Volume 1, Number 28
(Dir: Jeff Franklin, Starring French Stewart, Bridgette Wilson, Bill Bellamy, Tyra Banks, Steve Hytner, Jason Bateman, and Tiffany Amber-Thiessen)
BY: DAVID PERRY
I've been through some really bad comedies this year, but this is easily one of the worst. Sure it was a step up from the headache Detroit Rock City, as well as the hideously awful Lost & Found, but still Love Stinks is about as unfunny as a comedy can get.
One thing that is important about making a comedy is to get a group of actors and actresses that can actually evoke the feelings that you are meant to have for them. That is why actors like Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, and David Spade so often do poor films, the average film viewer cannot have any feelings for the characters to where what they do can be funny. An actor that I was not too knowledgeable of was French Stewart. He has an American television series (3rd Rock from the Sun) that I have never really watched. Therefore I was not really sure whether the actor I was about to see projected would be a Ben Stiller or a Dana Carvey. After seeing Love Stinks, I'd lean towards the latter.
The film is about all the problems that arrive when everyman Seth (Stewart) gets in a relationship with a possessive gold-digger (Wilson). When he makes the mistake of hinting that he might engage her, his life begins to spiral downwards. The television sitcom that he writes for begins to lag in originality and ratings, the home and lively hood he has come to adore begins to be threatened, and his friends (Banks and Bellamy) even begin to lose a grasp on their marriage, all thanks to her.
The film is nearly laugh free. The only time that I
actually laughed to my recollection is near the end, and it was not really that funny.
Stewart, Banks, Bellamy, Wilson, et al. are all terrible actors and could not deliver a
line if their lives depended on it. The direction is by the book and the writing is as
sophomoric as Almost Heroes. An all and all bad time and boring sit in the
theatre. I really hate to write anything that might sound like a pretentious blurb, so I
shall not make any remark on a comparison of the film and its worth.
(Dir: Rupert Wainwright, Starring Patricia Arquette, Gabriel Byrne, Nia Long, Jonathan Pryce, Patrick Muldoon, Mark Adair Rios, Rade Sherbedgia, and Portia de Rossi)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Stigmata is one of those films that you sit through and think off all the better films you have seen that the film is stealing from. The entire last half of Stigmata looks like a shot for shot retry at The Exorcist. It may not owe as much as to other films as The Astronaut's Wife (Species II meets Rosemary's Baby meets Contact meets Devil's Advocate) or The 13th Warrior (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves meets Beowulf meets Willow meets Empire Strikes Back) or Brokedown Palace (Return to Paradise meets Midnight Express meets Red Corner meets Paradise Road), but Stigmata does cliff from quite a few films (the Nashville Scene mentioned references to The Exorcist, The Omen, Rosemary's Baby, Dawn of the Dead, Halloween, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Mommy Dearest, and Every Which Way But Loose). Stigmata is not a truly terrible film, but a flawed film from all the heavy stealing it has done. It is like a Brian DePalma film gone overboard, Truffaut film without the edge; it is truly a Rupert Wainwright film, the man who brought us Blank Check.
Stigmata follows the occurrence of a stigmata in a normal atheist woman. Frankie (Arquette) has a life that she adores, working as hair stylist in the day and partying all night. Then strange things begin to happen to her: cuts appear through her wrist, lacerations take over her back, and she loses the ability to think for herself at times. It is almost as if she is possessed by the devil, but she is in fact possessed by a very unhappy priest. The cuts to her are seen by a Catholic leader (Pryce) in the Vatican as yet another hoax in which a person is trying to look like a stigmata for attention. Still he sends his chief Vatican investigator (Byrne) to see what is happening. The occurrences look to him to be much more than attention want, especially after he sees her take in more cuts and changes in personality and facial features.
The film does have interesting moments throughout, it is just that they never really amount to anything. When she eerily speaks in an ancient dialect with a wrinkled face and rolled-up eyes, the scene looks good and helps the movie, until it tries to explain what is happening quickly and ruins the mood. Wainwright is simply an awful director, he does not even know when he has a good scene in which he can savor and leave untarnished. I thought that the actors all gave pretty good performances, especially Byrne and Arquette who looked to have taken quite the physical beatings in production. The film does have something going for it until it reaches its halfway point, then everything goes downhill, leading to a terribly stupid climax and an even worse finale.
Stigmata is not the worst wannabe horror film
this year, thanks only to some almost good moments.
(Dir: Jim Fall, Starring Christian Campbell, J.P. Pitoc, Tori Spelling, Steve Hayes, Brad Beyer, Lorri Bagley, and Clinton Leupp)
BY: DAVID PERRY
About nine weeks ago, I came to the side of a film entitled Get Real. I found it to be a well acted and well made film from two genres that are almost always lacking: teen comedies and gay comedies. It seemed to me that the film was simply a love story of old Hollywood grandeur, just with two boys in love instead of a heterosexual couple. But in coming to support the film, I found myself with letters thinking that I was an advocate for gay comedies. The fact of the matter is that I could care less whether the film is hetero- or homosexual, all that matters to me is whether the film is any good. When I saw Gods and Monsters last year, I found it to be a touching portrait of what happened to a Hollywood figure, not as a testament to the underappreciation of truly talented homosexuals in films throughout the years (a letter I received after that film's review seemed to think that it was my political stance on such). The same thing with Get Real, my B rating for it went beyond She's All That because it was a superior film not because I thought that the old boy meets girl formula needed to be changed to be politically correct. The whole meaning of this is that even though I have given recommendations to two gay oriented films in the last year, I still dislike the genre on a whole, in the same way I dislike sophomoric comedies. I'm not going to just forget that I was unfortunate enough to see Kiss Me Guido or Billy's Hollywood Screen Kiss or The Sum of Us or Jeffrey or Totally F***ed Up or...
Since the last film of such that I had seen was a good gay comedy/drama, I was not too fearful as I stepped into trick, I should have been. The film could be a comparison to the classier Get Real like comparing Black Sheep to An Ideal Husband. When there were moments of men running around in thongs just so that men could run around in thongs, I was lost on the true use of the moment. Was it supposed to be a statement on the lives of those portrayed in the film, or just a chance for a bunch of gay audience members to get off. The film has little purpose beyond that leaving me in the cold as to why I'm sitting through it. I've been uncomfortable in films before (i.e. Billy Madison), but never this uncomfortable. I'd hate to think that my complete objectivity in reviewing this film may be forfeited due to my lack in interest in the film's subject matter and targeted audience, but that very well may have happened (Roger Ebert did not ever review this!).
If you have not actually given up on the film yet from my less than enthralling preview into the subject, I guess I had better say what the film was about. It is practically a gay Eyes Wide Shut, with two men cavorting around New York trying to find a place to have sex. Taking place over one night, the film shows the uncertain musical playwright (Campbell) in what he thinks is a one night stand with a go-go dancer (Pitoc). They cannot go to either of their homes, so they just try other people. One friend that they encounter is an aspiring actress (Spelling) that is constantly trying to help the playwright, but is not ready to truly confide in him what he does for her.
I could go on much longer as to why the film is a waste
of time (my one concession as to why I did not give it a D- or F rating is that I did like
the characters), but if the film still sounds like a worthwhile film, then have at it.
(Dir: Les Mayfield, Starring Martin Lawrence, Luke Wilson, Dave Chappelle, William Forsythe, Peter Greene, and Nicole Ari Parker)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Over the last few years no actor has gained more respect from me at such pace than Luke Wilson. I was not the greatest fan of Bottle Rocket (written and directed by the team behind Rushmore, Luke's friend Wes Anderson and brother Owen Wilson), but I liked the stars, especially Luke. Then when I saw Scream 2, I found his cameo to be a laugh riot (though I doubt it would be half as enjoyable for anyone who did not know Scream as well as I did). With the release of Home Fries, I was introduced to the charming Luke, showing much more acting prowess than he had before as he did a much darker comedy than one expected. But the point in which Luke Wilson became a neo-favorite was with his small role playing Peter, a threat to Max Fischer's chances with Mrs. Cross in Rushmore. The hilarious delivery of his lines made each scene he appeared in a special treat ("I saw your plaaaayyyy, it was reaaaalllly coooool"). Now I'm just happy to see him in something even if it is the awful looking Dog Park and the less than enthralling Blue Streak.
I must admit that I had some fun in this farce about a
criminal that takes the front of being a cop to help recover the diamond he hid in the
LAPD building when it was still being constructed, but the fun did not really sit well.
There were many points in the film where I thought I had a good film on my hands, only to
be disappointed moments later. I did like Martin Lawrence in the film as the criminal,
quite an achievement considering that I have never really liked him in anything before. I,
of course, enjoyed Wilson as his dim-witted partner, always pronouncing things in a funny
way ("Viva Laaasss Mexicooo"). The biggest problem with the film was in its
subplot and antagonist. With Peter Greene attempting to get the diamond away from
Lawrence, I was less than interested, especially since Greene is such a terrible actor
(weird that such a bad actor has appeared in two films that topped my year end lists in
1994 [Zed in Pulp Fiction] and 1995 [Redfoot in The Usual Suspects]).
The film is not awfully directed, quite a step up from Mayfield's Encino Man, but
the entire climax seems rushed and uninterested. It seemed like he and the screenwriter
just needed some action to end with and this was the only thing they could come up with.
However flawed, I still had somewhat of an affinity for Blue Streak, though not
enough for a recommendation.
Blatant Opinion: This week's Blatant Opinion is my thoughts on the season to come. I've added films to this list as I heard about them, making the list of what I'm looking forward to in the Fall/Winter months. Since most of the films have caught my eye because of their directors, I have started off each month with those that are simply on the basis of the director, as well as what films the director is best known for, and, at times, a concession of what films the director should most be ashamed of (separated from the good films by a semi-colon). As much as I would like to say differently, this listing is not necessarily going to decide what films will be good, one must remember that of the 28 named for the Summer, only 8 would go on to get a recommendation. All release dates given are that of NY/LA release and some might not come to Nashville until February of next year.
For Love of The Game: Sam Raimi (A Simple Plan, The Evil Dead; Army of Darkness)
Mumford: Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist; French Kiss)
Double Jeopardy: Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy; Last Dance)
Stop Making Sense (rerelease): Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs, Cousin Bobby)
American Beauty: Arguably the best trailer of the year as well as the best cast, this feature film debut for beloved stage director Sam Mendes (Cabaret, The Blue Room) has the looks to be the Happiness and The Ice Storm of this year
The Minus Man: When I said the American Beauty had arguably the best trailer, it was this film that held up the competition; of course one must remember that the trailer has little to do with the film itself
Best Laid Plans: Admittedly only half-interested, this film's only great asset is the casting of Reese Witherspoon
Stigmata: I saw the Exorcist last year in revival, so I doubt that this can do much for me beyond the fact that it has Jonathan Pryce and Gabriel Byrne to keep me content (has gone on to receive a C-/** out of 4)
Stir of Echoes: Maybe it seems a bit pushed, but this film from Twilight Zone screenplay contributor Richard Matheson seems more interesting than most of the so-called scary films this past summer (since entering this piece I have seen Stir of Echoes and gave it a less than enthralled C/** out of 4)
Guinevere: I've been a pretty big Sarah Polley fan for a while (well before anyone in America seemed to give her much credit) and just the fact that she's sharing the screen with Stephen Rea can get me in theatre
Caligula (rerelease): Called the worst film ever by Roger Ebert, I have awaited seeing this production for quite the while and how better to be grossed-out than by its theatrical aspect
B. Monkey: Despite Inspector Gadget, I still have quite the profound respect for Rupert Everett and his choice in films
Fight Club: David Fincher (Se7en, The Game; Alien³)
Anywhere But Here: Wayne Wang (The Joy Luck Club, Smoke; Blue in the Face)
The Limey: Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies, and videotape, Out of Sight)
The Story of Us: Rob Reiner (When Harry Met Sally..., Misery; Ghosts of Mississippi)
Bringing Out the Dead: Martin Scorsese (Raging Bull, Taxi Driver)
Three Kings: David O. Russell (Flirting With Disaster)
Random Hearts: Sydney Pollack (Out of Africa, Tootsie; Bobby Deerfield)
Music of the Heart: Wes Craven (Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street; The Serpeant and the Rainbow)
Mystery, Alaska: Jay Roach (Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery)
Lost Souls: Janusz Kaminski (cinematographer on Schindler's List, Saving Private Ryan)
Holy Smoke: Jane Campion (The Piano, Angel at My Table; A Portrait of a Lady)
Joe the King: Frank Whaley (actor in Pulp Fiction, Swimming with Sharks)
The Straight Story: David Lynch (The Elephant Man, Blue Velvet; Dune)
Happy, Texas: This Sundance award winner has strong buzz and I'm in need of another great American comedy like Bowfinger
Being John Malkovich: Music video auteur Spoke Jonze has finally gone for the big screen and it looks to be very interesting and absurd
Body Shots: I'm only human, and male
The House on Haunted Hill: Sure The Haunting was a bit disappointing, but at least there is Geoffrey Rush to help this film out
Princess Monoke: I'm not a fan of anime, but I must admit that this violent Japanese cartoon has sparked my interest
Deterrence: It is a rarity that film critics go to the trouble of directing a film to show how it is supposed to be done and this is one of those rarities, from KABC radio critic Rod Laurie
The Grandfather: I'm a sucker for foreign films, especially those that get Oscar nominations
Plunkett & Macleane: Maybe Ravenous was lackluster, but I still have faith in Robert Carlyle
Sleepy Hollow: Tim Burton (Edward Scissorhands, Batman; Mars Attacks!)
End of Days: Peter Hyams (2010: The Year We Make Contact; The Relic)
The Insider: Michael Mann (Heat, Thief)
Man on the Moon: Milos Foreman (One Flew Over the Cukoo's Nest, Amadeus; Valmont)
The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc: Luc Besson (La Femme Nakita, The Professional)
Ride with the Devil: Ang Lee (The Ice Storm, Sense and Sensibility)
Felicia's Journey: Atom Egoyan (The Sweet Hereafter, Exotica)
All About My Mother: Pedro Almodóvar (Live Flesh)
Angela's Ashes: Alan Parker (An Ideal Husband, Othello)
Liberty Heights: Barry Levinson (Wag the Dog, Rain Man; Sleepers)
Dogma: Kevin Smith (Clerks, Chasing Amy; Mallrats)
My Best Fiend: Werner Herzog (Aguire: The Wrath of God, Nosferatu the Vampyre)
Last Night: An interesting premise from Red Violin writer Don McKellar mixes well with appearances by Sarah Polley and David Cronenberg
Flawless: I generally hate everything that Joel Schumacher makes, but since this film has the presence of Philip Seymore Hoffman and Robert DeNiro I might just enjoy it
Anna and the King: Despite being terribly unhappy with the last retelling of the King and I story (an animated feature from earlier this year) I am still gaining hopes for this epic film version starring Jodie Foster and directed by Andy Tennant (Ever After)
Toy Story 2: I was one of those that was in awe of the first Toy Story and now I'm ready for the sequel, though I'm seriously doubting that it shall be better than The Iron Giant
The World Is Not Enough: I'm one of those James Bond wannabes as a small child, but the series seemed to lose its steam with Licence to Kill and GoldenEye; it might be as good as Tomorrow Never Dies, but I doubt it
American Movie: A favorite Sundance this year plus the fact this year has been quite nice to Hollywood satires
The Bachelor: Comedy has not been equal to the period of productivity from Buster Keaton and I like to think that this might cause some more interest in making comedies like the grand master of silent comedy, even if its by Chris O'Donnell (surely they could have conjured up Rowan Atkinson, a famed and well honored actor of silent comedy)
Rosetta: I'm a sucker for foreign films, and even more so when it is a prize winner from Cannes
Train of Life: First Roberto Benigni, then Robin Williams, now Radu Mihaileanu? Maybe its time to stop making Holocaust serio-comedies; still I can't help but be interested in where this one is going to go.
The Green Mile: Frank Darabont (Buried Alive, The Shawshank Redemption)
The Talented Mr. Ripley: Anthony Minghella (The English Patient; Mr. Wonderful)
Snow Falling on the Cedars: Scott Hicks (Shine)
Agnes Brown: Anjelica Huston (Bastard Out of Carolina)
Cradle Will Rock: Tim Robbins (Dead Man Walking, Bob Roberts)
Reindeer Games: John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Ronin; The Island of Dr. Moreau)
The End of the Affair: Neil Jordan (The Crying Game, In Dreams; We're No Angels)
The Hurricane: Norman Jewison (The Thomas Crown Affair, In the Heat of the Night; Bogus)
Any Given Sunday: Oliver Stone (Platoon, Nixon; U Turn)
Daddy and Them: Billy Bob Thornton (Sling Blade)
Girl, Interrupted: James Mangold (Cop Land)
The Ninth Gate: Roman Polanksi (Repulsion, Rosemary's Baby)
Sweet and Lowdown: Woody Allen (Sleeper, Crimes and Misdemeanors; A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy)
Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr.: Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, Gates of Heaven)
Topsy-Turvy: Mike Leigh (Secrets & Lies, Naked)
Scream 3: I have a weird (and at times sadistic [note number of viewings of the mediocre Scream 2]) affinity for the Scream films; I'm under the understanding that this is the finale (just like Alien³, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, and Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare), plus the replacement of the overrated Kevin Williamson (whom I actually did have some small respect for until The Faculty and Teaching Mrs. Tingle) with Ehran Kruger (Arlington Road) does not hurt
Simpatico: After Affliction, I'm ready to see what is thought as a renewal of Nick Nolte as an actor
House Rules: Even though I hated Simon Birch (based upon the John Irving
novel A Prayer for Owen Meany), I'm still having thoughts that this screenwriting
debut for Irving could be worthwhile, especially since it has the underrated Tobey Maguire