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Den du frygter

Great acting...
but only a so-so rendering of what ultimately is the harrowing depiction of a man's mid-life crisis. Thomsen is awesome, as is Steen, and the atmosphere is "Dogmetically" foreboding, but the protagonist is never convincingly portrayed in any way other than the selfish, psychotic lout that he embodies throughout. I loved Levring's The King Is Alive, and in fact gave it a rare (for me) 10 rating on this website. But for me this is a classic case of a film failing to become greater than the sum of its parts. In the end, a decent enough character study, with a neat twist at the end, but nothing we haven't seen before, and done much better (Michael Douglas in Falling Down came to mind for me, at least). 5 out of 10 on my IMDb-ometer.


A potentially good ghost story...
gets more and more preposterous as it goes along. I expected great things from Emma Lung when I saw her first a few years back in Peaches (with Hugo Weaving). She shows the same promise here, albeit with a poorly underwritten role; the fact that she fills out a bikini quite nicely doesn't hurt, either. In fact, both young leads (Chris Egan plays Julian, her reluctant paramour) do the best they can with the material, but the fault here lies with the story and script. Julian is an American kick-boxing up-and-comer, studying architecture at college in Australia. Strapped for cash, he accepts a short-term job as a solo house-sitter in a luxurious gated home, and then things start getting weird when the owner's niece Anna (Ms. Lung) starts sneaking in at all times of the day, in various states of undress, with an ever-present "come hither" look in her eyes. Alas, at this point all starts going downhill, with things becoming more and more far-fetched every time Julian awakens from another one of his "dreams". If you're a fan of either Mr. Egan or Ms. Lung, watch this one at your own peril. Otherwise, save yourself the time and effort, and throw The Exorcist into your player for the umpteenth time. You've been warned...


Terrific little indie
First, I'd like to say I'm not a shill for the director. I rented this film with modest expectations from Netflix, primarily because Anna Chlumsky was involved, and I'm an old fan of hers. Maybe I was just in the right mood, but I found this movie to be quite enjoyable. Well-acted, emotionally poignant, and hysterically funny (at times). My personal favorite vignette is the chess board tete a tete; the entire film takes place in a crowded coffee shop, over the course of an afternoon (or evening). Three cheers for the director, for making such a tiny film come alive in the Big City. My only major problem was the lack of captions or subtitles of any kind on the disc; for such a talky film, in a packed diner with multiple background conversations ongoing, this is inexcusable... 8/10.

The Elite

Actually a cut above...
This grade-B flick is actually a cut above your typical made-for-cable fare, notably because there is a semblance of plot to add to the by-the-numbers action sequences. A young "elite squad" of trained anti-terrorists take on Jurgen Prochnow in a by-now expected villain turn, and there's a personal twist to the proceedings as well. All of the cast is awfully pretty (at first it was difficult to distinguish between any of the three blond male leads, two of whom are twins!), and the beautiful Maxine Bahns kicks some terrorist butt as well (not so far-fetched, as I learned from her IMDB bio that she's a triathlete in real life). All in all, a pretty decent way to waste a sleepless night while surfing the cable box. 2 stars (out of 5) on the Corkymeter.

Curse III: Blood Sacrifice

Odd little grade-B...
Who knows why I went to the trouble of hunting down this 1990 B flick, but expecting nothing, I settled in for a less than ordinary "thriller" about African voodoo, gratuitous nudity, and electrical storms. Watching this movie is all about letting yourself go for 90 some-odd minutes and appreciating that someone took the time to construct an offbeat little thriller that takes itself way too seriously, and almost pulls it off. Completely devoid of the tongue-in-cheek humor that the Scream movies and Psycho Beach Party laid on us, Curse 3 painstakingly takes us through a couple of days of hell for the inhabitants of a 1950's African village. It's truly a horror relic of the pre-Dewey days. (I'm talking David Arquette, not the president!). Jenilee Harrison acquits herself nicely (I'm surprised she hasn't had more of a chance to stake her claim in Hollywood) and Christopher Lee chews the scenery like he's auditioning for Hamlet. All in all, odd enough to be a fairly interesting little diversion. 2-and-a-half (out of 5) on the Corkymeter.

Sweet Jane

Subtly wonderful...
Tackling the AIDS issue on film is no longer something new or novel. In fact, many independent films of the 90's have tried, in varying degrees of success, to hone in on the horrific and mysterious ramifications of this terrible disease. Sweet Jane, which inexplicably has just now been made available on cable TV, is one of the winners. Perhaps realizing the limited appeal of this heartrending genre, director Joe Gayton goes for broke, but certainly not in an over-the-top fashion. He gamely depicts the desperate world of junkies, prostitutes and have-nots, but finds time to flesh out the human element in all of the moral decay. He occasionally inserts an otherworldly feel to the more sordid proceedings, effectively producing a counter-element to the more mundane (yet essential) exposition. Samantha Mathis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are simply wonderful as the mutually put-upon protagonists of this subtly powerful film. Mathis realizes the potential that we saw in "Pump up the Volume" a few years back, and Gordon-Levitt exhibits surprisingly mature chops for such a young actor. 4 and a half (out of 5) on the Corkymeter.


You get what you expect...
Man, it kills me to see the direct-to-video fare that Jennifer Beals has been starring in recently. This predictable grade-C flick is passable only because it rarely takes itself too seriously. Jim Wynorski is the master of camp mediocrity, and so we see Fredric Forrest spoof his "terrorist looney-toon" persona that was hysterical but chilling in Falling Down, and Stacy Keach and Dean Cain try their hardest to not let us know they'd rather be anywhere else than on the set of this movie. That brings us to Jennifer. Why, oh why, is this gorgeous actress with passable chops whiling away her time in trifle like this and Turbulence 2 (or was it 3?).

Anyway, I watched it all the way through and if you ask me next week about "Militia" I promise you I won't remember ever having seen it. In the meantime, Corkymeter rates Militia 2 (out of 5) stars. (Yes, it rates higher than "Woo" because it knows it's piffle). Jennifer, Jennifer, Jennifer...


Hokey but absorbing...
This well-made TV miniseries suffers a bit from the restrictions that are inherent in made-for-network fare, but is thoroughly watchable due to excellent period detail and interesting early performances by many of today's recognizable TV and film stars. The story is set in the fictional southern town of Delano, and depicts the horrific (and, unfortunately, believable) goings-on in a backward and racist young American city. The ensemble cast includes, among others, Stephen Collins (noble and understated), Brad Davis (terrifically villainous), and Charlton Heston (as the narrator and symbolic conscience of the film). John Goodman appears as a clueless officer who gets his comeuppance in a played-for-laughs scene involving mistaken identity. The main problem with the plot line of "Chiefs" is that most of the exposition is devoid of suspense. Many "red herrings" are revealed along the way, and thus the viewer is left to watch a thoroughly predictable (and yet , frankly, quite enjoyable) tale of a fledgling community's struggles between a vicious, callous "old guard" and a newer, enlightened community. 3-and-a-half (out of 5) on the Corkymeter.


Frustrating near-miss...
Inferno is one of the the new (by now old) breed of "post-Tarantino" noirs. I suppose we're all tired of that term by now, but one mustn't forget that for every two or three lousy rip-offs of Mr. QT there's been at least one good one. Interestingly enough, the last film of this ilk that I truly enjoyed was "Phoenix", which also starred Mr. Liotta- (Ray, what have you done to relegate yourself to B-World?). Pilgrim's premise is not very novel but when an amnesia thriller is done right, it's almost always riveting. Herein lies the flaw of "Phoenix". Without giving too much away, I can tell you that most of the suspense about "where am I, who am I, and what have I done" is done in by flashbacks early in the film, and the denouement is rote and by the numbers-(and, as far as this reviewer is concerned, asked more questions than it answered). What did I like about the film? The acting- (especially by Liotta, who is way cool in these sorts of roles) is passable all around. The atmosphere and desert cinematography are creepy and lush, respectively. Pilgrim is a frustrating near-miss...(or is it near-hit?). 3 out of 5 on the Corkymeter, with a full point of that earned single-handedly by Rebel Ray. Let's all wish him a little less "Turbulence" in his career and hope that he can become the "Good fella" that we remember! (Many apologies for that, I just couldn't resist).

Legacy of Sin: The William Coit Story

Well-acted TV-movie sleeper...
After seeing this movie I searched the web to see if the story was true-as I was relatively sure of- because it's one of those Ripley's tales that makes you pause and say "That couldn't have really happened, could it?" Well, it did, and this 95 TV movie depicts all the sordid events in apparently true-to-life detail. The story is told from the perspective of William Coit, the son of a Colorado woman who may or may not be responsible for the death of his father many years earlier. Played very convincingly by Neil Patrick Harris, the son has managed to displace many of his early-life memories, having escaped from the dysfunction and started a seemingly well-adjusted adult life. The "legacy of sin" begins to unravel when he attends his mom's ninth (or is it tenth!?) marriage and that's when the movie takes off. Well-acted by all involved, with special mention for Meredith Salenger, who proves that she's much more than just eye candy in a subtle, controlled performance. If this movie hadn't been limited by a TV-movie budget and the inherent PG-13 nature that inevitably results, it would earn even more than**** out of ***** on the Corkymeter.

Meet the Deedles

Went into it expecting less than nothing...
OK I admit it. I rented Meet the Deedles because my movie store gives me free old movies for every new release I rent. (I'm a Gold Club member-I rule!!!). I had narrowed my choices down to this one and that "Leonard" Cosby movie that got all those glowing reviews, but I figured what the heck, I didn't have a lot of time to watch two movies on this particular evening, so I could just FF to all of the AJ Langer parts (cos I think she's way cute) and that would be the end of it. To make a short story long, I rented Deedles. Why oh why have all the critics bludgeoned this movie? I'm sure that my sensibilities haven't left me, and I thought this silly, unpretentious kids' fluff was actually rather amusing. The Deedle boys are refreshingly inane, Freddy Krueger alarmingly inept, and AJ Langer bodaciously babealicious. So remember, next time you have to choose between oh, say, wading through all the intricacies and red herrings of "The Usual Suspects" and the mindless, fun drivel that is known as Deedlemania, think twice. Then take the Usual Suspects to the rental counter, pay the man, and walk out of the store. Of course, if you were a Gold Clubber like me (yessss!!!) you could have your suspects and deedle too. It's good to be the King. *** out of ***** on the Corkymeter. Note: Author of previous review just got his Gold Club membership from Blockbuster and hasn't been right since. Wait for revised review of "Meet the Deedles" in the near future.

Silk Hope

Pleasant enough diversion...
Farrah Fawcett has spent the better part of her post-Angel's career confounding us, with an occasional noteworthy acting performance sandwiched in between her Playboy frolics and Letterman escapades. But when it comes down to it, there's no denying that this girl can act. Far from a story of epic proportions, this well-done TV-movie is gentle, quiet and occasionally moving. Fawcett plays the wayward black sheep daughter come home only to find that she missed the last days of her mom's life as well as the funeral, much to the chagrin of her more stable and presumably more sensible sister. Brad Johnson plays the love interest, and a story unfolds with all the typical elements of telefilm drama- but then there's always that confounding Farrah to watch, and she does, indeed, remain eminently watchable. (And, yes, I admit it, I did have that Farrah poster on my wall way back when). Silk Hope gets three and a half stars (out of five) on the Corkymeter. Bosley would be proud.


Getting mean...
My friends all tell me that I'm not mean enough in my movie reviews, and they probably have a point. See, I love, love, love movies and can usually find something redeemable in even the most pitiful dreck that's out there. But wait- I think they're gonna be real proud of me. Here goes... A: charmless B: aimless C: pointless D: endless E: all of the above OK, which of the above letters best describes Woo? If you said E, all of the above, you're correct!! Oh, by the way, on the Corkymeter, that means 0 stars out of five. Gosh, that was tough. My friends are gonna be so proud...

Dr. M

I'm still scratching my head over this one. A "forgotten" flick, filmed in 1989, Club Extinction (or Dr. M on video) has lots of atmosphere courtesy of French director Chabrol, but the choppy editing and mystifying plot exposition leaves the viewer exasperated and more than a little confused. It seems that the people of Berlin are committing suicide at an alarming rate and no one seems to know why. A Big Brother-style multimedia conglomerate and a Jim Jones-ish vacation spa figure into the muddled events.

Meant as a condemnation of the audacious power of the media, this boondoggling film fails on most counts- however, it is certainly odd enough to keep one watching. Alan Bates plays the media messiah, the lovelier than lovely Jennifer Beals is his adopted daughter, and Jan Niklas plays the detective and Beals' love interest. I don't know if any one of them to this day understand what the heck this was all about, but perhaps they can look up Andrew McCarthy for feedback. He was smart enough to show up for about 53 seconds worth of screen time and then very wisely disappear.

Summing up- fans of odd B sci-fi may actually find something of interest here. Problem is, I'm one of those fans, and I didn't. Oh well, choose your poison. Two generous stars (out of five) on the Corkymeter.

Shakespeare in Love

Hey, lighten up...
Hey, lighten up all ye naysayers. I never will claim to know know much about Elizabethan England, but this is one wonderful little love story made all the morest wonderful by a gaggle of wonderful contemporary thespians. I was wary of all the hype, but upon seeing the movie on video I was impressed and moved indeed. Yes, Cate Blanchett probably deserved the Best Actress statuette (in all fairness to Ms. Streep, I just can't get myself to watch another cancer movie, until at least the millenium and then maybe another), but Gwyneth is just fine and Joe Fiennes probably even better in a role that perhaps Rupert Everett might have been the best choice. Anyway, I won't go on and on, much has been said by many online contributors- but, HEY KIDDIES- LIGHTEN UP!! 4 and a half out of five on the Corkymeter. So there.

Dead Silence

Well-done telefilm depicting horrific tale...
This well-acted TV movie really surprised me. I expected a typical "spring-break" pseudo-horror film, but was drawn into a psychological tale of conscience fighting fear. Three young, attractive co-eds are vacationing before college graduation when something horrific happens to them; the mitigating circumstances cause them to make disastrous moral and ethical choices. Mitchum and Estevez (granddaughter of Robert and daughter of Martin Sheen, respectively) are fine but Falk shines as the most conflicted and least culpaple of the protagonists. The minuses: A tv movie is a tv movie is a tv movie- well, you get the picture. Again, all the more to my surprise that this picture acquitted itself nicely, despite the low budget and lack of name stars. The Corkymeter says 3 and a half stars (out of 5).

Shattered Image

A highly intriguing, albeit flawed, psychodrama...
This intriguing psychodrama bites off more than it can chew but presents a terrific alternative to the spate of "erotic" psychothrillers that the B-movie market usually has to offer. Parillaud plays twin doppelgangers that exist in parallel realities and could actually be the figment of each others' imaginations. Sounds promising? It is, and while I was waiting to be utterly confused at any moment, the plot lines held together pretty well. Director Raul Ruiz has had some practice at this, as anyone who has seen the utterly absorbing "Three lives and only one death" can attest. This movie is not of the same caliber in that the pacing of the denouement seems a bit off and involvement with the characters winds up seeming a bit distant. Others might argue that this was Ruiz' intent; in any case, the acting is proficient in a necessarily cold, unaffected way. (Baldwins seem to be better suited to this style of acting and I'm not really being snide in that I happen to think Alec is a terrific actor and Stephen an underrated one). If I gave more away it would be a disservice- rent this movie and figure it all out for yourself. Corkymeter says four stars out of five.

Fun with Dick and Jane

Amusing and occasionally hilarious...
Amusing, occasionally hilarious satire lambasting the hypocrisies of American capitalism. This deft comedy pokes fun at the aerospace industry, the welfare system, and may be one of the first to harpoon televangelism. Segal and Fonda are a great team, and the movie ages surprisingly well. Jay Leno makes an early cameo as a construction worker; Dick and Jane earns 3 and a half (out of five) on the Corky-meter.

P.I. Private Investigations

This unusual B movie is worth a rental...
This pretty cool sleeper film combines moments of shocking violence with an oddball sense of humor. It's low-budget film-making, surely, but the movie never takes itself too seriously. Rohner and Balsam are fairly engaging, but Ray Sharkey steals the show as the hapless hit-man you love to hate. Sue me, but I give this flick two-and-a-half stars (out of four) on the Corky-meter. (Incidentally, the director of P.I., Nigel Dick, just shot Britney Spears' latest music video.)

Zuma Beach

I can think of worse...
I can definitely think of worse ways to spend a weekend afternoon than watching this 70's jigglefest that is so reminiscent of the scads of beach movies that originated in the early 60's. Not nearly as engrossing as the best of the genre (see California Dreaming), but it does provide early screen work from Timothy Hutton, "Terminator"'s Michael Biehn, and a fantastically scrumptious Rosanna Arquette. Credits indicate an appearance by Delta Burke; look fast for I did not see her.

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