Tuesday, January 29, 2002

Review – Autumn in New York

Take a romance between a high-40s aging lothario and a ditzy low-20-something. Add the plot twist that she’s dying of Tragic Beautiful Actress Syndrome (the same thing that got Ali McGraw in Love Story). Then dump on a heapin’ helpin’ of some of the worst dialogue I’ve ever heard, et voila! The offense is further aggravated by Wynona Ryder playing a role she could barely have pulled off ten years ago (this woman’s my age for crying out loud, and I assure you I ain’t 20). Then of course there’s the constant presence of Richard Gere. The final icing on the cake is the almost constant reliance on clichés, particularly the male lead’s simpering, empty-headed self-deprecation. Even the most devoted fan of the chick flick may have trouble choking this one down. Wish I’d skipped it

Saturday, January 26, 2002

REview – The Blind Swordsman's Vengeance

Our sightless hero Master Zatoichi is once again up to his old tricks, drawn against his will into defending helpless villagers from yakuza gangsters. This is your typical mix of swordplay, philosophical musings and other genre clichés. Nearly the only novel twist this time around is the bad guys’ attempt to flummox the protagonist by attacking him while playing extra-loud thunder drums so he won’t be able to hear them coming for him. Of course it doesn’t work, but it’s the thought that counts. Mildly amusing

Thursday, January 24, 2002

Review – Double Jeopardy

Ready for yet another run-of-the-mill, Hitchcock wannabe thriller? Ashley Judd and Tommy Lee Jones star in this mediocre pot-boiler about a woman (Judd) who does prison time for killing her husband only to discover that 1. the guy’s still alive and 2. he framed her so he could walk away with their kid and a whole lot of money. So when she’s paroled she goes after the louse and is herself pursued by an ex-lawyer-turned-parole-officer (Jones). Eventually all parties end up in New Orleans, where ... if you want to know what happens, sit through it yourself. I had to. Why shouldn’t you? However, be warned that the surprise twists fall more than a little short of surprising. Even the title – a reference to the flawed theory that the double jeopardy rule would prevent our heroine from being tried for murder a second time after she kills her treacherous hubby – falls flat. See if desperate

Friday, January 18, 2002

Review – Dark Days

Before I sat down and watched this movie, I have to admit I was skeptical about the chances anyone could make a documentary that said anything new about the plight of the homeless. However, this production managed to impress me. Cameras show us the hidden lives of the homeless folk who live the bulk of their lives beneath the streets of New York. It suffers from some of the problems endemic to films of this ilk (slight preachiness, black and white art posing) and a couple of new ones (believe it or not, it has a happy ending). Further, the lighting I suppose was necessary for filming purposes appears to distort some of the scenes. But the power of stories told and the lives depicted is more than enough to make up for the movie’s shortcomings. Worth seeing

Wednesday, January 9, 2002

Review – Bruiser

What happened to George Romero? At one point he was at the cutting edge of the horror movie business. Now he seems content to work only occasionally, and if this outing is any indication of what we can expect from him in the future then he might want to consider staying retired on a more permanent basis (sorry George, but Dawn of the Dead is apparently far behind you). This is the ham-handed allegorical tale of a white, middle-class guy who wakes up one morning to find that his face is gone. Thus liberated from his identity, he goes on a killing spree that plays like an arty version of Falling Down. Despite a nod or two to Poe in the end (and a cameo by the Misfits), this outing’s a pale shadow of Romero’s former brilliance. See if desperate