Volume 2, Number 2
This Week's Reviews: Girl, Interrupted, The Hurricane, Supernova.
This Week's Omissions: Next Friday.
(Dir: James Mangold, Starring Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, Whoopi Goldberg, Clea DuVall, Brittany Murphy, Elizabeth Moss, Jared Leto, Travis Fine, Jillian Armenante, Jeffrey Tambor, Vanessa Redgrave, and Mary Kay Place)
BY: DAVID PERRY
Girl, Interrupted is yet another one of those female bonding film. Don't get me wrong, there can be some good ones, but for a guy, most seem rather unimpressive. Saying such would usually grab up a large amount of hate mail from female readers that adored the film, but somehow I doubt that will happen with this one. I do not see anybody liking this film.
I even have some respect for James Mangold, I was one of the few that gave recognition to Cop Land (despite it horribly directed ending). Hey, I even liked Oliver & Company, which he wrote and which was far from a critical hit for Disney. The man is not that bad a director/writer, just look at Heavy, one of the more compassionate independent films of the mid-nineties independent film rush. I have little to hold against the guy, it's just that the material found in Girl, Interrupted is so bad.
Let's face it, I am so tired of films set in the late sixties that I could easily do without another. The minute I saw the trailer, remarking on the period's mainstays Vietnam and Woodstock, I was brought to pain at the thought of another A Walk on the Moon. In fact this film comes off as a female One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a decidedly unneeded addition to a great piece of American filmmaking. I think that John Schlesinger would weep at the way 1969 has been portrayed as of late. Every once and a while, I go back and visit Schlesinger's 1969 opus Midnight Cowboy, and remember just what was the real piece of important history (well, maybe that and the beginning of the Nixon administration).
But Girl, Interrupted does not perpetuate this long lasting myth of Vietnam and Woodstock being the only important things about the late sixties, instead the film comes of as a aetemporal film. I do not think that there was really anything in the film that let the viewer know of its setting with the exception of some remarks early in the film and some long-winded pacifist complaints about Vietnam. Otherwise, the film could have easily been set within the nineties (with maybe the exception of Brittany Murphy's decidedly Donna Reed inspired hair cut). I was not alive during this time, but come on, there is no way that the highly modern Winona Ryder was a common look of the time.
And here I am, speaking of the disgust at the film's time problems when there are even worse mistakes in the story. I do not care if the film is based on a true story, so was Patch Adams. For all I care Susanna Kaysen's story was one that should have never been brought to the screen, or at least in such a fashion. I'm sure that many have been inspired of her book, recounting her two years in a mental institution after a failed suicide attempt (from The Sopranos to Girl, Interrupted, failed suicides is the new cinematic theme of the moment [but do not think that the film and television vomiting fetish is over]), but I cannot see anything to care the least about in her story. Sure, maybe she was not the prime person to be sent to a mental institution for so long, but does that really make everything suddenly important. One would think that the film was made simply on the belief that the bonding between quiet Keyson (Ryder) and wild child Lisa (Jolie) would make this some great film to take your best friend to. Hate to break it to them, neither me nor my best friend liked this one.
There are some moments in which I felt like Mangold's
cinematic ability was going to pop out, but that did not quite happen. The only
thing about the film that stays worthwhile throughout is the acting ability of
Jolie. I think that Jon Voight has produced quite the actress here. Sure I did
not think that highly of her in The Bone Collector, but here she puts more work
into a well-dimensioned character, something that she could not do in The Bone
Collector. Her performance here is better than the one she brought out
in much better films like Pushing Tin and Playing by Heart (though
it does not hold a candle to the turn she gave in HBO's Gia). Under
any other circumstances, I might consider the film to be worthwhile if just for her
performance, but I must say that if missing Girl, Interrupted meant missing a
great performance, I think I could live with myself.
(Dir: Norman Jewison, Starring Denzel Washington, Dan Hedaya, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Deborah Kara Unger, Liev Schreiber, John Hannah, Debbi Morgan, Clancy Brown, David Paymer, Harris Yulin, and Rod Steiger)
BY: DAVID PERRY
I must admit that entering The Hurricane I was expecting to get to see a rather good film (and after Girl, Interrupted and with Supernova impending, I needed a good film), but I was let down by Norman Jewison.
I was one of those people that rejoiced in his Honorary Academy Award last year (though most of my attention was directed at the awful way people were reacting to Elia Kazan's Honorary Oscar at the same time), he has been one of my favorite purely studio directors. I mean, he is no comparison to, say, Martin Scorsese, who's lensing of studio films are so edgy that you'd swear they were from an independent filmmaker, but Jewison is still enjoyable to watch. Sure, his last film, Bogus, was one of the worst pieces of filmmaking in 1996 (it is still incredible to think of how many awful family films came out that year), but I must say that I was enthralled with some of his earliest work. I happen to consider The Thomas Crown Affair to be one of the best films of the 1960's (and please do not get confused with the horrid John McTiernan remake earlier this year). Hey, I even like ...And Justice for All, a film that nearly the entire film community turned their heads from. But, I must admit that nothing has really come from Jewison since getting an undeserved Academy Award nomination for Moonstruck (come on people, where's Brian DePalma for The Untouchables?). Suffice it to say, at least I sort of liked The Hurricane.
The story of Ruben "Hurricane" Carter, a black boxer falsely imprisoned for the murder of some white people in a bar, is one that seems destined to work on the big screen. Unlike Susanna Keyson and Girl, Interrupted, Carter's story is one that should be shared with the world. I only wish that it could have been shared a little bit better.
Jewison and master cinematographer Roger Deakins do throw in some great looking scenes, though those flashback boxing sequences seem a little too much like Scorsese's Raging Bull (but if you're going to steal from someone, might as well be Scorsese). Washington throws out a really good performance, not his best but still pretty good. One of my biggest problems is in the young actor that choose for Lesra, the boy who comes to the defense of Carter after twenty years in prison. Vicellous Reon Shannon gives the type of performance that Freddie Prinze Jr. might consider Oscar worthy; I literally detested him in the film.
The story is a great one, just not set forth too well. I think that there could have been some massive trimming done to the script. One thing I happened to have loved was the poor attempt of the screenwriters to throw out a villain. This is a story that does not really need to have a deliciously evil character, but needless to say they have one. I'm sure that there probably was a Detective Vincent Della Pesca, who caused Carter to go to jail. But I bet there was much more reasoning to this than him simply having a big grudge against Carter, having arrested him as a child. This is not Les Misérables, people, and Della Pesca is no Javert.
An able attempt by all, but a insufficient one
at that. See it only if desperate.
(Dir: Thomas Lee (pseudonym for Geoffrey Wright, Walter Hill, and Francis Ford Coppola), Starring James Spader, Angela Bassett, Peter Facinelli, Wilson Cruz, Lou Diamond Phillips, Robin Tunney, and Robert Forster)
BY: DAVID PERRY
And this is how 2000 comes to an opening? This is the first film from 2000 that I have seen so far this year, having been catching up on 1999 hold-overs. I find it rather funny that this film was viewed exactly one year to the day of seeing Virus, the first F rating from 1999. And then there is the fact that the first F from 1998 (Fallen) was viewed on 17 January, the day after one year before Virus. In other words, I should just stay away from the middle weekend of January from now on.
What is sad is that all those titles above are better than Supernova. Rarely does a film have so little grasp on what it is and where it is going -- in fact the last film that I can think of that fits those remarks is Event Horizon, a film in the same vein as this film (my choice for worst of last year, Detroit Rock City, knew what it was and where it was going, it is just that the film was so incredibly awful that I chose it for such a honor). Supernova is just a completely lost film, no wonder it went through three directors before finally settling on the pseudonym Thomas Lee (and why not Alan Smithee?).
And speaking of three directors, what's with that third one. From my somewhat reliable source, Francis Ford Coppola came in at the end of the film and took care of some directorial touches and re-edited the film. And this man made the best film of all time in my opinion. I know that I was harsh on the guy after Jack, but this is even worse.
Supernova is yet another one of those science-fiction films that is so lost that it has no idea what it is doing. I brought to memories of Event Horizon, Sphere, Virus, and Deep Rising (and I will be first to admit that Supernova is better than Event Horizon and Deep Rising; at least the other two were laughably bad). I've seen some bad sci-fi films over the years, and it hurts to look back at films like the first Alien, full of so much innocence. If Ridley Scott had not made Alien and Blade Runner, would sci-fi films be this bad, having been spurned from countless poor facsimiles of the Scott films? I hate to admit it, but I could have lived with never seeing Blade Runner if that would have meant no Judge Dredd.
The film is about the problems that occur on an emergency rescue vessel in space named the Nightingale (oh, they're cleaver, they can allude to Florence Nightingale -- at least the Nebuchadnezzar was more interesting) picks up a person that brings the power some evil orb onto the ship. (In other words the film is Alien: Resurrection meets Event Horizon meets, well, Bringing Out the Dead.) The captain's seat is taken over by a drug addict (Spader) after the cartoon loving original captain (Forster) dies in a freak accident. Unfortunately this new, ill-equipped captain is not ready for this new passenger (Facinelli) and his carried material.
The cast, despite some rather good actors, is horrible. The only smart one seems to be Robert Forster, whose character dies so early in the film that there is no question as to why he took the part (can we say paycheck?). I have been a long opponent to the hiring of Lou Diamond Philips (I'm sorry people, he was even bad in the highly overrated La Bamba), and this, along with Bats, will hopefully bring my beliefs to the attention to those casting agents (at least they learned their lesson with John Stamos). Even James Spader and Angela Basset are terrible, and they are two of my favorite workings actors.
All in all, this film is a pretty bad
experience. If this was still 1999, Supernova would rank number
six on the worst ten of the year. Unfortunately for this film, we have
started on a clean slate ...