Volume 1, Number 9
This Week's Reviews: Idle Hands, Entrapment, The Harmonists.
(Dir: Rodman Flender, Starring Devon Sawa, Seth Green, Elden Henson, Jessica Alba, Christopher Hart, Vivica A. Fox, Jack Noseworthy, Katie Wright, Sean Whelan, Nicholas Sadler, Fred Willard, and Connie Ray)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Idle Hands is simply a spoof of the horror genre, nothing more. It is just as on the ball as Sam Raimi's Evil Dead series, but not half as original (the premise alone came from Evil Dead II). The film follows a day in the life of the quintessential slacker. Devon Sawa's Anton spends his entire life watching TV and smoking pot with his two friends, Mick (Green) and Pnub (Henson). The film starts off with a clear take off of the heavy handed use of effects, sound, and music found in most horror films as Anton's parents make their way to a grizzly murder. the only problem is that the killer is none other than Anton's right hand. The hand has wreaked havoc killing four already and its not finished. It seems that the hand has been possessed and the only person who knows how to stop it is a neo-exorcist (Fox). While she makes her way to catch Anton, he inadvertently kills his two friends. The two decide not to take the trip to heaven and remain with Anton as a type of comic relief (the Leatherface take-off alone is worth ticket price), especially with their more than unusual modes of demise. With the hand, now hoping to takes its toll on Anton's new girlfriend (Alba), Anton must find new ways to stop it.
The film is much more fun than it probably should be. I liked the blatant use of music that gave it a sick camp appeal. Director Flender proves, to me at least, that he deserves more than directing episodes of Dawson's Creek, Party of Five, and Chicago Hope (interesting trivia: Flender wrote the critically acclaimed kid's book Freak the Mighty, which was made into a film last year called The Mighty and starring Elden Henson). What is even more suprising is that I actually liked Devon Sawa in the film. I thought he gave a well grounded performance, a far cry from the awfully bad performances he has given in crap like Casper, The Night of the Twisters, Little Giants, Wild America, and Now and Then. In fact I believe after seeing Wild America, I called him the worst thing to come out of Canada since Jason Priestley (who actually made up for things like Beverly Hills, 90210 and Calendar Girl with Love and Death on Long Island last year).
The film's campiness has left me teetering on my rating
for the film. The thumb has been flipping around so much that when I started writing this
review, it had a C+.
(Dir: Jon Amiel, Starring Sean Connery, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Ving Rhames, Will Patton, Maury Chaykin, Kevin McNally, Terry O'Neill, Madhav Sharma, and David Yip)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Even getting to spend two hours with Catherine Zeta-Jones could not save this flop. In what may be the lowest Sean Connery has dropped since Highlander II: The Quickening, Entrapment serves as a mere venture into poor filmmaking. Director Jon Amiel once proved his worth with the underrated Copycat, but then followed it up with The Man Who Knew Too Little and now this.
Zeta-Jones plays an agent for an insurance agency that is a cat-burglar in her spare time. She has a great caper planned but needs the expertise of retired master criminal Robert MacDougal (Connery). He trains her and the two begin to have a May-December romance. First they attempt to steal a mask so to prove herself to Connery. Thank heavens for this idea since it allows the audience to watch the cat like Zeta-Jones maneuver laser beams.
Amiel puts forth a very novice direction that keeps the
film from ever breaking into any suspense. The two leads do what they can, but only
Zeta-Jones comes out still looking promising in future roles. I wouldn't call Entrapment
bad, but I wouldn't hesitate to call it a waste of time.
(Dir: Joseph Vilsmaier, Starring Ben Becker, Heino Ferch, Ulrich Noethan, Heinrich Schafmeister, Max Tidof, Kai Wiesinger, Meret Becker, Katja Riemann, Dana Vávrová, Noemi Fischer, Otto Sander, Michaela Rosen, and Günter Lamprecht)
BY: DAVID PERRY
I must admit that I knew nearly nothing about this film when I entered the theatre. The only thing I knew was what I read from the newspaper's capsule review (I missed the Siskel & Ebert episode reviewing it and had to settle with listening to the reviews making it a little forgettable). I guess this served as a plus for the film since from the beginning I was learning stuff about the Comedian Harmonists that I did not know. In fact I do not believe that I had ever heard of the group before.
For those unaware of the group, they were a sextet of German singers that would at times go to comical actions like vocal sound effects. The group became famous in the early thirties but were forced to meet opposition around the rise of Hitler due to the fact that three of them were Jewish. The film mainly centers on Harry Frommermann (Noethen) who falls in love with a local record salesgirl, Erna (Becker). Things get complicated when his friend and fellow Harmonist Robert Biberti (Becker; looking remarkably like Michael McKeon) falls for Erna too.
The Harmonists is the best foreign
language film I have seen for the first time this year. The direction seems slight for the
usually edgy German directors, but still serves its purpose. The main thing that makes
this film remarkable is its fine performances (I especially liked Noethen and Ferch). The
songs are impressive too, as the actors lip sync, though at times poorly, to old
recordings of the group. A great film I recommend to anyone who has it playing nearby.