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I Know What You Did Last Summer

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II don’t need to tell you that this movie will add nothing to the world treasury of cinematic art that Scream did not do already. It’s written by the same screenwriter, Kevin Williamson, in the same joyous love-to-be-scared spirit as Scream, and even has the same feel to it. This is not a bad thing. It’s scads of fun and a great guessing game “He’s the one!” “It’s her!” “I just know it’s that guy!” almost the whole way through. We were all (the whole packed house) laughing and screaming and having a ball.

Four kids in a fishing town accidentally hit a guy with their car and they dump him in the bay. A year later, creepy and even deadly things start happening, occasionally presaged by a forboding figure all encased in a black slicker. The word slicker is somehow so hilarious in this movie too, but maybe it’s just because we Texans call it a RAINCOAT. All four kids are naturally upset and frightened and mayhem ensues.

It’s gobs of fun and I don’t want to give anything away. It’s a perfect 80’s style schlock horror film with 90’s cutting and lighting and dialogue. It pokes fun at the campfire stories of HE HAD A HOOK FOR A HAND! and all the permutations thereof. For you folks who like busty ladies running and screaming and bouncing, you got that, in Jennifer Love “Party of Five” Hewitt and Sarah Michelle “Buffy the TV Vampire Slayer” Gellar.

You got your hunky boys (Freddie Prinze Jr and Ryan Phillippe, both from movies no one has seen) in undershirts acting macho and handsome. You have the proverbial fake outs for tension relief and real life EWWWWWW stuff. Even a spooky turn by Anne Heche! It’s got it all, even a soundtrack that screams at the kids BUY ME I’M CRAZY MAN!

To wit: a real hard rockin’ almost unrecognizable cover of “Summer Breeze” plays over a really nice looooooong helicopter shot at the beginning. It’s a perfect way to say “The movies that scared the pee outta you in the 70’s are STILL ALIVE and they have a HOOK FOR A HAND!”

I know something about art and (as you may have guessed) I know what I like, and this is not art, but it’s a great friggin’ time, man!

Pay full price and bring popcorn because you will be sucking it down while you grin bug eyed at the screen then WHAM! Face fulla popcorn!

MPAA Rating R for strong horror violence and language.
Release date 10/14/97
Time in minutes 96
Director Jim Gillespie
Studio Sony Pictures

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The Man Who Knew Too Little

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Sometimes knowing nothing about a movie before going in is a good thing. I had no preconceptions to topple or bad reviews to forget. If you do not want a plot synopsis or any kind of analysis, just check out the rating (Matinee Price) and stop reading now. I don’t want to raise or lower anyone’s expectations. You could read the book, “Watch that Man” by Robert Farrar if you like.

Bill Murray is a Blockbuster Video employee who pops by England on his birthday to visit his brother, Peter Gallager. Peter is a high-stakes businessman entertaining important German clients and can’t be disturbed so he buys Murray a ticket to Theatre of Life, a new entertainment concept. Three and a half hours of interactive semi-improv puts you in the starring role of some underworld crime intrigue. A cool idea – but he shows up to the phone booth too early and accidentally ends up in some actual genuine intrigue involving international espionage and bombs and girls and reviving the Cold War on the eve of a treaty signed between Russia and England.

There’s more to it than that and you know I mean the Union of Soviet States. Anyway, hapless movie buff Murray gets sucked into the real plot (and the intended grunt for the real job dispatches with the actors, starting a manhunt for Murray) and genuine wackiness ensues. I was fortunate, unlike my companions, to not think of The Game while I was watching – the conceit of the Theatre of Life was a similar one to the Game’s Game but after that all the similarities cease. I loved the Game, though.

At times The Man Who Knew Too Little reminded me of the Peter Sellers Pink Panther movies, with the accidental bumbling into heroics, but without that special spark that Sellers brought to the role that made you think, maybe he does know what he is doing. At other times, especially the final scene with the bomb, it reminded me of the 50’s/early 60’s mistaken identity Danny Kaye movies (readers take note: I worship Danny Kaye as a god so, so, just know that) with our hero trying desperately to fit in but failing but at the same time accidentally bumbing into heroics, but without Kaye’s innate lovableness and warmth.
Murray has always been a gifted comedian but his gift has generally been in being abrasive. Even in Stripes, his most “love me ain’t I cute” role I can think of without a video guide, we still wonder why that MP likes him even as we accept that she does. It doesn’t make him less funny, but generally the bumbling heroics genre has been limited to affable, cuddly comedians, and that is the only thing wrong with this movie. Joanne Whalley (without the Kilmer) is the dame and she looks as if she is performing in a Zucker movie, as if she’s about to break character and be really funny or never break character and just be a small incidental bump in the plot. A third object is to be the empty beautiful woman role for Murray to save, and since she does none of these things, only serving to reinforce the mistaken identity gags, she is kind of forgettable.

As with all plots like this, we know what everyone is talking about, and sometimes the jokes are kind of obvious. But to make up for it, right after a moderately simple joke about impressing the Germans, we get a whole new situation thrown in and it’s OK again. The music is totally fabulous. A classy noirish lounge groove. “Fever!”

It’s worth seeing, but in a way it’s a museum piece – it harks back to those movies deemed classics now that they never make any more, like The Inspector General or The Pink Panther, but it doesn’t trash the genre with rapping or sexual situations or anything – it could be released via time travel and except for a little language and some mild S&M (all for the greater gag I assure you) it would be a big hit. Today we seek different things, and that is a shame, because these movies are classics for a reason. For that reason I enjoyed it, and I hope you will too.

Mild irony: These genre movies were a big hit when the Red Menace was hovering over us all; this movie’s villains seek to restart the Cold War. Ooh ironic! Maybe the filmmakers want to usher in a new age of sweet wholesome family comedies. More power to them, I say! Anything to prevent the production of Spawn 2.

MPAA Rating PG
Release date 10/10/1997
Time in minutes 94
Director Jon Amiel
Studio Warner Brothers

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The Matchmaker (1997)

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The Matchmaker is being billed as a great date movie and a romantic comedy. It’s very sober for a comedy, particularly an Irish one (pun intended), and the romance is pretty much taken for granted. The always delightful Janeane Garafalo (remember her from Cop Land and Reality Bites? Oh and some great movies too!) goes to Ireland to look up her campaigning Senator’s roots to save his campaign. Weak premise, but it gets her to Ireland, where, we assume, the romance and comedy will ensue.

Now I don’t want to sound like some snotty international jet setter but I JUST WENT TO IRELAND in August. No, I swear I did! I have pictures! Anyway, the filmmakers apparently were as taken with the place as I was and totally forgot they were making a movie about something.

It’s very Irish, and a great deal of things are funny IF you know what the heck they are talking about – we are talking some fine craic, laddies! So *I* was laughing and not feeling at all romantic. But the things I was laughing at were not so much jokes as “Yeah, that is funny how….etc.”

The guy Janeane is supposed to end up with, Sean (played by David O’Hara, is funny and charming and they already look to have some grand inside joke when they first met. The chemistry between them is lovely and you are waiting impatiently for them to act on it. When they do (come on, are you surprised? Did I ruin it?) it seems an afterthought, filmically speaking.

It’s slow on general laughs and high on pathos – it’s really just marketed wrong, but even so it does flow in a rather pat manner (ha ha so to speak) just because it doesn’t know what it wants to be. I would like to read the original script before Marketing screwed it all up.

The Matchmaker himself, who is actually the hub of the film, is a really interesting character.

If the filmmakers had settled on the matchmaker and the festival of matchmaking, it would have been nice. If they had settled on the story with the shallowness of trying to prop up a dying campaign with contrived family ties, so be it. However, the crew and staff were obviously CHOWING down on Irish stew and salmon and Guiness and all the wonderfulness of the place and forgetting to make a movie with any linear qualities or even a theme.

It’s OK. Ireland is gorgeous, the people are all actually like that, and one character is good enough to point out that even though it seems like a fairy land, it’s as real as any other place – and that we Americans are just too herky jerky to stay there, wish as we might. So, see Janeane have a love-inducing expression on her face, plan your trip to the Emerald Isle, and feel a great deal of fondness for Milo O’Shea’s matchmaker character (I cried).

But don’t pay full price. Save your money for going to Ireland. And I am mad because I wanted to love this movie but I mostly loved reliving my trip and watching the glorious Janeane.

MPAA Rating R for language.
Release date 10/6/97
Time in minutes 97
Director Mark Joffe
Studio PolyGram

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Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control

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Many of you may not get a chance to see this movie – it’s a funky documentary art house piece, but it sure is interesting! Directed by Errol Morris (The Thin Blue Line, A Brief History of Time), and with music by Caleb Sampson, it’s a pastiche of 4 short documentaries on these 4 extremely diverse guys, blended together to make an unusual statement about humanity and our relationship to nature and animals and each other. The thing I find saddening about documentary style filmmaking is the knowledge of all the material I will never get to see that had to be cut to keep focus or in a certain time frame. I also realize how much work went into getting the footage and editing it and I always worry that people don’t appreciate the love, the labor, the incredible focus!

This project, in particular, could suffer from a cursory dismissal, just because the guys being interviewed are really unusual. Many filmmakers would somehow get us to laugh at them and turn the work into a kind of mocking tribute – I mean, these fellas are freaks – but by the end, you just respect them and care about them and the whole mishmash has gone and made you think about your place in the world.

One guy, Dave Hoover, is a lion tamer. George Mondonca tends to a topiary, full time, all his life, for 40 years. Another man, Ray Mendez, is devoted to the study of these rare hairless mole rats. And Rodney Brooks is a robot scientist. Their interviews and voice overs are juxtaposed with images from the other stories’ lives; the mole rat guy, talking about the termite-like culture of these mammals, might be talking about their mating habits while we watch scenes from a Clyde Beatty movie. Or shots of the robots making tentative mistakes walking accompany the care that Mondonca takes with his animals in the topiary. 45 degree, 90 degree camera angles, mood-enhancing music, and great footage of everything fills your head. You never feel bored or assaulted.

By the end (and there is no theme stated implicitly at all, and we only hear the voice of the interviewer once), you sit in the darkened moviehouse, considering man’s urge to shape, study, reproduce, replicate, manipulate, revere, respect, emulate, and live with nature and animals. These four men are all passionate about what they do, and their vocations fill their lives with meaning. I took almost no notes as I watched, afraid to miss anything, but I can’t convey how interesting it all is.

I only say matinee price because it is sort of an odd piece and not for everyone. But I think you should grab a huge tub of popcorn and just stare and eat at the amazing job Morris and his DP Robert Richardson and the production designer Ted Bafaloukos did.

* Note: Buy the score (by Caleb Sampson) if you can find it.

MPAA Rating PG
Release date 10/3/97
Time in minutes 80
Director Errol Morris
Studio Sony Pictures Classics

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LA Confidential

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I expected this to be a stylish thriller with as many delights as The Usual Suspects and Silence of the Lambs and Seven. I was not granted the same delights, but I was not disappointed by the film. It’s a long 2 1/2 stretch with tons of stuff going on, and the exposition is very lengthy – I would say that the movie doesn’t really get going until the middle of the second reel, but by then you are hooked.

Some ballsy choices in casting (like lots of relative unknowns, a refreshing change!) and a gorgeous period piece. It’s slick and confident like a real Hollywood movie, but it’s unpretentious considering everything it has going for it AND the fact that it’s set in Hollywood!

The three main male characters are played by Guy Pearce (who? great!) Russell Crowe (he looks familiar – oh, he’s the guy who looks a little like that guy from the Usual Suspects) and Kevin Spacey (cool – the guy from the Usual Suspects) and they are all great. How descriptive, right? Their characters, along with everyone else’s, are total hard boiled cliches – but what makes the movie work is how these total types interact as we expect them to, with unexpected results and all sorts of surprises.

It’s as if you are playing a game straight by the rules, but when you roll a 6 you move backwards 4 squares, and it makes sense. It’s a complicated story, with a million characters, and from what I understand, the suits have been trying to make a movie adaptation of this book for a long time, but couldn’t trim it down enough to fit, or to make sense. I guess they didn’t want another Dune on their hands! But it’s very interesting and it is also stylish.

Luscious costumes and cars and sets and lingo, plenty of stuff you never dreamed took place in the 50’s, and Kim Basinger redeeming herself by almost parodying herself. Swell soundtrack, too!

The beginning is a bit disjointed, I had written down the night I saw it, because I was being assaulted with too many story lines – but in the end, there really is just one story line. Cool.

By mid-movie, after I had gotten a hold on the various characters and their motivations, I wrote down “cliche and transparent.” I did note that segments were cliche but the dialogue was not. Proof here that you must follow through to the end – it’s a good payoff. If you leave in the middle (or go to the bathroom) you will miss something, so just don’t.

It’s very butch and manly and you can almost smell the rooms they are in. If you are turned off by lots of gunplay, well, sorry. It’s all necessary. But do go see it – make sure you will not have to go to the bathroom.

And feel comfortable paying full price. It’s extremely novel after the attempted stylish thrillers of recent years like the BORING Two Days in the Valley and so forth.

MPAA Rating R for strong violence and language, and for sexuality.
Release date 10/1/97
Time in minutes 136
Director Curtis Hanson
Studio Warner Brothers

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The Edge (1997)

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The Edge, or – Bob, Steve, and Chuck remind us that David Mamet can write while fighting a bear. The previews rock with action and whoooa!!! almost-disasters. The reviews say, “Silly.” How to reconcile the two?

I did not find The Edge to be silly, and really struggled (with my two best movie-going buds) to figure out why people thought it so.

OK, I don’t believe that Charles the Billionaire (Anthony Hopkins) can run that fast, but I believe Hannibal Lecter could, and we believe that almost the same age Indiana Jones and his dad can run that fast – what’s the problem? Big whoop!

The Bear (jarringly credited immediately* at film’s end as BART THE BEAR, star of the not-hit movie, The Bear) was big and fierce and not at all silly.

Bob and Steve, played by Alec Baldwin and an African-American red-shirted ensign whose name eluded me while I was bent over laughing at BART THE BEAR, uh what was I saying? Oh yes, Bob and Steve were funny together and Alec, remember, is the one Baldwin who can act, and has already done Mamet to boot. So he is right in his element, even with too much makeup on.

I am also pleased to say that injury continuity is the best I have seen in a while. I hate multi-jillion dollar movies that can’t even hire a makeup supe or script supervisor with enough Polaroid film to make sure the cuts on the face are the right length. Thank you, nameless production crew folk. I was frightened and alarmed and worried. I thought they should have gotten a cold or hypothermia or something, and I was thinking they sure stretched those matches out.

My friend Sam suggested, hey, where did they get the rope? And I have myself tried to take a flaming stick out of a fire for a torch – and I could see the bare wood on their torches – the dang things will not burn without some external fuel. OK, so it’s not silly, they just skipped a couple of details. Fair enough.

Three clever tenderfeet trapped in amazing scenery that the camera is far too small to capture.

Hopkins’ character is always a little distracted by his own thoughts and has an amazing retinue of facts in his noggin that come in handy like mad. He could win Ben Stein’s money! It’s a worthy film and while not the most believable, it certainly is possible and interesting to watch. And the famous Mamet F-word trademark, including improv, couldn’t have been more than 6 times. When he stops cussing and being manly, he can write himself a good story.

Go see it.

MPAA Rating R for language and some adventure gore/violence.
Release date 9/29/97
Time in minutes 121
Director Lee Tamahori
Studio 20th Century Fox

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In & Out

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With a cast like Kevin Kline, Joan Cusack, Debbie Reynolds, Bob Newhart, a director like Frank Oz, and a writer like Paul Rudnick (Jeffrey), what on earth could be wrong with this movie? Very little, as it turns out – enough to say, see a matinee showing but buy lots of snacks.

A former student (Matt Dillon) of teacher Mr. Brackett (Kline), while giving his Oscar acceptance speech, declares his mentor to be homosexual on national TV. Uproar ensues and a little self-doubt and worry on the part of Kline. He is also about to marry Miss Montgomery (hee hee! my dream came true!) played by Joan Cusack, and the whole, small, midwestern town, who adores him, is torn between shunning him and deciding he’s straight after all.

Enter Tom Selleck as an openly gay Entertainment Tonight-type anchor, and it gets even better. I don’t want to say much more (readers will think I only see previews but not so!) because the plot is a delight. The witty one-liners are fun and clever, and there are scads of them, not unlike in Jeffrey.

Rudnick has an art for striding the line between having fun with (not making fun of) homosexual stereotypes and homophobic attitudes. Rudnick also has a gift for having a great story arc punctuated by humorous vignettes. What he is not good at is keeping the lead character as the important part of the story or deriving his humor from the very situations he himself creates.

OK. Oz and Rudnick together poke slyly and yet lovingly at the entertainment industry, at the innocently hurtful homophobia of high school students afraid of being gay themselves, at womanly insecurity, old ladies’ need to feel young, supermodels, and Barbra Streisand. For every dead-on joke is a “that would never happen” moment that kind of takes the steam out of the whole movie. BUT this does not detract from it being totally enjoyable!

Bob Newhart is just great as the principal whose principles (sorry) get the better of his judgment. Joan Cusack is like, totally brilliant as the fiancee. I don’t want to tell anything too much, but the scene with her in the bar is the best in the film. I mean, she should get a nomination. I hope someone out there somewhere is reading this and scribbling a note to Arthur Hiller.

Anyway, Tom Selleck is great, if underused, Debbie Reynolds is great – she’s as much of a busy body as she was in Mother but without making you want to kill her. Watch yourself praying that Wilford Brimley says “It’s the right thing to do, right now.”

My other complaint was the deliciously talented Kevin Kline basically sitting back and letting the rest of the movie go on without him at the end. He is perfect as the man looking for his machismo but he is wasted as the man waiting for the end of the movie to happen. But the same thing happened in Jeffrey, kind of, so maybe Rudnick just needs to read the end of his How to Write a Screenplay textbook, because he sure has the beginning and middle parts down.

It’s not perfect, but it’s really great. It’s fair to all sides of the issue even if a little idealistic and unrealistic, but the performances make up for the weaknesses.

“And the winner for best supporting actress is…JOAN CUSACK for IN AND OUT!” [cue theme music, camera 3 pick up Joan next to her brother, who should be picking up a statuette for Grosse Pointe Blank after these messages.]

And if someone does forward this to Arthur Hiller, let me say this: If the Academy doesn’t stop recognizing empty pabulum like the English Patient (two cold, unpleasant if lovely people finding passion we never see) and start realizing how hard working and deserving comedic actors are, well, I’m going to stop going to movies! Or I’ll just start sneaking in. Pay matinee or full price, but buy a lot of snacks if you get in cheap.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 9/23/1997
Time in minutes 90
Director Frank Oz
Studio Paramount Pictures

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Picture Perfect (1997)

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I actually saw this movie about 2 weeks ago and forgot it so utterly that I forgot to write a review – but I recall thinking Matinee Price when I left the theatre. I revise to HBO because, well, I forgot all about it! But it was a pleasant movie-going experience – I mean, I cared about the characters and identified with Jennifer Aniston’s frustrations, but boy it says something when it just falls right out of your head, now, doesn’t it?

Picture Perfect is about Jennifer Aniston, a glass-ceiling squooshed ad exec whose friend (Illeana Douglas) concocts a fake fiance so Jen will seem more stable and “more the part.” The fiance happens to be a stranger she was photographed with at a wedding and then of course, merriment ensues.

She also really wants her coworker, Kevin Bacon (whip out those charts, 6 Degrees Players!), and this situation with the fake fiancee makes for some interesting complications. Her mom is played by Olympia Dukakis, and they have GREAT scenes together.

Basically, her clothes are awful, the extras in the movie are great, the fake fiance guy is pretty forgettable (Jay Mohr) but still awfully likable, and there’s not much there – a few surprises, some clever back pedaling and a funny scene in a restaurant, but nothing to blow your money on. But if you like Chinese Food Cinema (an hour later you feel like going to see a movie), run right out before it’s gone. It’s pleasant and diverting, and certainly no smudge on Jennifer Aniston’s record.

Catch it on HBO with a bowl of popcorn and a friend, you will enjoy it.

MPAA Rating PG-13
Release date 9/16/1997
Time in minutes 101
Director Glenn Gordon Caron
Studio 20th Century Fox

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The Game

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We sat, satisfied as if after a large meal, as the credits rolled. Outside the theatre, at three in the morning, clusters of people stood around with gleams in their eyes, discussing what they had just seen – usually it’s just our little movie-going group that does that. Grins and wide, excited eyes adorned the faces of my companions and myself. We did not say much along the lines of “Ooh and that part where he does the thing and then it – ” ‘Yeah!” because all we had to say was, “That was one cool, great, excellent film!”

On the drive home, non-illustrative but accurate comments popped like bubbles: “Cool.” “Wow.” “Yeah!.” “Damn!”

The previews for The Game might almost give too much away, so please don’t expect any plot revelations in this review. Suffice it to say that it is a very interesting story compounded by a suspense that myself and my viewing friends agreed was Hitchcockian. Imagine your favorite Twilight Zone episode, or North by Northwest without the boring parts, and how you reveled in the unnerving feeling of not knowing exactly what was REALLY happening to the lead character. Imagine the late-90’s paranoia fever spreading in the wake of the X-Files applied with a very masterful brush and NOT involving a government agency or aliens.

MAN, I really dug this movie. It is engaging (2 hrs and 13 minutes flew by) and unnerving and exciting. There are some genuine “oh my god no no oh my god!” moments and a really whacked conclusion. Hey, sounds like Seven. But it’s not Seven. It is, however, a 10. (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

A person I know was talking about plot elements and saying that they were too open ended, that the premise was flawed because there is no way to engineer so many elements (you will see what I am talking about) – my argument is that they interfered when they needed to and they didn’t when they didn’t and…well, this review is making no sense.

Director David Fincher, once a black mark in my book for murdering the Alien saga with Alien3, and who has since redeemed himself with Seven, is now my flavor of the month.

The Game is much warmer and richer than Seven (but really, he had nowhere to go but up, didn’t he?) but it has that captivating uneasiness that made Seven such a hit. It does skip the moralizing on the part of the bad guy that Seven has – because really, who is the bad guy in The Game? Michael Douglas, whatever you may think of him as an actor (I like him), is better than any other star I can think of at playing a control freak losing control, or combining intense intent with debilitating fear. It worked for him in War of the Roses and Falling Down especially. Other characters don’t look like leads in a movie, so we don’t know if they are important or not. Extras always blend into the background, and lead actors always look more distinctive – it’s a casting science to which I have been directly privy. The Game stars MIchael Douglas and Sean Penn as his brother and a jillion extras and no one knows who will play what size part. Man, I can’t tell you ANYTHING. But I am saying all kinds of double meanings here, trust me.

In the preview you see a wooden clown, a classic symbol of creepiness, and then you see a lot of unclear, frightening looking situations. This is as much as I will reveal to you – just go see this movie and we’ll discuss later. The Game will be excellent watercooler fodder for some time to come. Even innocuous decisions that we as audience members routinely make while watching a movie (i.e. the bum standing by the phone is just a bum and maybe he will get a line asking for change but he plays no part in the bigger picture) are worthless to you now.

Another great, retrospective twist (maybe I should have waited a couple of days before writing this) is that we, as American audiences, are used to having that kind of control over our movie-watching experience: The cowboys with black hats will start a gun fight. The ensigns with red shirts will get eaten by the aliens. The dog will live, the kids will make it out of the subway, all these conventions allow us to sit back and watch the Main Story unfold, confident that subplots like the life of the neighbor’s dog are taken care of. The Game wrests control of that moviewatching experience until the end, where, like Douglas’ character, we don’t know what to think at all, and, also like him, we just have to hang on and react the way we would react and let the ride take us.

Wow, this movie is better than I thought. Either that, or I am a brilliant reviewer. :)

I found the movie to be visually stimulating (but not annoyingly so), psychologically engaging, and I wanna see it again very soon. And I will pay full price the second time, too. Should you? Does Rose Kennedy have a black dress?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Game revisited – two months later

Rental

If you haven’t seen The Game already, run out and rent it. I will do my best not to give anything away in this review.
I really liked this movie when it came out, I liked it a lot. My friend hadn’t seen it, so we rented it. Simple enough. A second viewing gets demoted to rental because it doesn’t have the better-the-second time slyness that Dead Again has, nor does it somehow make you forget the ending like Running on Empty does. It is still interesting, and it’s fun to try and look for clues along the way, much as with Presumed Innocent. However, Fincher is so determined to not let you figure out what is going on, the Game is played so perfectly, that the joy of repeated viewings is diminished by the general absence of sly and subtle arrows to the end.
I read in some magazine that in one scene in a car, Sean Penn is supposed to be holding back laughter, which we would know to look for the 2nd time around to show his role in the thing. I think the author was exaggerating Penn’s behavior in that scene. But that is the kind of thing I would have wanted to see on a second showing – all the almosts and the wow-imagine-if-he’s that make a complicated story a pleasure to revisit.
Dead Again I think I have seen maybe 10 or more times. Every time I get something new out of it and it is just delicious to see how they give the ending away from a retrospective perspective (that doesn’t sound right!). If you have seen the Game and Dead Again once each, rent Dead Again and just treasure your memories of the Game. More satisfying that way.

MPAA Rating R-language, some violence and sexuality.
Release date 9/16/97
Time in minutes 128
Director David Fincher
Studio Polygram Releases

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The Full Monty

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The Full Monty is a British film about 6 guys who, down on their luck, decide to make a bundle stripping. The guys are (well, all but one) are not your average Chippendale dancer, they are old or fat or skinny or weird or conservative. It is extremely amusing to watch these men together, building up their courage and bailing out on the project and everything.

The movie is very American for a British film, in that people getting into trouble is no big deal and scofflaws are regarded as cool – The Full Monty is also a bit pat like an American film tends to be – for the sake of propelling the story, sometimes conflicts and things are dealt with too easily. But it’s also a film that would never work if it were American, yet the reason it works for us here is because it follows the American formulas of conflict.

OK, imagine a movie with….Danny Glover, Willem DaFoe, Jeffrey Jones (you know, the principal from Ferris Bueller), Weird Al Yankovic, Jim Belushi, and some hot sexy young man (everyone’s tastes differ here). This would be the American translation of the types in Monty’s cast. Now imagine them all depressed and unemployed and down on their luck and deciding to strip for cash.

Sounds like a Chris Farley movie, but with more ridicule and cruelty and pain for our boys before a painfully inevitable ending and everyone gets a woman or their woman back and it seems very unlikely that it would have turned out that way, but we would cheer.

The Full Monty is not like that. The characters are likable, they are respectable even in their
misfortune, their pain is inflicted not by their stripping but by their NOT stripping. We laugh with them and not at them like we would (hopefully) for some git like David Spade. The people around them accept them or don’t in a more warm and believable way. It’s the difference between asking directions in Yorkshire, GB, or asking directions in Manhattan.

This is a very nice, funny, enjoyable film, and don’t worry, guys, you don’t have the penis parade you had in The Pillow Book. The only reason it’s matinee price instead of full price is that I felt that it all went too well and too American-style easy, and I felt cheated of clever British twists and cinematic yummies that I of course cannot define but that are unique to British (well, United Kingdom really) humor. But it’s fun and it may cure your impotence! Catch a matinee if it’s showing in your town at all!

MPAA Rating R for language and some nudity.
Release date 9/15/97
Time in minutes 95
Director Peter Cattaneo
Studio Miramax

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