Monday, August 31, 2015

Capsule Reviews Volume VII

Jennifer 8
Written and directed by Bruce Robinson, Cast: Andy Garcia, Uma Thurman, Lance Henriksen, John Malkovich
(1992) feature film (* * * *) out of five stars
Good movie, great ending. Thurman and Garcia work well together, and the surprise ending is one even jaded old me did not expect. I recommend this to everyone who thinks the serial killer genre has been played out.

The Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana
Directed by Horace Edgar, Cast: Mohinderjeet, Tony Montana, Cheyenne, T.T. Boy
(1993) feature film (*) out of five stars
Porn disguised as instruction. I have no idea what this has to do with the Kama Sutra, but if you like porn, this is yours. Don't watch this for sexual instruction, unless you need directions on how to market porn as a mainstream video. The cast are all interchangeable porn wannabes, especially the obviously augmented blond. As for the Indian girl mentioned in the other review, she looks like she's enjoying this about as much as a root canal. If it looks like porn and sounds like porn, it's porn.

Kindergarten Cop
Directed by Ivan Reitman, Screenplay by Murray Salem & Herschel Weingrod & Timothy Harris, Story by Murray Salem, Cast: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Penelope Ann Miller, Pamela Reed, Linda Hunt
(1990) feature film (* *) out of five stars
Shockingly dated. Sure, Arnold is kind of funny and the kids are very cute, but the constant violence, language, junkies, and aiming guns at small children was a real turnoff in the age of Columbine and other school shootings. I definitely do not recommend this for any children.

Lovers Caught on Tape
(????) feature film (*) out of five stars
Who do they think they are kidding? Yes, this video contains assorted couplings "caught on security camera," yet the video does not show actual voyeuristic sex until the finale, which consists of blurred faces and grainy footage from assorted baseball stadiums around North America. Other than that, obvious porn stars shed all of their clothes, and promptly have a lot of choreographed sex in elevators and stairwells. The actors look around, pretending that someone could walk in on them at any minute, yet are completely nude most of the time. I haven't seen this many thongs since my last Sisqo video. Amazing how the "unknowing" participants also position themselves so the camera will capture everything, as if they do not see it... What you are left with is lazy porn, pornography shot with a stationery security camera just to give you a heightened sense of nonexistent voyeurism. Is this what porn directors have turned to? Direct a film? Forget it, we'll nail a camera to a wall in an inappropriate place and let it record! Don't waste your money when it comes to this silliness. You can find the real thing in better quality if need be.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Directed by Wolfgang Reitherman and John Lounsbery, Story by Larry Clemmons & Ralph Wright & Lance Gerry & Xavier Atencio & Ken Anderson & Julius Svendsen & Ted Berman & Eric Cleworth based on the books by A.A. Milne, Cast: Sebastian Cabot, Sterling Holloway, Paul Winchell, John Fiedler
(1977) feature film (* * * * *) out of five stars
Seamless joining of the short films. This is everything "Winnie the Pooh: Seasons of Giving" should have been. The original short films were so much better than the series, I hope all parents will seek this out. Adults will enjoy it as much as their kids.

The Night of the Following Day
Directed by Hubert Cornfield, Written by Hubert Cornfield and Robert Phippeny based on a novel by Lionel White, Cast: Marlon Brando, Richard Boone, Rita Moreno, Pamela Franklin
(1969) feature film (*) out of five stars
Bad kidnapping flick. Brando is so bad in this he should be arrested for over-emoting. The film moves at a snail's pace, even for 93 minutes, and the big surprise ending is a mere cop-out. This is just one of many losers Brando did in the '60's until "Last Tango in Paris" and "The Godfather" came along.

Directed by Ole Bornedal, Screenplay by Ole Bornedal and Steven Soderbergh, Cast: Ewan McGregor, Patricia Arquette, Nick Nolte, Josh Brolin
(1998) feature film (* * * *) out of five stars
Europeans can really show us Americans a few things. This film had style and scares. Josh Brolin and Nick Nolte are great, but Ewan McGregor's brogue would burst through in some scenes. Great set design adds to a scary film.

Pretty Woman
Directed by Garry Marshall, Written by J.F. Lawton, Cast: Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Ralph Bellamy, Jason Alexander
(1990) feature film (*) out of five stars
Pretty boring. For ten years I avoided this until now-- I should have waited. A romantic comedy without the romance or laughs. I am not a big Julia Roberts fan, and she is terrible here. Leave it to Hollywood in the era of AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases to make prostitution seem glamorous, and how a hooker with a heart of gold can change one of those jerk billionaires who is ruining it for the rest of us. So much of the film took place in the hotel suite, I thought I was watching some kind of nightmarish stage play. You may not like this review, but I sure did not like this film.

Smilla's Sense of Snow
Directed by Bille August, Screenplay by Ann Biderman based on a novel by Peter Hoeg, Cast: Julia Ormond, Gabriel Byrne, Jim Broadbent, Tom Wilkinson
(1997) feature film (* * * * *) out of five stars
Great sense of filmmaking. You definitely have not seen a film like this. After getting spoon fed junk for so many years, it was nice to watch a mystery and actually use my brain for once. The script constantly surprised me, and Ormond is terrific. This is the level of film that the James Bond series should be at now, instead of "Tomorrow Never Dies"-type fluff.

Star Maps
Directed by Miguel Arteta, Screenplay by Miguel Arteta, Story by Miguel Arteta and Matthew Greenfield, Cast: Douglas Spain, Efrain Figueroa, Kandeyce Jorden, Robin Thomas
(1997) feature film (* * * *) out of five stars
Better than expected. I have read all the reviews about this, but decided to sit down and watch it anyway. I was completely caught up in this family and all of their problems. I thought a couple of the performances were a little stiff, but the screenplay kept me interested until the end, and the actors seemed to be earnest in their endeavor. Believe me, there are many other films out there that take the same gay-prostitute storyline and try to shock more than tell a story. This is good, and a great antidote to the current sugary "Latin explosion."

Directed by Walter Hill, Screenplay by David C. Nelson, Story by William Malone and Daniel Chuba, Cast: James Spader, Angela Bassett, Robert Forster, Lou Diamond Phillips
(2000) feature film (* * * * *) out of five stars
Thomas Lee (Walter Hill) delivers an astounding sci-fi actioner that was unfairly ignored at the box office, and has received an undeserved rep in critics' circles. A medical ship receives a distress call from a collapsing moon. A strange man from Angela Bassett's past comes aboard, carrying a mysterious object that can change the course of man and space. James Spader plays a formerly drug addicted pilot who must take command of the ship. He gives an incredible performance in a role normally reserved for the steroid experiments we call action stars today. Bassett is also good, reminding you she should have won the Oscar for "What's Love Got To Do With It". Wilson Cruz is also good as the assistant with a special relationship with the computer. Lou Diamond Phillips, Robin Tunney, and especially Robert Forster do not register much in their screen time. The film went thorough plenty of post-production problems, and I can only imagine what would have happened if Hill had stayed around, but this is still fantastic science fiction. A word about the special effects: Holy Hubble! The effects here, even on the small TV I have, were incredible! Digital Domain really outdid themselves, creating a totally believable new world.

There'll Always Be an England: All-Time Greatest Songs of War
(????) feature film (*) out of five stars
Great songs, lousy video. Miscellaneous newsreel and performance film clips are presented, with popular music from the World War II era. You cannot fault the outstanding songs here, but the presentation and sound is terrible. Artists and songs are not identified until the end credits, and the entire film has a cheap quality to it.

Thomas and the Magic Railroad
Written and directed by Britt Allcroft based on the books by Rev. W. Awdry, Cast: Alec Baldwin, Peter Fonda, Mara Wilson, Russell Means
(2000) feature film (*) out of five stars
Parents: watch at your own risk! Sure, my three year old son loved this as much as he loves all the Thomas stories, but my wife and I were horrified by how much the moviemakers decided to forget about any adult viewers. Fonda looks like he just viewed every film he made after Easy Rider and then was called to the set, and Wilson is much too old for this kind of little girl part anymore. I hope Britt Allcroft can improve on this, she owes Thomas fans, young and old, much more.

Three Bullets for a Long Gun
Directed by Peter Henkel, Screenplay by Keith G. van der Wat, Story by Beau Brummell, Cast: Beau Brummell, Keith G. van der Wat, Patrick Mynhardt, Don McCorkindale
(1975) feature film (*) out of five stars
Outstanding example of junk, this is truly a terrible film. The filmmakers obviously wanted to mate a Sergio Leone film with the Trinity series, but instead they came up with this mess. The leading man looks like a dusty Bee Gee and the comical sidekick does nothing but stereotype Mexicans. I have seen better use of the Spanish language on the drive-thru menu at Taco John's. If you do have three bullets, use them on your VCR to put it out of its misery after watching this.

1 comment:

  1. Great to know you're a fan of both "Jennifer Eight" and "Supernova," two very underrated movies.