Monthly Archives: April 2003

Happy Gilmore

“SEE? I DON’T HATE EVERY ADAM SANDLER MOVIE”

A Video Review of Happy Gilmore

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Anyone who read more than a few of my movie reviews will tell you I have a problem with Adam Sandler. That’s really not true. My opinion has nothing to do with how untalented, unfunny or ultimately how freaking annoying Mr. Sandler is. It’s just fact.

There are one or two Adam Sandler films that I actually like (The Wedding Singer, for instance) and can watch without retching (although it should be noted I have not seen every Adam Sandler film (there is a God) so I might be missing some hidden treasure but I doubt it).

Happy Gilmore is one I can stand. Just when you thought the Caddyshack movies (my god, it hurts that there were more than one, doesn’t it?) had used up all the golf jokes, you get this flick.

It’s an amusing premise; Sandler is an ex-hockey player with an uncanny golf ability who tries to play the game to make money for his grandmother. He doesn’t do any stupid voices. The story is predictable but funny. The fight with Bob Barker is classic. “The price is wrong, bitch!”

See? I don’t hate every Adam Sandler film.

A Perfect Murder

“IS IT TIME FOR THE GOOD GUYS TO WIN YET?”

A Video Review of A Perfect Murder

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Michael Douglas plays the same guy in every movie he’s in, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. He’s doesn’t suffer for it – he’s a good actor, just at playing Michael Douglas. A clever man beset by circumstances. If you were to tell me that the leads in Fatal Attraction, The Game, Disclosure and even the “Streets of San Francisco” TV series were all the same character I’d have no trouble believing you. Michael Douglas is, well, damn good as Michael Douglas.

Gwyneth Paltrow (View from the Top, Duets, Emma) and Viggo Mortensen (Lord of the Rings, the butchered TV remake of Vanishing Point) at least have range in their parts in A Perfect Murder. Director Andrew Davis’ film is well done, slickly filmed and deliciously acted in a style Hitchcock would be jealous of. The problem with the flick, adapted by Patrick Smith Kelly from the Frederick Knott play, is that nobody can be trusted. There is no one here, not husband, not wife, not other man, no one to root for. You want them all to die. Everyone here is despicable and you can’t wait for their come-uppence.

Whenever I see a suspense or action thriller with my wife her better sensibilities make her bury her face in my shoulder and cry, “Is it time for the good guys to win yet?” I’m glad we didn’t see this one together. I’d have to answer, “Sorry, honey, no good guys this time.”

13th Child

“IS CLIFF ROBERTSON RELATED TO ADAM SANDLER?”

A Film Review of 13th Child: The Legend of the Jersey Devil: Volume One

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Oh boy. Oh. Boy. Where do I start? Let’s go from the title. 13th Child: The Legend of the Jersey Devil: Volume One is just so short and concise it just rolls off the tongue perfectly. Sarcasm mode off. But only for the moment.

“13th Child” actually relates to the real legend of the Jersey Devil, of which there is precious little in this movie. According to the legend, Mrs. Leeds (or Shourds, depending on which version you believe) gave birth to a thirteenth child. So sick of childbirth was she that she cursed the baby to be a devil. Lo and behold it was and promptly flew up the chimney and out into the south Jersey wilderness known as the Pine Barrens. There it has roamed for well over two hundred years. No mention of that makes it into the film.

The thirteenth child here is a non-sensical reference to an ancient Native American (Leni Lenape, to be exact, at least they got the name of the tribe that roamed the area right) curse about a thirteenth child being a shape-shifter. Like I said, nonsense.

Why ruin a perfectly good centuries-old horror story with crap like that? The other thing about the title that bothers me is “Volume One.” It mocks us with its arrogant intent for sequels. The last movie that tried that was Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins and I think we all know how many sequels that one had.

Other than professionals (and I use the word loosely) like Robert Guillaume and Cliff Robertson (who unbelievably had a hand in writing and producing this mess) the acting is horrible. It’s the worst. I can act better than these idiots and anyone who’s seen me act (check out “Standard Issue” or “Elbow Talk” at http://www.whitevioletpictures.com) knows what a terrible insult that is.

Not only does the acting suck the directing is slipshod and the story is a sloppily written flasbacked mess. At some points it hurt to watch. I really want to slap Cliff Robertson.

There are good parts. At times it seems like an early Roger Corman work with Ed Wood sensibilities. With some Band-Aids here and there it could (maaaaybe) have been good. It does have an old school 1970s horror flick vibe going for it.

The music is superior, better than most of the crap we get in horror movies lately. It’s very suspenseful and builds wonderfully. It even punches up scary scenes that might normally have been dull without it thanks to what passes for actors in this mess.

The best part for me, and it’s only a novelty for myself and other folks who actually live in south Jersey, is that it’s filmed here. A majority is filmed at Batsto, an old historical village that is now a park. The town made cannonballs for the American Revolution, it doubles for a creepy old man’s property. Very cool, for some of us at least. Also for the locals, look for a brief cameo of Mr. Movie, Steve Friedman, but not his voice.

The special effects aren’t bad, the Jersey Devil seems to owe quite a bit to Alien and is genuinely scary until we get a close-up in the light – bad move. Lit up, it just looks cheap.

More bad than good. Let’s hope we never see “Volume Two.”

The Only Films the Academy Ever Sees

Time warp time again, folks. This one was written shortly after the Oscar nominations for this year’s awards…

“THE ONLY FILMS THE ACADEMY EVER SEES”
Observations about the 2002 Oscar nominations

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is supposed to see all the movies released the current year so as to judge what should be nominated as the best in each given category. Well, at least in a perfect world. We all know that’s not the way it works.

The real rules are different. They only see films released in December. Only films by major directors. Only featuring tried (or should that be tired) and true actors like Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. If it’s got Tom Hanks it’s got a pretty good chance too. Plusses for films with Nazis or the handicapped also have a good shot as well. Don’t ask me, I don’t make the rules.

Speaking of Jack Nicholson, I also have to assume I’m the only one sick of Jack Nicholson being nominated for playing Jack Nicholson. Oh. Boy. I just can’t wait to see him act with genius Adam Sandler later this year in Anger Management. What a joy that will be. Does Jack have some serious gambling debts we don’t know about? He can’t need the money that bad.

Nominations can not include horror movies or comedies, Nothing with teenage casts or rock music scores. Nothing animated, no superheroes, no action heroes and nothing based on TV show or toy. These aren’t real films. Which is a shame, one of the better performances I’ve ever seen from Lou Gossett is in a wretched piece of crap called The Punisher, based on a Marvel comic book. A performance no doubt never seen by the Academy.

The Hours? Interesting idea but the movie is aptly named – it seems like hours. My Big Fat Greek Wedding? It deserved much much more than just a nomination for screenplay. Adaptation? I can’t understand this one, yeah, it was clever but much too long. Meryl Streep was capable of better than this and Nicholas Cage… get real, he had a double role so he was twice as bad as usual.

Where was One Hour Photo and Insomnia? How often do you get (and I don’t believe I’m saying this) two movies in one year where Robin Williams actually deserves praise? Where was Igby Goes Down? Where was the screenplay nom for Spider-Man or the musical score for Harry Potter? What about Dennis Quaid and The Rookie? Sam Rockwell and Drew Barrymore in Confessions of a Dangerous Mind as well as George Clooney? Where is the major omission this year (notably based on a comic book) Road to Perdition featuring wonderful performances by Jude Law, Tom Hanks and Paul Newman along with director Sam Mendes.

Oh, well, I guess this is another year I’ll watch the Oscars on tape with my finger on the fast forward button. There’s always next year. Yeah, right.

Bulletproof

“PLAYING UP YOUR STRENGTHS”

A Video Review of Bulletproof

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Damon Wayans is funny about half the time and Adam Sandler is never funny so when I sat down to view Bulletproof (there was nothing else on, I couldn’t reach the remote, there wasn’t a gun handy) I figured it had a 25% chance of being funny. This would be a bet I would lose.

Sandler and Wayans begin the film as buddies, car thieves stealing and having a good time. However it turns out Wayans is really an undercover cop trying to use Sandler to get evidence on the big crime boss James Caan (who is completely wasted here, come on we know he can act, let him!).

After Wayans is revealed and the two betray each other it turns out they must work together to get Caan. They spend the bulk of the flick at odds with each other which sucks because the chemistry between them as friends is gone when they’re not. They work well together as buddies so why not write a film where they’re buddies all the way through? Play to your strengths, right? And considering we’re talking about Adam Sandler here you need to take advantage of all the strengths you can get your hands on.

Wayans has proven himself in drama and comedy and is pretty good in this more-drama-than-comedy. Sandler is terrible as usual and of course is never funny. At least he doesn’t lapse into his stupid moron voices here… much.

Agree with me? Think I’m full of it? Bring it on! monsura2 at yahoo dot com
More of my movie reviews available at Project: Popcorn
http://www.whitevioletpictures.com/popcorn/

Top Ten Premonitions for the Film Season of 2002

Flashback time, this was written in January of 2002… was I right?

“TOP TEN PREMONITIONS FOR THE FILM SEASON OF 2002”

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Legal Disclaimer: For the uninitiated, this is satire, please don’t sue me.

* Stan Lee will give several incoherent interviews regarding Spider-Man, a character he has very little to do with for over thirty years.

* They’re making up the story to T3: Rise of the Machines as they film.

* More crummy remakes of bad 1970s sci-fi flicks.

* A third Austin Powers movie come hell, high water or legal action.

* Chris Columbus saying he could film the neighbor kids playing hide and seek, call it Harry Potter 2 and still make a zillion dollars.

* X-Men 2 will feature top billing from Halle Berry who appears in a smaller role with fewer lines and more money.

* More Ben Stiller movies than you can shake an Owen Wilson at.

* More sequels to classic Disney masterpieces – so many so that the originals become stale and diluted.

* George Lucas will claim he wrote all the Star Wars movies years ago even though we all know he wrote Episode II over a drunken weekend this past December.

* The Powerpuff Girls Movie!!!

Previosly published at Project: Popcorn
http://www.whitevioletpictures.com/popcorn

Daredevil

DREAMS AND REALITY

A Film Review of “Daredevil”

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Writer and director Mark Steven Johnson says he has always wanted to bring Marvel Comics superhero Daredevil to the big screen. There is great care taken in adapting Stan Lee’s origin of the hero and Frank Miller’s epic 1980s storyline into a motion picture. An air of love is apparent in every frame – possibly too much – an unwillingness to relinquish control of the vision bogs the movie down. Usually it’s a matter of too many cooks in the kitchen destroying a production; here it’s one guy ignoring others’ input that might have saved it. I admire Johnson’s respect and determination, but not his Daredevil movie.

The imagery is intense. While it suffers from the darkness curse of Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns (not especially fitting for Daredevil) it keeps the cinematography theme that made Spider-Man such a hit with comics fans. They are scenes that ripped whole from actual comic book panels and rendered beautifully in reality. Notable is the opening with old hornhead atop the cathedral, gorgeous, just gorgeous. No matter what can be said is wrong with this film, the visuals are stunning.

When it’s happening, the action is relentless. I challenge anyone to breathe during Daredevil’s frenetic assault on a pool hall early in the film. The scene is electrifying, it’s just not Daredevil. Daredevil’s just not that good. I’d have trouble believing this type of invincibility of Batman. Despite the impossibility of the final fight (neither Daredevil nor Bullseye should have lived so long with their injuries) it too is amazing.

Much has been said about Ben Affleck and how ‘not right’ he was for the role due to physicality and acting ability. While I can’t say he was perfect as Matt Murdock I can say he was perfectly believable.

I’m not an “Alias” fan, in fact, I’ve never seen the show. Many people have told me they’ve enjoyed it, mostly because Jennifer Garner is ‘so hot.’ Based on Daredevil, I don’t see the ‘hotness.’ Maybe she just doesn’t look all that great fifty feet high, on TV at five inches she’s okay. Not to say she’s not sexy, Garner fills out the black Electra costume adequately.

Costumes are another problem. If you’re going to go with the conceit of putting Daredevil in the red costume why not go all the way and have Electra and Bullseye in their comic book uniforms? At one point Bullseye even says to the Kingpin, “I want a costume.” Kingpin, like the film, never delivers.

Speaking of Bullseye, he is played with equal menace and camp by Colin Farrell (The Phone Booth). In the comics Bullseye’s gig is that he never misses. In the film it seems he never misses unless it really counts. Despite this defect Farrell dominates whenever he is on screen, Bullseye is a delight, albeit an evil one.

Mark Steven Johnson faced a dilemma in casting the Kingpin. He could get a white man who looks like the character who could not act or get a black man to portray a white character who could act. He went for the latter in Michael Clarke Duncan (The Green Mile) and I’m glad he did. I think his Kingpin is perfect in mood and personality.

Writer/director/actor Jon Favreau is wasted as Foggy Nelson who offers some of the best lines and lighter moments which are painfully few. Joe Pantoliano is completely wasted as Daily Bugle (name changed to protect Spider-Man movie copyright) reporter Ben Urich. Scott Terra who plays the young Matt Murdock is a name to watch. He too steals the scene when on camera. Kevin Smith’s cameo as coroner Jack Kirby is very cute and speaking of references to comics creators they appear so often here they lose their charm. When winks and nods get old to comics geeks you know you’ve gone too far.

Speaking of the comics there are prominent parts of this story missing from the film, most notably Daredevil’s mentor Stick and the ninja gang called The Hand. Perhaps they were left out so as not to create comparison with Splinter and The Foot from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This is odd considering Daredevil is the original source material and TMNT is the parody.

Electra with her sai weapons (yet another inspiration for TMNT) present the best and worst in this film. Her and Matt’s playground dance/fight/flirtation is worth the price of admission and arguably the finest moment in the flick. Their jumping into bed after a few lines of conversation and knowing each other for a day is unbelievable and disturbing – especially when it is assumed (as in the comics) that this is true love. Really, besides being able to kick each other’s ass and a penchant for running across rooftops what do they have in common really?

Worth seeing but don’t expect Spider-Man and don’t think too much.

Rod Steiger RIP

THE PASSING OF A LOVED ONE

In Memoriam of Rod Steiger

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

The recent death by kidney failure of actor Rod Steiger marks the passing of yet another Hollywood’s greatest.

He began his career in television in the 1950s on the many different playhouse programs and first found fame in the TV version of Marty in 1953, the role that won Ernest Borgnine the Oscar in the movie.

Although Steiger moved on to the silver screen as well he continued to work in television over the years appearing in the stage play “Death of a Salesman” in 1966, the controversial “Tales of the City” miniseries and as Pontius Pilate in the “Jesus of Nazareth” miniseries.

Rod Steiger appeared in well over a hundred films in a myriad of roles including the boxing promoter in The Harder They Fall, the priest in The Amityville Horror, the doctor in Shiloh, a Supreme Court judge in The Hurricane, the general in Mars Attacks! and the title part in The Illustrated Man.

He was also memorable in classics like The Longest Day, The Loved One, Waterloo, The Chosen and Doctor Zhivago, but his greatest triumphs were his Oscar nominated performances in The Pawnbroker, In The Heat Of The Night and On The Waterfront where he played Marlon Brando’s older brother. He of course won the Oscar for his performance as Chief of Police Bill Gillespie in In The Heat Of The Night.

Rod Steiger was one of the best and he will be truly missed.

Previously printed at Project: Popcorn
http://www.whitevioletpictures.com/popcorn/

View from the Top

ACTING FOR EXTORTION

A Film Review of View from the Top

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

This film is rated T. What does T stand for? T is for Terrible. And Transparent. And Tedious. And Totally predictable. Do I really need to say more?

View from the Top stars Gwyneth Paltrow, Michael Myers, Mark Ruffalo, Candice Bergen, Christina Applegate, Rob Lowe and Kelly Preston. Besides this movie what do they all have in common? Gambling debts? Alimony payments? Child support? Nope. I expect blackmail. Someone who wanted this piece of dreck, this waste of celluloid, made had something on each of them and was blackmailing them into being in it. It is the only answer. Either that or they all have bad judgment in reading scripts if they read it at all.

And then what is up with the music? Between the hodgepodge of 1960s, 70s, 80s and current music and the bizarre sense of fashion it’s nearly impossible to peg a time frame when this piece of crap film is taking place.

Finally why is Gwyneth Paltrow trying to destroy her career? Someone needs to organize an intervention, and quick.

And yes, I know the trailer is in Spanish. It’s just a tiny bit funnier that way…

From Hell

TRENT REZNOR MEETS PROFILER BBC STYLE

A Video Review of “From Hell”

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

First this is yet another movie ashamed of its origins. The credits are at the end so folks won’t know from the start that it’s a comic book movie and disguised with those chic words ‘graphic novel.’ To me, that’s a term used by yuppies that always read their comics on the train behind a copy of the New Yorker or the Wall Street Journal. If you’re a comic book geek, be proud and wear your pocket protector on your sleeve.

If you’re a fan of “C.S.I.” or “Profiler” and are well versed in your Jack the Ripper lore you’re learning nothing new here. What was original and well portrayed in the Alan Moore ‘graphic novel’ have been lost on the screen. That’s not to say Johnny Depp shouldn’t be lauded for his accurate accent and his mesmerizing imitation of Nine Inch Nails rocker Trent Reznor stalking through a BBC Victorian miniseries or that the direction of the Hughes brothers didn’t create the proper MTV meets Se7en imagery – but the film just doesn’t try hard enough.

There is more than adequate talent here with Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies) and Heather Graham (Lost in Space, Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me) outstanding. There’s also a lot of throwaway screen time given to the ‘romance’ between Depp and Graham which essentially is doomed and Depp’s drug abuse. I would have rather seen more of his ‘psychic’ ability.

As I said if you know your Jack the Ripper this is all old hat, if not you’ll be mystified and entertained no end. Enjoy or be bored at your own risk.