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Who ripped off who?
29 July 2005
That is the question posed before you? This movie is a blatant rip off two movies, one good and one just as awful as this one. The one really good movie Copycat with Sigourney Weaver and Holly Hunter and other right down at the bottom of the scrap heap, Fear Dot Com with Stephen Dorff and Nastcha McElhone. If you're going to rip off a movie you have to do it in such a way that you'd find inconceivable to think about which movies that you are copying. To compare both this film and Fear Dot Com is very easy to do with the major exception that FDC was backed by a bigger studio and slightly bigger production values unlike this one which is definitely a low budget choppier. As side from that, you wonder as to why the once upon a star, Natasssja Kinski would be involved in this mess and that goes for both Huey Lewis and Nicolette Sheridan, who's gotten far far away from this junk without looking back at it. However, if you're in a mood for a late night insomniac time waster or just simply out of boredom (which is how i encountered this movie), here's the movie for you. Just have a copy of Fear Dot Com handy in case you feel the urge to compare notes and more cheap thrills.
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Cruising (1980)
a curious disaster
28 July 2005
There are some movies you watch that completely frustrate you and Crusing is definitely a top the list. The film starts off very curiously with body parts found in the East River that could be linked to a killer who's MO is tied to homosexual murders. At least it appears that way at first. Enter Al Pacino's character who's given an assignment to go deep undercover by Paul Sorvino to investigate the recent murders of gay men taking place in the gay community. Pacino does just that, he goes way too deep undercover and while getting closer and closer to the killer, he soon finds his sexuality confusing in his own right, which is one of the main problems with this film. From the outset, we see Pacino with the beautiful Karen Allen and immediately think that he's out of his mind to accept an assignment like this. Soon while his undercover alter ego makes a few connections and attractions, Pacino's character starts to develop his own thinking of who this killer really is or does he? Or the stress of the job be getting to him to cause even more confusion.

Director William Friedkin was on some kind of high at this time because this movie just makes absolutely no sense no matter how you look at it. His main problem is that or it appears that way is his self indulgence for the gay culture and the way it's portrayed in the film which is what probably enraged gays when the film was released. If the film was released now, I still think it would be controversial but not as badly as it was back in 1980. At the very least, it would have a shot to being successful, but it just isn't both artistically or visually. Another problem is that Friedkin was just too close to this material and to say he fell in love with it would be an understatement. If someone else had polished his draft of the script, it wouldn't have been as convoluted as it is because it has no idea of how to deal with the material in a simpler way. Like Pacino's character, the film's itself doesn't know what it wants to be. Is it a mystery? Is it a suspense thriller? Is it a personal attack on gays or particularly gay men in general? It boggles the mind to even think about it, regardless all these elements put together in way that Friedkin has doesn't make any sense. The film's tone, atmosphere and settings look awkward and very uncomfortable to sit through at times to the point you'd want to take a long shower after you've finished watching it.

What is Pacino doing in this film? He just looks really out of it in this one and to be honest, he probably saw something interesting on paper that looked like a good idea, but on film, it just doesn't work. You don't know what his character is, what he likes, who he loves? What kind of guy he really is when he's not wearing a badge? There are lot of unanswered questions. Pacino is completely wasted, so is everyone else associated with this film from Paul Sorvino to Karen Allen. What are they doing in this film? They deserved better than playing cardboard characters. It's understandable that the MPAA cut this film to shreds, but how much of a difference would it make if the director's cut that Friedkin talks about would make if it was shown today? Maybe a little one, the question would really be if that version of the film would be able to save this mess? Perhaps one day we'll be able to see what Friedkin had originally intended for this film. For now we'll have to live with this curious disaster that at this point has very little redeeming qualities and an ending that just leaves you hanging. It's a wonder why Pacino has not worked with Friedkin ever since and you can't blame him for this disaster.
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Lowball (1996)
A low budget homerun!
5 May 2002
Okay I'll admit two things. One, I love cheesy action flicks and Two, even cheesier action flicks, much like Lowball. Lowball is Damian Lichtenstein's writing and directoral debut, before the overheated and stylish caper, 3000 Miles to Graceland. Lowball is not in the same league as Graceland in terms of budget, but it is definetly a better movie than the aforementioned Graceland. The film stars Peter Greene as John, a coked-out NYC cop who's sister is kidnapped by a mysterious druglord in some God forsaken hell hole. With his partner in tow (Erik Schrody), John is shaking down low life mobsters and gangsters in hopes that someone knows the guy who's got his sister and get back in one piece in 24 hours. Greene is particularly excellent playing a good, but not all good cop and Schrody is very good as well trying not to make himself look like a fool in this film. While it does have some good cinematography, the film is otherwise mirky and full of shadows. I guess it's the budget, if it had a bigger budget this film would be a 110 times better. For the time being, it's a step above all those other junk action pictures that head straight to video. I recommend this one if you can find it.
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A fun off-beat classic caper.
28 March 2002
Okay, what do you need to perfect or make a good movie about theivery? A strong plot or a good source to base it on. B.fleshed out and fun characters C.a fun storyline or D.all of the above. If you said all of the above, that's right. These are the central elements that makes "The Thief Who Came to Dinner", worth checking out. Okay, first off this a dated 70's film that will probably turn off most people, but if you don't take it seriously as it tries to be, it's worth it's running time. Ryan O'Neal stars as Webster McGee, a computer programmer who one day ups and quits his somewhat cushy job and becomes a burglar. McGee is a very cocky, fun-loving guy, who you wouldn't suspect as being someone who'd break into your home and steal things. That he does it with such precision, so much so that he has an investigator played by the late Warren Oates hot on his trail. While playing mind games with Oates, he falls in love with Laura (Jacqueline Bisset), who knows what he does and accepts him for it, which goes unexplained in the movie. Director Bud Yorkin does a very good job here directing from Walter Hill's adapted screenplay. But it if was tighter paced, it would've been a lot more fun. There are times where the film lags and it really feels as it's missing something. There are alot of nice and breezy sequences prefectly shot by Director of Photograph Phillip Lanthrop. Henry Mancini's score is absolutely fabulous and arguably one of his more underrated gems. A little more energy would've gone a long way with this one. On the whole, I'd recommend it for it's performances and definetly rooting for the Chess Burglar.
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A very slick action thriller that does work!
26 March 2002
Okay I'll have to admit, after everything that's happend after 9/11 this is one movie that people wouldn't want to see. Given that, this is a movie that people would've seen even if 9/11 did happen (which it sadly did and we will never forget it) because everyone loves action movies regardless if it's good or bad. Collateral Damage is a surprisingly, slick and effective thriller that just doesn't focus on mindless violence for a change. At first I really didn't know how to exactly fit this film in my head, is it a drama or a revenge film. Well, it does lean on a more dramatic scale than most and it's definetly gritty and realistic in the way it portrays terrorists and the victims of terrorism.

Director Andrew Davis (The Fugitive, Under Siege) doesn't go for the all out glamorous look of big explosions (there are a few in the film, but kept on a realistic level) and all out blood and guts violence. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Gordon Brewer, a firefighter and family man, who would do anything to get the job done or protect his family from all dangers. Then one fateful day, all of his very existence is taken away by a single bomb on a Colombian embassy, executed by a shadowy terrorist known as "El Lobo aka.The Wolf" played by Cliff Curtis. Inspite of the FBI's effortsto locate "The Wolf", Peter Brandt (Elias Koteas) a sinister, but well intentioned FBI agent knows that something has to be done along with Brewer. As his wife and child are considered "Collateral Damage", Brewer heads to Colombia to seek out and hopefully bring "The Wolf" to justice. There are alot of perfectly excuted sequences pulled off with perfection by Davis. Schwarzenegger finally gets to play a character alot more sympathetic than his usual hard edged ones and he is very good here. Elias Koteas, Harry Lennix, Francesca Neri, and Miguel Sandoval offer good support here. Very restrained and more human. Adam Greenberg's cinematography is excellent as always and features an interested, but too restrained score by Graeme Revell.

The world maybe different now, but Collateral Damage is one of those films that comes to show us that anything can happen at anytime and it's the price we pay for risking everything we believe in.
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A Kung-fu gulity pleasure at it's most stupid.
23 March 2002
Okay, I'll admit I've seen this movie about more than a dozen times since I was growing up. Especially during the 80's with all that Martial Arts/Ninja movie craze people had fun with. And this is what movie making was all about, imagination, fun and excitement. While this movie isn't up to the standard b.s. of today's action films, Deadly Strike is a gulity pleasure when it comes to cheesy movies of decade's past. The plot is so simple you wouldn't need a map to figure this one out. The main protagonist is a newly appointed sheriff (in full macho form) enlists a bunch of ragtag convicts (a thief, a one-eyed knife specialist, a father and a revenge driven woman to new a few) to seek out and eliminate a gang of ruthless bandits who have been terrorzing a small town in the middle of nowhere. Each villian is given their chance to shine. There's about two or three of them which sequnces will leave you in awe. (Sorry I can't give it away, it would ruin the fun) The action sequences are much to be desired, but excecuted with comic book flair and such cheesiness that it will definetly leave you laughing all night long after you've seen this movie. The cinematography is aweful and the dialog is excruciatingly funny in it's dubbing. Overall, it's a gulity pleasure for someone who's really bored.
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Eight Days a Week (I) (1997)
An ingenious romantic comedy
10 November 2001
Okay I'll admit, I didn't know the expect from this movie when I first saw it and the only thing I had remembered was a positive review on Siskel and Ebert around 1997 when the film originally came out. After seeing it a couple of times, Eight Days A Week is an undoubtly entertaining comedy for romantically challenged. (Possible Spoliers ahead) The story concerns an imaginative 18 year old named Peter (played by Joshua Schaffer) , who's romantically obessesed with the girl across the street named Erica (Played by the delightful Keri Russell) and inspired by his grandfather, he embarks on summer long quest to win her love by camping out on her front lawn. And throughout the summer, Peter discovers more about life and his neighbors, like his best friend Matt, his widowed neighbor seductress, and even his own parents, who have pretty much shunned him for his crazy idea. Most comedies nowadays don't have the originality or daring as this movie does and this is one that definetly goes all the way from the start from one crazy twist to another and doesn't let up.
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