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The Horse Whisperer

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I never dreamed I would see this movie – I rolled my eyes at every preview, groaned in agony at the triumph-of-the-human spirit arm waving by the little girl in the show. I shuddered to be subjected to a love affair between a human saddlebag and a human iceberg. But one of my best friends “had” to see it since she’s moving to Montana so what can I do?

My primary complaint was the score, and the pace. But I’ll get to that, I want to dispense with what positive things I have to say first. The acting is all good, the dialogue is generally tolerable, but the movie was like 50 hrs long, filled with insert shots of buttering bread and putting needles on records – cut to TIGHTER shot of the needle on the record! Da daaaaaa! As a romance, The Horses of Madison County may have been more realistic and responsible than others played out by actors closer to myself in age, but man oh man, was this slow and unrewarding. Kristen Scott Thomas, age 31 (she looks 40+ in the movie) and Robert Redford (age 60, looks 410 in the movie) have a surprisingly nice chemistry – if she had shown this much animation in The English Patient, I might not loathe that movie as much as I do. One scene Redford and Thomas had together in a dance hall was almost worth watching the movie for.

The horse (played by 7 horses actually) was a better actor than anyone in the last 5 John Hughes movies. The rancher’s son was more mature than any of my friends (and we all admitted it!), and the teen daughter, played by Scarlett Johansen, was really good too. Seriously, though, the horse trainer, Rex Peterson, is the man. No previews or opening credits?!

Now down to it. The movie is long, languid, and slow. Sure, we get some gorgeous vistas and aerial shots – and that’s only of Redford’s face. There are filters aplenty on him, like a Barbra Streisand movie, and lots of “shoeleather,” shots of nothing, walking, doing, etc, that don’t serve the story or even the mood. Tight shot of hand on saddle pommel. Closeup of buckle being tightened. Cut to hand on fencepost – pan along arm to face, watching action inside corral. New angle of same face. In the audience, there was a blind kid (we only know this from the seeing eye dog who got bored midway through and started to dream) – I can’t imagine what he took away from this movie! Thomas Newman’s score is flat and unemotional and doesn’t even bother to try and capture the grandeur of Big Sky Country – I listened to my Shawshank Redemption score for comparison and the one track where he is sitting in the prison yard staring into space is the exact hum of strings and plink….plink of the piano that is the ENTIRE Horse Whipper score. Sigh.

The most annoying thing about the movie is that there is nothing really wrong with it, but I’ve been rolling my eyes about it for so long I just couldn’t relax into it, like the cowboys relax into Montana. If you like your triumph of the equine spirit combined with a little asexual frustration then this is your movie.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 5/15/98
Time in minutes 164
Director Robert Redford
Studio Buena Vista Pictures

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Deep Impact

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One could say Deep Impact is an above average action movie or an average drama. An article in my local paper says that scientists have actually said that the majority of the science in the movie (OK, besides the shuttle mission objectives) is fairly accurate – I’m no rocket scientist, and the rocket scientist I saw it with got a little hung up on the nukes in space – but all parties agree the governmental ability to cover up an extinction level event would be nil.

To begin with, any movie with Morgan Freeman as president, directed by an ER veteran (Mimi Leder) dealing with epic unavoidable disaster is OK by me. Disaster movies have enjoyed a new renaissance in recent years, utilizing the awesome technologies previously nonexistent in the Airport 75-era. Since they have so much more to show than tell, they now overall forgo telling at all, ditching Poseidon Adventure character development in favor of Twister eye-popping cow juggling. Deep Impact returns to the more effective model of news-reaction-various attempts-disaster-aftermath, rather than the Young Hollywood’s premature ejaculation model of hi my name is WHAM-aftermath-lamer protracted aftermath.

We can’t care that comets decimate a bunch of people we never met. Independence Day was all about cool explosions and did you notice that 1/3 of the earth’s population was destroyed? Not me – the friggin DOG survived! Woo hoo! Leder scrolls us through a variety of characters and then kills a gutsy large number of them off – there will be no hugging across story lines, despite the lead’s unusually intimate connection to the disaster. The best part is that people, no matter how well developed, how warned in advance they are, still act like morons and wait until the last minute to do anything.

I don’t need to tell you that a comet hits the earth, do I? But of course most of the movie is taken up with our varying attempts at stopping it, hurling our bones and rocks at the monolith. Knowing that the comet strikes takes quite a lot out of the tension of the scenes – “Well, I know this fails, I saw the dang thing hit during the previews.” I actually tried to talk myself into thinking, maybe that was a computer generated “what if” that the press in the movie create to demonstrate what will happen if they fail, a la the Titanic computer generated thing, but pre-disaster. I was desperate for tension. But I was gratified by the amount of genuine feeling and caring and sympathy I had for all these people. Freeman has a delicious speech to the American people that moved me quite a bit. Ron Eldard too gets a scene, and Vanessa Redgrave too.

I thought the science was a little suspect, but what do I know? I am liberal arts all the way. Of course, watching HBO’s From the Earth To The Moon made me feel like an expert and I thought they acted like they were on a real mission. Even if it had been bogus, it felt like they THOUGHT about it. At least our heroes don’t survive a 10000 foot tidal wave holding on to the ledge of a building or anything.

Unfortunately, the very interesting quandary and human dilemma of the national lottery to select survivors was steamrolled by the MSNBC promotional freak show. The emotional content of the film skates just at the edge of maudlin but the sincerity of performers like Freeman and Eldard and Redgrave keep us from falling in the abyss. It’s an interesting mix of sentiment and spectacle and certainly worth seeing on the big screen. And if I didn’t know Morgan Freeman tended to shun the spotlight, I would write him in for President.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 5/8/98
Time in minutes 115
Director Mimi Leder
Studio Paramount Pictures

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Clockwatchers

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Clockwatchers is an obscure little film filled with familiar faces (three from Waiting for Guffman alone!) and an interesting take on the mind-numbing misery and humiliation of being a temp in today’s corporate environment. But it’s not a political statement – rather, a creepily surreal comedy with more bemused smiles as the target reaction than out and out guffawing. Directed and co-written (with Karen Sprecher) by Jill Sprecher, Clockwatchers has a very personal feel to it. I think everyone has felt the way our main four characters feel, but few are ever brave enough to admit it, even to their fellow beleaguered temps.

The ensemble of Parker Posey (in her usual spitfire outsider spaz role), Lisa Kudrow (temp slut), Toni Collette (always underappreciated, and she brings that to bear here) and Alanna Ubach (the pretty one who doesn’t *really* need this job) have a Breakfast Clubby sense of demographic and bonding. They each typify some element of humanity that gets trapped in temping hell, and they bond and dissolve with the same ease as the princess, the criminal, the geek, the athlete, and the basket case. Everyone is great, possibly greater than the material, but I felt that the dryness of the material matched the dryness of the subject matter – NBC’s “Working” treads the same path but tries to make it wacky – the not-wackiness is what makes Clockwatchers more real. That, and the acting.

The production design of Clockwatchers is great – brilliant use of almost no money – the office is dismal, Toni Collette’s home is lush and warm, implying character that doesn’t get explored but the interestingness of her home contrasts nicely with the flat non-persona she is saddled with at work. Icky green, stark, vaguely outdated, everything looks great except the appallingly horrid costumes. Edi Guignere is the offender so unless her unflattering fashions and vile color schemes were a purposeful choice to make all the characters look like Good Will Shopping freakazoids, don’t hire her!

I was bummed to see the camera skip lightly over important, plot-related detail – not that *I* need to be hammered in the head with anything, I mean, I *noticed* the stuff, but I bet people who don’t prop-watch as much as I do would miss a lot of connections. Like some of the folks I was with at the movie, for example. And they are scientists! But then the movie turns around and hammers in some detail to MAKE SURE you see it. It was a little uneven but definitely interesting. Good performances and nice ensemble, and that Randy guy from Scream. I wanted to learn a little more about the peripheral characters and get a little less whining from the main temps, but then again, temping is all about getting to know only certain people. It’s worth a watch.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 5/8/98
Time in minutes 96
Director Jill Sprecher
Studio BMG Independents

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Dancer TX, Pop. 81

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I don’t care if most of the audience found it predictable – I didn’t. I don’t care that it’s a weekend-long slice of life in an incredibly scenic hick town that has no major plot line outside of the world of verbage, in fact, that is what I liked most about it. I really enjoyed this movie. It’s languid, and slow, and more slice-of-lifey than Joe Q. Moviegoer likes to shell out the bucks for, but what you’re paying your full price here is for Tim McCanlies’ wonderful storytelling. As director and screenwriter, he just thought, hey, this will make a good movie, and he went out to Brewster Co./Ft. Davis TX (the size of three New England states) and started shooting. When the studios got wind of his low-budget tale of four guys graduating high school and yearning to leave the small town in which they grew up, TriStar tossed some money at it, showed it at SXSW, and said, go, Tim, with our blessing. In 24 days he turned a road-trip musing into a really touching, interesting film.

It’s unspoiled, like the characters and the wilderness in which they live. The sprawling semi-desert and achingly huge world just outside a day’s drive tantalize us city folk anew. Cinematographer Andrew Dintenfass was no dummy, he used the big sky and the simple handsomeness of his stars to show us that there are as many reasons to stay in a place as there are to leave it. Some of the faces are familiar to movie goers or Austinites (hi, Joe!), but mostly these folks look like the real McCoy. The dialogue feels real, the emotions feel real, and we have plenty of time to just kick back and watch. It’s slick in a professional way but not flashy and “look at our budget!”

I have to share a moment from the moviegoing experience. I saw this in the Paramount, an 80 yr. old classic monument to old time theatres, surrounded by Texans, with a bat flying around the theatre. All we needed were some cattle in the lobby and a beer and we all could have been frozen as an archaeological wonder. The movie is sweet and wondrous and takes place in a claustrophobic social microcosm that is somehow presented as big enough for everyone and too small for anyone.

Dancer TX has genuine laughs and characters that you really care about (and a few that are underdeveloped but off the track) and maybe it’s a little cut and dried in parts, but I feel that somehow, that’s how life can be at these important turning points. I don’t want to describe too much, but there isn’t that much to describe. Four friends graduate, planning to move together to LA. Over a weekend, stuff happens that affects that plan. Resolution occurs and the credits roll. The rest is dialogue and movement. I laughed a lot, it’s not My Camping Trip with Andre or anything. Just go see it.

MPAA Rating PG
Release date 5/1/98
Time in minutes 97
Director Tim McCanlies
Studio TriStar

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Silding Doors

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I really really liked this movie, and I could go on and on about it. I will attempt not to. Short version for the guys itching to return to their video games: Good date movie. Won’t bore you. No real nudity. Do not bring your date flowers.

Gwyneth Paltrow really turned me off her when she was in the execrable Great Expectations, so she really had a lot of work to do to get me to like her again for this movie. She succeeded. The premise is basically this – Gwynnie either catches the tube (subway), or she misses it, and from that instant her life diverges into two alternate lives (which is the “real” one? They are equally real, equally important) and the simple act of missing the train or not carries her along two closely parallel paths but with utterly different consequences.

I don’t want to tell you ANYTHING and damn me for my discretion. I want to hold fast to my policy of not giving plot away…must…reveal…SOMETHING…entice…viewers…see…movie! OK, a benign example. In life 1, she is depressed and drinking in a bar. The camera pans down the bar away from her, and catches her, in life 2, walking in, happy. Same shot, different reality/life track/whatever. Life2GP passes the spot at the bar where she would have been sitting in Life1. It’s not a hippy dippy cosmic head trip or anything. It’s just, some things, like a crew race, would happen if she were there or not, and other things, like the pretty blue office space, would not.

The cast is great. You know it’s good when I have no adequate adjectives. Jeanne Tripplehorn, widely reviled for some reason in the States, is an American sultry queen, and she’s great! John Hannah, as James, with his strong Southampton brougue and natural wit, is wonderful. John Lynch, as her boyfriend Jerry, is both pathetic and slimy, sympathetic and amoral. Gwyneth totally pulls off the challenge of the role – she’s not two people, she’s just in two movies, simultaneously, with the same other characters, but different plot lines. It’s a testament to the filmmakers that you never confuse one plot line for another.

The cutting back and forth between her life-lines (thank you John Smith!) was used as effectively as the past and present cutting in Dead Again, an extreme compliment if you know me. It was very amusing, entertaining, not predictable, it was romantic and sad and funny and everything that every movie should be and so few are not. It even makes you think. Naturally it’s English. Paltrow’s accent is great and her liberal use of the dialects slang is just the more convincing surrounded by natives. I was doing James Hannah all day at work. Smith’s editing was great – write this one down, Academy folks, it’s a long time til January. Great script, interesting camera work, superb acting. I can find nothing wrong with it, the more I think about it. Hmmm. It’s been a while since I could say that. So pay your money, and if you don’t like it, tell me why.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 4/24/98
Time in minutes 99
Director Peter Howitt
Studio Paramount

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The Object of My Affection

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Here again is a movie that will market itself to death. A charming preview misleads us into thinking it is a straightforward movie about the pain of loving someone who can’t love you back in the same way. That’s in there, sure, but Wendy Wasserstein’s script is a great deal more than that. And one should think twice before assuming that the director of The Madness of King George and The Crucible would take on While You Were Sleeping II.

Other than the fact that everyone in New York or Chicago or whatever depressing metropolis this takes place in is nicer than a grandmother in Georgia, the people are painfully real. I don’t believe that Jennifer Aniston would date John Pankow (Ira from Mad About You) on a bet, but other than that woeful visual miscasting the actors worked well together. Paul Rudd is achingly cute as the object of Aniston’s affection, but the movie is more than the tension between the hetero couple and the homosexual third wheel/best friend.

Relationships in a romantic comedy always tend to be pretty straightforward, or at the worst one is torn between two. But there are lovers and ex lovers and want-to-be lovers and step parents and parents and aunts and godfathers and best friends and painful tugs between all these links. But in the end, we are all family, we are all one family with a million weird links. I have a friend who shares a father but all different mothers with his brothers – I have another friend both of whose parents came out, got divorced, and then took up lovers. Yet another who has been successfully platonic friends and roommates with his ex girlfriend for 2 years. The world is no longer made up of boy meets girl, boy and girl get married, have a baby, the end, and I am pleased that a film bothered to explore the more unusual and complicated nature of relationships these days.

It does try to cram an awful lot in, and a great deal of these people adjust to truly painful situations more easily than I can claim to be able to, but there is also genuine pain and joy and caring between all these people. One character who is woefully under explored is played by Nigel Hawthorne – he lends some pathos and wisdom to the otherwise free-spirited proceedings. It’s a comedy, and it is shatteringly romantic in places you would not expect to find romance, and comparing it to say, Sleepless in Seattle, it is not your traditional date movie, snuggle-wumpus wise. I found it very interesting but not for everyone. If you are feeling introspective, in doubt about your romantic life, or just want a change, this is for you. If you want to put your arm around a date and much Raisinettes together and feel good about everything, see something else. But rent this later, when you’re feeling introspective.

MPAA Rating R for strong language and some sexuality.
Release date 4/17/98
Time in minutes 111
Director Nicholas Hytner
Studio 20th Century Fox

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City of Angels

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“Please please please,” my mind whispered. “Please don’t disappoint me. The previews make this look so good. It would be so easy to screw this movie up.” Someone was listening.

I know a movie is good when I totally cease taking notes and then can find no adjectives to jot down. I was enthralled and yet not stupefied. My regular readers know how I love to spout off, and they may have even noticed the only movie I have really liked since 1998 began was The Wedding Singer. I don’t want to fall into the alarming trend of only liking squishy chick movies (which admittedly this one does resemble from the outside), so please, read on. Director Brad Silberling continues his afterlife trend after Casper The Friendly Ghost (which for the record was way better than it deserved to be) but he has got it down now!

If you don’t come out of the theatre wanting to make something out of clay or walk around barefoot or eat or have some sort of sensual experience, then you are dead. At the end of the first scene (I hate giving away plot and I especially feel strongly against doing so in this instance) I was already in love with the movie, and I can’t define why. It just felt right. City of Angels is an admitting remake of Wim Wenders’ Wings of Desire, which I sort of saw once with an old boyfriend (a cosmic cat who I am sure would dig this flick) and I think City of Angels takes Wenders’ message about beauty and experience and realness and all that and makes it utterly accessible without making it retarded – this is a Hollywood miracle in and of itself.

John Seale’s camera swoops lovingly through the throngs of humanity, and we glimpse gently into their thoughts. They are all thoughts we have had before or will have later, yet instead of being familiar, the smoothly dollying camera makes us step back and get the outsiders’ perspective. Dana Stevens’ script is gentle and wise, even as I *knew* what someone was about to say, I still felt the emotional impact when they said it. Everything in the mortal world is shown with such attention to beauty that you can’t help but wonder at the beauty only the angels can see. It’s a sweetly empathetic movie but it is also very sensual. By sensual I don’t even mean sexual, it’s all about the basic five senses and how glorious it is to have them. I ran home and started typing on my PowerBook but I had already painted my bedroom in a fit of untapped energy and now I want to squish my toes in the mud or rub lotion on my skin or SOMETHING.

Nicholas Cage, previously a roach eating vampire, besotted alcoholic, and heroic parolee, has the perfect face for this role as the angel who aches to be mortal. No evangelism, no denominational anything – the angels in this movie have the purity that they should have on a planet with a thousand religions. As in Wings of Desire, Shay Cunliffe has dressed them in benignly understated overcoats, and their effect is…otherworldly yet accessible. And what better mortal to tempt an angel to fall than Meg Ryan, the Girl We Fall In Love With. Thankfully, she isn’t precious or giggly or any of the things she has been asked to be in the past – she is just…angelic. Ouch! No pun intended.

The two main supporting characters play tough guy cops for their day job – yet seem totally at home in a relatively touchy-feely angel flick – Dennis Franz (NYPD Blue) and Andre Braugher (Homicide). I don’t know how that works either, but it does!

Gabriel Yared (hmmmm yet there weren’t many horns…) composed a score that is pretty and simple but still seemed to imply levels I couldn’t hear. Maybe I am full of it but the movie was really that transporting for me. The songs scattered throughout, a deadly game to play normally, played gently and well.
I want to write about a scene that takes place in Tahoe but I can’t – but trust me, it was…very special. Ugh! I hate not having the words. I have some but they give away stuff. The third reel is why I go to the movies.

On an ironic? touching? note, one of the producers, Dawn Steel, died of cancer a couple of months ago, and the movie is dedicated to her (it just says To Dawn). After watching this film, I imagined how death came to her and how the other members of the production team must have been feeling. Oh just go see it – it’s elegant and great and moving and it just feels right.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 4/10/98
Time in minutes 114
Director Wim Wenders
Studio Warner Brothers

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The Spanish Prisoner

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The less one knows about the plot of The Spanish Prisoner, the more one will enjoy the movie. Like Presumed Innocent, a hint of the outcome will crumble all the set up. Suffice it to say that it’s a modern corporate espionage type thriller and it’s cool. It’s got a smart pedigree and a tiny budget and big big ideas.

As it is, however, author/director David Mamet’s script is surprisingly transparent – but only to a point. If you’re not familiar with Mamet’s oeuvre of written work, you would think the script is interesting but a little predictable. Not totally, though. If you do know Mamet, you have to see it just to see how the all-time greatest proponent of the F word managed to crank out a PG 13 movie.

With stars like Campbell Scott (co-author and director of Big Night) and Steve Martin (also author of LA Story and Picasso at the Lapin Agile), you know this is going to be one literary piece of film. But don’t let that dissuade you! Surprisingly, while smart and quick and snappish, the staginess of the dialogue defeats the excellent acting on the part of the male leads. Mamet directs his men with ease, but, as in Speed the Plow, he doesn’t seem to know what to do with women. Rebecca Pidgeon plays the new assistant to Scott, and her delivery of this deadpan testosteroni is sadly wooden. In the complicated weave of Mamet’s script, her contribution sticks out like a splinter and doesn’t serve the otherwise smooth work of Scott and Martin.

It’s still fascinating and mind-bending, and eminently entertaining. Carter Burwell (of Coen Brothers movies scores) delivers a very yummy score as always. It helps fill the gaps in Pidgeon’s sadly robotic performance. I don’t know just what her deal is in this movie, whether the had contracted testosterone poisoning from the director or if she was just directed contrary to everything her character needs to be. But don’t let it keep you away – it’s a cool movie. I wish I could say more about it.

MPAA Rating PG
Release date 4/3/98
Time in minutes 112
Director David Mamet
Studio Sony Pictures Classics

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Lost in Space

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OK, it *is* better than Batman and Robin – the movie that, wonder of wonders, did not precipitate the deportment of writer Akiva Goldsman. My companion and I wondered on the way home whether Akiva stayed up at night purposefully writing garbage and thinking, “Oh, man, they wouldn’t produce THIS!” and laughing. Then some crackhead in Armani throws $90 million or more at it and suddenly Akiva sees his name pulse at him during the loud techno rave end credits and he must think, “Dammit, why didn’t I change my name?”

It’s lame. It’s not offensive (OK, that stupid F&#@(!$% yellow monkey is more offensive than being mooned by a hemorrhoid clinic) but it is stupid and lame and underwhelming. Heather Graham (Rollergirl) has the best lines in the movie – real zingers too, and Mimi Rogers follows with some slightly more tired but still serviceable quips of her own. I appreciated that Mimi actually looked old enough to be William Hurt’s wife. Oh, William. Ye of such a fine previous career. He was wooden and lame and tired and you people know I don’t like to criticize actor’s performances unless they can’t help themselves. I was never a viewer of the TV show and I understand that the movie is taking a radically different tone than the wacky campy papier mache TV show, BUT shouldn’t we at least want our hero to live? I could not have cared less about anyone except maybe Rollergirl. And even so I was ashamed that she would follow up a wonderful movie like Boogie Nights with the simian star of Ed. With lines like “Detente is a wonderful thing.” Oooh, did you go to film school?

Gary Oldman must have sunk into a wicked cocaine problem since Air Force One, because he wants us to believe Dr. Smith is evil, but we have nothing to base that on. He speaks (as I am sure you have seen in the preview) of his own wicked nature, but really, he’s just the guy with the accent. I was so disappointed to remember reading that he said this character was one of his favorites. The best part with Smith is, sadly, a Jim Henson’s Creature Shop creation voiced by Oldman. Oh woe.

The music is half new school I’m gonna get the Oscar out from John Williams and half old school wah wah Sid and Marty Kroft. Interesting but frightening. The whole movie is just unsatisfying and dull, no more, no less.

I know the Robot was important on the show – but as a standalone movie, what the hell was it doing here? Was it their food prep automaton or their high-colonic administerer? “Destroy! Destroy! Destroy Friday evening!” Oh and did I mention that the whole family is really important bit is hokey, sad, *and* poorly executed? Well, I meant to. After I put ointment on the welts from having been beaten with their goofy priorities message, I will.

As always, I have something nice to say which is that the computer generated stuff at the beginning of the movie is totally lusciously beautiful gorgeous expectations-raising eye candy. Then the stupid yellow monkey comes and I think about how nice cyanide gas must smell. There is literally NO reason for that expensive effect to exist, and did I mention that it was a dreadful, poorly thought out illogical mess too? Oh the shame. And to think THIS of all movies is the one to knock Titanic out of the number one slot. Oh, couldn’t it have been a decent movie? The place was packed! But hopefully word of mouth will kill it and we can all forget it ever happened. Evil may know evil but moviegoers don’t. I knew it would suck and I had to protect you, Dear Readers.

Akiva, start packing.

*Note: this film was originally rated Dollar Movie, which fell between Catch the Network Premiere and Catch It On HBO.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 4/3/98
Time in minutes 131
Director Stephen Hopkins
Studio New Line Cinema

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Wild Things

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Whatever you have heard cannot prepare you for the sheer humidity of this movie. A small town in Florida where everyone automatically thinks of sex whether they are washing the jeep in skimpy white cutoffs or docking a sailboat or frying an egg or even plotting a surprisingly elaborate little scheme that I was grateful was better than it suggested itself to be. Yeah yeah yeah and there is girl on girl action and a little full frontal male nudity. Yahoo. Denise Richards is the most realistic looking android I have ever seen – and I could still see the servos. In fact, I was not aware that there was a special high school just for supermodels and pre-Citizenship Academy Starship Troopers. No wonder everyone is always thinking about sex!

The previews for this secretly satisfying but of fluff make it out to be the sexiest thing since Melrose Place Cheating Summer Nights – yet the whole thing looks vaguely like a perfume advertisement. As the movie began I noted that all the blood was in the groin and not in the head – but I am pleased to announce that I was wrong. Do not mistake me – this is not a “good” movie by any means, but it beats the crap out of Skinemax for plot content and actually serves up almost as much skin.

Siskel and Ebert (remember, they loved Kingpin?) gave it two thumbs up – and Ebert wrote that paean to sexless trolls, The Valley Of the Dolls. Keep that in mind. I can appreciate T&A from my male friends’ perspective but this seemed so lame and shallow and any-excuse-to-show-nipplage I was disgruntled. Later I wrote, “transparent but improving.” That would be my summation, really. It’s a difficult journey and had I been watching it on cable I would have been long gone, but with my butt in the seats and my hard-earned money in the register and you, Dear Readers, clamoring for my opinion, well, I stayed. And I was glad I did. Oh the shame.

I am told the music (which irritated the crap out of me) was very Twin Peaksish. I will let the masses decide. If nothing else, it was simple and redundant, George S. Clinton was the music man and I suspect this is not the fellow from the P-Funk All stars. Just a hunch. The director John McNaughton, previously did Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, and I have to give him points for not pigeonholing himself. I do believe he sees the prurient in all of us.

Funny line many will miss: Kevin Bacon is a sex crimes cop who is badgering Matt Dillon about two rapes he is accused of, and Dillon says “Let him look into the Kennedy assassination,” which of course is funny because Kevin Bacon was also in a little movie called Footloose. I mean, JFK.

The Hawaiian shirts are TOTALLY awesome in this movie. And don’t rush out when the credits start to roll – there is more, and it’s cool. Too bad it too so long to get there.

MPAA Rating R -sexuality, nudity, language & some violence.
Release date 3/20/98
Time in minutes 106
Director John McNaughton
Studio Columbia Tristar

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