Volume 1, Number 3
This Week's Reviews: The King and I, Forces of Nature, The General, Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, Ravenous, True Crime.
|The King and I
(Dir: Richard Rich, Voices include Miranda Richardson, Martin Vidnovic, Ian Richardson, Alan Hong, Adam Wylie, and Armi Arabe)
BY: DAVID PERRY
I know that I said something about recommended films a minute ago, trust me this is not one of them. Like most avid film fans, I happen to enjoy the original Rogers and Hammerstein musical The King & I from 1956, and I somewhat liked the 1946 film Anna and the King of Siam (which was a much more dramatic version than the musical). This little animated version puts the story to shame. In fact the only reason why I deemed this deserving of above a F rating is that it still retains the songs from the original stage play. Anna and her exploits with the King of Siam have become kiddy fodder that comes off like Rock-a-Doodle. The film goes as far as adding a Siamese idiot character, a baby elephant (sarcastic "awww"), and a smart monkey (can we say Disney?). This film lowers even furthur by attempting to teach children the importance of good dental hygiene and karate expertise. Remember the sub-plot of the two star-crossed lover? Gone. Instead there is the half-baked story of the Prince (about 12 in the original, 25 in this) falling in love with the slave maiden. I hate to give away too much, but I'll even say that it ends differently (too scary for small children I guess). Even if you thought the monkey was not absurd enough, the kindly prime minister in the original is now an evil sorcerer. This film can't even pull off the presenting of the King's children to Anna, which is my favorite scene when it was Deborah Kerr and Yul Brenner.
What makes me the saddest about this is that the once
great Miranda Richardson has allowed herself to stoop this low (I'm hoping that her
chidlren talked her into it or something). My philosophy is: when a cartoon has animation
jumps (i.e. the missing appearance of cells) the cartoon is a lost cause.
|Forces of Nature
(Dir: Bronwen Hughes, Starring Ben Affleck, Sandra Bullock, Maura Tierney, Steve Zahn, Blythe Danner, Ronny Cox, Joe Don Baker, and Steve Hytner)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Can you really have respect for a film directed by someone named Bronwen? In what is officially the end of any post-Chasing Amy respect I once had for Ben Affleck, Forces of Nature further proves DeMille's Theory of Film Seasons (spring = light romantic/comic misfires; summer = no brainer action flicks; fall/winter = Oscar worthy dramas).
Affleck is trying to get to his wedding in Georgia via a New York airline (bad idea right there) when a bird goes into the engine of the plane and it crashes upon take-off. Well in the turmoil, he hits a fellow passenger on the head (Bullock) and takes her out to medical help. When she regains conscienceness, she sets her sights upon taking him as a suitor. With all the rental cars taken, they work together to get to Georgia so he can get married and she can pick up some money (bad sub-plot waiting to happen). And as fate would have it he actually falls in love with her (bet you didn't see that one coming). Meanwhile his fiancé (Tierney) along with the four parents await his arrival. Amongst these scenes are where most of my recommended points are. Nota Bene: hire Blythe Danner and Ronny Cox for a bickering couple and you'll automatically have something good in your film.
The film follows simple Hollywood formula up until its
ending, which I guess was supposed to be refreshing but was not. Bullock further proves
that the Speed/While You were Sleeping double header was just a fluke as
this goes just as well with Speed 2: Cruise Control, Hope Floats, and Practical
Magic (still her worst yet). The direction is hideously awful as the director tries
to impress the audience by having computer generated rain that looks just as fake as the
monkey in The King and I (sorry, couldn't resist). In fact if it wasn't for
Danner and Cox, this film would probably rate just as low if not lower than The King
and I. If that's not enough to talk you out of seeing it, then it might just be up
(Dir: John Boorman, Starring Brendan Gleeson, Adrian Dunbar, Sean McGinley, Maria Doyle Kennedy, Angeline Ball, Jon Voight, Eanna MacLiam, Tom Murphy, Paul Hickey, Tommy O'Neal, and Eamonn Owens)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Finally! A good film. I have set through The King and I, Wing Commander, and Baby Geniuses waiting to find something good (the last above B- Rating was for Hurlyburly on 27 February). You don't know how dismal things can be when there haven't been watchable films for so long.
I guess I should probably get off of my problems and on to the movie at hand. The General is the latest from one-time auteur John Boorman. Boorman's best known as the only man that can come off of Deliverance with The Exorcist II: The Heretic. The last time I really liked a Boorman film was with Hope and Glory in 1987. Like Hope and Glory, The General is set in the United Kingdom, far away from the Georgia back-waters that made him so famous. It is the story of Martin Cahill, the famous criminal in Northern Ireland that attempted to defy both the law and the IRA. The film starts off with his assassination and builds back to his childhood days (young Cahill is played by the highly talented Eammon Owens who last appeared in Neil Jordan's The Butcher Boy).
Instead of attempting to be a stiff-suited biographical
drama, The General goes for many, many laughs at the expense of normal decency
(they even play his death backwards at the beginning for a few laughs). All in all, I
found it to be the most fun I've had in a theatre since the lesbian kiss in Crual
Intentions (Blair and Gellar should get some award for that). The cast is superb
including Voight as the cheif of police and Gleeson as Cahill. Boorman takes some risky
moves on screen annd most of them work out. My only problem with the film is that the film
has one too many heists. It over steps a little in length and has a slight falling for it.
Other wise it is the best first time viewing I've had since Affliction (Rushmore
was the day before).
|Lock, Stock & Two Smoking Barrels
(Dir: Guy Ritchie, Starring Jason Flemyng, Dexter Fletcher, Nick Morna, Jason Stratham, Steven Mackintosh, Vinnie Jones, Sting, Lenny McLean, P.H. Moriarty, Steve Sweeney, Frank Harper, and Stephen Marcus)
BY: DAVID PERRY
If there was ever a film that I wanted to like a lot more than I actually did. Dispite a small cult following, the trevails of four British friends embroyled in debt did not interest me. It seemed like it was a good idea messed-up by a wide variety of bad ideas of how to use the camera. It was not even half as funny as Trainspotting.
Lock, Stock is about the owing of 500 thousand pounds and the attempts to make the payment. When one friend talks his chums into giving him 200 thousand pounds to play high-stakes cards with, he not only losses the money but picks up a debt to the main gangster in all of London. There is a wide array of characters that range from grunts to drug-dealers to gun collectors.
I will admit that those jokes in the film that were funny
were really funny (the robbing of a gun collector's house is the high point of the film).
The performances seem to be on mark dispite a few minor glitches. The story seems to work
because of its unpredictability. In fact the only thing that I really disliked about the
film was its direction. The camera shots seem to be the brain-child of some guy who loves
(and do I mean loves) slow-motion and freeze-frame shots. If those two technical ways work
for you, than you might enjoy the film, but your humble narrator hates those along with
speeding up action (only exception seems to be A Clockwork Orange, which get
pardoned for being the film that pretty much introduced it). I have a feeling that the
director was hoping to be seen as some visionary in the vein of Kubrick but comes off much
more like Alan Rudolph with Afterglow.
(Dir: Antonia Bird, Starring Guy Pearce, Robert Carlyle, Jeremy Davies, Jeffrey Jones, John Spencer, Stephen Spinella, Neal McDonough, David Arquette, Bill Brochtrup, Joseph Running Fox, and Sheila Tousey)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Sometimes there are those films that stand out as worst film of the year fodder. The last time I had this feeling, I was coming out of Fallen with Denzel Washington. While Ravenous is not near as bad as Fallen, it does stand as the sixth worst film of the year so far (still ages better than The Other Sister). One thing I liked that someone else pointed out was that it is a cannibal film with shades of vampire-ism set in mid-nineteenth century California directed by a woman. I'm not necessarily trying to degrade the ability of female directors, but...cannibals! Antonia Bird did a terrific film back in 1994 called Priest and starring Linus Roach (Wings of the Dove), Tom Wilkinson (The Full Monty, Shakespeare in Love), and Robert Carlyle (The Full Monty, Trainspotting, Ravenous) so I know that it is not the director's complete fault on why this film is so awful. The cast is also quite well represented: Carlyle, Guy Pierce (L.A. Confidential), Jeffrey Jones (Beetlejuice, Ed Wood), Jeremy Davies (Saving Private Ryan), and David Arquette (Scream, Scream 2). I guess that somewhat counts them out. That brings me to Ted Griffin who chose to write this as his first film. Eurekah! Griffin's script comes off as worse than even that of Fallen. Now I'm quite fearful of his next film, Best Laid Plans.
I would feel a need in going into the plot if it wasn't for the fact that my cannibal...California rant had pretty much done the job.
If you are questioning the rating not being a F/NO STARS
despite the fact that I so dislike it, the reason is in my ruling about two years ago.
Rating Rule #5: No film can be rated with the lowest rating if it has one small thing that
is good about it. For She's All That, it was the Jeorpardy scene; for The
Other Sister it was a slight laugh about half way through the film; for this it is
Guy Pierce. This is Pierce's first film since breaking into American films with L.A.
Confidential. In Ravenous, Pierce succeeds in performing the character he
was given. While his dialogue may be lacking most of the time, his performance never
faulters, unlike those of Jones, Davis, Carlyle, and Arquette. In the end, I still have to
say beware of this film at all costs.
(Dir: Clint Eastwood, Starring Clint Eastwood, Isaiah Washington, Denis Leary, Lisa Gay Hamilton, James Woods, Penny Bae Bridges, Frances Fisher, Bernard Hill, Michael Jeter, and Mary McCormack)
BY: DAVID PERRY
That's right, another recommended film. Eastwood once again proves that he is more than just a has been actor that tries to be a director (re Kevin Costner). Sure his career has had some really bad spots (The Rookie) but for the last seven years he has had a really good period of films. Starting with Best Picture winning Unforgiven in 1992, he has gone through films like the underrated A Perfect World and the remarkable Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. True Crime is another addition to this recommended line of films for Eastwood.
The thing that makes this film more refreshing to view than his earlier work is the comedy in the film. Despite the dramatic demeanor of the film, it takes the time on a regular basis to poke fun at itself. It reminded me of Bulworth in a weird way (though Bulworth was much more comedy than drama). True Crime comes off as a much better The Chamber (mentioned last week) in that both of them are about the attempts of one man to get someone out of death row before his time is up. Here Eastwood is a journalist that is given the story of a man to be put to death that night. Once he begins to do his research, he begins to find certain inconsistancies that others had overlooked. Sounds kind of formula, but it begins to break the mold by the half way point.
The best thing about this film is in its cast. In fact
there is one scene involving Eastwood, Woods, and Leary that is the best one scene I've
seen in a 1999 film. I also would like to point out a fine performance by Washington as
the convict, his performance reminded me a little of that of Tupac Shakur in Gridlock'd
two years ago. This would easily stand as being Eastwood's best since Unforgiven.