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These are the films we grew up with, these are the movies we love. No remake will ever take that away from us. Don't copy the good, or redo it, be creative, using the tools all those great movies lent to our imaginations. With all that inspiration, we can change the world, but we must be strong.
One big mess, from a bad chain of errors...
LEVIATHAN...tries to be ALIEN on a many number of levels, and never comes close. At a far shot, I will say this had a good chance of being it's own film, but in attempt to cash in on the ALIEN/ The Thing fad that was about in action films in the 1980s, this film falls flat on it's face. Heck, I almost feel sorry for Aliens (plural-the sequel) which I did not care for in the least. This film follows a crew of miners (gee, isn't THAT a familiar occupation for these characters) who toil around with uncharted, and undiscovered ship (be it a sunken ship, or lost spaceship, what difference does it make?) and find one heck of a consequence for it. Invading the underwater grave, they "stumble upon", the crew then take to bounties and "treasures" therein. Soon, a (literally) monstrous situation is breaking loose, and HOW? Well, that's even worse, but I won't go into that yet. The question at hand is, with little to NO novelty, or logical correctness to this story, why should we care?
The cast consists of fairly talented, to no talent at all performers who give us a number of unsympathetic characters we couldn't manage to care less about. Do we need to listen to a constant miscast Daniel Stern rave on with his one-track mind on "pairs" and practical jokes? That kind of character worked better in the later Friday The 13th films starting with part 4, but that's neither here nor there. Then there is Ernie Hudson in the (bad) vain of Yaphet Kotto as Parker from ALIEN.Two women among a ship of many men. People like this do not exist, surely in serious businesses such as underwater mining, and that one would even care about a one of them is a waste of emotion and time. There is even a perennial scientist who, with all his accumulated knowledge, is corrupt and out to sacrifice the entire crew for sake of the creature, or scientific breakthrough. Just awful!!!
There is also an impeccable production design that would suit JAWS: The Revenge in comparison. Heck since we're on underwater films, HUMANOIDS FROM THE DEEP has more dignity than this, but there is not enough room to go into that either.Sights and sounds strung through a film, does not a good experience make, and it certainly doesn't here.Just a lot of wasted time and energy.The make-up effects of the "Monster" are hardly affective. In this, they cleverly attempt the ALIEN approach, to show as little as possible, and leave the rest to the imagination, but what we do see is cartooning, like a monstrous Daffy Duck. Stan Winston allegedly put some study into this, but it didn't pay off quite as well as it could have. I guess it looked better on paper.
Plus, chances at redemption are abandoned at the shallowness of what would be a regularly talented group. Peter Weller is a great actor, and has potential. However, as a Dallas (ALIEN)/MCready (The Thing) copy-cat role, he fails, and his diction and deliverance are flat and obviously fake and staged like a bad high school production. Lead female Amanda Pays is decent, but no Sigourney Weaver, that's for sure. One cannot argue that such an imitation was made, because it was, and to defend this action is ridiculous. Same goes for a character named "Jones". A ha ha, funny reference, it's like "good one guys".
Then there is the biggest problem, being that of logics and continuity. We can barely tell when and where the film is headed, because the story jumps back and forth to no avail, in shame. How are we supposed to believe that decompression happens in a matter of moments, and furthermore, how can we believe such a monster exists with this type of caliber? It takes away from any shock moments the film might have had, but then again, there aren't any (good) ones to speak of. Pretty boring really.
The final error, as it were, is due to blame they who were behind this. The European companies and producers obviously had their way with how they felt a BIG BUDGET BLOCKBUSTER would do with this caliber of octane energy. They FAIL on all accounts. The dialog suggests that they have a very bad perception of how they think Americans behave, such as drunks, sex fiends, and attempted flashy movie moments (say "AH" mother*beep*er!) that really make this one a cringe worthy piece of cinematic rubbish.
Not even an out of left field Jerry Goldsmith score can suffice in this one, and he NEVER misses, except maybe on this one. 3 Stars for his efforts, whatever they might bring us :-( Pity! Were I anyone who reads this...head the WARNING...skip it!
Jennifer's Body (2009)
Jennifer's Body is lifeless...
The film has no objective method of approach. It's neither horror, nor comedy. It's satire (bad satire, at that.) The film enjoys constant displays of ideas and images that correlate to the country (red, white and blue; burning flag) and religion (Town's name is "Devil's Kettle" religion is referenced many times.) matched with some of the admit-tingly hilarious dialogue of Diablo Cody, and of course, Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried (who bring us guys a VERY likable bedroom scene.), to bring you one of the weirdest experimental teen horror flicks that tries to make a statement at the same time. The narratives that form the message are in your face at some times, and subtle and barely registering, at others. The film tries to say one thing, but is so clearly the other. The film then so, became herky jerky and inefficient. I left the theater in a state of sugar daddy comatose wanting more from the two leads and less from the so called "statement (which I didn't get any more of anyway.)
What we have here, is a failure to communicate-a direct result of the writer, Diablo Cody, herself! This film is illogical and messy in it's attempt to display teen horror in a satirical manner. It doesn't move much past the opening, when the logic and reason are thrown out in a bizarre series of events that almost don't make sense. It then goes to play itself with a new breed of 'lingo' that writer Cody obviously thinks the new-age audiences will thrive off of. It's a high-school horror movie doing bad stand -up comedy, or rather, it's Darren Steins "Jawbreaker" with a satanic twist. The story introduces some harsh events that will only disable one's thinking ever more...
But when it all comes down, we have two genres slugging it out by the flagpole. It's easy to see, no one is going to get this movie. Those who will like it, will not so, for the reasons they should, and those who do NOT like it, will so because they don't get what Cody is trying to tell us. What's that? You got us. The film is a cross between political statement, and social anxiety of religion, particularly in a school setting. This could have been a keen idea for the new generation of 'R' rated horror films, but Cody tries to make the film too appealing, getting lost and indulged in the dialogue, the social dynamic, and Megan Fox. Therefore, the film has no direction. It's lost early on, and the film misses the mark. The film had a few merits, such as Amanda Seyfried who delivers the only genuine performance. Hers is a solid, character remaining a stable element that (barely) holds the film together in it's best moments. But when it all comes down, the film is hindered by the story, the plot (there is a difference between the two) and characters, all of which take a back seat to the muddled "message" of the film and the film suffers from inconsistency.
Fierce, Bold, and shameless view into the psyche of fragmented motherhood.
To start, the film "Orphan" was promoted to be a modern day schlock film about a murderous child who wrecks havoc on a loving home which adopts her. This method of audience attraction could not be further from the truth. "Orphan" is an intense drama, about how fragmented minds of both children and adults can hinder the relationships between the children of a family, broken or otherwise, and the parental units with which the family is overseen. The film's premise follows a the Coleman family, a broken, unconventional family who have recently befallen a slight tragedy. Specifically the mother, Kate, who has just suffered a miscarriage. From here, we learn that, in addition to other complications to John, her husband, and she herself, that their marriage is on the rocks, about to slip. They figure adopting a child to make up for the still born one of their own, will mend things. So they adopt Esther, a kind, intellectual, but reclusive young girl from the St. Martins school for girls. This does in fact, mend their marriage, because of all things, their youngest child, Maxine, who is deaf, has particularly taken to Esther. Soon though, events start to take place, inconsistencies, and 'accidents' that all seem to be connected with Esther's arrival. This sets the story, but so much more takes place within the film, that will most obviously be missed by many 'thrill seeking' audience members. First of all, there is a complexity of character development and layers of character issues with both John and Kate, who were both played out wonderfully and very authentically by Peter Saarsgard and Vera Farmiga. The problems the characters are faced with, matched with the problems they've overcome, reaches the viewer with no holds barred realism. So too, do you get the feelings from the actress playing the deaf child. Sign language is incorporated into the film, and stylistically, the direction has many of her scenes in complete silence, helping us live in her world for just a few moments at a time. One of the real gems to this film is Isabelle Furhmen, who is regards nothing but what she is supposed to do as Esther. She is impressive, and focused, with a memorable accent and almost perfect acting for someone at her age. She will go far if she continues to grow and take in all that she can. CCH Pounder pops in for a welcome cameo. The story itself is frankly far fetched, but the actors and director Jaume Collet Serra, who is humbly making his way up the ladder in the industry, and it's not hard to see why, make this stylish and entertaining trash something to think about. The direction is a BIG contribution to the films virtues. The camera work, the direction of the scenes and the actors, and overall execution of the story and the way it's structured give the film more cinematic validity than it originally has any right to. There are physical camera moves than entice and suspend the viewer, there are jumps and build ups in the conversations that lead the viewer on, and then usually there will be a revelations that doesn't try to scare, just creeps up your skin. John Ottman provides a less than memorable score. He is usually on top of the game, providing a score that is better than the films themselves, but this time, the direction has clearly eclipsed him. But it by no means stops there. The best part of the film (direction, really) is the bold and shameless way it approaches how the events in the film are portrayed. Serra is not afraid to go where other filmmakers are sensitive. He places to the two children, one innocent, the other not so innocent, in the scariest of situations, for both children and parents alike, and takes risks with their lives. The situations on screen are in your face and intense, but don't linger on for too long, eliciting an uncomfortable and at times, horrifying feel that makes the viewer want to forget they ever saw this. These depictions include but are not limited to, children locked in a tree house on fire, children killing adults, children psychologically playing off the naiveté of other children, etc. It's definitely not for younger audiences. In fact, it's a film that some adults should see. A commentary on the affect parenting has on children, and how subtle but real the ignorance of a parent can be. It's an adult film on many levels actually, giving the story lines to the parents most of all, and giving the scary material as a secondary tactic. The film is a daring exercise in presenting the subtle consequences of ignorance in the American Family. Likewise, the film can also be taken as a look into a world where youth and innocence is taken for granted, and all ages are affected thusly. Either way you look at it, the film presents a world where the boundaries of age and maturity are broken and the lines that are usually drawn between are blurred. Our characters at one point or another can each be blamed, or sympathized with. And for that, the film has done half of what it should: Reflect while being entertaining. The other half, is what no brained audiences have seen the film for, a gory attempt to cash in on the idea that adults are stupid and children should disrespect their parents. People who are going to see this film for either this reason, or to be scared, will most certainly not get their dollars worth. All in all, "Orphan" has brought back the R-rated horror film, and with it, an intellect to the adult scary movie, and it will only really be successful if other filmmakers recognize it for what it is, and continue to take this new method on.
Terror in the Aisles (1984)
Exceptional documentary about the power behind modern suspense.
One of the most interesting facts about this terrific documentary, is that it was released theatrically back in 1984. Can you think of any other documentary that chronicles and combines film clips to a strong degree seeing release into the cinemas today? I know I certainly cannot. "Terror In The Aisles" is a one of a kind documentary exploring the technical and psychological aspects of the suspense genre, covering some of the most influential horror, Sci-Fi, and Action Suspense films that had been made up to that point,in 1984. By the 1980's, these genres had seen a very interesting variety films. This documentary covers a great deal of these films, ranging from the earliest of films such as the 1931 "Dracula", and "Frankenstein", to more contemporary film such as "Jaws", "Alien", "NightHawks" and "Halloween".
Narrating, or rather, hosting this documentary, are Donald Pleasance of the "Halloween" films, and Nancy Allen of early Brian De Palma films such as "Carrie" and "Dressed To Kill". Both actors, of which, have their own films as featured titles. They each take turns narrating different categories of the horror films. For example, Donald Pleasance talks about the more intense films such as his own famed "Halloween", and "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", while Nancy Allen talks about the concept of women as victims in the films that are depicted. It's a fun time watching these two stars explore such thematic topics in horror films, while giving commentary about how, and why audiences are effected by them.
Obviously, horror fans are going to be thrilled to view a myriad of some of the most impacting horror films of that time. such film clips include the chest-bursting scene from "Alien", the death of Eddie from "Jaws 2", the opening from "Jaws", The chase from "NightHawks", and the head explosion from "Scanners". The film does, however, construct these scenes in an order that fits the topic of which Pleasance or Allen are narrating, or providing a commentary of sorts. Another good thing about the film, is that you do not have to be a die-hard horror fan to enjoy it. Sure, it displays scenes of intense gore, but it's quite reasonable and even a little educational and certainly insightful as far as going over the technical and psychological aspects of horror films.
In dissecting the technical and psychological side of the genre, the Pleasance and Allen explain what shocks us, and why we're so vulnerable to it. We are given terrific examples as the aforementioned chest-bursting scene from "Alien", the rat scene from "Whatever Happened To Baby Jane?" The first appearance of Leatherface in "Texas Chainsaw Massacre", and the transformation scene from "An American Werewolf In London". On the technical side, the two actors explain the stylistic way the films were made, and how they manipulate the audience. Such examples come from the camera-work in "Friday The 13th part 2", the special effects in films such as "The Howling", and the visual style of "Rosemary's Baby". Pleasance and Allen also discuss the topics of villains, heroes, and confrontations.
All in all, this is a nice film that definitely succeeds in explaining the horror genre, and all the many topics therein. It's a fun film for fans and film buffs alike, and it's a joy to watch over and over again. More recent compilations have been released, such as the "Boogymen" compilation, that succeed only in providing genre fans with expected film clips of repetitive gore and violence. Those are nothing like "Terror in The Aisles", which both shows and expresses the genre at it's best because during that time, it had reached it's best.
Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988)
Another artistic endeavor that continues to thrill all audiences alike-A classic follow up to a Classic.
After viewing the original "Hellraiser" and reviewing it, this film comes to mind as one of the more worthy follow ups to a classic. As all great films, with a subliminal message that doesn't need a sequel to follow it up, or explain more, "Hellraiser" was a film that encompassed the imagination with it's sheer and unsurpassed creativity and told a story with horrific, but beautiful tones. It was only inevitable that a sequel would come up sooner or later, to change the feel of the first film, and derail the novel ending. And as Hollywood driven as "Hellbound: Hellraiser II" is, it's a film that is full of surprises, and yet, keeps it traditional enough to match wits with the first film. Full of lavish production values, zenith class make-up and special effects, and gorgeous set design, and cinematography, this sequel did what only few sequels in film history have done: Take what the first film created and keep the original essence, while taking it to a new level. Thus, it's not a mere sequel, but a continuing. "Hellraiser II" gives you what the first film teased: Hell. We as the audience go to hell and back several times, while continuing a saga with the few surviving (in any way possible!) characters from the first film in the process. Kirsty, our heroin from the first film, has been put in a mental hospital, still convinced that the hellish crusade from the first film is not yet over, and direly believes her father to be in hell, awaiting her rescue, while Julia, our villainess from the first film, is back from the dead, and bringing a new depth of hell to earth, prominently fueled by a hellish God, Leviathan. The first of the films many surprises is the integrity from the first film is still intact. And that makes it a great sequel.
Gothic, Gory, Romantic, Beautiful, Colorful, and Tasteful horror film. A Gem!
Contrary to what one might conceive in their minds BEFORE watching this classic horror movie, it should be said that Clive Barker has delivered us a real gem of a horror story, packed with intensity, both emotionally, as well as physically. "Hellraiser" is about love, lust, pain, and pleasure. It's been called an "otherworldly tale of pain and torture". It's been referred to as a grim, Gothic romance. Needless to say, it's gore following is much more in numbers than that of the "Lord Of The Rings" trilogy. Truly, this film is everything one see's it to be, from a romance, to a gore show, to a good ol' fashioned scare show. Either way, it's a fine film regardless. I might add, however, that it may come as a surprise upon first viewing. What is surprising, is the way it plays out very dramatic. Our characters are very down to earth, each with their own personal idiosyncrasies and inner demons, not to mention personal strengths. Each of them stands like a look at the different human desires, fears, joys, and sorrows. It plays out like a grim, Shakespeare play. A man and woman, Larry and Julia Cotton, moving into a home where memories dwell upon like haunting spirits. Larry is a charismatic optimistic gentleman, full of love and compassion for his wife, and his daughter, Kirsty. Julia is a human relic of baggage and fallen dreams, because she bears so many dark secrets, one of which is an affair with Frank, her husband's younger brother. Frank is alive, and replenishing himself after a rather nasty encounter with a Pandora's Box. Larry's blood, spilled over a hardwood floor, brings Frank back to life from an excruciating death, in one of the finest special effects sequences in cinematic history. Once Julia and Frank reunite, their love is more dangerous, and powerful than imagined. Together they conspire in the grand tradition of "McBeth" and "Othello", to reign in pleasure once again. Enter Kirsty, Larry's daughter, and Frank's niece. A warm hearted, but determined soul who crosses paths with Julia and Frank before they can finish their diabolical plan. Kirsty eventually encounters the dark secret beheld Frank upon his death, a puzzle box. It brings pain, pleasure, and death. Creatures of darkness; the Cenobites, angels to some, demons to others, come to Kirsty when she accidentally calls upon their ghoulish powers. Once unleashed, they must take someone back, and Kirsty knows now, how Frank is back, and she intends to return him to his deathly justice, and save her family...
The writing is just remarkable. Clive Barker has given us people, humans, planted in their own desires, and determinations, and he tears them apart with fear, pain, death, destruction, and total degradation. The Cotton family are the perfect example of purity, torn to shreds by hate, lust, and anguish, and he takes great glee in showing us all the gory details.
The production is a real high! This is what the best type of films are made of. Real, gory, bloody human remains, connecting to each other in divine sequence, to create a 100% greedy man. The colors are plenty and gorgeous. The look of the blood, and the shine of the lights, and the way the actors are lit... It's just beautiful. The music of the film is brilliant. Composer Christopher Young chills the film, and drenches it with his dramatic variation of the main title, and the rest of the music contains harsh strings, brass horns, music box cues, and rhythmic cues that speed the pace up with action.
Clive Barker is such a great writer and director, and filmmaker altogether. He has given us a great thriller that crosses the line between reality and fiction, in great taste and color, literally. It's no wonder twenty years later, the film stands on it's own, aside from it's sequels, and remains an ultimate horror classic to end them all...well some of them anyway. It's not the only horror film to portray itself intellectually, and it certainly has it's gore effect to an all time high. Still, it's quite a dashing and artful film, and always a treat to watch every time.
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
God Awful, and certainly NOTHING special!
"The Bourne Ultimatum" had a real chance at being something big, something to end what had began as the most admirable motion picture saga in years. "The Bourne Identity" blew our minds far enough to the point that we were going back to the theater again and again to experience that same excitement once more. "The Bourne Supremacy" promised just as much, and even delivered a good roller-coaster ride of a sequel, albeit a little inferior to it's high riding predecessor. Sadly, "The Bounre Ultimatum" falls completely flat from hitting anywhere near what the first two films had landed themselves. This film is has all the excitement of a snail race. Why? Well, let's see, it managed to screw itself up in more ways than one. It over blew it with the filming tactics, and the writing was disgusting! I will explain.
First off, the film begins with some dreadfully unexplainable way of taking place before the last film ended. Why the writers did this, I have but to know, anyway, Jason Bourne is still on the lamb. You'd think that after all these years he'd be okay to an extent...but wait a minute...it's only been two years since the first one, and about six weeks since the second installment...somehow before the second film ended??? Anyway, there is more conspiracy and intrigue that has Bourne as angry as a caged cobra, and he's fighting mad! Before we can digest a single up-to-date detail of what's going on, a useless story line appears, of a man who's been onto Bourne for years, following the story. The man is brought to Bourne for a quick instant before meeting his own death. Somebody was feeding him information, and somebody wasn't going to let him live...the pointlessness goes on, as does the ridiculous shaky camera-work. Soon enough, the extraneous character of Nicky is introduced this thrice time around, the film falls apart.
Despite the bad opening sequences, I was enjoying myself with the usual Bourne action stunts, and the always determined Matt Damon in the role. What's more, is that the first twenty minutes of the film is entirely DRENCHED in the memory of Marie Helena Kreutz (Franka Potente from B.I. & B.S.), giving us the notion that she might get a little more justice than before. Alas, the joy is short-lived when that lousy, disgusting, horrid actress Julia Stiles rears her ugly fat face into the film, and the character Nicky is supposed to be some resurrected position of the new Marie Helena Kreutz. That was when the film lost my admiration completely. It became the first film all over again, with many instances mirroring the first film on many levels. It is the same thing, with David Stathairn practically mimicking Chris Cooper, and that wretched Julia Stiles posing as a reminder of how wonderful Franka Potente was. Heck, that's all this movie is, a reminder how terrific the first film was, never mind the second. Joan Allens performance is a saving grace, but she can't manage to do it without a little help...and she has none, not even from Matt Damon. Everyone else runs, jumps, punches, types, speaks etc. like little miniatures programmed to function like the dangerous characters in the first two films. It's just dreadful. This is not fun or exciting for the fans. Fans more so feel the way I feel, that it is the writers and producers slapping us on the face. Do they think that we won't catch the stupid rehashing of "Identity"?
Some people obviously find that take a refreshing, ironic stir, but I for one can't stand it! Theyshould scrap this garbage with the intentions of making another, more innovative climax to what should have been a great trilogy.
Home by Christmas (2006)
Linda Hamilton serves well in a Television Film
I never pay too much attention to television films, especially when they intend to show for a certain audience, such as the way Lifetime Network targets their films for housewives and little girls. The "however", however, comes with the star of "Home By Christmas", Linda Hamilton. I could watch anything this elegant lady does, and thus so, I took a chance on this film.
"Home By Christmas" is a quite depressing story of a woman, whom divorces her cheating husband, only to meet even more humiliation by loosing her home in the post-mordam madness, and living in her car. Despite this, she keeps her hopes up, and clings to every opportunity she can, in attempt to build a plan for getting her life back. Her desperation accelerates when her young daughter is returning home for X-Mas, and she needs a quick way to hide the disastrous situation that has befallen her. Not only that, but she has fallen in love, and cannot bring herself to admit her situation to the man she is interested in. Still, she manages to prevail in all her hope and glory, and just as the yuletide season is coming to it's heights.
The story of this is actually depressing, and very sad to think about, but there is humor therein. Linda Hamilton is serious about this role, but she plays it out very well. The hope and humorous ambitions of her character are well represented, and we find ourselves smiling throughout the film, despite the lousy conflicts our leading actress is faced with. The fact is, we are given hope with every scene, as the writing is pretty sharp (a rarity for television films). it's no wonder why Hamilton choose this role. There is something to learn from the film, about giving and receiving. It's quite touching, and in the end, we see the miraculous life lessons of what good comes from hope and faith, and the power of the yuletide season.
Big bang special effects, black lighting blue and green screens, buffed up actors, no style as far as widescreen is concerned, no good at making an impression on anyone but numb skulled audience members (of which there are obviously many of) to a certain degree. Shall I keep on going? Supposedly based on true events, fictionalized for novel purpose, and blown over the top and out the old proverbial dumper for theaters, this film was a D.O.A. from the second the company logo played. It has all the intensity of a dog taking a bowel movement. Halfway through the film I was sitting in the theater asking myself, 'just what exactly is this about again?' and then it hit me how horrendous the filmmakers visions were.
It was just that which made this film so bad, clashing visions. And you can see it in the trailers and promotional material for this film. On one hand, you have actors working out their damned hardest to get into lean shape, and make their characters stand out, but of course falling into the age old Hollywood Blockbuster curse, they are eclipsed by the way they look and no one even cares about where they have been or where they are going. There is no depth, there is only look, and looks. Poor actors, such as Gerard Butler, Dominic West, and David Wenham, giving it their all, and for what? So people can take a look at their chests, muscles, and rear ends. They give the film nothing more. No spunk, no attitude. Nothing. And that's just the start. All the special effects that it took to make the film also fall futile. There is really nothing impressive about the ultra super imposed grainy look given to battle sequences, the MTV fast-slow quick camera movement that has become cliché in the last few years of bad movies, and the horrible use of music throughout the film. All it does is show that too many people had one too many hands in this film, that they all crashed and this film burned because of it. What I'm getting at is that this film is a poor man's 'Gladiator' with sped up camera changes, blaring guitar music that is supposed to 'elevate' the tension of the fight scenes (it doesn't) and actors supposed to look mighty and tough, but only look like homo-erotic male strippers. All this drawn together, too much 'creativity'(if that's what one would call it, I wouldn't though) strung together on God knows what, and mashed into a digital garbage can, this is what you get.
There is nothing about 300 that is remotely moving. It has the depth of a bathtub, the feel of sand paper, the sound of grinding in your ears, the look of a comic book that was left outside in the rain for a few years, run over by a tow truck carrying the film crew to the studio to work on another film to redeem themselves from making this piece of stench, and then left on the shelf, you get the point.
I could go on, but why bother? If you haven't gotten the point by now, you won't. Watch it at your own risk, and try not to use(loose) too many brain cells.
This film is Hogwash.
The Real Scarface.
"A Classic is something that everybody wants to have read but nobody wants to read. A classic is also something that everyone praises but no one has read." -Mark Twain
'Classic' seems to be the word used to describe "Scarface", Brian DePalma's 1983 film about opulence, self surrender, greed, and danger among Florida's drug ring. People and critics (and rappers for that matter) deem this film 'an epic gangster classic' or 'eptiome of gangster films.' When it is anything but. It is praised for all the wrong reasons. Scarface is a terrific film that deserves praise from all over, but not all the praise it gets from audiences today, and therefor the fine points it so poignantly makes are missed by the general public.
First off, the film is about a Cuban refugee, with a past of wanting to escape communism grasp and find happiness. Simple? Yes. But the layers of De Palma's directing genius, and the great story written by Oliver Stone (yes I know, he actually wrote a real good one here) play into all of it. The characters are all looking for an escape, as escape is a natural element dealt with in the film by all. Each character has something to offer, that makes them likable by everyone who could appreciate this film. They are entwined in a world of mystique and money, but all that has a price, as they all learn. Each character thinks they are getting better chances in life, when in true dramatic irony, they are actually getting worse. 'Tragedy' would be a better word to describe this movie. All those who praise the film for it's drug usage, it's violence, it's dialog, totally missed the point. There is nothing really positive about the film besides the characters positive expectations of themselves. And that is why the film works so well. The devastation through out the film serves to deliver the message of the film, not to look cool or attract viewers. Brian De Palma doesn't make movies for cult gangsters, or brainless action fans.
Next on, the film is an adult drama. It is not a 'gangster film'. It has it's share of action, but the action is plotted very carefully, so it has a point. It's not like "Aliens"- an example of a big dumb action film, and most audiences perceive this film as a big dumb action gangster film about doing drugs and shooting people. Ridiculous. Hogwash. If this film is about that, then it is about how bad it is. Not a promotion of it.
This being said, the film is indeed a great film. It has great cinematography that pulls you into the story. It has a very dramatic score (in true Giorgio Moroder style), which simply could give you chills, or bring you to tears. The film is rather lengthy, but it is a story, and each moment counts. The acting is terrific. Al Pacino - enough said. He can do any role that he puts his mind to, and this was no exception. Pretty boy Steven Bauer, as Manny. I didn't think much of him in other films he did, but he actually makes you like him when he goes under maestro De Palma's direction. Michelle Pfeiffer is a true gem as Elvira. Popping' fresh off the heels of a sort of embarrassment in "Grease 2" she got her ticket to ride performing a no holds barred performance of a beauty that is more than meets the eye. But the three true diamonds in this rough are Mary Elizabeth Mastrontonio as Tony's sister Gina, who when she smiles, or cries, we see her soul and her fresh way of living, and watch it deteriorate; Paul Shenar as Alejandro Sosa, a drug lord, who runs deeper than a river, and Shenar portrays him as so; and Miriam Colom as Tony and Gina's torn mother. These three dig the film as deep as it can go.
This reviewer learned one main thing when watching "Scarface" for the first time. Always go into a film unsuspecting. All the hype and talk of this film cannot possibly prepare you for what you really see. Only knowing De Palma (like I do) can give you even a glimpse of what this film holds. So ignore the rap crap, ignore the mindless violence supporters, and fix yourself a glass of Bailey's on the rocks, and indulge yourself in an emotional viewing of a great film, the real "Scarface."
Superman II (2006)
An acquired Taste to the Superman Cinema. *Spoilers*
Superman II was Superman Trouble. I will spare the sordid details as they can be read in my "Superman II" review on the Lester version boards. But let's just say that if you really want something bad enough, it can and might happen. Such is the case with this new, and most say, REAL version of Superman II. After many years, and even more letters, Warner Brothers finally financed a Donner recut of Superman II. But as has been stated before - the two films are both incomplete, and one will never actually see what Donner's version will ever really be. However, with this new cut, we as an audience can finally see what Donner had intended, and conceived.
"Superman II" begins with sparing no expense, or exposition. We see the action start right away, with such rumored scenes as Lois jumping out of the window, longer Lex Luthor prison scenes, and finally, the scenes with Marlon Brando which were long thought a rumor. Also seen are the full fortress finale, the full Donner interiors to the Daily Planet, and the screen tests for both Reeve and Kidder that were ingeniously edited together to create a scene in itself. These are great new scenes, with the soft Geoffrey Unsworth lighting, John Barry production design, and gorgeous Margot Kidder, and of course, Donner direction that give off the feel that the first film had. The print really shines, and the Donner footage is exactly what fans had hoped for.
The writing is better too, better dialog, better pacing, and no Lester humor. The Metroplois battle is harsher, the way Lois finds out Superman's identity is more clever (you can see why Margot was cast, her screen test inter-cut with Reeve's plays well as an actual scene) and the finale is pithy and in your face. It has been years and years coming, and I Feel we are now given the Superman II that we wanted.
There are a few quibbles. The editing. Michael Thau had some great ideas, but he jumps around every take it seems ever shot and never sticks with one. While it is great to see fresh new takes of favorite scenes, it is frustrating that some dialog has been lost, that was once seen on network television. The editing appears choppy in some scenes as well. We don't get a good enough look at some shots due to this. The Music. It is used rather effective in some scenes, better than the Theatrical version, and then in some scenes, it is not so effective. But these shouldn't really make a difference to the general audiences, only to the devotees like me who knew about this version years in advance.
Despite those small shortcomings, the film will grow on you. I have learned to accept the film, editing and musical differences for what they are: Donner's intention. Remember the Donner scenes presented theatrically were done so by Lester's crew, so everything in this film is how Donner would have done his version. An acquired taste of a new way to look at this classic film. It works. As many of us new it would. It really works.
The Descent (2005)
A Deep, Dark Decension
Be prepared for an unusually dark adventure when you make up your mind to see this film. It certainly builds to a nice set up. Also, for a feminist such as myself, the total domination of the female is both flattering and felicitous. The director certainly had some great ideas that he executed. I can easily say that I was surprised on most levels at first, because I saw something that was almost above my expectations. It wasn't a perfect film, mind you, but it did well with what it had.
The film follows a group of strong healthy women who meet in a camping trip, or rather a woodsy hang out in the Appalachian Mountains. One of these women, has just reached the end of a terrible year. Sarah, she lost her whole life, consisting of her husband, and her child. She is taking a private decent as it is, since the accident. Now, her friends are trying to serve her with a power weekend. This getaway soon turns disastrous, when the six women Decent into a cave , where circumstances take them into the heart of darkness, which tests their morals, their sanity, and ultimately, their will to survive. Soon, they are battling an army of unknown creatures that kill and eat, whilst screaming loud in the depths of the dark. This is made all the more unbearable by the fact that we hardly see any of it.
The film follows a distant, and pale tone all the way through, and the formula is not so predictable. The opening, however, is terribly rushed, and treated like a secondary plot device. Thusly, we barely have any steadiness or focus clear enough to realize the damage that has been done. Moments later, we are taken to the Appalachians, where the pushy, bossy Juno character is all and ecstatic about this new mountain climbing trip. The characters are certainly defined early on, and it is easily made clear as to which ones are amicable, and which ones aren't. Each one has flaws, and each one has strengths. The dialog, and the general closeness of the women is brought out with close shots and tight angles.
Another plus to the film, is the subject of the Decent. There are three actual Decents that are happening, or rather the characters are taking three simultaneous Decents. They have taken a Decent into the dangerous cave, the Decent into the end of their friendship, and ultimately, the Decent into insanity. As the claustrophobia and anger tenses, the women are forced to realize who is the one to blame, who can help them escape, and who they can trust with their lives. The Juno character has lied to them, trapped them in a cave, and endangered their lives. Many incidents end the film, with a tragic feeling, and a notable sense of prevention, which further flames the tragedy. Now, a minus for the film, is that the horror of the crawlers is never reached until quite late in the story, despite some early signs of impending danger. The focus on the women is long, dull, and heavy handed. Thusly, over half way through the film, do we really find the women in serious danger of death by the mouths of these creatures.
Yes, we were almost given a good film, and why not? The film has left many audiences talking about it, and given some good topics to debate over, but in the long run on things, the film seems to be a cold product of it's times. Like most films today, it either copies other films, or is a rehash or remake. It's a feminist "Deliverance" that takes place in a cave. The same type of set up brought to a more, action packed rate. It doesn't keep up with itself, and the survival instinct is muddied. There seems to be a moral message, but haven't we seen that already? What about the modern symbolism about the human system? It also falls prey to the MTV style camera-work, and tactics that are too familiar in some scenes. Also, the plot developments do not reach the potential to which they are first displayed. Alas, a wonderful example of how potential is only taken so far today, that it crumbles before it can reach the apex of perfection.
Barry Thomas isn't having a good day!
For a slow-paced, and mild-mannered man named Barry Thomas, Tuesday morning was just another day with the same old people, being unpleasant and disgusting. He attends the same job, with the same drags and hacks. His boss is a real wench, his best friend won't give him a break, and the woman he has fallen in love, has no idea he exists. But today, Tuesday, he will make a difference. Whether he knows it or not, he will be the key player in the next four days. His first time to speak to his crush, Dr. Lisa Fredricks, goes from kinky, to array. He can't manage to sit down at his desk, without his best pal playing a harsh prank. Next thing he knows, his job is on the line. Things get much more difficult when he watches the beautiful Lisa, suffer, and die from a slew of shots from a gun! He is estranged and torn, so he drinks himself to sleep, but not before he shocks himself whilst touching his lamp....as lightening strikes... Alas, the next morning begins, and there is no mention of Lisa Fredricks death on the news, or in the office, of which he is late for work...again. His boss is saying the same old nagging, his friend has the same pranks in line, and as soon as he can adjust to this madness, there, walking by, is Dr. Lisa Fredricks. The day has started over...and a time bounce has interfered the world.
This film was such a wonderful effort from FOX back in 1993, and I only pity the network for producing less-than worthy decisions more so today. It has a firm, catchy theatrical feel to it, that appeals to it's audience. It sets itself up with an intense introduction and a nice opening title sequence that prepares the rest of the film. It's subject matter, and executional tactics are very fair, and not overdone. They don't show any blood and guts, nor do they invade the script with vile language. Not that it would contain any, being a film made for television. What's more, it captures the exact tensity and tension as an action sci-fi thriller made for a summer blockbuster audience. All the good moments are well represented. Perhaps it would have faired well in a theatrical run...it seemed to do so as it was.
The cast is terrific, and as such, they're easily lovable. Jonathan Silverman is one heck of a good guy in this picture, and he wins our hearts early on, with his adorable personality and his "nice guys finish last" approach. He has an effective puppy love for Helen Slater as the leading lady. Silverman is so hansom and determined to reach his destination. You just want to cheer for him, and your jaw drops as certain obstacles get in his way. Helen Slater as always, gives one of her many articulate performances. She is not so vulnerable as she looks, and she is not easily persuaded to any single belief. Her stronger moments do lay in her character when she is torn between what she thinks is real, and what she wants to believe. Need I say anything more than the radiation of light that appears when her name is mentioned? Slater and Silverman are so cute together, and you just want to take them both and hug 'em tight! The rest of the cast is fun. Jeremy Piven is a frolicked fun co-star who puts his comedic timing to good use as the side-kick friend with a desk full of pranks. Robin Bartlett is above the funny line as the nagging boss who steps out from the expected line and creates diversion and delays. Martin Landau...well, what's not to love about the guy? He's good in whatever he does!
"12:01" is a real winner. It's not too much, but it's more than enough to please any type of crowd.
Half Light (2006)
It was TOO good to be seen in American theaters.
Everyone has a real motive to be hyped about this great little thriller. It was the film Demi Moore chose to do one year after her come-back in the overdone "Charlie's Angels" sequel. After constant scripts and offers knocked on Moore's door like it was 1996, it is VERY obvious why Moore chose a film like this. This film was approached in the very manner that her earlier films were, and this film shows that she hasn't lost her judgment. It is also obvious that she was careful about what to do after America went banana's over her still-hot looks, and a strange fascination with younger guys. To me, this was the best possible decision she could have made.
When novelist Rachel Carson looses her small son to the devastating nature of water, she also looses her life. Her marriage is failing, and she is suffering a severe case of writers block. To ease the pain of her son's death, she takes a leave from her home in England, to a quaint island with a beautiful village. There, she starts what she could call, a better life, while it is anything but (Illusions, Betrayal, Fear of Insanity, etc.). As she begins to see her son, she hears him tell her things involving people she knows.
Such a great choice made by Moore, as I said, is very evident by the way the film opens, subtle and soft, with just a touch of eeriness. The films charm comes not only from appealing writing and likable cast, but also from (as earlier stated) the approach. This is what movie-goers want to see when they go to the theaters. This film is painted with bucolic shots and scenery of the European countryside. Hauntingly depicted in long shots, and pacing, in light of a film released in the early 1990's; much better than anything released today, or in the last five years. Director Rosenberg seems to know what his audience is looking for, and weaves the story as if he were writing a book. It is all quite poetic and still; not all violence is mindless.
Such high quality frames and stunning imagery make this one a film you love to watch. You also love to endure the presentation of the characters, and the story through the impeccable pacing. It moves along very surely, but never too quickly, and the tactics it uses keep you in tune with all that is happening, on screen or not. We get to know Rachel Carson, as Demi Moore still enchants the screen with charisma and presence. Other characters are drawn out well in the same style, and the fact that we Americans haven't the best familiarity with the actors, really helps. Why this film was passed onto video is not clear, but one thing is for sure, it isn't a viable reason, whatever it be. For all my reasons, I can only conclude that it was TOO good to be seen in American theaters. Most US audiences are used to fast-paced action crud that only appeals to little brats who spend the day lounging at the cinemas anyway because they're so useless they have no lives. "Half-Light" is a great example of modern day thriller. It was unexpected, it was natural, it was eerie! Most of all, it was REAL! What is not to like? Answer that America, if you can!
Great recapping of some of the most influential women in television history!
What a nice thing to see, as this little documentary special gives us a countdown of the 50 most wicked women in prime-time history. The best choice that could have been made in terms of a host, was executed rather well. Joan Collins, who is, herself, one of the most wicked women ever, co-hosts this fun 120 minutes with "OC" star Melinda Clarke. Both vixens sizzle the commentary with their sexy personalities and campy narrations. Only Joan Collins could compliment her former character all throughout and get away with it, because even she knows how great her past-time as Alexis Morel Carrington Colby Dexter Rowan was. Melinda Clarke also has fun, as will you, should you dare take on the power of these feisty women.
Such wonderful memories are recalled throughout with favorites from "Melrose Place", "Dynasty", as well as other fun characters as Whitley from "A Different World", and Sally Solomon from "3rd Rock From the Sun". Even Karen Walker from "Will & Grace" is ranked on the list, and rightly so. Heather Locklear gets a double dose of respect as she is given two places.
One complaint, and probably the only one, is that some characters are present, that should not have been put on the list. We are given a character from "That 70's Show" as a wicked woman in prime-time, when shows like that should not count. Places such as that could have been saved for Ana Alicia's Melissa Agretti Cumson Gioberti from "Falcon Crest". Jane Wyman's Angela Channing is also not present. Just the same, even funny D-lister Cathy Griffin is given a place on the list for her personality! The most important ones belong in the "top 7 deadly sins" as Melinda Clarke would say it, and rightly so. Who do you think is #1? I'll give you a clue, her character's name is the longest, and she is the most well remembered from the 1980's! These really are wicked women!
Basic Instinct 2 (2006)
The heck with Capote and Johnny Cash- this is Catherine Tramells' movie!
Finally, after years of awaiting a new film to continue the sexual mayhem of "Basic Instinct", we have been given a great sequel that is packed with the right elements needed for a franchise such as this! I remember everything about the original, the steam, the romance, the sex, the interrogation, the music (by the master Jerry Goldsmith), and everything else from violence and murder, to intense confrontations of all kind! Make no mistake, "Basic Instinct" was a real winner for audiences everywhere. I can remember in 2001 when we were first given the news about such a sequel. Five years later, we have it. I never would have thought it to end up such as this. When it was declared a dropped project, time sure couldn't tell if it was ever a real possibility to begin with. Well, I guess we now know anything's possible in this case. Even if the original director, or writer are not present, all we need is the glamorous, always reliable Sharon Stone, and we have a done deal! Please, hear me out...
When people say that this film is bad, I think it is only due to the fact that the style is extreme, and slightly dated. I use the word "dated" only because we have not seen a certain film of the like in many years, and audiences have become adapted to the pointless, boring storytelling seen in other movies that actually make money, and the only reason they make such big numbers is because those films are family friendly. Who needs hole some and clean? Of course it's a pleasant thing to have, but c'mon! Escapism is really seldom these days, and "Basic Instinct 2" gives us real fans what we've been expecting. This film is not an Academy Award winner, nor does it try to be. It simply delivers the die-hard fans what they have been expecting. It's a film for fun. Movies today seem to take themselves way too seriously, but this film is just loose and fun, not taking itself seriously, not too seriously anyway. That said, I shall evaluate the film.
The film is a fast-paced film from the first second, as we see Cathernine Tremell in a car, speeding at 110 MPH-and enjoying lustful thrills doing so. Perhaps sex and driving does not mix, because our sexy novelist takes a bad turn and...well, she gets away unharmed, but her studly partner doesn't fare too well. Once again, Tremell is the primary suspect of the accident, and will be put under analyst's and psychiatrists. Dr. Michael Glass (Morrissey) is automatically drawn to to her from the first moment he meets her. Like another criminal investigator before him, he is entranced and seduced, slowly, and surely. His denial of it all begins to crumble around him as she weaves a spell only she has the power to do. Tramell is possibly more dangerous now, than she was before,but like the first one, we'll never really know, will we? Once the seduction is in motion, jealousy, rage, drugs, and a plateful of erotic scenery ensues!
This film does not recycle the first one, but rather mentions the previous films incidents briefly from time to time. This is a good thing. It lets us as an audience know that the script has been written to bring the level up a notch or two. Sharon Stone dazzles us again, as though 14 years has not come to pass. Her second run of the deceitful novelist is right on the spot as earlier. Just awesome! David Morrissey is well cast, and manages pretty well. The fact that a non-popular star was chosen, makes his performance all the more enjoyable because we as an audience have no background on him, just what we see him perform. My final thought-8.5 to 9 out of 10. So it's not the first one, nor can it live up to the first ones prize winning place. It can, however, live up to the standards set by the first film, and it does folks! It does.
Tame film carries solid material to hold it through.
We can't expect something extreme from the Hallmark Channel, nor can we expect anything decent from modern Hollywood. That said, one can only agree that you must do well with what you're given, and this films case, it proves to be true. We don't have a real blockbuster when it comes to watching films produced by the Hallmark Channel. Most of their films are family friendly, and interest only the more soft of audiences. Still, I suppose some of those telefilms are decent enough to tolerate, if given the right production values and proper treatment in post-production. This film, certainly deserves a look.
Hallmark has a film series of "Jane Doe" films. I had not idea, or ever cared before, until the films premiere last night. I certainly adore some of Lea Thompsons work, so watching her is always interesting, if not curious. This latest installation of the mystery television films finds a woman, named Cathy, who has a secret life of solving crimes while away from the suburbs. She has no real desire to return to the field, until tricky crimes plague a group of associates in a stock company. Now, she must team up with her partner, Frank.
Lea Thompson is a real nice performer, and as a director she goes far enough, but her light subject material makes the film somewhat fluffy and tame. Nothing is wrong with that, but mysteries should be dark too. This film was dark, and appropriate. As I said, it was done well with what it had. The cinematography is done well enough, even for a family television movie. Lea Thompson shows how cutsie tootsie she still is, with a light, humorous comedy with little twists around every corner. The co-stars work quite well, however the matter of William R Moses as the husband character in films like this is all to predictable and familiar. The glue for the film, however, is as firm as the earth stands, when viewing another terrific performance by the always remarkable, absolutely exquisite Helen Slater.
Slaters' appearance in a full-length film is the first in 2 years, so having the opportunity to watch the first airing was good enough. Quite easily over-looked, this film is a nice piece of something simple for fans of the like.
Beyond desire, is something WAY out of control!
In some genres, a certain combination will bring out a pretty good story. In this case, Author Stephen King gave us the equation, as well as the solution. The book "Christine" is a horrifying story about the psychotic bond between a school geek, and his demonic car. You have a story about a shiny car that was born bad. It's bad enough as is, but it also goes deeper than just a maniacal machine. This car can love, just as well as it can kill. It has a burning desire for the affection it can receive only by the loneliest of men, with nothing else to live for. It is all very depressing, I will explain.
Putting aside the opening sequence, we have two friends, full of life. One being Arnie, a stereotypical geek with virtually nothing going for him, the other being Dennis, a literal all-American apple-cheek football jock, the kind of guy to help his fellow man out. We find a nice bond with them. Perhaps they grew up together, or maybe their parents were friends. Whatever the case, it's a friendship worth having. Enter Christine, a blood-red Plymouth fury with an eerie past, and a mysterious gravitation field, effective on the most uncommon of men. Arnie is instantly seduced by this man killer of a machine, and once the final connection is made, there is no turning back. Arnie's behavior begins turning and changing in reflection of this unholy presence that destroys its enemies. A once respectful 17 year-old begins to display the most unbecoming of behavior towards his parents, the public authority, and soon, his friend, Dennis. He also reacts violently against the new girl in town, Leigh, who only wants to help.
This film never grows old in it's distinct style and outrageous effects. Acclaimed director John Carpenter of "Halloween" fame brings to the screen, a stylish, eerie, chilling adaptation that also bears within itself a depressing element of a desire that kills. We have Arnie, who desires Christine, who in turn, yearns for his absolute devotion. Human hearts don't work like such, unless it is Christine they desire. The concept also asks the question, what do you want, and what are you willing to give for it? Soon enough, the character Arnie is isolated in his own desire, that grows with both rage and passion every time someone or something interferes with he and his car. Christine is a deadly temptation, as Arnie is the weak desire. Unnatural love takes it's course, while reality, in the form of Dennis and Leigh, goes on. Only so much can occur before evil vengeance is unleashed in a rage beyond control. What puts the depressing part in motion, is the need of the two martyrs to help, but trying to stop Christine is like teaching a bowl of rocks to fly.
Keith Gordon certainly gave us his best as the ill-fated Arnie, which was a long way from almost becoming shark-food in "Jaws 2". We see him transform throughout the entire film, from honest decency, to morbid, selfishness, and the unnatural moments of intimacy with he and the car, are too creepy for words to say. John Stockwell gives the biblical impression of a modern day prophet, in Dennis, a teen who plays life by the rules, not only because he is smart, but because he cares. He has a real heart for friends, and the moral law of nature. Bravo! Alexandra Paul is also good as Leigh. Naive and gentile, but also very smart, and pro-active. Harry Dean Stanton turns in a fine performance, as does the rest of the cast.
John Carpenter was riding the waves of success as his legacy was continuing from "The Fog". He put together a score to suit the film, and a great rock'n'roll soundtrack to fit the conceit of death with tunes of life. All around creepy, and never a dull moment. "Christine" will serve you with chills and thrills to the final cut.
An episode worth watching, because one person made an appearance.
I do not watch "Greys Anatomy" on a regular basis. I just never cared much for it. We have had many other medical dramas such as "ER". I was not considering any such time to spend with this particular episode, until I discovered that Helen Slater, a dear favorite of mine, was amongst the guest stars. I actually realized that this show has real characters, who were more than just contrived characters for a ratings fanatic sweep. After "Desperate Housewives", ABC was too obvious in their ways to keep up the big numbers. In any case, this show has some real humor and interest within it, and I will never judge a book like this by its cover. I can't speak much for the main cast, but I will say, that Sandra Oh is always a delight to watch, as is Patrick Dempsey, whom starred with guest star Slater in "Happy Together" in 1989. The stories were more intense, and Helen Slater was more so acknowledged, but still brilliant with effortless gravitation as she is on screen.
LEGEND: Gothic, Grim, Beautiful, Enchanting, Magical, Dreamy, Fantastic, and ultimately Constant.
Ridley Scotts' fallen masterpiece "Legend" has, in it's own rite, become one of the most infamous, if not fascinating, legacies in Hollywood. In 1984, Ridley Scott, director of the famed sci-fi "Alien", set out to tell a defining fairy tale. Once he was joined by writer William Hjortsberg, the duo started off on a creative journey to conjure what would become the beloved film "Legend". The film was further more given the appropriate elements for the general fairy tale. The Princess, the Hero, the Villain, the Goblins, the Fairies, and the other magical characters and creatures such as the Unicorns and Honeythorn Gump. Seeing as the film is intended to be a definitive fairy tale, this would also mean tracing the modern genre back to its' roots, Grim style. Indeed, the completed product was pure in it's woven fables. Just as it is tender, and bright, is it also dark, surreal, nightmarish, and ultimately entrancing. More of the film deals with the overshadow of darkness in the magical land. A proper way to show the sudden switch from light and happy, to dark and fearsome indeed.
In the story, we have the world, happy, beautiful, completely compelling in its' own nature. The dark truth lies within its' own reality. Darkness once ruled the world, but has since retreated into the lower levels of the earth, to groan and complain of times in a better existence. The world is happy, because the Unicorn, a very dear, and sacred animal, rules the land. These gorgeous creatures know only love and laughter, and thusly, protect the world from evil. They are attracted to one element in man kind, innocence. Princes Lily is pure at heart, as well as mind and spirit. Her soul friend, Jack, leads her to the creatures, as a gesture of love and affection. Quite unfortunately, however, the Lord Darkness has sent his own army after the creatures too. Once both sides are at the right place, and the wrong time, the Unicorns are harmed, and the earth, in danger. Thus begins a journey full of action, adventure, and suspense.
Tom Cruise has only performed well in this one film, for me anyway. He is actually quite affective, and believable as the hero Jack. He shows both strength and bravery, to contrast with confusion and fear of the unknown. Very plausible indeed. Mia Sara is so gorgeous, naive, and pure as the Princess. Her characteristics consist of a blind ambition, love stricken playfulness, and of course, Innocence. Never, has this genre seen such a perfect portrayal. Now, Tim Curry turns in one hell of a performance. Thanks to modern film-making, Curry is a frightening, disgusting, and yet sexual portrayal of ultimate Darkness. The three stars are all mixed together in a real Fairy Tale, with a message at the end. (note, this message is only seen in the 2002 restored Directors Cut).
I do not feel the need to bring up the controversy that ensued the principal photography, as it is well known by fans and film buffs of all kind. What I can say, is that Ridley Scott was certainly determined to give us the product of his imagination. That said, he gave us a real fantasy. he has given us a real story of magic,, love, hate,adventure, and all kinds of elements that create what a film like this should be. One thing to truly be mentioned, however, is the late Jerry Goldsmith. This master at film composition of the musical persuasion, gave us his ultimate best, and that was being generous and forgetting about getting stabbed in the back during the processing of "Alien". Again, the great musician was tricked, and his beautiful score was thrown out the window from US versions, leaving the film to sugary and sappy. Even worse, important scenes were cut, leaving much of the film uneven and seemingly rushed. Sad enough, this kind of treatment happened a year earlier with 1984's "Supergirl". Fortunately, however, we were given the true version of the film in mid 2002, and rightly so. The film has since then, been seen, and loved by fans as myself, who loved it way back when....as well as now.
The best I can say, is that this movie has a full blown mastermind to it, and the producers and creators etc finally gave the film justice. Same happened with "Supergirl" in 2000. Bottom line, this film is brilliant, and touching, and an ever- glorious masterpiece!
The Island (1980)
Rushed film adaptation of an excruciating novel bears both Pros and Cons
I made darn sure to read the novel first, before pursuing the film itself. A real Benchley fan, I was curious about this film, as "Jaws" and "The Deep" had both left great impressions on film, as as the novels were packed with constant suspense. Well, I ended up reading the novel "The Island" only knowing one thing about it: Pirates. The book itself is a real piece of literature. This may be a single opinion by myself, but I was in utter shock, and at the edge of my nerves while digesting a novel filled with compelling action and suspense. It was my smart decision to first read the book, that ultimately set me with a certain understanding, which could have been a real misunderstanding otherwise.
The story has a man, Blair Maynard (Michael Caine), who, upon working for a magazine, eyes a news story about mysterious disappearances in a particular area off the coast of Florida. Against the wishes of his employer, Blair finds a way to put the story to good use, and decides to investigate the nearby locations surrounding the events. He does, however, have one problem: He has custody of his son for the time being. Swamped with this incredible story, Blair has no choice but to take his son along the expedition. Maynard also uses this trip as "bonding time" with his son. After numerous events (most of which are unseen in the film) lead them to a small resort island, a fishing trip on the side turns into a nightmare beyond words as Blair and his son are taken hostage, and held captive by a community of rough, gritty pirates. Blair is then used as a tool for petty survival tactics, while his son is brainwashed by the menacing beasts.
The book is, as I said, very hard to digest, as Benchley endures us with sordid, if not explicit details. A lot of people claim to despise the film, with various reasons counting. Some say it suffers from a lack in character development, or a rushed plot, or anything else that has been stated. Truth, a lot of complaints are made with good reason. The film is seemingly rushed, as most moments concerning the exposition of the story are missing in the film. Benchley wrote the script, so I find it hard to believe that a finalized print as it was, could be the result of his script. Either the film ran much longer, and was cut drastically by imposition of the studio, OR, Benchley kept straight to the book, without explaining certain elements that should have been looked over. In the full picture of things, this film is both loathed and adored. I personally had no problem with it. Seeing as I read the book prior to watching the film, I can attest to the fact that it does, in fact, go directly by the book, except for some segment that obviously didn't work.This film also marks the rumor that Caine walked on the set, and snubbed a check. Knowing the character development, and specific thoughts on marked incidents, I could read into the reality, and depth to which all the characters are representing. I guess what I am saying, is that if we all read the book, then watched the film, it would certainly be more acceptable and entertaining a film. For all I know, the film could actually be seen much friendlier if edited the right way. There could easily be a totally different film sitting in a vault somewhere such as Richard Donners version of "Superman II". I doubt we will ever know about it, or if that is even an accurate speculation. Even so, the film is interesting enough, if just a little rushed in the opening. It eventually slows it's pace, and makes for a good action film. My final stand is that it deserves at least a good watch. You might like it.
The Deep (1977)
It's More Than the Title...
Films like 'The Deep' are few, sporadic, and are usually not accepted by many audience members, but are usually the films that end up meaning the most in the end. I found that this film had a charm that I could not put my finger on, upon viewing it for the first time. The book, written by well known Peter Benchley (of 'Jaws' fame) was released on the heels of 'Jaws' success, so the film was released a year later, in '77, and was easily brandished as being a 'money film' but I assure you it is much more.
Loosely taken from the book, the film captures the essence of the title. When David Sanders(well played by newcomer Nick Nolte) is on Holiday with his lover(the ALWAYS beautiful and aesthetic Jacqueline Bisset, of whom the film rests well on) Gail Berke, the two uncover items while diving: a small bottle of some sort, sufficient with morphine, and an unrecognizable piece of jewelry, worn by sea and time. Naive to Bermuda, the two continue their holiday, with many people after what is in the bottle, and just who wants it, who should get it, and what ELSE is down in the deep. Genuinely frightening, and appropriately paced, this film not only relies on the situation to keep interest, but psychological undertones to further tell the story.
One of the biggest things this film has going is the underwater photography, shot with beautiful landscapes of coral, fish, and dedication to what the actors explorations achieve. Filmed in Panavision widescreen, this film delivers the whole underwater experience, as each scene is carefully timed and arranged photographically. The fact that filming was done creatively without CGI is all the more fascinating, and you feel like you are actually there, underwater, experiencing. This is buttressed by John Barry's positively breathtaking score. Each note whispers a feeling under and above water, springing in the air, and whooshing through the water, like an animal. The theme is gorgeous and reflects not only the characters attitudes, but the theme of the sea and the deep itself. It is at times violent, and at other times soft and peaceful. The writing can be said something for as well, as the scenes are like a ballet, with carefully choreographed actions, and dialog through the special masks they wear, that a whole scene could take place under water, and does. Benchley adapted from his book, and the story works well.
The acting of the film could not be better. Nick Nolte is very believable as the rambunctious and adventurous David Sanders, and he is played with such prowess and eagerness, something that could be found in all of us, toward the ocean. We really learn to feel why David feels so much about the ocean, more so in the extended television version. Jacqueline Bisset is hauntingly gorgeous as Gail Berke, the conscience and voice of reason of the film. Gail is torn by morality midway through the film, something else we all can relate to. And as the danger caresses, so to does Gail toward what she believes in, and her love for David. Romber Treece is played out with spunk and passion by the late great Robert Shaw, fresh off the celluloid of Jaws, and makes the role his own. Treece, being an islander, knows the bad, and goods of the material they have found under sea, and acts more or less as a guide to keep the two out of danger, while achieving his own satisfaction to the sense of desire he has to the call of the sea. The supporting cast is really great as well. Louis Gosset is daring and intimidating as the main villain Henri Bondourant, one who kills at will, and who provides the three main characters with plenty of conflict, and Eli Wallach is sleazy and perfect as the only survivor of a wreck, that later became the site of the treasure and drugs. The main three do their best to help with the psychological undertones of the film, part of the real charm.
'The Deep' is more than just a deep sea adventure, but a psychological study of three human beings: One, an adventurous, intrepid young man, fascinated by what is dangerous and unknown to him; The other, his lover, a woman of strong passion, strength, and beauty on the inside and out, who is drawn to those she cannot access or comprehend; The third, a man who has been to hell and back, who still feels obliged to his place of comfort, the ocean. The chemistry between these characters, is what builds the undertone. Gail, is fascinated by Treece, because he has been through so much, and feels drawn to his reclusiveness and relevance. David is drawn to danger, and cannot be denied his goal, needs the pleasure of experience, and Treece, fascinated by both their innocent drives, can only help them thusly. The actually deep, a character itself, is the combination of their lively psyches coming together. When they are deep inside, they face danger in the form deadly animals, explosions rigged in the wreck, and most appropriately, themselves. They are forced to look inside themselves, further explored in the book and television version, and the resolution to the film is felicitous.
So when you look at it, 'The Deep' is a clever look into the deep of our minds, as well as our dreams, our fantasies, and our weaknesses as humans. If there is any way to uncover any of it, this film more or less shows the way, and all the more with the entertainment it delivers, gives us a true experience of what any 'Deep' is like.
Scream 3 (2000)
Finally-some sense of this madness!
Director Wes Craven decided to wait a good three years before making this final installment to the overdone Kevin Williamson screen shocker "Scream". This film was actually much BETTER for me. To start, the concept was a little different from it predecessors. The plot is more personal, and I DO mean personal. When dealing with such tactics as the last two, a third one would have only worked if a NEW writer stepped in, to both restore the feel, and create a new kind of formula for which the characters will be defined. I am pleased to say that, after original creator Williamsons departure from the writing booth, we were given a new, fresh camp feel by scriptwriter Ehren Kruger. He makes the continuation chilling, funny, and interesting. He puts the seriousness at certain, and appropriate moments, unlike the original writer. What is put together, is a real finale, or climax to what started four years earlier.
First off, we know all could be well after the college murders in 2, I mean, who else has the nerve to take on Sidney Prescott and her henchmen? Well, there really IS someone who is willing to take the odds, and as such, does a good enough job, but not without giving the characters a real juicy bygone to work against. Gotton Weary, convicted killer of Sidney Prescotts' mother, is now as famous as he dreamed in "2", until he realizes that someone is messing with his phone. Basically, another madman is here to break the silence. There is one specific detail, along with wanting to kill Sidney, he causes confusion, by needing her personal information. Now, that said, he slashes his way through the set of a third "Stab" installment while he is at his bloody best. Who is he, and why, after three years of solace, would he lash out now? Dewey, Gail, and a determined police chief pursue this monster, and why he is ruining the lives of celebrities in attempt to find Sidney.
David Arquette is, as always, a good blend of comic, neediness which proves to be cute, and yet brave in an hour of need. He gives a deeper feel for the geeky cop, as life has gone on with out Gail Weathers, who also returns. Courtney Cox has also kept true to her character, by putting Gail on a new level of bitchiness. Gail is now a real standard-setter, but without Dewey, she has no depth other than 60 Minutes 2. Neve Cambpell is, for the third time, a silent, passive formation for her famous "Sidney". The tough stuff from her inner strength is needed in this final caper, and it's there, hiding, just like her physical being, who is afraid to actually live. Finally, after numerous deaths, Sidney is out to confront the new psycho. Other cast members include Parker Posey as a stereo-typical actress, looking for better work than a scary movie. Portraying Gail Weathers in the new STAB film, she attach's herself to Coxs' Gail for research and security. Posey is funny as usual, very entertaining. Also included, is Lance Henrickson, a vet of the genre as a sleazy B-Movie director, a brief appearance by Jamie Kennedy, as his usual movie-master Randy Meeks, from an old tape. This time, Kennedys' dialog is more tolerable. Last, but NEVER least, is a funny cameo by Carrie Fisher, as a caracatcher, making fun of herself.
The script was well thought out, and the dialog, much better, and even creepy at times. A great bow is to be given to the makers of this film, as it was most likely, not too easy to go back to the same characters and storyline again. Still, a good film ends up as the result of a better produced script, and a better direction for the series in general. The film does have its flaws, but they don't seem to shadow over the enjoyment, as this high camp, creepy climax plays to the final act...literally.
Wes Craven, doing his usual number, makes this one as enjoyable as he can, and rightly so. Thank heavens we will not be seeing anymore "Scream" movies.
Patrick Dempsey, Heather Matarezzo, Jenny McCarthy, Kelly Rutherford, Emily Mortimer, and Scott Foley also star.
A House in the Hills (1993)
It's a Film Noir!
Film noir: French for 'black film', the term refers to a genre or style depicting a dark, corrupt, and/or violent world characterized by an expressionist mood and MISE EN SCENE. Many of these films also include violence and an underworld of some sort. Noir is equipped with many narrative conventions and twisted deceits. Most Film noir have stories set in impersonal suburban spaces that reflect the alienation and decadence of the characters. The city is a palpable presence taking on a menacing quality that threatens the character within it. Almost always, the protagonist is a male, in this films' case, it is the leader of the cast, a woman. Not just any woman, but the charming, gorgeous Helen Slater, in a role that seems to bring out an enormous, as well as outrageous aspect of her talent.
In a quiet, isolated community in the Hollywood Hills, silence is broken as a young woman is strangled to death in her pool. This story is everywhere people look, although not taken seriously by most, especially by an aspiring actress named Alex Weaver. Alex is determined to make her mark in the profession of power and beauty, but first, she must sacrifice the dreams, for a tacky day job at a cheesy Italian eatery. She is then persuaded to house-sit for a fellow waitress, in a lush setting that puts B.H. 90210 to shame. After playing on an exterminator, whom is not who he says he is, she is pulled into a real web of lies, deception, and passion. She broke all the rules, allowing a stranger into the house during the weekend...bad choice.
Helen Slater is a marvelous actress, and rightly so, as she holds the majority of this twisty tale on her shoulders, no wonder she played Supergirl nine years earlier. Michael Madsen is tough, and rugged, no surprise, as he worms his way into the house, with revenge on his mind. Soon, he and Slater are spending their time talking back and forth about their lies and convictions. Soon, the tension heats up so bad, they end up in the greenhouse performing unspeakable acts of passion amidst a beautiful collection of expensive flowers. Also in the film, is Jeffery Tambor in a down and out riot role as "Willy". Only time can tell as these characters are woven together to an ending resulting in madness and laughter.
This film is a Noir thriller on steroids. Helen Slater is a sure leading lady, but also an antagonist as well. She brings all her troubles onto herself, as she is her own worst enemy. Michael Madsen is, naturally, effective, and menacing as he pulls the audience into his clutches with every scene. His character brings forth flashbacks(another element in Noir) and the violence that ensues the last 45 minutes. Most of the film is not to be mistaken for a staged play-turned film. Most scenes are in fact, Slater and Madsen, uncovering layers of deep, thoughtful character study. Tambors "Willy" is also to be mentioned, as he becomes a strange force in the humorously crazy finale. No one, within the three main stars, can truly be trusted with one another, creating a real noir feel. All three initially lie about who they are at one point or another, and bring a homey house to a shatter-box.
The film also sees a soapy feel, as though it ran on a daytime dial. This is because Slaters 'Weaver' is up for a role, and creating the deception is all part of a formula that speaks in layers about asking ourselves if we really know what we are, or what life is, or where we are going. The film is indeed, a though provoking story, and well characterized by Slater and Madsen. Why it is not too recognized in these days is beyond my knowledge. I feel it should be more known, perhaps a more public screening on actual cable again, like ten years ago on HBO. To sum it all up, this film is a fast, dramatic, humorous, twisted thriller about truths, lies, and deception. It certainly beats any other satire of the like, and Helen Slaters' sexy performance opposite a game Madsen works well. Definitely worth the time!
Scream 2 (1997)
...2, the "Back For More" movie.
...And the audience was desperate for a sequel! Yep, the inevitable was near, so near it was a only a single year after the original "Scream" that we saw a continuation of the Wes Craven movie that spawned a huge following. This film did nothing more than take the first film to a new and alleged stereotypical setting that would be ground zero for another slasher story. I can say, however, that this film was, in event, actually better than its procedure. I guess most sequels sometimes feel more intriguing than the originals, but only to an extent. The feeling is usually only a left-over sentiment from the original winning a fans heart. In "Scream 2", there is both, a sentiment, and excitement that runs along the entire film. Better yet, the first film may as well not even exist, seeing as Kevin Williamson made quite sure that any pre-requisite films need not apply this time around. You hear so much about the first one, why even bother watching? All you get is twice the gore, twice the cheese, and all that goofy Williamson dialog, fit with cheap so-called innovation.
This time, we have a new movie opening up appropriately titled 'Stab'. A hot'n'happening college couple are out on a date to inspect it, or rather, he is, she should be back in the dorm studying. At any rate, trouble ensues when the culture-oriented colleagues become the hot topic of the following morning news.Yes, a second killer is here, and Sidney Prescott (Neve Campbell) cannot help but feel that somehow, it is all her fault. If this is incorrect, than Campbell gives off the wrong signals all throughout the film. Anyway, the public media creates a frenzy at a nice little college where Campbell and Kennedy from the first, now reside. Guess who else in back...Gale Weathers! Yes, the convenient 'Stab' franchise is based on none other, than the "Scream" original caper itself! How Very! (or not!). David Arguette also comes back as the laid-back, humble cop Dewey. We get to see more of Kennedys' rambling about supposed pop- culture sequels such as "Aliens" . We also receive information about slasher movies located at a college campus. We learn of "House On Sorority Row", "The Dorm that Dripped Blood", even a little bit about "Showgirls". How fun! In any case, blood baths return, as well as more predictability and that 'lingo' issue Williamson had with the first one.
Arquette, Campbell, and Cox are well on target, keeping their characters up to par with the original formality they began with. Kennedys "Randy" is more intellectual, and given the treatment of a saint...and for what? All he does is sit side and give his own commentary about sequels and trilogies. How original...right! Perhaps if he was not such a film geek before... Other cast members are fun to watch. Jerry O'Connel, Timothy Olephant, and Rebecca Gayheart are nice and steady. A real joker about this, is the disgustingly goofy way that Sarah Michelle Gellar has a bit part as a typical sorority girl on campus. Please...it was enough in "I Know What You Did Last Summer" also written by Williamson, but I remember finding out she was in this after "Summer" and thinking it was pretty ridiculous. There is, however, a performance that stands out major from the rest of the cast, and the award for best actor/actress in this installment goes to Laurie Metcalf, for a great comeback into film, as well as all the little manifestations she creates.
The writing is slightly better than the original, and obviously so, as the first one was the starting point for all this madness and violence. The issue of extreme language and convenient movie knowledge still present, only this time, we have a full classroom of film studies, where everyone is just like Kennedys' "Randy". Williamson is too enthralled to slow the pace, and thusly the story is quick and sharp, if sometimes repetitive and lacking. I suppose it is likely that Williamson reached a certain status of narcissism with the success of the first film. It is all too fake by the end. Some of the dialog is just as hammy as Thanksgiving dinner. Albeit entertaining.
Wes Craven gives his usual storytelling in genius fashion, but the impact on pop-culture is still all to shocking to believe. We still have the same direction as the first, with no real end of the tunnel. New back stories and twists may come off as new direction for the story,but for the most part, it just says the same old thing over and over again. Maybe by "Scream 3"...