Saturday, December 28, 2002

Review – Conspiracy

Here’s an interesting subject for a made-for-cable movie: the Wansee Conference. It’s interesting to watch the Final Solution – the extermination of millions of Jewish people in concentration camp gas chambers – discussed by Third Reich bureaucrats as if they were pondering a somewhat thorny accounting problem. The petty bickering between representatives of the various branches of the Nazi state seems trivial in light of the decisions being made, and their discussions are all the more chilling for the contrast. Some of the casting is a bit odd, particularly the choice of Stanley Tucci as Eichman. But beyond that this is a fascinating viewing experience, particularly the text at the end indicating just how few of the participants were punished in any meaningful way at the end of the war. Worth seeing

Review – Exorcist 2: The Heretic

I can practically hear the sad lament of the movie studio brass on this one. “Where did we go wrong? We got the same cast. We even got some really good new actors, including James Earl Jones. We didn’t get William Friedken back, but surely John Boorman is on par with him (for better or worse). We even used the same demon. So why did this turn out to be a tragically comic follow-up to one of the best horror movies of all time?” Okay, first things first: just because the ancient Babylonians were terrified of an evil being named Pazuzu doesn’t mean the word is going to strike fear – or in fact do anything besides provoke laughter and derision – in modern American audiences. It didn’t help matters to have the creature of ultimate darkness frequently manifest itself as a big grasshopper. Further, little Linda Blair did just fine when her only real role was to lie around under a coat of latex devil makeup, but when she’s actually required to act she comes up a bit short. And don’t even get me started on Richard Burton. Then there’s the script, jam-packed with some of the most ridiculous plot devices and awful dialogue ever preserved on film. So if you’re in the mood for some of the most unintentionally funny moments in Hollywood history, you’ve come to the right place. Otherwise the only reason I can think of to spend much time with this stinker is the need to complete the Exorcist triple feature (or quintuple, in light of later developments). See if desperate

Saturday, December 21, 2002

Review – Communion

I’m glad this still shows on cable every once in awhile, because I expect as source novel author, screenwriter and model for the protagonist Whitley Strieber still gets a little money every time it runs. And I’ll bet he can use the money, because the treatments for whatever the hell is wrong with him are probably expensive. Benefits to the creator aside, the big reason to sit through this stinker is that it’s one of the all-time most unintentionally funny movies of all time. I suppose it’s wrong to derive amusement from the mental illness of others, but by the time Strieber (played to an uncanny tee by Christopher Walken, who actually bears a fairly strong resemblance to the author) ends up doing an awkward little dance number with the Phantasm-looking aliens who anal probed him, it’s impossible to do much of anything besides laugh. I’ve seen this movie three times now, and each time (even the first, which was in a movie theater) I sort of lost interest in it after the first 45 minutes or so. Perhaps that’s in part because it’s hard to stay interested in a bunch of disjointed, meandering crap about unpleasant encounters with space aliens. See if desperate

Sunday, December 1, 2002

Review – Don't Say a Word

I’m tempted to follow the title recommendation, at least in the spirit of Thumper Rabbit’s mother’s famous advice. But no, my duty is to the movie-watching public, and thus I must sound the alarm about this second-rate mystery flick. Michael Douglas plays a child psychiatrist whose daughter is kidnapped by goons who need information locked in the mind of one of the good doctor’s deeply ill patients. The premise had promise, but the execution manages nothing more than another parade of uninteresting twists and turns designed to do little more than keep the action limping along. I admit to a fair measure of natural hostility to the whole kids-in-jeopardy thing, so that might have been part of why I found this outing so completely charmless. See if desperate