Thursday, July 27, 2006

Review – Basic Instinct 2

I hardly know where to begin. The very idea that Basic Instinct required a sequel. That it was set in London, ensuring that the sex in this movie would inevitably involve the English. And don’t even get me started on Sharon Stone. The only thing I liked about the movie I can’t discuss without ruining the ending. Wish I’d skipped it

Review – Beyond the Wall of Sleep

If I was planning to make a movie out of one of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, I’m not sure “Beyond the Wall of Sleep” would top the list. And even if that tale was my target, I’m quite certain this isn’t how I’d tell it. Just for starters, this amateurish, straight-to-video hack job contains more jump cuts than I’ve ever seen in a single production. The terrible acting and even-more-dreadful script provide no distraction from the relentless editing mistakes. In the end the monster at the heart of the drama turns out to be so silly that Lovecraft fans – the only natural audience for something like this – are likely to end up alienated. Wish I’d skipped it

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Review – Chocolat

A mysterious woman shows up in a small French village and proceeds to introduce excitement to the townfolk’s lives by opening a chocolate shop. On one level at least this plays like a version of Mary Poppins with more sex and fewer English moppets. Even if occasionally heavy-handed, the overall point is valid; if people were a little less uptight, they might enjoy life more. It’s just that in order for the lesson to take two hours a certain amount of repetition is bound to be involved. Further, this is yet another entry in the list of movies that celebrate the beauty and power of the feminine but ultimately measure its worth in part by how effectively it nets women relationships with men. Mildly amusing

Monday, July 17, 2006

Review – Fabulous: The Story of Queer Cinema

Though some isolated moments in some of the interviews are entertaining, this production falls well short of providing a useful history of homosexuality in film. The focus is almost exclusively on movies made by queer directors, writers, and/or actors (or at least movies that portray gays and lesbians in a favorable light). However, narrowing the range doesn’t appear to have helped much. The discussion still seems to pick and choose particular films, sometimes giving short shrift to big moments and dwelling on smaller pictures that – however influential on individuals – didn’t exactly mark crucial moments in film history. Further, just about every specimen discussed is described by at least one of the interviewees as the most important queer movie ever made. The result plays like an extended chat session between buffs, not a serious discussion intended to inform or enlighten. Mildly amusing

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Review – The Assassination of Richard Nixon

Here’s an oddity: a movie about an assassination attempt that didn’t succeed. In 1974 a ne’er-do-well salesman named Sam Byck tried to kill Richard Nixon by (unsuccessfully) hijacking an airplane and plowing it into the White House. In the wake of September 11, the plot obviously takes on an immediacy it otherwise wouldn’t have had. But beyond that, all we get from this is yet another lone nut obsessed with violence against the rich and powerful. Sean Penn plays Byck (spelled “Bicke” in the movie) as a bizarre combination of Travis Bickle and Rain Man, which fits the story line but generally makes the lead character neither sympathetic nor compelling. Of course the problems here aren’t all Penn’s doing. The production would have been helped considerably by more emphasis on the protagonist’s mental illness, his delusions and his crimes. Instead the stress is mostly on his business and relationship woes. Mildly amusing

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Review – Blood Bath

A better script might have turned this from a bad, low-budget horror movie to a good one. The concepts behind the vignettes in this anthology piece aren’t bad, but the dialogue and action are so stiff that the plot gets lost. The bracket also loses focus around midway through. That notwithstanding, there’s some entertaining stuff here. Actor-wise, keep an eye out for supporting roles played by Doris Roberts and P.J. Soles. Mildly amusing

Friday, July 7, 2006

Review – Deep Shock

“SciFi Channel Original” joins the pantheon of great oxymorons. This production can be divided into two categories: stuff stolen from other movies (primarily The Abyss) and time wasted while the characters flounder around waiting for the next stolen plot element. Giant electric eels try to keep an underwater research station from using nuclear torpedoes to seal a hole in the earth’s crust below the arctic ice cap before … oh, let’s be honest. The story doesn’t really matter. If you like cheap effects and bad acting, you’re in the right place. Beyond that, this production doesn’t have much to offer. See if desperate