Wednesday, May 27, 2009

SCARY MOVIE (2000)

Cast: Anna Faris, Jon Abrahms, Lochlyn Munro, Shannon Elizabeth, Regina Hall, Carmen Electra, Dave Sheridan, David L. Lander, Kelly Coffield, Kurt Fuller, Marissa Janet Winokur, Cheri Oteri, Keenan Ivory Wayans,

Directed By: Kennan Ivory Wayans
Written By: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Buddy Johnson, Phil Beauman, Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer
Cinematography By: Francis Kenny
Editor: Mark Helfrich


This film is actually pretty good that is not so much funny as it is shocking. It goes way over the top at times and still manages to hit all the right buttons to be a successful spoof.

It’s interesting that dimension films released this film with what was supposed to be the intended title of the movie SCREAM. Which this film mostly spoofs on. The film is actually based on two separate scripts that were combined to make this one feature film.

I saw this movie at least three times in theaters and while it doesn’t reach the heights of I’M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA. But is still marginally funyin it’s own way and passing the torch to the next generation of the wayans brothers. I won’t lie the film does go over the line many times to the point of being disgusting. But it doesn’t disappoint. It was a film that came out at the right time. On the heels of the movies it was spoofing instead of what a lot of spoof films these days do either combining a year’s worth of pop culture, trends and spoofs into one film with a rather thin storyline that makes no sense. Or they wait until years after the subject is not relevant anymore so that the film is ill timed and beating a dead horse. The film is generally funny at least. That actually manages to surpise me towards the end of the film.

The film still relies on the plot of a killer going around killing high school students and is somehow linked to the lead Cindy Campbell as more and more of her friends are murdered.

This is the first film of Anna Faris in a lead role and gives a glimse of the comedic talent she had. Not too much of the rest of the cast went onto bigger and better. It also marks the first use of a Keenan Ivory Wayans staple Actor Loclyn Monroe.

One of the bigger problems of the film other then the film occasionally being disgusting is that somehow keenan ivory wayans makes things such as backgrounds and production values look either cheap or just plain old bad.

Now I know this film may have been bad mouthed or doesn’t have a lot of things going for it viewed more as toilet humor then generally smart comedy. That maybe true but it is a lot better then some give it credit for and at least has a original feeling in it’s concoction. Plus I enjoy it over some spoofs which are celebrated as original or noteworthy. It is a film I can look back on and watch at anytime. I still like it either way.

I feel it is a worthy addition to any film library


GRADE: B-

A TIME TO KILL (1996)

Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Samuel L. Jackson, Sandra Bullock, Oliver Platt, Kevin Spacey, Chris Cooper, Charles S. Dutton, Kiefer Sutherland, Donald Sutherland, Brenda Fricker, Ashley Judd, Nicky Katt, John Diehl, Kurtwood Smith, Doug Hutchinson, Anthony Heald, Octavia Spencer, Patrick McGoohan

Director: Joel Schumacher
Writer: Akiva Goldsman
Based On The Book By: John Grisham
Cinematography By: Peter Menzies Jr.
Editor: William Steinkamp


I know at the time it was released it was compared to TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD since it was a white lawyer defending a black man in a racist town and he is viewed as brave for doing it in a predominately white town. The only other similarities are that both films are based on popular novels.

Now while this film is entertaining it is nowhere near the classic TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. This film is interesting in the fact that director Joel Schmacher choose a newcomer matthew McConaughey to be the star of the film over screen veterans and more bankable actors Woody Harrelson, Kevin Costner and Val Kilmer. Who would have fit the bill as more age appropriate. The film became a success either way. Matthew McCongnahey was cast after he had the kiefer Sutherland role but wanted a chance at the lead and had a private scrren test that was successful and got him the lead. Matthew McCognahey here is not the one we know now here he seems earnest free of the clichés that most of his performances are filled with now no shirtless scenes sleeveless shirts but not totally shirtless. His character is more serious the party ready and he is not the best necessarily at what he does in fact he needs help from almost all who surround him then towards the end he need almost all of his friends must come to him to get him to believe in himself and be confident so he can be successful. It’s almost like this is a legal thriller produced by Jerry Bruckheimer it has fingerprints on it cocksure character who has it all has a setback then needs coaching into believing in himself again.

This is a legal thriller that revolves around a black man whose daughter is raped he decides to get revenge by killing the two men who did it then he is put on trial for the murders and matthew mccognahey is his white lawyer and friend who defends him in court. While he is tempted by outside forces to quit and let more professional lawyers handle the case.

The film is a all-star extravaganza that has great performances. The film doesn’t rely on a who done it type of thrill since we saw him do it we know he is guilty we are just wondering if his lawyer will be good enough to get him off. Since the guilty party is made to look near saintly and justified in what he did we are made to excuse him or understand his motives. It being in the south helps throw in a racial antagonism into the mix. Represented by the Klan watching the case closely and sabotaging any victory that the lawyer makes.

It surprises in many ways in between the clichés. With a simple down home crowd pleasing philosophy. That makes us recognize some of our own prejudices. But it is a nice popcorn film that brings out the best in director Joel Schumacher who seems to like extreme close-ups in his film He also seems to enjoy not only implying that it is hot in most scenes but extremely hot so hot that it seems no character or location has air conditioning so they all must seem like they are glazed in sweat. Though not quite a thriller as much as a drama.

These are the type of popcorn films that Joel Schumacher seems best at directing these are also the only films he seems acclaimed at. This is a entertaining film that is sure to entice and pull at your heart. It is also the the second collaboration between him and screenwriter akiva goldsman which I think helped Joel Schumacher gain a group of movie fans who not only hated his films but I think in there hatred for screenwriter akiva goldsman they pulled him into it.

A Satisfying rental that is worth adding to your film library at 14.95 .

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

SCARY MOVIE 2 (2001)

CAST: Anna Faris, Shawn Wayans, Regina Hall, Marlon Wayans, Chris Elliot, David Cross, Richard Moll, Tori Spelling, Christopher Masterson, Natasha Lyonne, James Woods, Tim Curry, Andy Richter, James DeBello, Kathleen Robertson, Veronica Cartwright, Beetlejuice

Directed By: Keenan Ivory Wayans
Written By: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Alyson Fouse, Dave Polsky, Craig Wayans, Michael Anthony Snowden, Greg Grabianski
Based On Characters By: Shawn Wayans, Marlon Wayans, Buddy Johnson, Jason Friedberg, Aaron Seltzer, Phil Beauman
Cinematography By: Steven Bernstein
Editor: Tom Nordberg, Richard Pearson & Peter Teschner


To say this film was a disappointment would be a understatement now I didn’t love the first scary movie but I liked it and enjoyed it. Despite a few reservations and this film unfortunately this film doesn’t even come close to the quality of the original. It feels like a movie just based on squeezing some more dollars out of a franchise. I mean it has 7 writers which is never a good sign. That many cooks working on the same dish. I would bother telling you the storyline but as it seems non existent and the film doesn’t follow it. It would be a waste of time.

The main problem with recent spoof films and this one in particular is to stay on subject and still have a main plot. This film brings jokes about the subject it is spoofing but it has no real main storyline it starts off with one then seems to forget it and seems too busy with the jokes and spoofing more modern day people and events then actual scary movies which is also the problem with comedies like MADTV and the wayans own IN LIVING COLOR while both are legendary and hilarious they won’t age gracefully as all of there comedy are based on modern celebrities and events that 10 – 20 years from now audiences will be scratching there heads to understand the jokes or if they weren’t around when the film was made will be wondering who they are talking about.

Tori spelling is in this movie and was supposed to be a small comeback but I wonder if it was just stunt casting because she barely makes a mark in a role almost any actress could have played. Most of the cast reprises there roles from the first film even the ones who were killed return with hardly any explination. The bad thing about this movie is with all the talent involved it should have been funny or at least funnier but it’s not. There is a chuckle here and there but as a whole I can’t say it is successfully funny the jokes just seem stale.

I also had one of many bad experiences seeing this film in a theater I had some woman sit next to me who i didn’t know and our seats while separate were connected together and all through the movie she laughed loudly at everything even things I thought were funny I would start to laugh and then so would she so hard that she drained whatever I found funny about it out. So that I would pray no more jokes would come to make her almost have a coronary. I have since seen the film at home and still have the same opinion of it that I had that day.

The opening sketch was supposed to have Marlon Brando in a way spoof the exorcist but when he got to sick to do the role he was replaced by James Woods now if Brando would have done it. He is the only thing that would have made this movie noteworthy. This was also the last semi decent Scary Movie Sequel all after this one are horrible.

Bottom line if you liked the first one you will probably like this one.

GRADE: D

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

COP LAND (1997)

CAST: Sylvester Stallone, Harvey Kietel, Robert DeNiro, Ray Liotta, Robert Patrick, Annabella Sciorra, Peter Berg, Michael Rappaport, Cathy Moriarty, Noah Ememrich, Janeane Garofolo, Malik Yoba, John Spencer, Frank Vincent, Paul Calderon, Edie Falco, Mel Gorham, Method Man, Vincent LaResca, Robert John Burke, John Ventimiglia

Written & Directed By: James Mangold
Cinematography By: Eric Edwards
Editor: Craig McKay


I think the problem with this movie was that expectations were so high that what audiences were expecting and what they got were two different things. I admire the movie for it’s low keyness instead of being gratuitous and highly charged in each scene that would have been overkill.

This is a all star movie, That while it has many stars most of them have roles but not many scenes or much to do. Robert Deniro is only in the movie as more of a extended cameo. That at times his performance drifts into parody. So it is disappointing in that aspect as you watch the film hoping to see some heavily dramatic scenes with your favorite actors and they never come. Surprisingly or not to surprising to me as he is always a scenes stealer when he is a supporting actor is Ray Liotta as the live wire, the rouge cop whose side you are never really sure he is on.

The film feels more like false advertising you think this is going to be a top notch cop thriller. But it plays more like a drama a slow moving drama. The good thing about this is that during these slow dramatic scenes you get the material to understand the central mystery and all the details. The movie is more like a modern day Western, with a sheriff who wants to be the hero but is under the thumb of someone who turns out to be the major villain and finally gets courage when everyone else either deserts him or tells him to look the other way even the woman he is in love with. It all leads to the movies most exciting and tense scenes the showdown. The third act is where all the buildup finally pays off. It is there that the movie comes alive and feels like the type of film you thought the whole movie was going to be.

This film was supposed to be Sylvester Stallone and he does good here even gaining weight for the role but the material never rises so that he can give a stellar performance or have a really stand-out scenes, Though his unrequited love scenes with Annabella Sciorra are quite touching until it just comes to a abrupt stop. but i give him props for taking a chance and doing a major dramatic role after all of those years of action movies, at least he tried and doesn't embarass himself.

The film is about a town in New Jersey that is inhabited mostly by cops from New York. They elect a local hero who couldn’t become a real cop as sheriff because no one is stupid enough to commit a major crime in the town so he has nothing to do the sheriff also harbors a crush on one cops wife who he saved years ago and caused him to be handicapped. When a cop who is supposed to be dead shows up alive in town and so does internal affairs the sheriff opens his eyes to the corruption around him and must decide whether or not to make a stand.

The film is missing some scenes that were shown in the trailer that made it look more standoffish when it came to outsiders just coming into town that might have added some depth and dimension to a already layered film. In the end the film is ok it is a nice attempt.

This was only James Mangold’s second film he shows talent here but I’m not sure he was ready to handle a story like this at this point in his career and with his limited experience. He showed an ability to understand the material by making this like a 70’s film that emphasized the drama over everything and lacked a distracting style in favor of long takes and limited camera movements. He sure proved himself when he finally got to make a real western with 3:10 TO YUMA.

Rent it Though itmaybe worthy of adding to your library for 14.95

GRADE: C+

Thursday, May 7, 2009

PSYCHOS IN LOVE (1987)

Edited, Cinematography and Directed By: Gorman Bechard
Written By: Gorman Bechard & Carmine Capobianco

CAST: Carmine Capobianco, Debi Thibeault, Frank Stewart


I have wanted to see this film ever sine I was 10 years old and I saw the poster in a video store I was partially scared as a child to actually watch it since the poster was so graphic I could imagine how violent the film would be. Over the years it remained in the back of my mind but I forgot it, but finally it came out on DVD and I jumped at the chance to watch it and while it didn’t live up to my expectations I am glad I saw it.

This is a film that has me see-sawing when it comes to the likeability of the film. Where as the film never takes itself seriously and has a fun manner. I can’t honestly say it is a good film. It is more of a cult film item. Now while I like it I would e careful to actually recommend it to anyone else. Now while I like it I have a certain sense of humor when it comes to this film. That might disappoint a lot of you out there.

You can’t take this film seriously at all which is a good thing I guess. It seems like it is a miracle the two leads lasted this long as killers at large without getting caught. It also feels like the rival serial killer is added only to pad out the running time and give them a inevitable enemy. It adds some form of a plot and new outrageous characters and less repetitious Scenes

The film at times feels a little off rhythm. At first there seems to be a set beat that the film then always seems to make a misstep and obliterate it. It marches to the beat of it’s own drummer. It has a interesting concept that in certain parts of the film burns out fast but then makes a comeback. The film throws you off in some aspects in one scene the boom mike falls into frame and then all of a sudden for the scene the film becomes a documentary. Out of nowhere and for no real reason. Then in another scene the film breaks the fourth wall and shows the crew o the side pumping blood sure they seem to be jokes but could also have been covering up mistakes who knows either way I guess it’s all in good fun.

It’s a very messy film. Moments of comedy in the film actually produce more unintentional comedy and laughs. It’s almost like the film is a first draft of a screenplay
The theme song is completely hilarious.

The Film plays almost like a student film that is trying to impress it’s audience and elbow it in the ribs at the same time. It’s a bad film but bad in a good way where as some scenes you can’t believe they are so bad that it becomes entertaining. It ends up more like trashy.
It is a film very much of it’s 80’speriod. The film is actually clever every 20 minutes or so.

The little things that bother me it is a little ridiculous people or victims bleed way too easily even if they get punched they start choking up blood. The audio in certain scnes is off and you can see the equipment in certain scenes. The acting isn’t that great in some scenes it’s rather wooden. Some shots last a little too long. Though for all it’s problems it does have a certain charm.

The DVD is also very good as it has commentary (From 2005) With the director, Star and screenwriter. Plus the directors early short films and trailers for some of his other work that look intriguing and shows over the years the director matured and honed his skills to be more sharper.

It’s a film that after you watch it the more you think about it the more you admire it. It is a film that has plenty of energy and ideas.

GRADE: C

Friday, May 1, 2009

PAPARAZZI (2004)

Directed By: Paul Abascal
Written By: Forrest Smith
Cinematography By: Daryn Okada
Editor: Robin Russell

CAST: Cole Hauser, Robin Tunney, Tom Sizemore, Daniel Baldwin, Dennis Farina, Tom Hollander, Kevin Gage, Kelly Carlson, Andi Eystad, Clyde Kusatsu, Sal Lopez, Fay Masterson, Tim Thomerson


Not so much a film as a revenge movie fantasy. It seems this film was either dreamed up by Mel Gibson or he had the idea and gave it to a screenwriter. It could have been just some enterprising screenwriter who saw how celebrities feel about the paparazzi and used it to try and get into the right hands.

The film makes the paparazzi way over the top sure they can be scummy but they literally make them that way in this film unshaved dirty looking one is a biker one is over the tp and acts like he is a drug dealer.

There isn’t too much for me to say about this film because there isn’t too much material here to talk about.

Plenty of celebrities cameo in the film. Which still doesn’t make the film all that interesting.

It has plenty of action sequences that are nothing special and plot-holes that are still gaping and need to be shut.

One of the main problems with the film is that the audience can watch but they can't sympathisize with this film they are not stalked or in the limelight like the stars are so this is more of a movie for the hollywood community to stand up and cheer for the only element we in the audiecne can root for or enjoy is the man pushed way too far and taking justice into his own arms. Even though it is a more upscale less tragic or thought provoking version of DEATH WISH

SPOILERS
The subplot of all the pressure getting to his wife who slowly goes insane, but who miracoulsly gets better soon as the men are dead. And the fact that he commits the murders even though he is a nice guy yet not only has ne reservations about doing it but also feels no guilt about it afterwards at all not even after the first one shows you the type of vapid piece of cinema we are watching I realize I shouldn’t be looking for it in this type of film but I was hoping.
END SPOILERS

It’s a shame too Cole Hauser finally gets a leading man role and it’s in this. Just note that the people associated with this film haven’t really worked since. It should have been obvious this film wasn’t worth it when the leading role was turned down by George Clooney, Tom Cruise. Even Kurt Russell and Vince Vaughn Though Vaughn does cameo. Maybe the film hit to close to home or too much like there dream come true since the first two are notorious for there hatred of the paparazzi.

In the end it feels like a total waste of time. Skip It

GRADE: F

TRANSPORTER 2 (2005)

Directed By: Louis Letterier
Written By: Luc Besson & Robert Mark Kamen
Cinematography By: Mitchell Amundsen
Editor: Christine Lucas Navarro & Vincent Tabaillon

CAST: Jason Statham, Amber Valetta, Matthew Modine, Kate Nauta, Keith David, Jason Flemyng, Alessandro Gassman, Francois Berleand, AnnaLynne McCord


The film is so ridiculous that you can’t help but let it win you over. It is over the top action from beginning to end there is hardly anytime for a break. From the opening action sequence with the hand to hand combat car jacking to the underwater action ending.

I actually enjoyed this film more then the original. Even though the villain is weak his Lover/Henchwoman more then makes up for it she is the live wire that keeps this film alive.

Even though he only writes these movies and movies of this type Luc Besson needs to make a comeback and direct one of these movies he writes his fingerprints are all over them I know they make money for him by just writing and producing. He doesn’t have to go through the extra work and pressure of directing but I miss him from the directing scene. Plus I know he usually makes classics of action oriented filmmaking some of these wouldn’t be a bad addition to his resume. At least his film how ever ridiculous are fun and entertaining and let you know up front they are ridiculous and colorful

I also like the fact that there is a attraction between the driver and the mother of the boy he is saving. But they don’t fall in love or really make a romantic connection probably due to the fact she is still married and the film takes place in one day and most of it is spent trying to prove his innocence and save the child.

I like that this is less hand to hand action then the first one and more guns and explosions I guess each film has it’s set action pieces of what it will emphasize more.

It’s a film that is better not to think too much about but I can guarantee that you won’t get bored and since it is short and moves so fast you will be shocked that it ended so soon.

The only reason this sequel was made was that even though the first film did ok at the box office it did so well on DVD that the studio decided they had to make a sequel it was originally going to be a R Rated film but it was decided to make it PG-13 for a wider audience. Incidentally the movies original cinematographer died in a auto accident which is ironic considering how many car chase scenes and stunts there are in this film.

The scenes like taking the explosive off of his car in mid-air or the fighting between him and the henchwoman while swinging on chains are over the top but is part of the movies charm. Which is also shown by having Jason Statham and Jason Flemyng co-starring together a mini LOCK,STOCK & TWO SMOKING BARRELS reunion.

The story is about the driver has relocated to the united states and has taken a job as a favor for a friend as a chauffeur for a senator’s son who he bonds with but soon is taken hostage and the driver is framed for it so soon not only does he need to prove his innocence but also to save the child.

I can honestly say this is a worthy addition to your DVD collection.