by Jeremy Hart
It's true, I'm afraid -- I do watch too many damn movies, more than is probably healthy for any normal human being. I generally rent two a week, and see another two-five each month, for a rough monthly average of, say, 10 total. Why do I watch all this crap? Hell, I dunno; just entertainment, is all. Even still, I think it's really starting to freak out my girlfriend...
So, since I'm gradually killing my brain anyway (although not near as quickly as I would be if I'd ever seen The Nutty Professor, mind you; say what you will, but I've got standards), I figured I'd give everybody out there the benefit of my ill-gotten cinematic wisdom. Each issue, I'll throw up some crap about movies I've seen recently, both new and old -- don't expect any deep, philosophical discussions of themes and morals here (well, maybe a couple), but just blunt, honest truth about movies that do and don't suck.
Face (BBC/Distant Horizons)
Sure seems like Robert Carlyle's been in every other movie lately, doesn't it? Angela's Ashes, Ravenous, The World Is Not Enough, Trainspotting, Plunkett & Macleane, The Full Monty...the guy gets around, particularly when it comes to British films. Unfortunately, as with other play-anybody-anywhere-type actors (think Samuel L. Jackson), his record's already a little spotty; I mean, Ravenous was kinda funny at points, but beyond that... At any rate, this one's a big mark on the plus side of the board for the wee fella, and for the rest of the folks in the movie, as well, for taking what could've been a run-of-the-mill crime flick in the same vein as the American film Heat (which it resembles somewhat) and turning it into a desperate examination of what happens when criminals get older (and I'd bet it's a much more realistic look than The Crew, by the way). The movie follows the life of an ex-con/bank-robber who happens to be A) a former Communist (they didn't really bother much with that part, tho', for the film), B) pretty good at what he does, and C) getting old enough to realize he doesn't want to go back to prison. He wrestles with his past throughout, but finally ends up going back to what he knows -- good old-fashioned robbery, alongside his similarly-aging criminal pals (one of whom has a teenage daughter and a nice house in the 'burbs). They pull a big job, but then things start to go wrong, and everything spirals down into a recriminating, backstabbing mess from there. And believe it or not, it actually ends on a hopeful note -- quite a film.
New Rose Hotel (Quadra)
Damn. After the joke that was Johnny Mnemonic a few years back, I'd hoped the next adaptation of a William Gibson book might actually be pretty cool; heck, there've been plenty of movies recently that've copped the style, if not the stories. Bad luck for me, though, 'cause this isn't where it turns around. High on my list of Hallmarks of a Shitty Movie (which is, by the by, pretty extensive at this point):
1. The movie feels the need to go back and relive the whole fucking thing in flashbacks or "remembering" bits. I mean, flashbacks are fine, but not when they just show the exact same scenes we watched barely fifteen minutes before, and more than once, at that (if memory serves, one flashback repeats four times, just in case you didn't get it the first time or have a short-term memory disorder or something). My guess would be that the folks in charge of this one felt it was necessary for padding, since the 2-hours-and-whatever film was adapted from a short story, but that far from excuses it.
2. The movie devotes a substantial portion of its screen-time to one of the characters singing a song (in this case, an Italian actress whose name I can't remember but who wasn't very good anyway). Once is okay, but you cross the line into "wasting time" otherwise, unless your movie happens to be about a rock band or something. Heck, as far as I could tell, the song didn't even really have much connection to the plot itself -- no "That Thing You Do," here.
So, to make a long movie short (ain't I funny?), avoid New Rose Hotel the movie. Enjoy the short story, however.
I really, really expected to hate this. I'm not big on the whole genre of teen-silliness movies that've cropped up over the last few years -- heck, I didn't even much like House Party, way back when. The previews for this one looked pretty bad, but y'know, they also had a couple of funny bits, and the movie, as it turns out, IS funny from time to time. The comedy's mostly in the little "daydream" sequences, where the main character fantasizes about his wonderful would-be life as a bank-makin' hip-hop star, but thankfully, there're quite a few of 'em. The plot? Eh -- standard kid-turns-his-life-around stuff; it mostly just derailed the humor. Worth it just for the egg scene and "I don't want my boy to have to wait for the booty." END