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The Marsh

Could have been better. Could have been much, much worse.
I rented The Marsh because I enjoy a good Gabrielle Anwar film. Actually, those are few and far between -- the truth is I'll watch anything she's in. I must say this is better than most of the movies she's done (likely thanks to the absence of Craig Sheffer).

Her character was well defined and complex, but she seemed more curious than frightened. It made sense when she spoke about how fairy tales are supposed to give kids the willies, and that's what kids like - I had a copy of Der Struwwelpeter when I was a kid - but this film wasn't really scary or anything much more than creepy.

I had braced myself for the worst, and was waiting for one of the two clichéd scenes, you know the wizened old man who says "you don't know what you're dealing with here'" or the abrasive and skeptical sheriff / authority figure who knows more than he lets on. So it was refreshing when Whittaker's character moved the plot along as quickly as it did.

The opening scene was marvelous, and the scene with her therapist could have been great with some smoother editing, but the flashlight in the dark videography is worthless. The death scenes are waaay cheesy. In the end, I'd say the director pulled it off, but it was touch and go there for a while.

All in all, this was a (bad) B movie, but with just enough sunk into the production to make it halfway decent.

Scotland, PA

Thoroughly Enjoyable
Truly Entertaining. Though I've forgotten most of the Shakespeare original, the cleverness wasn't lost on me. Whoever supplied the props for the set did a perfect job, I WAS IN 1974, and not just reminded of it ala "Dazed and Confused". That alone makes it a gem. There were a few tedious moments, but none of them lasted more than half a minute. I was laughing out loud several times - A totally admirable first outing for Director Morissette. Must agree with reviewer who noticed volume problems with the dialogue on the VHS rental.

City by the Sea

For once, I get to say something about a film that has NO obvious problems. Strong, solid acting by all, and a screenplay that is nearly perfectly written. The action can be a little slow, but hey, it's a drama, and doesn't detract from a well-paced story. Not an all time classic, so I probably wouldn't want to see it twice.

L.A.P.D.: To Protect and to Serve

All Time Absolute Worst
Never before have I witnessed the total ineptness of an entire movie. Starting with the most generic trailer I've ever seen, this one lost me from the get-go. About a minute into the first scene shootout, I got the feeling that the Sergeant was going to break it up and show the rookies all the mistakes they were making during this training excercise. In the next scene, the boys are celebrating like they won the first football game of the season. Anyone care about those dead cops? I also love the scene where Hopper runs into Madsen after hours, and the L.A.P.D. office looks like a bank on Sunday. About halfway through I started calling it "Mayberry P.D."

Ash Wednesday

Too Many Distractions - small spoiler
I had a few problems with this movie, ranging from small - Burns' ash-cross looking different in every scene, to medium - the same music playing during their 2nd beers as was playing when they entered the bar, to undeniably wrong... The thing I have the biggest problem with is the onset of events. The movie starts on ash Wednesday when Sean kills 3 local men who are about to kill his brother, Francis. Somehow, in the space of a couple hours, a hit-man from California is dispatched to kill Sean but Francis kills the guy, puts Sean's watch and ring on his severed arm and that's how Sean's death is rigged (so why DIDN'T Francis have the watch now?). IMO you can't build an entire movie around this implausible timeline. Also, it didn't help that Sean's son, who he never knew about and therefore can't be more that 2 years and 4 months old, looks like he's going on Five. Also, Sean looks pretty pale to have been farming in Texas for 3 years :-\

Blood Work

Wait a minute ... (SPOILER)
Major spoiler follows -

Like many other viewers, I guessed the identity of the killer very early into the film. It was so obvious, I started to look for his alibi. He has an airtight one: The killer was babysitting for the kid at the same time that clint spotted his car on the street and shot it up.

So did the killer leave raymond alone while he tailed clint? Or did he bring the kid along for a gun battle and reckless driving...



Was it really about Gossip?
At the outset of this movie, Derek states his hypothesis that Gossip is News. What evolves from this is not necessarily an affirmation of that statement. Rather, it is an experiment in manipulation using gossip as the medium.

Still, I don't think that's what the movie was about. To me, date-rape and Justice seemed like the prevalent theme. Along those lines I felt that an effort had been made to draw similarities with the Alex Kelly date-rape incident of the 80's. Both Kate Hudson and James Marsden were eerily identical to their real life counterparts, and as the movie began to backtrack into the past, I could see that the plot was no longer based on the web that spun on purpose, but on the truth waiting to get out. So what happens when a rich jock is accused of rape? In a parallel universe, what course of events might lead to a satisfying levying of Justice, if such a thing exists?

The Comfort of Strangers

This was a beautifully filmed, perfectly acted waste of time. While the tension and danger are real, the motives and plot are empty. When it ended, I said to myself, "Huh?"

If it wasn't busy taking superflous detours, it was inexplicably shocking. It's almost as if there was a second half that got cut out. I feel like I was owed an explanation, although one could extrapolate some kind of man vs. himself kind of conflict from all of this. Hey, maybe I'm just a dumb American who has gotten used to movies that hand you a plot on a platter. I guess that's what some people loved about this movie, and what left me feeling so unsatisfied ... I will be rolling the memories around for a while trying to put together something coherent with purpose, which the movie didn't supply.

The Ambulance

A good story run amok ...
I thought the story had a lot of potential, but it fell through about 2/3 through the movie... why is it that so many films totally give up at this point? It started out a tolerable, mystery type thing, but then it got ridiculous. I'm not going to spoil the ending, but if I can be specific about a few things:

Like when the bad guys have to slow down the foot chase because they're getting within a few steps. And the whole scene where he's being held by the cops actually had me pissed off that I was subjected to both the implausible logic: The cops holding a witness who didn't see anything (however, they do have a description of the perp - where was THAT witness?) and the terrible acting wherein the cops are so uncooperative, I thought they were in on the scam. I saw "Restraining Order" also, and I think I will never see another Eric Roberts film again.

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