is justified by having suffered the pains of the "real world" first-hand. So Red has a tattoo that Teddy thinks he hasn't earned? What would make Red's persona "legitimate" -- going to Vietnam and coming back a psychotic killer? Is that `better'? Another thing about Red is that, of all the characters, he knows his future lies somewhere outside of town, and he knows it may be difficult or even impossible to pursue it. But he's realistic and responsible about it -- he wants to replace his mother's car before he can leave, and (until the events in the diner) he doesn't want the assistance that Lyle offers in that regard. He'll do it all himself, even if he doesn't know quite how. He might not have the answers, but he's asking the questions, so is he really such a failure?

(Even Lyle might not look like he's got a lot left in the tank, but he still manages to successfully direct the confused girlfriend away from Teddy, and he rigs the VW to break down just outside of town.)

Meanwhile, the outlook for the Ethridges is uncertain. They are going home to their young child, but are they willing to jettison the superficial routine that consists of his management of her music career? Will they decide whether something really exists between them or not? Difficult to say, but not by accident is their future least clear -- of the main players, they are the only ones who *knowingly* live a lie. I believe this is why they have the least reward awaiting them after having been forced to face their reality.

This is the irony of the film. Teddy seems to be the worst nightmare for these people, an unstoppable force who knows what's wrong with their lives and punishes them for it. Then it becomes clear that his assault has only served to motivate the dreamers, the ones who wanted more (whether they knew it or not), to try to improve their lives. They have nothing but upside. The ones who knew the truth but didn't care to improve don't get quite the rosy outlook -- they disappear.

Much credit goes to the lead actors who agreed to play in this film, because they either understood or came to understand what the meaning of the movie would be. It sure as hell wasn't because they thought it was going to land them that Oscar. And if Gortner, as producer, was the driving force behind the film's creation, then he gets props as well because he had to realize there wouldn't be measurable upside from it, only a lesson that he wanted to tell.

Thanks for reading my take on the film. I hope you found it of interest. See also the "message forum" for a question I have about one part of the flick; perhaps you wondered about it as well.
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Ronin (1998)
Not a Rave Review
1 October 1998
This film surprisingly came up well short of my expectations. The production quality is very good but many events, plot "developments", lines of dialogue, and even pivotal characters are eventually revealed as arbitrary or inconsequential. For such a skilled cast to be given so little to do between action scenes is an incredible waste. About 3/4 through there is a thirty-second sequence where absolutely nothing occurs or is said, thoughtfully allowing you to consider whether or not to leave the theatre and get home a little earlier. Stick around, though, through another car chase and some shootouts, for an unexpected voice-over from a character whose sudden burst of perspective is an excuse-me attempt to dump a quick, tidy ending on you. One that happens to contradict the relation between the lead character and the title (explained twice for those finding seats a little late), by the way. Then go home, recall all the loose ends in both the smaller details and the overall story, and ask how those responsible for this film could leave it so incomplete.
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