Bevan - #4

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King of the Palace

How Does That Happen?
Okay, if you're familiar, that's a catchphrase of one of the announcers when the Dread Spread Eagle shows up. If you're a candlepin aficionado, you'll understand.

In any event, the heyday of candlepin bowling shows on local TV in New England and Canada was over long ago, and you have to go to webcasts now to see them. This is by far the best, with the best camera angles and production values, and amusing announcers. It's available on a dozen community access cable channels in Massachusetts, but your best bet by far is to catch it on YouTube.

Each "series" is a month long, and they're "ladder" matches -- the 5th qualifier faces the 4th one in a two-string rolloff, the winner faces the 3rd qualifier the next week, and so on. The champion returns as the 5th seed in the next month's action.

Season 1, the announcers were still settling in and more than a bit aggravating, but they settled down, and the show's now in its fifth season. Long live the King of the Palace! 8/10.


Just plain overrated
Chalk me up as another reviewer who found this movie to be vastly overrated. My wife and I saw it a couple nights ago, for the first time, and it just pales in comparison to cinematic triumphs such as The Godfather movies or The Sopranos.

As much as anything else, there are no likable characters. Part of the reason you could keep turning in to The Sopranos is that you could genuinely like and identify with the principals, despite their brutality and crimes. Here, you can't. None of the principals have any displayed virtues: at best, they're shallow and two-dimensional.

Yes, the highly lauded soundtrack has many tunes. But if you're going to use the hoary old tactic of advancing pop tunes down the years to denote the march of time, could you not be so flamingly anachronistic as all of that? They were playing 40s tunes in the doo-wop era, 50s doo-wop post-British Invasion, 60s psychedelic pop in the 70s, and early Eric Clapton in the disco era. Get the freaking DATES right.

Speaking of anachronisms, the film's jammed with them, and while it's superficially a glittering, gritty portrait of the wiseguy life and the wiseguy era, the goofs just overload. Cars too late for the year. Phones too late for the year. Livery too late for the year. Did Scorsese bother at all with accuracy and continuity, or did they just say "Eh, get an old looking car out there." It pains me to read about how exacting and painstaking DeNiro was to get every aspect of Jimmy's personality true to life, exactly how the real Jimmy Burke did, in the middle of a blizzard of anachronisms.

Most damning, there's just no dramatic tension. There's little by way of plot, little by way of suspense. The actors did good jobs with the material and direction they were given, but that's not remotely enough to sustain this seriously overrated flick.


Die Hard 2

Sorry, I'm just not dumb enough.
Look. It'd be nice to like this movie. Bruce Willis is himself, after all, and presents the same engaging, Everyman cop he did in the first Die Hard.

But it's not that you have to suspend disbelief to enjoy this movie, you have to abandon everything you know about the real world.

For Chrissake, it's not that there are a few alternate airfields within two hours' flight; it's that there are *hundreds*. Let's leave aside the nonsense that the snow's enough to close National, less than 30 miles away as the crow flies: there are five other airports that can handle 747s in VIRGINIA (not counting BWI), even if you leave out the military bases.

And even in pre-9/11 days, terrorists crashing Dulles? We wouldn't get a single anti-terrorist platoon, we'd get a REGIMENT. Can't crack the terrorists' radio communications, right near the headquarters of the NSA and the military's codebreaking establishment at Fort Meade? Can't signal the other planes to go elsewhere, when you've got the military airbases at Andrews, Bolling, Anacostia and Quantico right next door? So many other boners: a plane empty of fuel blowing up like it's carrying a hundred tons of TNT? Jet fuel lighting up with open flame? A stream of flame catching up to a plane at TAKEOFF SPEED? SMG bullets penetrating SWAT body armor? Grenades with the longest fuse times in cinematic history? Ejector seats that blow a couple hundred feet in the air? On and on and on go the idiotic bloopers. No wonder Bruce Willis hated this film.

4/10, on the back of Willis' performance alone.

Sei mong tap

A Heap Of Flaming Suck
Even by the terribly low standard of chopsocky flicks, this is the ultimate POS. From its ludicrous claim to be Bruce Lee's "final film" (hey, if I splice bootleg footage of Bruce into my next vidcam extravaganza, do I get to usurp that status?), to darkened duels with extras in lion suits, to flashbacks of the last scene, this flick leaves no stone unturned to deliver the epitome of bad cinema. Even the alleged awesome fight scenes are trumped by any number of MMA brawls you can gank from YouTube.

Honestly, the only cinematic rule this fetid ripoff follows is that of Joe Bob Briggs: if you're going to make a sequel, make it exactly like the original.

The only reason I'm not giving this abortion the lowest possible score is that Plan 9 From Outer Space and Last Temptation Of Christ exist.


The Dark Knight

Epic Suck
I don't know if this is the most overrated film ever, but it's the worst one I've seen in a long, long time. Almost as long as this steaming waste of three hours of my life. Let's review:

* Suspension of disbelief is part and parcel of the superhero world, but c'mon. You're telling me this psychopath has recruited dozens of henchman, purchased mountains of equipment and rigged several hundred barrels of explosives in locations all over the city, and the world's greatest detective can't find a SINGLE BLEEDING CLUE without some Mr. Wizard cell phone stunt? Yeah, sure, half the cops are on the take, but are all of them blind, in this post-9/11 world? The Joker's band is comprised of escapees from an asylum, but they're all lean, mean, disciplined and competent?

* This may be the widest ratio of screen time:plotfree of the decade. Too many characters. Too many side scenes. Too many random encounters. Too much exposition that doesn't actually expose anything. What do we leave this movie knowing? Anything?

* The sheer quality was poor. Much of the film was too dark to see, and the sound was terribly spotty, yoyoing between blaringly loud and inaudible.

* Yeah, Ledger did a good job, so stipulated. He still wouldn't have cadged an Oscar for it without the posthumous sympathy vote.

* Finally ... this just blew a hole through the genre. Aren't the good guys supposed to WIN? They spend the movie losing ... dozens of people getting murdered, hundreds wounded and terrorized, chaos, mayhem, death and destruction and violence, and they pretty much lose at the end too. There's very little hopeful or uplifting here.

2/10, barely.

Playboy's Penthouse

Err ... excuse me?
Hef was undressing the bunnies in his mind? If he could have had nudity he would have? The bunnies' costumes would have been topless if he could? Leaving aside the painfully obvious fact that fifty years on, nudity and toplessness form no part of any broadcast network show, leaving aside that the likes of Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, Harry Belafonte, Pete Seeger and Bob Newhart can hardly be called "minor" talents, leaving aside that in this era and for many years thereafter Playboy (and the lifestyle it pushed) was considered in many venues chic and avant garde ...

... the purpose of a review is to review what's on the screen. It is not to be a shrill editorial on the lifestyle of the performers, nor is it a proper venue to disclose the reviewer's psychic and clairvoyant powers, nor a polemic on the reviewer's religious beliefs (something frequently featured in her reviews). This was neither a great nor an enduring show, but it is a product of its time and should be viewed in context. And you know? The previous commenter didn't think to mention that this was the very first variety or talk show on TV where blacks and whites sat down and chatted as equals, or the first appearance of Lenny Bruce in the national eye.

Somehow I doubt she saw the show at all.


Every rare once in a while ...
... the critics get it right.

While it took a few years for us to see it, my wife and I always wondered whether the problem with Gigli was that the media, as it always does if it has half the chance, was sick of "Bennifer" and turned on them the moment blood was in the water.

That's likely true, but the fact of the matter is that the movie is a boring suckfest of epic proportions and PREDICTABLY so. It's an unfortunate truism that off-screen couples seldom manage to project on-screen heat, and Lopez/Affleck were no exception, but what have either of them ever done to suggest that smouldering intensity's in their repertoire? Martin Brest has directed a couple of decent movies, but Gigli was his first writing credit in a quarter century, and who read that script thinking it made the slightest bit of sense? Walken's a decent actor, but an overactor a director needs to rein in, and nothing in Brest's resume suggests he was cut out for that task either ...

And so on and so on. We made it through Walken's first rambling, idiotic scene before popping the DVD.

2/10, and pretty much only because Moment By Moment and Plan Nine From Outer Space exist.


I seem to have missed the part where this was supposed to be a political documentary.
Let's get a few procedural matters out of the way, shall we? (1) Quite aside from the bizarre (if common) view that failure to explicitly condemn/praise a point of view = condoning/rejecting it, sometimes people make choices. It's not the job of a film to - somewhat dishonestly - suggest that protagonists must consider every possible option with equal weight or make a choice in a sensible and clear-headed fashion. Neither must such a choice reflect political or moral allegiance to one side or the other; a lot of human beings, weirdly enough, do what seems good at the time or pick the least bad option. Oddly enough, quite a few pregnant teens *do* reject the option of keeping the baby out of hand in favor of abortion or adoption, and if this *were* supposed to be a political polemic, do we really want to encourage 15-year-old single mothers? (That being said, plainly Juno *did* consider the option. "I'm a kid," she said, kicking the notion to the curb.) (2) Sometimes people (and even teenagers, and even their families), react in level-headed, supportive ways in a crisis. For everyone who screeches that Juno is unrealistic because her parents don't take (too many) swings at her, physically or verbally, gosh ... parents have been known to react that way. Not everyone is a hot-headed screamer.

(3) Works of fiction are not required to (and seldom do) "handle things responsibly." Kids screw up. *People* screw up. And some brush themselves off and muddle through as best they can. I'm sure it would have satisfied the amour propre of many of the critics if Mac came after Bleeker with a shotgun, if Juno went through screaming fits, if she and Mark slept together, and if somehow Juno was grotesquely punished for her sins, but dern it all, you didn't get to write the screenplay.

(4) Kids use "dude," "like," "whatever" and all other manner of jargon all the time, and have since Ugh the Caveman complained to Ughina about how disrespectful the cave kids were. Wrap your head around the fact and move on.

I know, it's really hard. You all want the movie to be exactly what you want, with characters who make the exact choices you would yourself (or pretend you would, anyway), reactions that exactly meet your preconceptions, and with those people whom you peg as good guys and those who you peg as bad guys getting what you think they ought to have coming to them ... and most of all, to agree thematically with your political, social and moral philosophies. It's a pity when you run into a flick that doesn't measure up.

Where I differ, though, is in the sheer *indignation* I'm reading in the comments: how dare this movie not reflect my worldview? And that's desperately unfair.

8/10: it's realistic, it's honest and ... it HAPPENS.

The Devil Wears Prada

Just too damn formulaic.
Disclaimer: I'm unfamiliar with the book. But my wife and I are Anne Hathaway fans, so we picked the flick up at the library to view.

Now, yes, the cast does their parts professionally, competently and with as much verve as the script allows, no error. It just seems that the film missed no opportunities to hit every single possible cliché, and there wasn't a single moment you didn't see coming a mile away:

* You know that Andrea is going to turn into a fashionista (it isn't as if Hathaway hasn't done the Ugly Duckling routine before) suddenly become Ms. Competent Workaholic with no time for her Ordinary Friends and Boyfriend, but nonetheless go back to being Sweatshirt Girl with the Serious Meaningful Job before the end.

* You know that Miranda's going to be a complete, unreasonable bitch.

* You know that there's going to be the heartwarming moment where Miranda has her own personal crisis, and you know the period of sympathy the audience momentarily has for her will be limited to the seven minutes it takes for her to pull her next screwjob.

* You know that Nate will be ordinary, down to earth and soulful (hey, he's wearing black eyeliner all around his eyes, of course he's soulful and deep) and rebel against his lady's work hours.

* You know the affable wannabe boyfriend will prove to be a user before the final reel ...

And so on, and so forth. Just about the only part I genuinely appreciated was Andrea's calm speech about how no one would bat an eye at these behaviors were they done by men, but that isn't enough to sustain a movie.

5/10, and only because the acting performances were solid.

Me and Luke

Meretricious nonsense.
After the movie was over, my wife - who met me when I was in a family law practice - asked me in what state (a) a teenage father's parental rights could be signed away by the mother's family against his will, and (b) said father could actually land in legal hot water for "kidnapping" his own son when the mother doesn't want him. "The State of Lifetime," says I.

Yes, I know that Lifetime's viewership has a vested interest in portraying men (especially handsome, engaging, young studs with high Q ratings) as warm, loving and invested in their children, but the plot's core dramatic conflict is a crock: that there is a jurisdiction anywhere in the United States which wouldn't have come down on the bad guys' heads like white on rice.

Given that - "What the hell, the judge is actually bothering to hear this case instead of telling the mother not to waste their time?" thinks I - the only way I could have wrapped my head around this movie was to dismiss it as fantasy, and I couldn't.



A Potemkin movie top to bottom.
I should at least start with what the movie does right. As many others have cited, the cinematography and settings are extraordinarily well done; plainly a lot of money and care went into that. The score is also evocative and is very well matched to scene, and the use of the typewriter as percussion is nothing short of brilliant. The movie is also very well cast, and the actors top to bottom do a very good job of portraying the characters and script they were given. Now that's aside, let's review:

The romantic leads have their happiness shattered by a jealous little snippet, and they never get it back, each dying in cruel fashion.

The molested girl marries her pedophilic rapist.

The aforementioned snippet never does, actually, atone, only coming clean when she's dying and has nothing left to lose, decades after the revelations would have done anyone any good, and even then has a problem with the truth.

You also have the constant flashbacks, some in near real-time, which after the first bit of Briony looking at the fountain scene are far more irritating than evocative; by an hour into the flick, we were downright scowling.

Toss in Titanic-esquire ripoffs like floating dead ladies, a few anachronisms (Lancasters in 1935?? Blowing the date of the Barham tube disaster? No constant strafing at Dunkirk?), and sorry, but another reviewer was dead on: the star-crossed-lovers-in-wartime thing has been done before, and far better. Of course the Academy fawned all over it, but I see no reason to do so myself.

5/10, and only for the things it did right.


Not even good enough to be bad.
While I have some sympathy for the folks who cite this as a example of a "good bad" movie, to be honest, I don't buy it. So Reeve felt that a good movie was left behind on the cutting room floor? He'd have had more of a leg upon which to stand if he didn't turn in a performance on Prozac. Now granted, no one expected better of Bujold -- one of the most overrated actresses of the century -- but even by Reeve's low key standards, he turned in a sonnambulist's performance. About the only bit of genuine emotion coming from either of them was in the scene where she finds him "praying for a miracle," and her angry hissing "For US?" comes off as uncharacteristically genuine. Thirty seconds, however, a movie does not make.

As far as the credibility of the plot, well, the immediate post-War time was a cowboy era, no doubt, and from the Banco Ambrosiano business on forward, we can't quite claim unwavering financial probity for the Church. Possibly in the hands of less sleepwalking actors this might have been a better flick.


Is This Love?

Eh, I've seen worse.
Alright, the actress playing Peggy's "college roommate" was 37 when the short was filmed, and her (grand?)mother looked older than my 90-year-old grandmother does, but truth be told, this is less raw than I would have expected or the comments would have you believe. In her wild rush to marry her football star ASAP, Peggy's no more irresponsible than many a young lover of today, and her ostensibly "furious" parents are portrayed, in fact, as being concerned and wishful of her slowing down rather than overtly trying to bust them up or angrily scream about conventional morality.

Beyond that, the performances involve earnest moralizing, but there wasn't a lot committed to film in the 1950s that didn't. Peggy's boyfriend wasn't any more styrofoam or wooden than any other pretty boy film BMOC of the Fifties (and it isn't as if he had more than twenty words of dialog). If there's anything creepy about the short, it's the Stepfordesque so-called "romance" between Liz and Andy, a couple with all the screen chemistry of Rex Harrison and the Pushmee-Pullyu.

I agree that Joel and the bots riffed well and truly upon it, but c'mon ... Mr. B Natural this isn't. Another victim of MST3K pack mentality.



A nice, edgy show
I was a fan back in the day (alright, I lusted after Melanie Chartoff) and preferred it to SNL. By that point, the SNL dynasty seemed past its prime and more self-congratulatory than funny, while Fridays had the edge they lacked.

One of the bits I appreciated were the occasional unscripted videos they put on, well ahead of their time -- I still remember a bizarre clip from South America of automotive soccer, where a bunch of demolition derby-worthy vehicles batted about a soccer ball that was twenty feet across.

I'm not sure how well a DVD release would hold up -- it's doubtful many would buy it, and I wonder how dated the show might be now. Even so, it'd be nice to revisit.



A gentle movie and a pleasant watch.
Look, let's get this straight right out of the gate: no; this movie is not remotely historically accurate. Yes; this movie is chock full of anachronisms, although I'll paraphrase David Drake in saying that this film was intended for modern-day English speaking audiences, and so it ought not be astonishing that the characters neither affect faux French accents nor speak bastardized Ren Faire "forsoothly" language. No; this movie doesn't have a lot to offer the gritty crowd who'd be happier watching Sin City. Yes; it's a romance-novel chick flick, basically.

Once you get past the elements the movie just was never going to have and which no one ought to have expected, it's quite pleasant. Barrymore is a sweet, serene presence, Huston is always-understated, never overacting as the villain, and you'd have to be a hardcore curmudgeon not to appreciate their interaction. Scott's a bit of a cipher, but the film isn't about him anyway.



Satanas! Vivimus! Satanas! Vivimus!
It says something about the power of this hilariously bad movie to imbed itself in one's consciousness that 25 years since I've seen this movie, I can still recall the mangled Latin chanting of the putatively-scary soundtrack.

A no-doubt long forgotten blot on Clint Howard's long but not terribly notable career, the scanty plot revolves around the bullied and harassed hero summoning Satan on his trusty IBM PC. Exhibiting translation programs many years before their time, the movie feeds upon (or attempts to do so, anyway) the 1981 audience's preconceptions of computers as Mysterious, Dangerous Things. Few opportunities to wring pathos are forgotten, such as the band of crazed teens who go out of their way to kill the protagonist's kitten.

Just about everyone else in the movie is a has-been or never-were, and the degree to which people flail to find something memorable about the flick can be seen in the number of comments discussing unknown Lynn Hancock's twenty seconds worth of full frontal nudity before she is torn to pieces by pigs. Damn near everyone in the movie is killed, which audiences probably appreciate.

4/10, which may be a bit generous, and only that much through the humor value.


Let's consider this: movies are STORIES.
This one wasn't.

We nearly turned off the DVD in the first ten minutes, a vastly overlong montage during which the Cooke tunes effectively drown out what dialogue there was, and the perspective keeps changing in a dizzying and incomprehensible melange of unrelated events.

Eventually the movie pretended to follow a linear plot, but only in jerky vignettes with damn near zero for exposition. My wife and I are both Smith fans, but while I'm a sports historian and am quite familiar with Ali's history, she wasn't. Even with my knowledge, I was painfully aware that the movie inferred without actually telling; yep, that must be Malcolm X up there ... yep, I know Clay became a Muslim and changed his name ... yep, Bundini Brown was his longtime sideman ... yep, Howard Cosell was an involved commentator ... Over and over again, I had to stop for a moment to think "Oh, right, this is THAT incident, gotcha," and filled in the background from my own memory.

My wife wasn't nearly as lucky, and any movie in which I pause ten times in the first forty-five minutes so that I can tell others what in the heck is going on isn't worth spending another hour of our lives on.

3/10, and that's pretty much of a gift for this wasted opportunity.


I simply loved it.
Caveat: I am a huge fan of the TV show, and so I came with a preconception of the relationships between the characters and the backstory. Probably I'd have been less thrilled walking into the movie cold. That being said ...

Wow. Alright, I've seen Whedon's other works, but what struck me hardest about this movie was the rare sense that you couldn't count on how far the director would dare to take it. By the time Wash had been added to the body count, with Kaylee and Simon shot and River grabbed by reavers, I defy any moviegoer to claim that he or she didn't have that cold feeling in the pit of their stomachs: *that NO one would make it out alive.* It's desperately uncommon to take that into the climax of a film, and major props to Joss for managing it; it's the hinge of my defending the film to the outraged Zoe-and-Wash fanfic crowd. Beyond that, I applaud how they pulled off making tiny little Summer Glau look genuinely credible wiping the floor with small hordes of enemies.

I'll address the fanboys so far as this: a persistent complaint is that certain characters were reduced to little better than cameos. No kidding ... is anyone really under the delusion that each and every Firefly ep saw full exposition and screen time for each and every crew member? Of course not; the episodes focused on certain characters depending on who was most important to the plot. So did Serenity. I'm sorry that Joss didn't script the exact movie each and every one of you individually wanted, complete with focus on the characters you yourselves like best, but that's a common complaint in every such fandom situation.


Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Look, Rashomon this isn't, but ...
... Fast Times is certainly the quintessential teen comedy of its day, though I stop a bit short of making the common generational mistake of proclaiming its virtues paramount over every teen comedy made since; no doubt the teen comedies of each generation speak to that generation and are largely lost on the others.

What separates this from the others, IMHO, is its treatment of sexuality. The scene in which Jennifer Jason Leigh's character loses her virginity should be required viewing for teens, nudity or no, because teen sex can be *exactly* that awkward, abrupt and unfulfilling (and apparently JJL insisted on filming it exactly that way and exactly that explicitly for exactly those reasons); it's worth a hundred abstinence lectures from smarmy middle-aged moralists.

It's a funny movie, but it's also an honest and a true one.


Walk the Line

Almost there ...
I found Walk The Line to be a good, enjoyable movie; Witherspoon and Phoenix both are excellent, and it strikes me that any time Reese wants to switch careers to become a C&W singer she's probably got a legitimate shot at being a star. When was the last time you saw a Hollywood movie with the principals doing their own singing *and* it all worked out? (Moulin Rouge me no Moulin Rouge, Obi-Wan was strictly amateur hour)

That being the case, I've a few nits to pick. With a couple exceptions, the first half hour of the movie left me wondering how far I'd get before flipping the DVD off. Phoenix's voice in the early going was dull, flat, and nearly lifeless (although I wonder whether it was just that his timbre and range were far better suited to Cash's later music?), and you had no sense that this would become a legendary singer. The early exposition was terribly rushed, going from vignette to vignette in a choppy, barely-explored fashion. Beyond that and throughout, it struck me that scenes with other stars (such as the ones with Waylon Jennings and Elvis) were thrown in more for their namedropping than any dramatic purpose. It kept the movie from being truly great, IMHO.



Tired, washed out and dated.
It's quite ironic that a character in the movie is named Prince Valium, because the movie, script and performances seem like they all popped a pill. Heaven knows there's room in Star Wars and its ilk for parody, but this weary vehicle just never brought it.

I don't share the horror of many reviewers, because there were a number of amusing bits in the flick. The problem is that they were no more than amusing: I'd recognize the gag, nod, maybe smile, acknowledge the quip, and that's about it. There was always a certain zest, verve, what have you missing. Possibly in the hands of a peppier director or a more engaged cast Spaceballs would have been different, although I'm sure that it's hell on wheels for an audience of nine year old boys. But ... Moranis and Candy mailed it in, Pullman needed to be more over-the-top and wasn't, and the directing wasn't there. Even the fourth wall breaking didn't come off as well as it should have done.


It's a Wonderful Life

The greatest movie ever filmed.
I was all of 31 when I first saw the movie, when my ladyfriend found out I hadn't yet seen it, and incredulously sat me down on her couch, whipped a VHS tape out, and made me watch it on the spot.

It's become an annual ritual since; my wife and I watch it during Christmas season, and I still feel warm from seeing it again just a few nights ago.

So many other commentators have lavished remarks on this film that saying much of anything else would be gilding the lily, yet two elements stand out in my mind. First off, how many actors were ever the equal of Jimmy Stewart for the depth and quality of his expressions when he *wasn't* speaking? Possibly the dramatic high point of the movie is when Ruth tells George about his brother's career possibilities, and in the moment after she leaves him you can see better than any actor has ever done the wave of bitterness, disgust, the realization that he always has been and would always *be* trapped in the stultifying small town he hates.

Secondly, I'm sorry, but any man who sees this movie who wouldn't have married Donna Reed on the spot is either gay or crazy. Her performance radiated charm in torrents.

10/10; this movie is the unsurpassable standard by which all others are judged.

The Rocketeer

Not ... quite ... there.
It's hard to pinpoint, really. The makers of The Rocketeer plainly did their homework. It's a very faithful reproduction of Dave Stevens' style, they got so many of the Art Deco details right. The cinematography was lush, Bill Campbell looked right as Cliff Secord, Jennifer Connelly was fine in her own role, the director played it without a trace of camp, the script and plot was reasonably faithful to canon, the production values were first rate, it was just ...

... missing. Connelly wasn't quite vampy enough (I know, I know, they wanted to tone Betty's plain porno inclinations down for the Disney crowd), and we know she can do that. Campbell wasn't quite strong jawed heroic enough, and we know he can do *that*. Perhaps it's just that the principals didn't bring their "A" games to this movie, because just a touch more energy and verve would have made this a classic.

7/10, mostly for the production values.

Requiem for a Dream

Horrifying, amazing story
I admit I forced myself to watch the whole movie; there is more pain and torment in it than I wanted to watch and almost more than I could stomach. The movie deserved that much, is all, from the writers to the director to the actors whose skill made it so terribly real.

I've since thought that the worst thing about this movie is its rating. Teenagers shouldn't be banned from seeing this film ... this terrifying depiction of the possible consequences of drug addiction should be *required* viewing in every secondary school in the land, and it'd have far more of an impact than any DARE program or "Just Say No" ever could.

Unfortunately, that won't happen, because far be it that our children should watch a film that has (gasp!) deviant lesbian sex in it, however much it's the least erotic non-rape sex scene in cinematic history -- and is also likely a reason that this film didn't attract Oscars. (I've long since thought that Jennifer Connelly got her Academy Award in A Beautiful Mind for being little more than eye candy because the Academy didn't dare to give her one for her incredible performance here.)

I couldn't honestly tell you whether this was a "great" movie or not, but it is a *necessary* movie.


The Hot Spot

Alright, we know why you watched it ...
Probably 2/3rds of the video rentals come from horny old men who ignore the rest of the flick to surf forward and gaze at Jennifer Connelly's amazing bare teenage chest. Fair enough, Jen's probably got the best bod in Hollywood history, she doesn't disappoint, let's move on.

Beyond the titillation value, there's definite appeal here. Virginia Madsen is second in her generation only to Kathleen Turner, IMHO, in the degree of sheer vampiness she can bring to the screen. While Dennis Hopper's not often in control on the screen, his portrayals are almost always *interesting*, and like Jennifer, he doesn't disappoint either. Don Johnson puts in a workmanlike job in his own right.

While the film's a bit overlong for what it is and a touch too predictable, it's far from a waste of a viewing evening.


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