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John and the Missus (1987)
It's very rare that a film manages to sear an image into one's mind powerful enough to stay for years. This simple little film from Newfoundland/Labrador really managed to do that for me. I first saw this film back in... I'm pretty sure it was in elementary school. Anyway, the storyline itself is very straightforward and plays with some fairly familiar 'human-centric' thematics. This focus on emotion can surely be appreciated on the narrative level. And, sure, the acting is commendable.
But the best films surely have something more than storyline/acting/narrative elements going for them. The best films have a *uniquely cinematic* element as well. A purely visual element. To my surprise, this unassuming film turned out to have that cinematic element. Or I've certainly realized so over the years, as it has stuck in my mind. Or one image in particular certainly has. As you're perhaps aware, there are a few things in life that are 'inherently cinematic', one could say. Fireworks? Human faces? Automobiles? ... Water. This film might actually contain the best use of water as an inherently cinematic element. It only comes near the end, if I'm recalling correctly, and involves the house in question.
You'll know it when you see it. It sticks in the mind. It's memorable as hell. ... So this is most certainly a sadly neglected film. Even when Canadian cinema is discussed, this very rarely gets mentioned. Well, fine, then it can always be remembered as an overlooked gem.
The Limb Salesman (2004)
Not entirely uninteresting...
Definitely on the messy side but at least there seem to be some ideas behind this... they remain latent, however, and never really coming to the surface. Much of the film is terrible looking, not managing to escape the 'videoy' look throughout many shots... a very blown-out, over-exposed look much of the time. Fairly lame dialogue. Misguided acting.
This 'Ingrid Veninger' is surely one of the most unappealing actresses I've ever laid eyes on and I do not mean just in appearance. Not a good screen presence, to say the least. Peter Stebbings, however, seems to have some potential...
There seems to be a lot of diversity going on within the Canadian cinema community.... an eclectic mixture, definitely. Before long we'll begin to see some more really notable projects appearing if we continue to encourage experimentation and stray away from attempts at Hollywood emulation (Foolproof) and 'identity movies' (Men with Brooms)... This isn't exactly a notable movie in and of itself but the spirit of the thing should at least be commended.
well previous comments that suggest that this is merely a catalogue or showcase for Greenaway's graphic work are entirely mistaken. This is easily one of the most thrilling and totally enjoyable films I've ever seen. When discussing I would compare this to feature films as - aside from its length - this short film feels as complete and expansive in scope as any epic out there. Certainly a lot of this is due to Greenaway's encyclopedic approach to things. There is a lot to take in here.
A mention should also be given to its technical competence - certainly some of the loveliest rostrum photography you'll see anywhere (Bert Walker) and the seamless camera movements at the film's beginning and end are admirable for such an early project.
Death in the Seine (1989)
incredible visual layering
how sad that this little masterwork appears to have not even gained distribution. Because of this, I unfortunately had to seek it out online as it seemed quite interesting... I've not seen a short project so worthy of easier availability.
What incredible layering of imagery! ... visuals blending and merging into and out of one another totally seamlessly. I will not even attempt to surmise the amount of time that must've been put into this editing. A comment should be made toward the lighting as well. Very nicely done.
one minor criticism might be that while I do acknowledge Greenaway's explanation for the body's explicit movements I still think it would've been better for them to have convincingly emulated dead bodies.
visually inventive, which is more than can be said about most films... incredibly sordid storyline/character dynamics however and without the aforementioned inventiveness it would probably be a bit too much to take. good collaborative acting b/w the two cast members also... 8/10 get this flick a poster image; it deserves at least that
*sigh* ten lines minimum now all of a sudden ? OK then... what else can i say... this really isn't a good idea. certain people are good at being concise and five lines are all they really need. why force people to be superfluous? not a good decision on the behalf of the IMDb webmasters i'm afraid... am i there yet... ?
The Top of His Head (1989)
OK. Once again Mettler shows (after Scissere) his gift for striking visual composition. There are certainly some mesmerizing scenes in this film - particularly the last few minutes involving the protagonist and a set of swinging strobe lights. But once again Mettler also forgets that in order for a substantial amount of people to find appreciation in a film there has to be enough of the familiar (not necessarily predictable.) Otherwise people are just going to lose patience with the film regardless of how skillful the cinematic technique is. Your film will fade into obscurity, as this one has. There also has to be more of a focus. If your main goal is to present striking visual imagery then that is admirable and fine - however, the film can't meander as much as this one does. There is no logical foundation here for a viewer to grasp ahold of.
That is not to say everything has to be clearcut. But here we have such a radically obscure presentation that the filmmaker is asking a little bit too much of his audience.
Youthful competence too abstract for fame
This is impressively intelligent film-making from a roughly 24 year old Mettler. We have a film that basically matches its subject matter with its form (about drugged perception, structured in a drugged manner). This form=matter notion alone is rare enough for a young filmmaker to deliver and deserves applause. But the actual subject matter could have been chosen more intelligently - the three story lines within the main frame aren't of much interest, particularly the entymologist one... and things could have been drawn out a bit more clearly. It seems sometimes as if Mettler was shooting for obscurity. But the same ideas could've been carried out in a clearer manner nonetheless.
The last few minutes of the film are quite thrilling in terms of editing and shooting and it's all very well amplified by the sound. That final shot is still poignant even if it could've carried more meaning. A credit to Canadian cinema... too bad audiences just aren't willing to go through much of this abstraction in cinema. And evidently never were and this is unfortunately still pretty obscure.
Don't Look Now (1973)
Resonant Atmosphere; Frustrating Disconnectedness
Warning: Spoiler in Final Paragraph This film could easily be torn apart by someone who isn't a major fan of filmic loose ends, red herrings, dues ex machinas, splintered editing, and/or vague storytelling. But Roeg's psychic thriller' still manages to hold up as far as confusing creepiness goes, and it actually does make some worthwhile statements concerning the irrepressible trauma that sudden bereavement may cause (especially of a young child,) and the destruction which all of that may lead to.
Roeg's bizarre editing style frustrated me at first, but then I managed to constitute it to an actual theme of the film he fragments a future scene' within a current scene in order to provide his actual narrative structure with the psychical ambience of the actual storyline (ex: the infamous sex scene.) I, however, am not much of a fan of Roeg's incessant insistence to simply insert distractions into his plot that ultimately never develop into holding any coherent meaning a red herring should at least eventually come to make sense, but Roeg simply throws odd scenes in for the sake of confusion here (ex: the laughing psychics.)
The plot contains evident elements of a classic Oedipus-like tragedy, where the blind are capable of seeing the truth and the ones who can actually see stubbornly blind themselves from it. Even though I understand the intention behind it that John was too blinded' by emotional trauma to even consider otherwise the ending relies slightly too heavily upon an abrupt coincidence for my taste. It's an interesting notion that if one doesn't embrace their power' or gift' then it'll ultimately deceive and work against you (as it does to John, who actually foresees his own death but doesn't realize it.) The film is fraught with an excellent aura of mystery; however, much of it never really connects, which is truly unfortunate.
Donnie Darko (2001)
Overblown Pseudo-Intellectualism + Tangled Plotting = Ominous Mixture
Donnie Darko' is a film that consists mainly of overblown pseudo-intellectualism under the guise of tangled plotting. The film has garnered a bit of a cult following' for itself mostly of the teenage demographic probably because they consider it to be a profoundly brilliant examination of a guy who's become disillusioned by the banality and ignorance of those surrounding him with an equally brilliant sci-fi context (with a doomed love story thrown in for good measure.) I suppose I can see how those who are easily impressed could see this film in that light.
And just to clarify no, I don't dislike this film because I lack the intelligence to decipher the plot and/or what exactly it's trying to say. I will even acknowledge that the plot up to a certain point is actually quite interesting. Donnie our protagonist is saved from getting crushed by a jet engine when a demonic life-sized rabbit guides him out of bed. We come to realize that this rabbit is from a possible future (or an alternate reality') that Donnie must eventually alter by travelling back in time and ultimately saving his mother, little sister, girlfriend, and a few other characters from death.
But my biggest problem with the film is Kelly's painfully amateurish (or perhaps unintentional?) effort to mix satire into the film as well. It would've been a good idea to at least embed all of his characters with a believable degree of authenticity, but some just aren't. For instance, the school/dance teacher is so overblown with her ridiculous aversion toward Graham Greene and her idiotic fear/love' teaching lessons that she seems like nothing more than a poorly written caricature. Kelly also doesn't stray away from the cliché an elderly person is once again presented as a pinnacle of esoteric knowledge and truth.
What did I like about Donnie Darko'? I liked Kelly's choice to set it within the interesting milieu of the 1980s this is certainly a refreshing change from the dull modernism of most new films that look like Donnie Darko.' This provides a great backdrop for Kelly to display his eye for detail, within both dialogue and appearance. The tragic circumstances surrounding the relationship between Donnie and Gretchen are also done quite originally.
Director Richard Kelly's way of presenting events in an ill-defined way expecting us to interpret our own grand meaning to these curiosities isn't a good cinematic technique; it's just far too easy to simply switch your character around through time and space with pretty visuals upon the idea of time travel, expecting it to all seem appropriate in the end. Kelly tries so hard to make his film contemplative that it demands its viewers to ask far too many questions whilst it provides too few concrete answers all theories inevitably remain objectionable. Clever ambiguousness is one thing and awkward ambiguousness is another. Unfortunately, Donnie Darko' falls under the latter category.
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
A Thrilling-Yet-Imperfect Achievement for Psychological Horror
Warning: Spoilers Throughout This is most definitely an extremely creepy film and just about deserves each and every accolade that it has received over the years. I think that the main reason for its effectiveness is the superficially innocent layer that it holds over each horrific event as it unfolds, always suspending the audience's disbelief there is always the notion that, perhaps, Rosemary is just insane. Characters are presented as ostensibly harmless people as an insidious theme of evil lurking beneath the surface is achieved in such a subtly convincing way that it makes David Lynch's work look amateurish by comparison.
The film also works well on levels of alienation and existentialism there is even some satire present (Guy's willingness to cross over to the dark side' in exchange for fame/fortune makes for quite a severe shot at the psychological effects of entertainment industry.) But the film's ever-present atmosphere of dreary cynicism eventually crosses over the realm of plausibility and into the absurd. By the end, Polanski's unwavering refusal to provide any shred of hope or optimism toward humanity becomes unnecessarily depressing and ultimately left me feeling quite empty.
We're left with a cold statement basically telling us that evil is simply inviolable and will ultimately consume even the most innocent of people, in favor of an annoyingly overwrought depiction of motherly love, and in doing so Polanski appears to unintentionally glorify Satanism as well. I'm not suggesting that there should have been bloodshed to resolve anything, but perhaps this whole thing would've worked out better had Rosemary been depicted as rejecting Catholicism rather than simply ignoring it. There also happens to be a gaping plot hole in this resolution why would Rosemary show affection for the devil child if she already knows that it's going to be sacrificed by flesh and blood' anyway as revealed earlier in the film?
With all of these complaints aside, I still consider Rosemary's Baby' to be one of the finest psychological horror films that I've ever seen. Polanski manages to provide us with subtle hints that never really provide clear-cut answers but allow us to think back and piece everything together quite neatly in the end.
Talk Radio (1988)
An Entertaining Misfire
I'll call it a nice try, but there are just too many misfires here. The main problem isn't that our protagonist is an abrasive, obnoxious, offensive, and belligerent jerk the problem is that he's portrayed as being an abrasive, obnoxious, offensive, and belligerent jerk who never really had anything valuable to say in the first place. What are his beliefs? We never really get to know them because from his first day as a radio host he simply gets his kicks out of telling people off and perhaps squeezing some sort of societal statement into the fray. The film would've been a lot more interesting had it developed the idea that this guy initially had a plan and wanted to say something of value but instead let nonsense (these incessantly idiotic callers) cloud his train of thought.
If interpreted as an examination of the radio lifestyle and not something like a proclamation on the state of contemporary North American society, this film is pretty effective. Barry's callers are just too hyperbolically caricatured for this to be applied to everyday life we never really get one normal, average caller. This simply shows us how crazy certain people can be when they have a lot of time on their hands. I guess all of the halfway-sane listeners never bother to call in. It's a shame about that scene in the gymnasium where everyone suddenly turns against him people simply cannot be this narrow-minded.
People had trouble accepting the character of Barry Champlain (Bogosian) as a lothario because he's just such a detestable person. This wasn't really the problem for me history has proven that women seem to endear themselves to detestable men for whatever reason but I just didn't get the dynamics of the two relationships that we see (his current girlfriend and his ex-wife.) Each thing that we assume about these relationships turns out to be ostensible because of confusing contradictions that arise. And on a lighter note couldn't they have gotten someone who actually looks like a teenager to play the teenager role? (Not Michael Wincott.)
I have to acknowledge Stone's always-interesting direction here it's a joy to watch his camera dexterously follow characters through the narrow hallways and small crevices of the radio station. There is also some amazing sound work in the film with overlapping dialogue that Altman would be proud of. But we ultimately get a film that says watch what you say' when it had the potential to say this is what happens when you try to say something of substance.'
Bottle Rocket (1996)
I've always acknowledged that Wes Anderson's seriocomic films are all admirably creative but I've never really been truly humored by one (after seeing 'Rushmore' and 'The Royal Tenenbaums') until I got around to see his breakthrough feature 'Bottle Rocket.' Sure, his next two films display a greater maturity and perhaps a more acute examination of human nature, but 'Bottle Rocket' is - in my ever-controversial opinion - the funniest. It's incredibly stupid because it bases itself upon stupid characters and it ultimately falls into the clutches of the 'standard romantic subplot,' but it's also so damn hilarious at times that I just couldn't keep a smile off of my face while watching it, which is a true rarity.
Perhaps the reason I found myself growing fond of this film is because the whole ridiculous whimsicality of it reminded me of my state of mind as a child. This applies to the character of Dignan especially, who I see as a guy who just never really grew up. As unbelievably stupid of a concept as this is, Owen Wilson manages to make it charming with his charismatic portrayal of this dimwit. Where the film doesn't really make sense is in the character of Anthony, who sort of borders between being a rational person and just as dumb as the rest of them by going ahead with these schemes for no convincing reason, and the sudden love story I guess is supposed to represent his 'awakening,' which is surprisingly uncreative for a Wes Anderson movie.
But then I think back to the dialogue: Anthony calmly asserting that he was hospitalized because he 'went nuts.' The whole 'nose tape' conversation between Anthony, Dignan, and the doorman. Dignan timidly asking the employee for a 'bigger bag for maps and atlases.' Dignan getting angry because Bob 'stole' his own car. Rocky ostensibly telling Dignan that he loves Anthony. Dignan promising that he'll get 'sadistic' on Bob. And certain moments: Mr. Henry pouring water down onto Dignan from the rooftop. The whole heist-gone-awry at the end of the film and Dignan's subsequent attempt to get away - running into a room marked 'No Exit.'
Wes Anderson was just developing his upbeat and energetic directorial style here, but it's clearly visible in certain sequences such as when cinematographer Yeoman's camera follows pacing characters front-on to Mark Mothersbaugh's background music. Overall - certainly not ignoring its ridiculousness and lack of anything much to really say - 'Bottle Rocket' charmed me a lot more than I expected.
Near Dark (1987)
Well Done Trash
I haven't hated a supposedly great film this much in quite some time. From what I read, 'Nark Dark' is supposed to be one of the most innovative and interesting vampire horror films of all time. It didn't take me long to realize how truly awful it is; however, I sat through the whole thing nonetheless. Here's what initially confused me: how could anyone call this innovative when it has cliché written all over it? Everything from the unlikely love between a vampire and a human to the police search subplot and everything in between is trash.
Sure - it's well done trash - but that still qualifies it as trash. Some of the special effects are impressive, particularly the combustion that occurs when the vampires touch light. The subtle, haunting soundtrack by Tangerine Dream deserves all of the recognition that it has received over the years. And Bigelow's framing is surprisingly beautiful at times - a shot of the vampires on top of a moonlighted hill and Adrian's second wrist-sucking scene amongst oilrigs are both not to be forgotten, but these occasional bright spots do not save 'Near Dark' from being anything more than a mindless slasher flick.
Fans seem to love the fact that these vampires have been modernized - they certainly don't wear long cloaks or suddenly turn into bats and fly away. What I'd like to know is - so what? The film doesn't actually go anywhere but down with this premise, and if vampires must be depicted as insanely irrational murderers then couldn't it have been done in a slightly less juvenile, idiotic way? There are no good characterizations in this film - everyone fits a stereotype, right down to the unfortunate patrons of the bar that the vampires terrorize. The vampires act so over-the-top that, combined with Bigelow's in-your-face direction, makes the film more forcibly laughable than creepy or frightening in any way.
The traditional vampire story is very interesting, but this film is in no way an intelligent riff on the genre. The better part of this film is basically about showing how incredibly stupid these vampires are by coming up with newly creative ways of offing people - and no doubt they are creative, which probably accounts for the cult following that this film has of people who get their kicks out of watching mindlessly exaggerated killings. The acting is awful all around, although there wasn't really much of a script to work with anyway. The dialogue is horrid - perhaps if both the vampires and the humans talked like everyday people then the film would've achieved the gritty, realistic tone that it was clearly going for.
The film even contradicts its overall aim in showing us that humanity perseveres by having the protagonist happily endear himself to the amoral vampires (witness the scenes following the police shootout escape.) The plot relies on coincidences to progress the storyline - wow, Caleb's father and sister just so happen to be staying at the same motel! And there are some hilarious inconsistencies - it turns from night to day unbelievably quickly at that same motel. And I had to repress my laughter when we see Caleb ride his horse through an open street - this juxtaposition just doesn't work well at all.
The way that the film moves along even has a made-for-TV thriller quality about it, with standard cutting between the distraught father and the vampires' murderous actions. 'Near Dark' could have at least tried to be slightly complex or remotely thoughtful instead of simply focusing on how entertaining it can be to see people getting their throats slashed open. It's really is a shame too, because Bigelow's obvious visual flair - when coupled with a plausible screenplay - can potentially produce a great film.
Devil in a Blue Dress (1995)
Uniqueness amongst Conventionality
'Devil in a Blue Dress' quickly creates a very appealing misé en scene that's constructed upon upbeat and sunlit scenery. Combined with director Franklin's dexterous dolly movements and smooth camera techniques that follow the always-charismatic Denzel Washington around the culturally diverse streets of 1948 Los Angeles, it makes you want to throw your imagination into its storyline for a few hours. With brooding and insidious male characters, beautiful and mysterious female characters, voiceover narration by the protagonist, and a gradually revelatory, detective-like storyline we get the sense that we're watching a more-colorful-than-usual film noir. There's no question that it couldn't have been setup much better; it's too bad that it slowly-but-surely dissipates away into the realm of conventionality.
As far as underrated acting goes - Tom Sizemore is spectacularly sleazy as the coldhearted DeWitt Albright and Maury Chaykin is his usually creepy self as the political pedophiliac Matthew Terell. Easy Rawlins (Washington) is a familiar character - he's a man who will do just about whatever he has to do in order to earn some cash, although he's proud of his dignity and won't sell himself short. He's also more amiable and compassionate than the average man is, which is what ultimately differentiates him from the bad guys of the story. The lesser-seen element here, however, is that he also happens to be Afro-American. It's refreshing to see a film concentrate upon this culture without trying to dictate too many things to us about it - race is an element of this film, but it's not a particularly prominent or overblown one.
A myriad of different characters are introduced - sometimes it seems as if the film is actually relying upon the appearances of new characters in order to progress the plot, and even then some things aren't made very clear. I understand that the writers were simply trying to convey the sheer volume of the situation that Easy has gotten himself into, but its lack of tautness just gets annoying after a while. And there is a cool aura of mystery surrounding the plot until you realize that it's simply going down the all-too-familiar cinematic road of political corruption. The final theme of an average man achieving complacency through oppression is well communicated, but couldn't it have been done in a slightly more interesting/original/unique way?
The Brilliance of Subtlety
Unfortunately, many people simply don't understand 'Blowup', and thus they disregard it as a dated and pretentious piece of kitsch. I didn't find 'Blowup' irritating in the least. Perhaps I could go with 'pretentious' on some scale, but I think brilliant would take precedence over that description.
The film is in no way a failure because of its seemingly plodding and unconventional pace. Antonioni decided to throw every Hollywood convention down the toilet and TRUTHFULLY depict the serene yet insidious world in which its protagonist dwelled, with a psychedelic edge. The viewer who cannot or is not willing to accept this fact will simply not appreciate the film as a whole.
Take note of the subtleties within 'Blowup'. The concert scene, for one, is of primal importance. The inhabitants of the club listen to the band as if they're mindless drones, bored and weary with their lives. They do not react until the guitarist unleashes a violent paroxysm, smashing his guitar against the amp. This could be interpreted as a metaphor for Thomas's state of mind.
This is truly the first film that I've seen that explained so much of its meaning just within its soundtrack. Try to notice the subliminal subtleties in it such as:
1) The sound of wind rustling in the trees as Thomas analyzes his infamous park photographs.
2) The distinctive sound of a tennis game being played during the mimicry scene at the end.
In what other film has the simple sound of breezing wind been so memorable? The photography scene within the park is also done during the day, not the night, yet it manages to be completely chilling. During that scene, there is no ridiculous music on the soundtrack, trying to stress the importance of the scene. Instead, Antonioni conveys the voyeuristic feeling as if we're right there, in the London park with Thomas.
HOWEVER, my favorite subtlety in "Blowup" is, by far, the scene in which Thomas turns around in his car after parking next to the club and notices Jane standing there, and by some virtuoso editing (especially for the 1960s) we can see her body suddenly vanish out of thin air as she walks away, if watched closely.
The ultimate message of the film is a subjective one and Antonioni refuses to just lay it all out for the less patient viewer, however, the explanations are there. Love it or hate it, "Blowup", in my opinion, deserves to be watched with an open mind.
Not just a "queer" film.
After reading a bit about Todd Haynes' "Poison" and the homosexual comparisons that people seem to only be drawing from it, I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't deserve to just be tagged as a seminal film of the "new queer cinema". It's so much more than that.
First of all, I found "Homo" to be the least intriguing of the 3 stories. "Hero" is actually more disturbing, showing the sudden disappearance of a mentally-inflicted, patricidal child who, according to his mother, was sent from the angels. I was particularly impressed by Haynes' creative use of layering in the adultery and spanking scenes.
But, in blending three prominent aspects (color, black and white, documentary) of the film medium into his film, the beautiful b&w "Horror" is the most notable, showing the sudden downfall of a scientist's prosperity. Haynes conveys the scientist's hysteria to his audience by using slanted, extreme close-up camera techniques and spastic editing, not to mention a haunting soundtrack.
The film is a bizarre one, indeed... but undeniably artful, and it certainly doesn't deserve to simply be pigeonholed into nothing more than a cornerstone for homosexual cinema.
White Room (1990)
A Fine Film...
You could call White Room a hybrid of Rear Window, which is obviously in the plot. But Maurice Godin immediately reminded me of Kyle McLachlan in Blue Velvet, portraying the wayward, adventurous young man whose ambitions in life are very ambivalent.
As for the film itself, it has some simply beautiful scenes. Perhaps the film loses a bit of its mysterious aura when the cow scenes come along, which I think the Rozema could've done without. Nonetheless, the dreamy blue-filter shots are very well done.
No, this isn't a DePalma-esque Hitchcock rip off, so don't worry. It's a very unique film; I've never seen anything quite like it and I certainly agree with Andy's message in that this is a little gem of a film that you really should check out.
The Bingo Robbers (2001)
This is a stylish, and overall well done Eastern Canadian digital film. The acting certainly isn't anything to rave about, but it's okay. The storyline is kind of bland as well, but it's got some style and as far as digital films go, this is a stellar one.
C'era una volta il West (1968)
One of the best Westerns...
This is certainly the best Western I've ever seen. It's epic and a classic in every way.
It doesn't follow the linear good-guy-bad-guy storyline. I even began to feel a whole lot of empathy for Henry Fonda as the sinister devil he played. This is Bronson at his best, and it's wonderfully filmed by Sergio Leone.
Not really any bad acting at all in this film, and Leone blends music with unique camera angles perfectly. Not your ordinary Western at all, it's a must see.
Moulin Rouge! (2001)
One pimple too many...
Before I go into any detail about the movie, let me just say that Ewan McGregor has got a pimple the size of Scotland on his forehead throughout the entire film.
Anyway, I rented this movie without any high expectations as I've only seen one musical ever that I genuinely like, and that's Dancer in the Dark. After seeing Moulin Rouge, it remains at one.
Moulin Rouge starts off with a painful amount of close-ups of Jim Broadbent's amazingly ugly face and some equally amazing special effects. The extraordinary settings of Moulin Rouge is enough of a reason to give it a watch, but the bland and clichéd story is what ultimately made me dislike it.
I dare someone to just try and count the amount of editing cuts in this movie. That would probably be a greater feat than the writing of the script was.
James Dean (2001)
Franco did just about the best job anyone could do playing James Dean... Moriarty gets an honorable mention as his ambivalent father.
The film as a whole is definitely entertaining SANS commercials... and that's how I got to see it thanks to TMN. The crash scene at the end was... well, left you wanting to see a little more, but Rydell does a good job of just touching it on the surface and not showing much.
Only complaint is that they could've done a better job casting for Martin Landau, as the guy that they got to play him... well, looks nothing like Martin Landau.
The Vigil (1998)
Good amateur effort
The Vigil seems to have a lot of trouble deciding whether it's a tribute to Kurt Cobain or the story of the emotional decay between two brothers. The way I see it, the trip to Seattle is the backplot and if it's a tribute to Cobain you're looking for here, you won't get much of one.
The acting really isn't that bad, and even though it's not hard to lose interest in the story it is well told through eerie dream-sequence scenes. Overall, a good amateur effort.
Blood & Donuts (1995)
Cronenberg = Savior
I enjoyed this film. Without David Cronenberg... I would consider it a decent amateur effort, but this film ascends higher than that just because of his few little cameos. The Berzins screenplay is well written... he puts a unique spin on the generic vampire tale.
But, with the exception of Cronenberg... the acting is all subpar, if not below. Justin Louis is absolutely PAINFUL to watch with his ultra pseudo-Spanish accent (or is that Spanish?). One can only take his screen presence for so long. I guess Gordon Currie is decent enough as Boya, but nothing to rave about.
Overall though, it was well filmed and executed. Worth watching just for the Cronenberg cameos!
What was Burt thinking?
If you're in the mood for a mindless, generic, and poorly-acted film with some of the most horrible dialogue around, "Pups" is for you. What was Burt Reynolds thinking when he signed onto this crap? There are absolutely NO respectable performances in this movie. After about 30 minutes the "f**k you!"'s and "shutup!"'s become painfully incessant. Now, I can see Mischa Barton as "Rocky" going places (even though her performance consists mainly of blurting out profanities and sucking on a beer bottle)... but other than that this film is a complete waste.
It's definitely a good thing that whoever this "Ash" is didn't tack their last name onto the credits... because there's nothing to be proud of here.
The Yards (2000)
Maybe Gray does organize the filming of it a bit conventionally, and maybe the script is a little orthodox, but it's the actual story of The Yards that makes it truly a great film about the decadence of a once-happy family. The acting is all superb... especially Phoenix as Will. I think that overall, Gray's directing is very professionally done, and even though the way it begins and ends may not seem very original, the actual story of the film, in my opinion, is very original and witty.