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Messenger, The Story of Joan of Arc

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If you liked Braveheart, you should like The Messenger. It’s chock full of long, vivid battle scenes, terrible injuries, terrible deeds, and epic cinematography (though, somehow, not as huge as Braveheart). However, if you liked the Fifth Element (also directed by Luc Besson) you will see none of that wacky tongue in cheek comedy here – The Messenger is a very serious film. This is one of its virtues, however. Besson, a French man, is very passionate about his paean to Jeanne d’Arc (though it never explains the of Arc part of her name) and his love for his mother France is very deep. He imbues the film with glory and xenophobia and righteous fire in the name of 15th century warriors who died trying to free his country from the English pigdogs, and it saves The Messenger from being a scene chewing vehicle for his then-wife, Milla Jovovich.

Milla is beautiful, so beautiful you can see why she is the revered virgin of legend and also her charisma to make tough and scratchy soldiers follow her. Jovovich also really sold me on her belief – she is the heart of the film and therefore had I not believed her religious fervor I would have been snoozing through it – but she really digs in and gets down with her revelations and I believe her performance totally. Her passion and Luc’s passion for the project is what made this movie go from a 13th Warrior kind of mish mosh to what was actually a pretty cool (if weirdly cast) small epic.

John Malkovich, as the Dauphin de Steppenwolf (how does he keep getting roles that demand dialect and then Chicagoing his way through them?!?!), has the right feebleness of character and strength of ego to play the rotten Dauphin-cum-King of France – if only he didn’t sound, well, like himself. One amusing moment is when the Dauphin says, “If only I could be someone else,” and of course with Being John Malkovich playing across the hall, this was an added funny bonus. He and, of all people, Dustin Hoffman, lend some American star power to the film but I think they are wildly misplaced. Hoffman’s credit is The Conscience, and it’s an interestingly used concept, but the second he shows up, the film starts to drag drag drag. When he’s gone, we’re caught up in the story again, watching Milla work her onscreen magic and, even knowing the outcome, hoping it will be OK for her in some way at the end. But when Hoffman shows up, it’s Sphere all over again.

Faye Dunaway, looking even more like an alien than normal with her French Renaissance headdress, sleepwalks her way though the film – it’s never clear what we should make of her, and it’s not really all that important, I guess. The central relationship is between God and France and Jeanne and it’s when the movie gets into the nitty gritty with that, it’s at its best. That, and some seriously cool camera work with the battles (watch for a cool catapult section) and the painstaking production design of the battlements and weapons. The reason to see The Messenger is of course the messenger herself, and Milla’s Revlon (Maybelline?) commercials will never quite look the same – Buy InstaCurl ReadyLash Mascara – God wants you to! But she is more than her gibberish-spouting chosen one from Fifth Element – she is a scripture spouting chosen one who really believes in what she is saying. It’s actually quite enjoyable overall.

MPAA Rating R for strong graphic battles, a rape and language.
Release date 11/22/99
Time in minutes 148
Director Luc Besson
Studio Columbia TriStar

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Goodbye 20th Century

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Zbogum na dvadesetiot vek

This is a Macedonian contender for Best Foreign Film that fell into my mailbox and to be honest, I am not sure how we found each other. If you like comic books, weird, David Lynchian homages, and squeaky Slavonic voices, with subtitles – you’ll LOVE Goodbye 20th Century.

I personally found it a little frustrating – the movie started out being mythic, then comic bookish, then zany, then pseudo erotic, then actually quite silly/disturbing, finally ending up with chaotic and gratuitous. As soon as I resigned myself to the rules set out for me, the filmmakers turned it around and made it weird again. It’s a self-proclaimed fairy tale, but one in which the elements do not mesh to create a single story or lesson, or even, well, amusement.

Take Six String Samurai, with its basically “I graduated from film school” look, add a dash of Conan knockoffs like Sheena and Road Warrior knock offs like, well, the later Road Warriors, inhale a bunch of helium, get Santa plenty pissed at you, and then have jerky, Showgirls hot tub sex with your stiff and creepy sister – and you have an idea of what I had to watch, here. It was on nice film stock but still shot like a hand held home movie – very odd. The imagery that escaped me (such as apples in the bath) might be Macedonian in nature, but I have no idea. And why did some characters speak English?

Apparently, this movie opened in New York on November 19, and I have been combing my entertainment magazines looking for some mention of it. The info packet that came with the tape is full of more mythic stuff (shades of the Blair Witch) but not very cohesive. The movie starts in 2019, jumps to 1919, then to 1999, fairly inexplicably. Recurring characters don’t, and interesting bits aren’t. I let my friend watch it and he loved it, he loved the weirdness and the randomness and the craziness, though he agreed that it was a tad incoherent.

The publicity material says, among other things that are not carried out by the film, “This is a film about the merry Santa Claus who in rage destroys our world, and about the people who are, as a result, condemned to immortal life.” Some of the sponsors include the Ministries of Culture and Defence, and Customs Administration, and the Army of the Republic of Macedonia, and two National Theatres. Clearly their people sunk the gross national product into this film…if only I could have understood it!

MPAA Rating Not rated; would be R in the US
Release date 11/19/99
Time in minutes 83
Director Darko Mitrevski, Aleksandar Popovski
Studio Mirco & Slavco First Partisan

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Sleepy Hollow

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All I needed to know to get me in the theatre was Tim Burton – Johnny Depp – Danny Elfman – Sleepy Hollow. The imagery from the preview only made me want it more. I may have wanted it so much that I can’t see past my lust for this triumvirate of macabre joy. But I did enjoy Sleepy Hollow, unfair and random an interpretation it may be. Loyalists of the story (which, no offense to Washington Irving, is a little wan) will be horrified. But frankly it needed some help. Johnny Depp, the best actor of his generation and arguably the only good actor out there besides Tom Hanks who hasn’t succumbed to playing caricatures of previous characters (exhibit A: Al Pacino), is perfect as this Ichabod Crane. He’s pale, he’s ineffective, he’s rational, he’s determined, he’s irrational – he’s a treasure.

The score – oh, the score. I could write songs about Danny Elfman’s music, another under-appreciated and consistent workhorse of creativity and variety. Tim Burton – how he loves the bizarre and freakish. Tim also sees the beauty in things that so many filmmakers are afraid to see beauty in – scars and twisted trees and the eternal twilight of a haunted community – he’s super duper. WHY did they take Batman away from him? The township is in an eternal bluish twilight, and the subconscious waiting effect of the light is sensational.

The weaknesses of Sleepy Hollow which keep it away from Full Price Feature ranking are trivial but they unravel the marvelous fabric that Burton has woven. In attempting to flesh out the story, you know, give us some surprises, he brought on screenwriter Kevin Yagher, who is more versed in creature and makeup design, and not so much in writing or acting. Looking through the Internet Movie Database, Tim has yet to settle on a screenwriter (except for the Batman movies) more than once. It must be difficult to direct someone else’s vision when you have such powerful visions of your own – Edward Scissorhands was written by Tim Burton (as was Vincent) and it was the movie that really defined him as a director. Hmmm! Kevin was assisted by Andrew Kevin Walker, who was involved in writing Seven, which, no doubt, helped.

Anyway, the mystery aspect of the story (added to the traditional ghost story business we are all familiar with) kind of drags down the film. Crane’s own personal breakthroughs are visually interesting but don’t seem to be all that relevant. I don’t mean to sound as negative as I do, but Sleepy Hollow is close, but not quite a banana. The effects are marvelous, and the costumes (especially Miranda Richardson’s) are delish! You may notice I do not mention Christina Ricci or any of the other stars (not even that super cameo as the horseman!) – that is because while everyone is totally competent, enjoyable, whatever – the movie simply does not concern itself with them. It’s fine, really – everything should be peripheral to Depp’s interaction with Burton’s dreamworld. Just thought I should mention it.

MPAA Rating R-graphic horror violence/gore, a scene of sexuality.
Release date 11/19/99
Time in minutes 110
Director Tim Burton
Studio Paramount PIctures

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The World Is Not Enough

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I say network premiere because that way you will have the majority of the lamest jokes (known on an alternate, humor-free planet as double entendres) excised for a television audience, thereby suffering less. It’s a good thing Garbage did the theme song, setting me and a million other critics on end trying to work that into a pun about what we thought of the film. Pierce Brosnan was my first love – before I had that crush on Jason Neely in 7th grade, I wanted Pierce Brosnan. The fact that it took me over a week to see my beloved Pierce in his third Bond installment, with a cameo by John Cleese on top of that, AND I hated the film, says so very very much about how truly wretched this latest 007 movie is. And Denise Richards is actually much worse of a nuclear physicist than you might think. Chew on that.

Sophie Marceau is very beautiful but the French Babe Is Not Enough. Pierce Brosnan is the hunkiest James Bond and yet saddled with the lamest 007 movies and therefore making an unwitting mockery of himself all in the same of BMW and Tag Heuer and so on. To be fair, the product placement in this installment was less…obtrusive than that last one. But it’s still heartbreaking. Not even John Cleese could save it! Oh woe! Not even Robert Carlyle (Full Monty) or frickin’ JUDI DENCH could save this movie. They know it too – they do their damnedest to keep the Titty-anic from sinking but they so are under-equipped. Tragic, really.

The opening sequence, prior to the oily, interesting credits and theme song, was a huge deal – boats crashing and jumping and diving and pirouetting about, machine guns blazing, assassins assassinating, Bond pursing his lips and adjusting his collar (in a creepy, Michael J. Fox kind of way and not a sexy, shaken, not stirred kind of way) and it was BOR-ING. Lots of inexplicable (and ultimately, never explained) cross-intrigue apparently all for its own sake.

“Ooh!” yelps the director, screaming at his screenwriter. “And then it would be cool if he could like, flip over the – what? Oh, OK, so first he shoots this thing which lands in a perfect parabola shape, thereby vaulting him to the – huh? Oh, OK, so the woman goes over this deal and runs up this tent thing, which of course he was planning on so he could – and then BOOM! That would be cool! Make it happen!”

“Uh, but sir,” the belabored writer cringes below the liverwurst breath of his boss, sighing like Kiff on Futurama but not as aggressively insubordinate. “That would make no sense, be stupid, and still be boring.”

“Boring! But stuff gets knocked over! The finest agent of Her Majesty’s Secret Service, mucking about with a total disregard for civilian safety, recklessly endangering Fergie as she shops? I LOVE it!”

And so there it is.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 11/19/99
Time in minutes 128
Director Michael Apted
Studio MGM

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Mansfield Park

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This is advertised as Jane Austen’s favorite book, and I dare say it is the one with the most undistilled Austen wit – the most Oscar Wilde-ish she ever got – but the book is actually quite labored. The film of Mansfield Park, however, is the most modern, cut loose, rumpusy one I have seen. It also does quite a bit of foreshadowing, plot-wise, which to modern audiences might seem a tad obvious, but it rounds out the necessity of the obvious plot with some genuine sexual intrigue altogether lacking from the original. I’m also noticing a trend here – “written and directed by” has been overall a good thing this year – with exceptions, surely, but Patricia Rozema is continuing the pleasant trend of movies being improved by the intimate care of a writer/director. Perhaps a new special award would be in order, say, the Orson Welles Writer/Director award? Looks like two hats? Anyone? It’s only fair, after all.

Mostly I watched the film, laughing with glee as the events unfolded. I can’t believe that handsome, sweet Edmund is Jonny Lee Miller – Sick Boy from Trainspotting, and he was in Hackers, too! Don’t let the Hackers credit dissuade you, he actually does quite a lot more for that character than dear Jane Austen herself did. And that other fellow, the poor cuckolded husband who was that sweet daft chum to Hugh Grant in Notting Hill(Hugh Bonneville – what a subtle treasure! His role (not unlike Hugh Laurie’s role in Sense & Sensibility) could have vanished under a less skilled performer.

Occasionally the film seems very remote – we are only watching, waiting for the story to happen. I have yet to see a Jane Austen adaptation besides Sense and Sensibility that did not suffer from this remoteness – I suppose it is because the social norms and mores of the period are so foreign to us that we can only watch them as through a microscope – but it does not need to be so. The story does engage you (though it drags a bit at the beginning of the third reel) and it definitely shows a side of English society that the other books do not, and for that alone it is worth seeing. The actual novel of Mansfield Park is supplemented in this screenplay by Austen’s own letters and journals, and I believe it adds a great deal to Fanny Price’s character and life experienced by us. She is, on paper, as my authoress friend says, “a bit of a drip.” It’s true, Fanny in the novel is almost inexcusably limp – but this Fanny (Frances O’Connor) is better fleshed out and therefore much more sympathetic and cool.

Movie buff side note – the costumers are not the same person, but Mary Crawford’s costumes are very reminiscent of the wardrobe worn by Miranda Richardson in Sleepy Hollow – with much the same effect! Nudge nudge. Mary Crawford (as portrayed by the regally insincere Embeth Davidtz) behaves in a shockingly modern fashion in this portrayal – any perusal of early 19th century books would tell you women did *not* do what this woman does. Let me put it this way – if inflation applied to social behavior and cultural repression, what she does in an early scene visiting with the Bertrams and Fanny, today she might as well have just taken her top off. She is delightful.

A quote from the film (yes, I wrote it down): “Life seems nothing more than a quick succession of busy nothings.” If this is so, let this busy nothing be part of a lovely winter afternoon at the movies.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 11/17/99
Time in minutes 98
Director Patricia Rozema
Studio Miramax

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Dogma

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Kevin Smith films have to me, always had a nice, fun, friendly, low-budget feel to them, so you forgive a few technical slip ups or a flat delivery or two, and enjoy the fun spirit of the film. Now, Kevin has money, star power, and some indie cred up his sleeve, and the bar is raised. Supportive as I am of Smith’s work, I feel he needs to either stay in the small, tight ensemble comedy vein, with weird and wacky characters like Jay and Silent Bob, or make the big movies it seems clear he is itching to make (see also: Mallrats).

Dogma is a very thoughtful, carefully researched and written film, and definitely his most ambitious yet, with “real stars” and special effects and massive crowd scenes. Anyone who pays attention to extras in shots will notice a lot of repeating faces and a lot of terrible extras direction. This is a mark of a production that is still being run like a little indie, but with the expectations of a big movie. The shows were sold out all day the second day it was open, so it seems to be doing fine, despite a slipshod approach. An amusing disclaimer at the beginning of the film attempts to deflect any political ire that the statements and portrayals contained wherein may stir up, but the movie does not take its subject matter lightly enough to really offend anyone. In fact, it takes a pretty pedantic and thoughtful stance, which in and of itself is not really a bad thing, but it is a little expectations-breaking.

“Before they were stars” poster boys Ben Affleck and Matt Damon twirl their way inexplicably through their roles, alternately sympathetic, pathetic, and unsympathetic. Linda Fiorentino looks like she just woke up the whole movie. Alan Rickman, definitely the high point, is pastily made up but with a drunken swagger rules the film. Chris Rock is not quite fulfilling his comedic potential, and Salma Hayek as an asexual muse is also a case of Smith underusing some serious resources. Jason Lee is a low-rent Bruce Campbell (consider that statement carefully) running about with unclear motivations and three surly hockey teens that so closely resemble today’s disenfranchised youth, it’s not clear if they are supernaturally controlled or just normal. Best stunt casting: George Carlin as a cardinal. Oh yeah, and Jay and Silent Bob again. They seem wildly out of place in this film, a running gag from Clerks that has been carried into Smith’s “new” career out of sentiment more than usefulness. Don’t get me wrong, sentiment is great, but what are these guys for, exactly?

I am sorry to say I was more titillated by the previews for GalaxyQuest, End of Days, Girl Interrupted, and Magnolia than by the film they preceded. Dogma is very interesting, and should spark discussion among people who are interested in discussing such things (though, no doubt, will just be blown off as a fluffy Life of Brian type of harmless movie with a secular audience in mind), but more likely will actually slip away into obscurity, despite being hotly anticipated for three years. It’s fine, it’s not hilarious, it’s not boring, it’s just a nice little movie about faith and the nature of living well.

Bonus cameo: Bud Cort!

MPAA Rating R-strong language, violence, crude humor ,drugs
Release date 11/12/99
Time in minutes 130
Director Kevin Smith
Studio Lions Gate

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Felicia's Journey

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Felicia’s Journey is a long, slow one. The film is at best, languid and interesting, and at worst, static and aimless. The pity of it is that Bob Hoskins’ performance is quite layered and detailed and fine, and after waiting the 70 minutes for the plot to get going, it’s even interesting. But my god is it slow and weird. The opening credits perfectly convey the tone of the rest of the film, slowly wandering through a lamplit house, surreal old fashioned music playing from somewhere, intimately touching along personal belongings on the way to the final room when we finally stop on Hoskins. Sloooooooow.

Elaine Cassidy is Felicia, and her journey is a sad one, full of trust in strangers and self delusion (though totally understandable)…she is also unfortunate enough to pretty much only be given one note to play for the whole movie, while we get to see Hoskins do all the interesting stuff. He is an interesting character and the only real reason to rent this movie, besides insomnia. Some unclear time jumps at the beginning (it turns out they are flashbacks and not time progression) and some aimless extraneous plot devices contribute to the movie’s tenuous grip on my interest. Again, knowing what an interesting performance Hoskins was giving and being interested in the production design of his home was all that kept me involved.

In the press packet, William Trevor, the author of the novel, gushes that this is a “brilliant interpretation” of his novel, and that the casting is excellent. So, if you are a fan of his novel, by all means, rush right out and see this! It is more complex than it could seem on a cursory examination, but because some things are not defined well in the beginning (thanks to editing and close-focused examination of Hoskins with no context to give him a place of contrast or homogeneity) I think many of the touches that add to the movie may be lost without benefit of the press packet. For example, not seeing any other cars in the film, I do not know that his car is very old fashioned – it just looks like a cool British car. Not having been given a good sense of the time frame or the technology enjoyed by those besides Hoskins’ character, I don’t realize he is watching very old video tapes.

Still, as character drawings go, this one is interesting and definitely a good rental if you are studying England’s North Country dialects. But the blah blah blah capacity for self-delusion might be better sampled though Trevor’s novel rather than the lingering shots of scenery already abandoned by the actors.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 11/12/99
Time in minutes 116
Director Atom Egoyan
Studio Artisan Entertainment

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The Bone Collector

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I wandered into this movie almost literally by accident when Dogma was sold out at my local multiplex. Having had only a passing interest in possibly seeing this film when it came out on tape, I settled in for some benign entertainment. Except for the gigantic leap of believability that comprises the central plot point, one that you have to see the movie to really appreciate, it’s actually a mildly interesting little wastrel of a film with some genuinely worthwhile bits.

Denzel Washington’s stand-in had the easiest job in the world, as he is bedridden all but 2 minutes of the film. This is somewhat of a crime because he is (Queen Latifah not withstanding) the most dynamic character in the movie. Angelina Jolie does her best with a poorly drawn character, but the entire ensemble is so free of any burden of motivation that it’s really quite a shame. And her gigantic lips! I used to make fun of Lisa Rinna for her lips but Jolie looks like she is sucking a cuttlefish! It was quite distracting.

I was also hugely annoyed by a character who became evident that he is the intended target **watching the preview** and so the tension for the movie was totally blown. If it’s that guy, then the whole movie is a crashing bore because it was so obvious. If it’s not that guy, then the movie is totally stupid for introducing a demon ex machina to make us feel stupid for falling for the obvious guy. It’s a lose lose situation. So, it doesn’t matter what the ending is, so the only reason you would see this is for the interesting puzzle-piecing that the Good Guys go through.

I will tell you one thing: what this movie lacked in script polish it made up for in atmosphere. The vast abandoned wastelands of NYC are creepy and smoky and wet and scary. Yay art department and cinematographer! I have to say here that I see a zillion movies (such as this one, and Mimic, and others) where people are wandering alone through definitely scary, definitely cavernous, definitely unused sections of major cities such as New York. Would not the city be using these abandoned subway areas for something, since they are so overcrowded and real estate space is so expensive? I swear Jolie walked seven football fields worth of usable space in a crowded city – and not a homeless population or anything. Weird. Looked nice, though.

Denzel is very good at making us believe he is brilliant, but I have a hard time believing that a guy who is one seizure away from a vegetative state (he’s a quadriplegic in the film) has such keen and broad-reaching recall and analysis. He’s so brilliant that he is the ONLY tool that NYC’s finest have to solve a series of crimes which had been going unsolved and unnoticed despite the perp actually leaving clues ON PURPOSE to get himself caught. This is only one goofy aspect of the film. There are more. Watch with caution.

MPAA Rating R – grisly violent content & language.
Release date 11/5/99
Time in minutes 118
Director Phillip Noyce
Studio Universal Pictures

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Princess Mononoke

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Mononoke Hime

Oh how I am spoiled by the big studios’ animation departments – television just doesn’t look the same anymore. I must amend this with the movements might be more jerky, but the design of Princess Mononoke is still up there with the big boys – this is one pretty film!

Those unfamiliar with Japanese animation, aka Japanimation aka anime, should check out Princess Mononoke. The title makes it sound like Mulan, and the general green, eco-friendly theme makes it sound like the Lion King, but it should not be a turnoff. It’s an action/adventure, it’s a big mythological epic, and it’s very long (don’t get a soda!) and involved. Do pay attention to the names of the gods as well as the humans. The design of everything is beautiful – the curse is represented visually which is very cool and quite scary (I should also mention this movie is not for kids – some serious R-rated violence in here!), the glade where the spirit of the forest lives (sounds hokey but it is soooo cool!), everything is awesome looking! I have to revert to high school language to get it across – it’s the simple childish joy of seeing nicely rendered color convey dampness or danger or magic or death or – I can’t explain it! It’s very interesting, it is a *little* long, but as long as you go in with an open mind and heart (and don’t roll your post-modern eyes at the mythological aspects of these people and their attempt at living harmoniously with the forest) I think you will enjoy it.

In short, a young man is infected with a demon’s curse and travels to jump in the middle of an earth-shattering humans/gods war. The gods are amazing, the scenery is gorgeous, and the only thing weird is hearing Billy Bob Thornton and Jada Pinkett Smith’s voices coming out of these people’s elfin faces! Don’t do what I did and labor trying to figure the other voices are – hit the IMDB before you go to get yourself prepped. And yes, that’s Gillian Anderson as a giant white wolf. It works, actually!

Being unfamiliar with director Hayao Miyazaki’s other work, as well as anime in general, I ran to the IMDB to check it out, and against my normal habit, read a viewer review. Apparently, this movie is top of the line anime (like I say, I am spoiled by Disney and Dreamworks and Fox and now WB) and the viewer saw it in Japanese with no subtitles or knowledge of Japanese and still loved it. I enjoyed it greatly (but it sure is weird seeing such pretty, delicate people be decapitated and whatnot in battle!) but I am far from an expert in the genre. I am pleased that I have had such a good introduction (besides the 1970’s Our Star Blazers or was it G-Force?) now – it is a very different animation form, with fewer frames of artwork (thereby jerkier) but with much more delicately rendered colors and figures. Very nice.

MPAA Rating PG-13 for images of violence and gore
Release date 10/29/99
Time in minutes 165
Director Hayao Miyazaki
Studio Miramax

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House on Haunted Hill

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This is one of those movies that is most like Chinese food: while you are watching it, it is viscerally captivating, but as soon as you leave, and the harsh light of reality and intelligent conversation intrudes, it is actually not very good. It gets a higher rating than Rental mostly because of the beautiful house and effects and the thrumming, stomach churning bass. This movie is, almost transparently so, the child of The Haunting (from earlier this year, previously titled the Haunting of Hill House!) and Jacob’s Ladder. But if you can only catch it on a dinky screen with dinky speakers, you might as well watch it at home.

Geoffrey Rush seems so enamored of his delicious role as Casanova Frankenstein in Mystery Men, that he has basically grown a John Waters mustache and continued the trend. He is the thrill-maker scare master and the whole thing is his baby. The film is based on a Shirley Jackson story (she wrote The Lottery, you may know that one better) but even though I have not read it, I suspect the screenwriters sort of neglected to keep the plot fully cohesive. The atmosphere is grand, actually, with long creepy halls (but not as gorgeous as the ones in The Haunting), beautiful women skittering along them in fear (but not as gorgeous as the ones in The Haunting – though Taye Diggs….!), creepy freaky surreal imagery that could be hallucinations or it could be ghosts or it could be demons (a la Jacob’s Ladder but not as upsetting)…basically it’s an also-ran next to these two movies, which were not exactly tour de forces themselves. Pity. My personal fear of rollercoasters actually rendered the first bit of the film (shot on The Joker at Magic Mountain) waaay scarier than the well-designed spookfest later.

Oh, Geoffrey! He could have acted out what the effects and the script could not – but perhaps it was the effects that outshined him (pun and error intended). That weird monkey guy (I refuse to know the name of any of the cast members) from Saturday Night Live was actually pretty amusing (but consider the rough in which I found his cubic zirconium) – I have hopes for him if he can wrench himself away from Lorne Michaels’ demented grasp and make a real movie. Maybe one of those Adam Sandler rejects. He’s got the bitterness thing down!

Sure, I watched the screen, fascinated, even nervous, as the cast wriggled their way repeatedly through the most dangerous underbelly of the house when clearly, the safe place to hang out and wait to be killed downstairs was in the parlor. Okay, fine, I jumped a couple of times, or was afraid I would see something that would really bother me later. I was interested in the idea of the story and will probably check out the actual source and just set it in another place altogether. But overall, it was kind of…watchable. Nothing to write a hundred or so strangers about, but at least it inspired me to say more than Three Kings did. So that’s got to say something.

MPAA Rating R-horror violence /gore, sexual images &language.
Release date 10/29/99
Time in minutes 96
Director William Malone
Studio Warner Brothers