Thursday, September 27, 2018

Fool's Views (9/16 – 9/23)

Wait, what the heck are you doing here, AC?

Yes, I actually watched enough flickers over the course of a single week to justify a post, but more importantly, I’m trying to stay ahead of the madness in order to be ready for the October Horror Movie Challenge looming just over the horizon. Now that the senators are loose in Rome (Julius Caesar at Greenbrier Valley Theatre, running through Oct 6), there was a time to squeeze in a few more flicks, which included a five-film dance with Death (Final Destination) and a three-way boogie with 007 (Daniel Craig style).

As always, feel free to leave your two cents worth – we’ll make sure you get some change back.



Kill Cruise (aka Der Skipper) (1990) d. Keglevic, Peter (West Germany) (1st viewing)

Two comely British lasses (Patsy Kensit, Elizabeth Hurley) find themselves stuck in Gibraltar on the southern coast of Spain, performing their lackluster cabaret act (and resorting to other acts if the cash runs low, if you know what I mean). They latch onto a wastrel German sailor (Jurgen Prochnow) who drunkenly agrees to sail them to the West Indies, but once they are on the water, suspicions and secrets and entanglements abound. Having been a fan of all three actors in other films, this seemed like fairly safe bet, but without a genuine plot, it’s a lot like being trapped on a boat with three neurotics (the worst offender being Kensit’s high-pitched self-absorbed whiner) with nowhere to escape. It’s not a total waste due to the generous amount of bikini time and a last-minute WTF plot/character twist that pretty much comes out of nowhere in order to justify the title, but it’s a slog nonetheless.

The Wolfman (2010) d. Johnston, Joe (USA) (2nd viewing)

Somber and foreboding to the saturation point, this joyless remake of the 1941 Universal classic sports an Oscar-winning make-up design by Rick Baker that is “sweetened” with computer-generated effects to the point of being pointless. Sadly, this is also Johnston’s approach to the entire production, layering artifice upon artifice (a la Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow) such that we might as well be watching a cartoon, albeit an undeniably gorgeous one. Benicio del Toro, so thrilled to play the role of Lawrence Talbot (the first actor to do so since Lon Chaney) that he signed on as a producer, is drab and glum throughout, bringing none of the enthusiastic spark of his predecessor. Similarly, as Sir John Talbot, Anthony Hopkins does his patented measured, menacing, mysterious Autopilot Hopkins purr from beginning to end. With zero tension and perfunctory episodes of lycanthropic splatter, it’s a $150 million-dollar borefest that concludes with a fur-flying finale straight out of Ang Lee’s 2003 Hulk feature. (Remember that one? Didn’t think so.)


Final Destination (2000) d. Wong, James (USA) (2nd viewing)
Final Destination 2 (2003) d. Ellis, David R. (USA) (2nd viewing)
Final Destination 3 (2006) d. Wong, James (USA) (2nd viewing)
The Final Destination (2009) d. Ellis, David R. (USA) (2nd viewing)
Final Destination 5 (2011) d. Quale, Steven (USA) (2nd viewing)



Silverado (1985) d. Kasdan, Lawrence (USA) (2nd viewing)

Solid cast, story, direction, production values, social commentary, action scenes, et al. It feels like everyone is really having fun playing cowboys, even if it never really feels like more than play. I would say that it lacks the gravity of a modern classic Western a la Unforgiven or Open Range, but that’s a pretty high bar and the film remains genuinely entertaining, so we’ll leave it at that.

True Lies (1994) d. Cameron, James (USA) (2nd viewing)

I would like to see the original film that this is based on (didn’t know it was a remake of 1991’s La Totale! until after this most recent viewing), just to see if the story goes down better without the unironic “America F**k Yeah” posturing. Arnold does a fine job straddling the line between action and comedy, although the laughs felt crueler this time around and the portrayal of the Middle Eastern fanatic “enemy” carelessly cartoonish. The stunts are undeniably impressive, and Jamie Lee Curtis is phenomenal in her Golden Globe-winning turn as a frustrated housewife turned reluctant superagent, but it will probably be another 20 years before I come back around to this one.


Jerry Maguire (1996) d. Crowe, Cameron (USA) (3rd viewing)

Cruise is a cocky sports agent who grows a conscience and gets himself fired from his agency for writing a “mission statement” about focusing more on the clients than on the endorsement dollars. Cuba Gooding, Jr. won the Supporting Actor Oscar playing arrogant and insecure wide receiver Rod Tidwell (but now I’m looking back and thinking… hmmmmm... William H. Macy in Fargo), and Renee Zellwegger hit the big time with her heartbreaking single mom (saddled with Jonathan Lipnicki) who falls for JZ. It’s a cute movie with some killer lines and solid performances and maybe that’s all that anyone should hope for, but in retrospect it’s a little hard to believe that this was a Best Picture nominee the same year that Sling Blade and Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet were not.

Minority Report (2002) d. Spielberg, Steven (USA) (2nd viewing)

Based on a 1956 Philip K. Dick short story, Our Man Tom plays “Pre-Crime” detective John Anderton in Washington D.C., able to use technology to predict and prevent murders before they occur, thanks to a trio of mutants known as the “PreCogs,” the most powerful of which is Agatha (Samantha Morton). As the program prepares to go nationwide, Anderton’s red ball comes up, stating that he will be the next to commit murder, and the race is on to see if fate can be changed and if flies can be spotted in the ointment before the ticking clock runs out. I liked this better the second time around, but it still feels emotionally barren, strange for a film that deals openly with losses of both children and parents.


Casino Royale (2006) d. Campbell, Martin (UK/USA) (2nd viewing)

Revisiting the opening three films of the “rebirth of Bond,” with Daniel Craig at the helm (and having just zipped through the Brosnan era – more on those in the next installment), it’s easy to see why people were so enthusiastic to have a no-nonsense secret agent on the job, one more akin to Jason Bourne than Inspector Gadget. Casino Royale kicks off with an amazing foot chase, employing elements of parkour, and never looks back, setting the standard for what action films could be, aided immeasurably by the presence of Mads Mikkelsen as blood-crying supervillain Le Chiffre and a legit emotional relationship with Bond and Vesper Lynn (Eva Green).

Quantum of Solace (2008) d. Forster, Marc (UK/USA) (2nd viewing)

It’s no surprise then that the follow-up (which is, in fact, a direct sequel – a rarity within the Bond universe) had a hard time following up, though it delivers some incredible action sequences – the scaffolding fight belongs on some top 10 list somewhere – and a complex female lead (Olga Kurylenko) whose marvelous character arc nearly eclipses Bond’s story. Mathieu Almaric does fine, but the wide stripe of pettiness within his megalomania makes him less interesting in the roster of Bond villains – his axe-swinging hysteria in the fiery finale feels like a desperate, outclassed man rather than a true god battle. Still, I argue that QoS is better than you remembered it to be and worth another look.

Skyfall (2012) d. Mendes, Sam (UK/USA) (2nd viewing)

Then there’s Skyfall, perhaps the best 007 outing to date, which sports a thrilling opening chase sequence through the crowded market streets and ultimately onto the back of a moving train, and an Oscar-worthy final turn (of seven) from Judi Dench as taciturn MI6 head, M. She makes it look easy, but there are so many levels going on beneath her carefully composed demeanor, especially once Javier Bardem’s slippery psychopath makes his presence – and his history to Dench – known. The explosive finale might have you wondering if the walls of Skyfall Lodge were built of frozen napalm, but it’s all to the good.

2017 Totals to date: 189 films, 115 1st time views, 71 horror, 21 cinema


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