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Volume 1, Number 5

This Week's Reviews:  10 Things I Hate About You, The Matrix, The Out-of-Towners, Go.



10 Things I Hate About You

(Dir: Gil Junger, Starring Heath Ledger, Julia Stiles, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Larisa Oleynik, David Krumholtz, Andrew Keegan, Susan May Pratt, Gabrielle Union, Larry Miller, Daryl Mitchell, and Allison Janney)

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BY: DAVID PERRY

As if we didn't need another teen comedy that has a couple finally finding what they want at a school prom. I've now seen it the Rage: Carrie II (not really the prom but close enough), She's All That, Doug's 1st Movie (not really teen), Never Been Kissed, Cruel Intentions, Jawbreaker, and now 10 Things I Hate About You. In a modernization of Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew, director Junger attempts to do for school cliques what Roger Kumble (Cruel Intentions) attempted to do for school sex.

The film follows the original play very liberally, even though the Shakespeare influence is seen quite a bit in it (a character obsesses with the Bard, the English class is writing Shakespearean sonnets, characters named Verona and Stratford, etc.). It is mainly about the growing relationship between Kat (Stiles; the shrew) and her paid suitor (Ledger). He has been paid to take her out so that the school model (Keegan) and the new guy (Gordon-Levitt) can take out her beautiful and popular sister (Oleynik). Oleynik cannot date unless Kat does because their father (Miller) is fearful of pregnancy from working as an obstetrician. Even if you have not read the play before you can easily guess what will happen for the duration of the film.

If I had not read the play before (or seen the Zeffirelli film version, for that matter) I might have enjoyed this film quite a bit more. It seemed highly predictable and as unappealing to think about in hindsight as The Swarm for Warner Bros. execs. Despite all this, I can't help but say that in the theatre, 10 Things was not as bad as it surely could have been. I think the secret to its near success is the likability of its stars. I could have done without the comic misgivings of Allison Janney as the principal of the school the film is set in and the tirelessly bad acting of Keegan, but the rest of the cast seemed well in their places and quite dynamic in their performances. Joseph Gordon-Levitt has always seemed to be an underused actor in my opinion since his really good work on the 1993 TV-movie Gregory K. Stiles and Ledger are both very likable in the lead roles especially in a nice sequence involving the intercom microphone and the school band. Oleynik is ravishing and makes the film hard to follow at times because of being enthralled with her. Krumholtz even makes up for the decidedly dismal Slums of Beverly Hills.

All in all, I could see how someone could like 10 Things I Hate About You even if it was not my cup of tea.


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The Matrix

(Dir: Andy and Larry Wachowski, Starring Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, Gloria Foster, Joe Pantoliano, Marcus Chong, Paul Goddard, Robert Taylor, Julian Arahanga, Matt Doran, Belinda Mcclory, and Anthony Ray Parker)

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BY: DAVID PERRY

This may be one of the harder movies to review. In my on going trek to keep from spoiling the movie like Roger Ebert enjoys doing so much, I can't help but say to do this film justice I can only say how much I liked it. I will say that it is science fiction with quite a bit of action. It is somewhat like Dark City, a more ambitious film (though I happen to have liked The Matrix a little better in the action department).

The Matrix is simply further proof of the directorial ability of the Wachowski brothers. If they are not familiar, they should be. This is only their second film, their first being 1996's Bound, the best lesbian vs the mob film ever (yes, better than Switchblade Sisters). Here, as with Bound, they show off their cinematic expertise. The shots are unbelievable, ranging from slow motion bullets (brings to mind Richard Donner's problems doing the same in The Omen) to wave-like exploding glass. There is one action sequence near the end that would easily be the best I've seen from a film this year. In fact, I'd call the film perfect if it wasn't for my disappointment with two things. First would be the martial arts training scene which came off really over done and seemed to be more of a place for the Wachowski's to have a little fun with the camera. The other problem is the final shot. I was happy with the ending, but the final shot (i.e. 1.5 seconds) annoys the hell out of me. I've seen this film three times now and everytime that shot just gets to me. I'm not talking with what comes right before it in a turn for a little ploy at the audience, just the finale. Since the rules of my rating system state that to get an A+ or A the film must be perfect, The Matrix must settle with the next best thing.

  

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The Out-of-Towners

(Dir: Sam Weisman, Starring Steve Martin, Goldie Hawn, John Cleese, Mark McKinney, and Oliver Hudson)

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BY: DAVID PERRY

When trying to tell people why movies should not be remade I often fall back on the old addage of remaking movies that had potential but just did not work initially. This is proof that even that does not work. Many like Neil Simon's The Out-of-Towners from 1970, but I've never seen its worth or its hilarity for that matter. I'll admit that it had potential in being such an interesting story at first glance and with Jack Lemmon in the lead, it looked sure to be good. But nevertheless, The Out-of-Towners was one of Simon's great shortcomings (his worst until The Odd Couple II).

Thanks to the ever so funny Steve Martin and John Cleese I was somewhat thinking this film might suprise me. It didn't. The story of a couple that has to go to New York City from Ohio and the escapades that hit them on the way and upon arrival is just not funny. Besides the John Cleese parts, this film is nearly laughless. I think I laughed seven times with six of them being for Cleese. I've been a big fan of his since seeing Fawlty Towers for the first time and then his performances in A Fish Called Wanda and the underrated Fierce Creatures further fermented his comic abilities in my mind. The problem is that he is the only refreshing part of the entire film. Hawn hasn't been funny for years and Martin seems bored with the material most of the time. My feeling on this film is that when New York Mayor Rudy Gulianni has a cameo its about time to give up on it.


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Go

(Dir: Doug Liman, Starring Desmond Askew, Taye Diggs, William Fichtner, J.E. Freemen, Katie Holmes, Jane Krakowski, Breckin Meyer, Jay Mohr, Tom Olyphant, Sarah Polley, Scott Wolf, James Duval, Nathan Bexton, Jay Paulson, and Jimmy Shubert)

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BY: DAVID PERRY

Three years ago Doug Liman and John Favreau made a small independent film called Swingers that would make stars of Favreau (Deep Impact), Heather Graham (Boogie Nights), and Vince Vaughn (Psycho and Clay Pigeons, what a career!). In fact the only person who got the lesser part of the deal was Liman, who directed and did the cinematography for it. I guess it has taken him a while to get over that because he is just now coming out with his follow up, without the help of Favreau. Go is not only an enjoyable film, but it is a great step up from the somewhat overrated Swingers (I think I'm just a little unhappy that more people saw it and Vegas Vacation than those that saw Hard Eight).

I am sure that I'm not the first or the last to compare this film to Pulp Fiction. The thing is that unlike most Tarantino wannabes, this film is fun to watch. Its parallels to Pulp Fiction are simply in the plodding of the film: it has interchanging time as characters converge then go away from each other before meeting all over again, in some cases in comical ways. The film mainly relies on three stories, but the third serves as a type of suprise, so I'll leave that one to find out for yourself. The first story is about Sarah Polley (in my opinion the best Canadian actress out there; see Exotica, The Sweet Hereafter, and Joe's So Mean To Josephine) who makes a deal to sell some drugs to keep her rent paid. This involves a meeting of her friend (the highly attractive Holmes) and the drug dealer Polley must buy from (Olyphant, "Mickey, the freaky Tarantino film student" from Scream 2). This part of the story is where the film makes its main mistakes, it has us watch a character on a drug trip. I saw Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, I think I've had enough of trips on film for now on. The second story follows the escapades of one of Polley's co-workers (Askew) on a trip to Las Vegas with a bunch of friends (thank heavens Liman did not do like Very Bad Things did, which starred Favreau). The film does not go for the usual loss of money in Vegas, but instead goes for a maddening of a bouncer (teaching me never to make a bouncer mad). The third story then follows, but as I said before I'll let you see that part freshly. I will admit that it was the best part of the movie though.

The young cast is terrific as both Holmes and Polley nearly steal the screen from everyone else. I also enjoyed the Wolf, Mohr, and Fichtner scenes. Even Diggs is good, a big suprise from this How Stella Got Her Groove Back co-star. While no masterpiece, Go at least serves as the best comedy I've seen so far this year (a big step considering my adoration for Blast from the Past).


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Reviews by:
David Perry
1999, Cinema-Scene.com

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