IMDb member since October 2004
    Lifetime Total
    IMDb Member
    16 years


Das Mädchen Rosemarie

Fascinating period piece about a doomed courtesan
Terrific acting by all of the principal players, especially Hoss as the "bad girl" Rosemarie, whose heartbreak is no less real for the fact that she's a high-priced prostitute. An intelligent, compassionate, forthright film about the Wages of Sin and about the fact that those wages are often paid threefold by women with no economic power or social status who remain at the bottom of the heap while the elite pay next to nothing for the indulgence of their vices and snicker all the way to the bank. Sounds like an old theme, and it is, but this film puts a fresh face on it, with a sharp-tongued screenplay and lots of great 1950s clothing and decor.

If you liked the intense British film "Dance with a Stranger," you'll probably like "A Girl Called Rosemarie." Both films are about feisty, doomed women who fall in love with the wrong men and suffer deeply for it. Various arias and symphonic excerpts from the Verdi opera "La Traviata" (about a doomed courtesan) are used to excellent effect in the soundtrack of "A Girl Called Rosemarie." The spoken German is crisp and enjoyable, and the English subtitles are clear and unobtrusive. Enjoy!

Janghwa, Hongryeon

Red herrings dragged at the pace of a snail
Overrated, over-hyped, overlong, over-slow, and not at all among the best Korean films right now. There are so many paths that lead nowhere in this film, so many pointless "atmospheric" interior shots, so much intentionally and needlessly vague dialog, so many interminable closeups of wide-eyed faces, so much choppy editing and pompous plot meandering, and such a p**s-poor "punchline" that after squirming through almost 2 hours of this film I felt cheated and annoyed.

A weak screenplay is still a weak screenplay no matter how much good acting, gimmicky camera work, and spooky music you throw at it. I don't need or want all the "answers" spoon-fed to me during a ghost story, but there's a huge difference between 1) using legitimate plot elements to build suspense carefully toward a solid climax or conclusion and 2) dumping a ton of red herrings on an audience and then expecting that audience to concoct its own conclusion with little or no help from the plot.

"A Tale of Two Sisters" ultimately cops out into number 2, which is too bad because it could have been a superb film had the screenplay been better and the director less self-indulgent. Lately, I've found Korean films in virtually all genres to be for the most part superb, but "A Tale of Two Sisters" is a huge let-down.

I Know My First Name Is Steven

Deep, Important, Timely
There's no reason to give this made-for-TV movie any less than 10 stars for its waaaaay above-average intensity, intelligence, and honesty on the subject of the sexual (and emotional) abuse of children. The acting is uniformly superb, with the film benefiting also from taut direction, a subtly remarkable script, and solid production values. "I Know My First Name is Steven" stays about 85% true to the actual events of Steven Stayner's life and, even more important, stays 100% true to its mission: To show how sexual predators can mentally and physically bludgeon their victims, especially when those victims are children, into a type of submissive paralysis that might defy logic but does not at all defy our understanding if we open our hearts and minds to the truth. The fact that this important film, timely enough when it was made in 1989, is even more timely today in 2006 is a sad fact we all need to face. I applaud the Lifetime Channel for continuing to air the film at fairly regular intervals, though I remain mystified as to why it has yet to be released on DVD.

La casa del tappeto giallo

"The House of the Yellow Carpet" is a keen, witty, highly imaginative psychological thriller that has nothing to do with "supernatural rugs" or any such nonsense and is a cut above plenty of Italian horror films I've seen. I stumbled upon mention of this rare film in one of those long, long lists of "My Favorite Horror Films" people love to post on the Internet. The title grabbed me immediately and struck me at first as hilarious. I just had to find out what, if anything, could be so "horrifying" about a yellow carpet that it could provide the basis for a "horror" film.

Well, there's nothing much horrifying about a yellow carpet, but there's plenty horrifying about a husband who stays awake all night staring at his sleeping wife and working himself into a fury because in her sleep she's amorously murmuring some other guy's name. I wish I could say more without spoiling the plot. All I can say is, this film features a highly unusual serial killer whose "method acting" is as unsettling as it is, at times, amusing, though the underlying message of "The House of the Yellow Carpet" is dead serious.

Erland Josephson, a noted Swedish actor (and collaborator with Ingmar Bergman) who has a huge list of TV, film, stage, and literary credits to his name, is super here as "the man who comes to buy a carpet." You might remember him from "Fanny and Alexander," "The Passion of Anna," "Saving Grace," "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," "Hanussen," "Sophie," and "Prospero's Books." Born in 1923, he's still alive and working (he played Franz von Papen in the 2003 Italian made-for-TV movie "Il papa buono" about Pope John the 23rd). See "House of the Yellow Carpet" for him alone, but you might be pleasantly surprised that he's not the only thing about this film worth watching.


A total Camp classic!
"Boom" is a BOMB, but it's a totally lovable bomb if you have even half a heart and a fully developed sense of the bizarre. John Waters (director of "Pink Flamingos") loves this movie, and so do I, probably for different reasons, but that's the beauty of wacky movies like "Boom." I love "Boom" because it's such a breathtakingly beautiful mess, just like Liz Taylor herself at the time she starred in it. Richard Burton is a lovely mess in this film as well; he's as hunky as ever, but his years of boozing are beginning to show. Thing is, if any two actors colliding with each other -- and with an outrageously choppy screenplay (written by the great Tennessee Williams himself; what was he THINKING?) -- can look absolutely divine while they're making the best of a bad situation, Liz and Richard can (and do) pull it off in "Boom." Frankly, I don't see how anybody could pass up a movie that features Michael Dunn (remember him from "Ship of Fools"?) playing a smirking, sadistic, jack-booted dwarf who thinks he's a generalissimo; the world famous playwright Noel Coward turning in a delightfully queeny version of himself at his prissiest; and the veteran Italian actor Romolo Valli ("The Garden of the Finzi-Continis," "1900") going all-out to make a fool of himself as a dope-pushing doc-for-hire ... for what more could you ask, except maybe Liz and Richard, and "Boom" has them all! That's not even the best part. The best part is the island of Sardinia, where the film was flawlessly photographed. If the dwarf and his vicious little doggies don't amuse you and Liz's goblet-smashing antics tend to annoy you, not to worry. "Boom" delivers such stunning photography of the wild beauty of Sardinia's unspoiled coastline that you won't run out of things to look at, not for an instant. "Boom" is total eye candy. As a Camp classic, it's tough to beat. If you adore Liz Taylor at her brattiest on the screen when she's insulting all the servants and chewing the scenery without even smudging her lipstick, this is the film for YOU!

When Love Kills: The Seduction of John Hearn

Much Better Than You'd Think!
Leave it to Gary Cole to turn in yet another woefully underrated, quietly superb performance for which he'll probably never get anywhere near the credit he deserves. He gives just such a performance in "When Love Kills: The Seduction of John Hearn," a must-see for any Gary Cole fan, especially those who remember his stunning performance as Captain Jeffrey MacDonald in "Fatal Vision," a performance for which he was praised but was never praised enough.

Anyone who has followed Gary Cole's career in television and feature films knows that he has often found himself relegated to supporting roles in which he is forced to bury his talents, though he shines in each and every one of those roles nevertheless. In his leading role in "When Love Kills," Cole utterly nails the fatal character flaw that exists in any man -- in Everyman -- who's ever fallen for a crooked dame so hard he can't see straight and gets sucked so deeply and swiftly into the bottomless pit of her sexuality and greed that he loses himself entirely.

Don't be misled by the "TV-lookingness" of this film; it's classic Film Noir in plot, in message, and in execution. Marg Helgenberger's crooked dame is deliciously campy, bossy, icky-sweet perky, and spot-on deadly, her chirpy malevolence a perfect balance for Cole's Man in Search of a Fatal Obsession. These two are so good together in the sex scenes in "When Love Kills" that you'll be tempted to wonder if they weren't doing a number with each other off the screen as well; now, that is good acting!

I've just seen this movie (made in 1993) for the first time on the Lifetime Channel in 2004 and fell for it hook, line, and sinker. Sure, you could hack away at it for various reasons -- maybe it's a tad too long, maybe a few scenes could have been slightly better, and maybe the man in the moon is a lady -- but do yourself a favor and give it a chance. Especially give Gary Cole a chance to do what he does so well and always does when he sinks his teeth into a role like John Hearn: He plays it to the hilt, grabs you by the throat, and doesn't let go even after the end credits are rolling.

"When Love Kills" is surprisingly intense despite its made-for-TV patina and limp title. It manages to do a better job than many other films I've seen in describing, believably and chillingly, the Descent into Darkness any man takes when he lets his Little Head do his "thinking" for him. There are several scenes in "When Love Kills" that are real nail-biters, but nowhere is Gary Cole more riveting than in the scene where, having realized that he's been played for a sucker by Helgenberger's maniacal femme fatale, he faces his own demons in a motel room shower.

I continue to be amazed that Gary Cole isn't routinely whispered about as a "great" actor along the lines of Al Pacino and Robert De Niro because he thoroughly deserves the same whispers. I also continue to be amazed at the number of people who blow off a made-for-TV movie just because it was made for TV.

If you blow this one off, you'll be missing a film that's much better than you'd think.

See all reviews