Sunday, October 12, 2008

Until I find time to recap better movies

Please accept these rundowns of some rather middling features from the last couple of weeks. Have I built your excitement? Can you stand the suspense? Your wait is over!

How does this guy direct movies while wearing that straitjacket?: "Videodrome"

Because seriously ... David Cronenberg is one f*cked-up mother. And no, I'm not excusing "A History of Violence." Good movie, but some weirdness there, too. Don't get me wrong. The guy is never boring. But for every entertaining entry like "The Fly" or "Scanners," we get "Crash" or "Naked Lunch." Blech.

I remember seeing a little of "Videodrome" a long time ago. Now it's 25 years old. Whoa. James Woods is a TV programmer back in the days of big-ass satellite dishes and Betamax. He stumbles across some kind of snuff series and wants to find out more so he can get it on his Toronto channel. They're so enlightened north of the border.

Of course, his quest turns into a descent into weirdness. It's kind of hard to describe, with the rampant use of hallucinogens leading us to ask what's real and what's not. I'll admit some mild interest in seeing Debbie Harry of Blondie in a key roles, as well as Woods finding out that he suddenly has a kind of zipper belly. No more bikinis for you at the beach! In the end, though, it's all too bizarre, and in a mostly annoying way.

"Ghost" meets "River's Edge," except worse than either: "The Invisible"

First, crappy title. Too cute. It was the same thing with "The Forgotten." Works much better as an adjective, people. As a noun, you sound like a dipsh*t.

Our story has some kid who's got everything going for him, aside from having a dead dad, when he runs afoul of the high school toughs -- intriguingly led by a girl. After some deceit, the kids leave our hero for dead in the woods. But lo! It seems our guy is in limbo. That's how his ... soul? Essence? Avatar? Whatever it is, he's able to walk around like normal, except nobody can see him. Nice trick.

Once he learns he's not dead, he has to figure out a way to get through to the living so people can find his body. Along the way, his friend turns out not to be such a good friend, and that eeeeee-vil WO-man may not be so bad after all. You know, aside from the nearly killing him.

You know it's trouble when the metaphysics aren't the most farfetched thing in a movie. I don't think I can pick out a single believable character here, and it makes sense that there are few names of note in the cast. Well, one name: Marcia Gay Harden as our hero's mom. She made this the same year as "The Mist," and while that horror movie was actually OK, Harden was nutty. That Oscar for "Pollock" is fading in the rearview mirror, lady.

Not-so-great Scott: "Dan in Real Life"

Um, Mr. Carell? Jim Carrey called. He wants his schtick from "The Majestic" back.

Oh, OK ... this movie and performance aren't THAT bad. But they aren't good, either. Steve Carell is a widower with three kids who takes them to a family vacation in ... New England somewhere. Cape Cod? Who cares. Anyway, he bumps into a charming Frenchwoman (Juliette Binoche) in the local bookstore. He goes back to tell the family about her, but lo! She's already there, on the arm of his younger brother. Bummer.

Unlike your standard crappy romantic comedy, we get a different kind of crappiness. You see, this extended family does all sorts of kooky stuff together. Games in the yard. Bowling. A ... ahem ... talent show(!?!??!?). I already was having problems with this movie -- mainly the age differences between Binoche and little brother (Dane "Nope, Still Can't Act" Cook) and Carell and a would-be paramour played by Emily Blunt, who's hot but a good 20 years younger, I think.

But when the age gaps and personality gaps aren't nearly as hard to swallow as all the family crap, well ... problem. Binoche and Carell try, but ... no. Put it this way: It reminded me of "The Family Stone," and usually the very mention of that movie makes me physically cringe. Really, I'm cringing right now. Cringe.

This, on the other hand, is some casting: "Extreme Prejudice"

Nick Nolte, sure, but get a load of this collection: Powers Boothe, Rip Torn, Michael Ironside, Clancy Brown, William Forsythe. Throw in Tiny Lister and the gay black guy from "Revenge of the Nerds," and we're cooking! Hell, you had me at Ironside and Brown ...

Directed by Walter "More bullets! MORE!" Hill, our story has Nolte as a Texas Ranger and Boothe as his former pal and current drug lord across the border. Most of the rest of the fellas are former military guys who now do black-bag ops -- like the lingo? -- and have a particular interest in Boothe. We get plenty of talky-talky up front, but you just know the sh*t is going to go down OK Corral style when all is said and done.

Among all these fine actors, Boothe probably is the best, doing his sh*t-eating grin thing while strutting about in a suit on loan from Mr. Roarke. Nolte is OK, but a little hard to take seriously with his cowboy hat pulled down so low. The other guys all do their usual thing -- Ironside as a hardass, Brown as a redneck, Forsythe as a slob -- and do it well.

In the end, there's not as much to this movie as I would have liked. It's far from Hill's best -- that would be "48 Hrs." -- and I'll always have a soft spot for "Streets of Fire." (Two words: Diane Lane.) But hey, it's not bad, and if you've ever wondered what Maria Conchita Alonso looked like in the shower 20 years ago ...


At 12:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You need to see "Eastern Promises," if you haven't already. However, you will have to make your standard one-star deduction.

At 1:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you say Walter Hill? Given everyone involved, "Extreme Prejudice" really should have been better than it is. It's not even the best Walter Hill-Powers Boothe movie. That would be "Southern Comfort." No William Forsythe, but a nice dose of Fred Ward. And Peter Coyote. Nice music, too, although it helps to like zydeco. But who doesn't?


Post a Comment

<< Home