Thursday, July 31, 2003


A Film Review of "Charlie's Angels Full Throttle"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

The first movie was fun. From start to finish it was a fun roller coaster slam-packed with inside jokes and wink winks. It was an action flick that celebrated female empowerment but never took itself seriously while simultaneously making fun of everything from The Matrix and Godzilla to the "Charlie's Angels" TV show that the movie itself was based on. With the same people involved in the sequel I have to wonder what happened?

First of all I have a real problem with the title. What the hell does "Full Throttle" have to do with this film? The original title was "Charlie's Angels: Halo." The term "Halo" at least references a crucial plot point in the story (what little there is).

Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and the always sexy Drew Barrymore seamlessly resume their roles from the first movie. There are lots of bizarre dress up scenes and flawless action scenes but this time they just seem to go on too long. The motocross episode is excruciatingly long. We all know Demi Moore is the villainess of the piece but the one thing Full Throttle does well is present enough other bad guys we forget about Demi Moore. If only we could.

Before attending this film my companion brought up what a good actress he thought Demi Moore was. I wanted desperately to refute but couldn't think of any bad Demi Moore performances. She had been in bad movies, it's true but always gave it her best. Ironically enough I had yet to see Charlie's Angels Full Throttle. She is terrible. I hope she got paid well.

I understand wanting a viable money name to replace Bill Murray when he was unavailable to play Bosley. Bernie Mac is a wonderful choice but they don't even give him so much as one funny line. He is so wasted here. I hope he got paid well too. Creepy Crispin Glover returns as the even creepier tall man from the first movie in a subplot that goes nowhere. Why? Even cameos from Bruce Willis and Jaclyn Smith couldn't save this mess.

Speaking of being paid well I think they might have run out of money. There are a lot of bad CGI and blue screen shots. It's almost as if all the scenes were shot in someone's garage and then the locations were put in later, and badly I might add.

If there is a third Charlie's Angels movie I hope it won't be just because director McG and the girls need a quick check. I certainly won't be looking forward to it. As far as Charlie's Angels Full Throttle is concerned use your money to rent or buy the original movie. It's a hundred times better.

Wednesday, July 30, 2003


A Video Review of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

This is the first movie I've seen that is dead on with its source material. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is almost exactly like the book. It is a refreshing change from other successful books made into films where the hacks in Hollywood feel it's necessary to 'sanitize' the material for public consumption. After all if the public could read, they wouldn't be at the movies, right?

The casting of the three young primaries and the teaching staff and everyone else is perfect. Again, as if the book had simply come to life. Daniel Radcliffe, Herbert Grint, Emma Watson, Richard Harris and especially Robbie Coltrane make this movie what it is; perfectly cast from the book.

The special effects are visually amazing and the story is full of wonder at every corner. And wonderment is what it's all about. From the first visit to Diagon Alley to the introduction to the Hogwarts School all one can do is marvel in astonishment at the imagination displayed.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is one of the best and the sequels should follow suite. It's a terrific adventure for the whole family.

Tuesday, July 29, 2003


A Video Review of "Nuts"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

This Barbra Streisand production of the Tom Topor play is often overlooked as just another Streisand vehicle but it's actually quite a good film.

Barbra Streisand plays a high price call girl accused of manslaughter and Richard Dreyfuss is her reluctant public defender. The investigation and trial open old wounds and provide much drama. Fairly simple story with amazing acting.

At times it is suffocatingly like a play but it is also at those points that it shines. The chemistry between Richard Dreyfuss and Streisand is magic and powerful performance. Sadly when this piece doesn't feel like a play it seems forced and badly directed.

Nothing against director Martin Ritt but it should have kept its play presence. The flashbacks are the biggest offender. They tell the story, yes, but are sorely out of place.

Nuts is an astounding study of the difference between anger and madness and should not be missed.

Monday, July 28, 2003


A Video Review of "Tape"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Two high school buddies get together after ten years and confront each other over Amy, a girl they both dated. Simple idea stretched into a David Mamet-ish conflict in a motel room. Great acting and all the good points of My Dinner with Andre without the tedium contrasted by the limits of a play. Tape is based on the Stephen Belber play and it so feels like it. Play is written all over this, sometimes so much so it's suffocating.

Ethan Hawke who plays the drug dealer is a whirlwind. He's been behind the camera for quite a few years now and when he does deign to act it is always a juicy part as is the case here. I wish he'd do more in front of the lights. Sean Leonard, although good here as the aspiring filmmaker, is essentially playing the same guy he always plays - a less whiny more intellectual Albert Brooks. When Amy played by Uma Thurman shows up things really get dicey. She's very good here which is a nice change of pace.

I won't give away the secret of the title but it is a twist that will keep your rapt attention throughout. At times the camera work is dizzying but you don't mind because it just increases the intensity of the scenes where it whizzes back and forth. It's a trademark of director Richard Linklater that actually works here. This is a brilliant film.

Sunday, July 27, 2003


A Video Review of "Battle in Outer Space" or "Uchu Dai Senso"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

The Japanese version of this is fifteen minutes longer than the American version. One can only assume those fifteen minutes were all plot.

This 1959 Toho film is the masterwork of director Inoshiro Honda and the special effects of Eiji Tsuburaya who created the kaiju eiga mythos that includes Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra. It is set in the future year of 1965 and concerns an alien invasion of earth.

The special effects aren't your usual Godzilla suitmation quality. They are actually much better, more of a cross between George Pal and "Thunderbirds" equipment. It is very surprising. The destruction of various monuments like the Golden Gate Bridge and the Statue of Liberty are highlights. The flick is worth seeing just for the special effects.

The music is by the master composer Akira Ifukube although some of his work is disappointingly replaced by American stock music. This is a real shame.

Battle in Outer Space is mostly just attack after attack after attack by either us or the aliens. One wonders if those fifteen minutes would have helped.

Saturday, July 26, 2003


A Film Review of "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Seeing as how The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is based on a comic book (or graphic novel for you snobs who don't read comic books) I'll reference an old comic book ad. "Just Imagine." It was usually used to promote any comic like World's Finest or Justice League of America where your favorite superheroes teamed up.

That's what The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is like. It's a literary hero team up. Just imagine… Alan Quatermain, the Invisible Man, the Bride of Dracula, Dorian Gray, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Captain Nemo and Tom Sawyer… all in one film together. These literary legends come together to stop a world war in 1899.

It's a very dark movie which I don't usually mind. Some of my favorite flicks are dark like Tim Burton's Batman and the original The Crow. The problem with LXG is with the few daylight scenes we get are positively breathtaking. One has to wonder why we couldn't have more.

The violence is excessive but not excessively bloody or gory which is refreshing movies nowadays. The action scenes however are shaky, unclear and annoyingly frenetic. Stephen Norrington gets an "F" for bad direction.

The special effects are impressive - except for the CGI which is mostly the grotesquely muscled Mr. Hyde. I felt his appearance unnecessary and his unnerving transformation even more so. I could have done without.

The performances are all excellent, especially Sean Connery. When has he ever made a bad movie? Even in Zardoz and the Highlander films he's the best thing in them.

The real highlights are the interactions between the legends which are few and far between. I could have stood this flick being longer if we had gotten more of these moments.

This movie is terrific even though it has gotten some bad reviews from critics. I can only guess they didn't like it because they don't read and had no idea who any of these characters are.

High concept, cool idea, great movie. I loved it. See it.

Friday, July 25, 2003


A Video Review of "Miss Congeniality"

Copyright 2002 Glenn Walker

Sandra Bullock is so believable as the clumsy macho tomboy cop in the beginning of this flick it becomes completely unbelievable when she is transformed into a beauty queen to go undercover and find out who wants to sabotage the Miss United States beauty pageant.

We get an amusing performance from William Shatner again essentially playing himself as the pageant host. The more I see him do this the more I like it. Candice Bergen shows us an interesting side above and beyond her "Murphy Brown" persona that has been so indelibly etched in the American psyche we tend to forget she can act.

The best of the bunch by far is Michael Caine who when he does comedy he is so subtle it is mastery. He is the lucky guy who gets stuck transforming Sandra from 'Dirty Harriet' into Miss New Jersey. This "Pygmalion" transformation is worth the rental alone.

This is an always amusing film, worth watching again and again.

Thursday, July 24, 2003


A Video Review of "Night of the Comet"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Night of the Comet was made in 1984. It is a product of its time. The problem with that is like films like Girls Just Want to Have Fun and The Last American Virgin and unlike films like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Valley Girl this one stinks of 1984. The latter two at least have stories and characters that are somewhat timeless. The former two and Night of the Comet are fashion nightmares with the staying power of "Saturday Night Live" catchphrases.

A comet returns to earth after millions of years wiping out most of mankind and turning the rest into cannibalistic zombies. The only survivors being those protected by steel when the comet came through. Two Valley girl sisters and a trucker tough it out along with military folks.

I didn't once care about these characters or if they lived or died. This could've been good like Night of the Living Dead or The Omega Man but it never goes that route. Night of the Comet stays right in 1984 where it should have stayed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2003


A Video Review of "Muriel's Wedding"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away I worked in a video store with my good friend Jim. He is a wonderful writer, poet and performance artist - and quite the wordsmith. My favorite quote from him concerns Muriel's Wedding.

"Three talking pig movies seem like too much for one year."

The inevitable straight man reply; "Three?"

"Yeah. Babe, Gordy and Muriel's Wedding."

It's a fat joke, and a cruel one. To Jim's defense he didn't say it to be offensive, just to be funny. As a matter of fact he is a vehement anti-sizist. It's nothing against Toni Collette who stars as Muriel who gained 40 pounds for the role. It's just the scary wardrobe she has. Everything is four sizes too small as if to make her look worse. Sometimes tight clothing equals talking pig.

Muriel's Wedding is the story of Muriel who runs away from a dysfunctional home life to Sydney to start over where she ends up marrying an Olympic swimmer so he can get his visa and conquers her own self- image problems. All things considered (and clothing aside) it's a great little movie filmed completely in Australia.

It's all about empowerment and getting what you want. It is well written and well acted. The only problem I really have with Muriel's Wedding is the soundtrack. If I ever wanted to hear this much Abba music at one time I'd go see "Mamma Mia!"

Despite all the mean things said above it's still quite good and worth seeing. After all, Muriel's Wedding is a really good talking pig movie.

Tuesday, July 22, 2003



A Video Review of X

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Japan has very strange censorship laws. Because of this their pornography is a lot of everything but. They have become quite creative in doing everything but as a matter of fact but that's not the point here. The point is animation has picked up the slack and more. So when the lead character's naked mother rips herself open and explodes in the opening of X don't be surprised.

Now that's just on the logic front. That makes sense. They can't have live sex so they have it animated. That makes perfect sense. The violence, the supernatural and the high tech? They are all things that can be better rendered by animation. Anything you can imagine you can draw and thus animate. What I don't get is why the completely indecipherable plots?

To make any sense of X you need to take notes and keep a scorecard. It's a god awful mess. But it sure is fun to look at. It's real pretty eye candy. It makes no damned sense but it's pretty. It's got everything you could want in an anime - hot chicks, guys with wings, demons with tentacles and massive city destruction - you can't lose, except if you want a story. Maybe someday they'll make some anime with a simple plot, something us dumb Americans can understand.

Monday, July 21, 2003

Young Sherlock Holmes


A Video Review of Young Sherlock Holmes

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Producer Steven Spielberg has always been a fan of the old movie serials. This is evident from his work on Raiders of the Lost Ark. So in 1984 in the aftermath of the phenomenal success of that film he sought to revive the movie serial in modern times. Young Sherlock Holmes was the result of this project.

Unfortunately the logistics of doing a weekly, bi-weekly or even a monthly multi-part serial in theatres playing several films by several different studios and distribution companies proved impossible so Young Sherlock Holmes became simply a feature film. It is interesting to note however it is broken up into nearly precise intervals of cliffhangers - as if it had been broken up like a serial.

It is the charming and actually pretty scary and intense story how Holmes (Nicholas Rowe) and Watson (Alan Cox) met and solved their first case involving an ancient cult and a hidden pyramid. Although lovingly written by Chris Columbus it is full of plotholes but it moves fast like a roller coaster so you don't really notice until afterwards. This may also be in tribute to the old serials but I think that might be giving Mr. Columbus too much benefit of the doubt.

There are a couple of tidbits to look for. With apologies to Barry Levinson the E.T. flying across the moon homage was directed by Spielberg. The stained glass knight was the first fully CGI character and it was animated by Pixar. And wait through the final credits for a surprise.

All in all it's a good film and retains that old movie serial flavor that was its original intent. Check it out.

Sunday, July 20, 2003

A Shock to the System


A Video Review of A Shock to the System

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

When you work in a video store you get to know the regular customers pretty well. The subject of conversation is usually movies. What's good. What's bad. Sometimes you can become fairly friendly and talk about real stuff. Lisa was one of those regulars. She was and still is a good friend. Her taste in movies however was hideous. So when she recommended A Shock to the System to me as 'the best movie she'd ever seen' I dismissed it right away based on the crap she usually rented. Having just seen this Michael Caine epic I owe her an apology. A big apology.


It begins as an office drama a la Wall Street or Working Girl, which would normally put me to sleep. I don't work in cubicle hell and I don't want to watch it for entertainment, "Dilbert" be damned. Michael Caine is an aging businessman overlooked for a promotion that goes to a younger more cutthroat man. Circumstances allow him to off his shrewish wife, get into the pants of his secretary and ultimately murder the man who took his job.

This web of lies and destruction is all undercut by Caine's narration as a man obsessed with a magician analogy. The writing of Andrew Klaven based on the Simon Brett novel is perfect. The direction of Jan Egleson is eclectic and non-stop tension.

It is not often that a murderer is your protagonist and even rarer that you root for him. You actually want Michael Caine to win. You want him to get away with it. This is a credit to the script and of course the talent of Caine himself. Bravo.

A Shock to the System is an excellent film not to be missed. My apologies to Lisa for doubting you.

Saturday, July 19, 2003

The Fluffer


A Video Review of "The Fluffer"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

The Sundance Channel was having what can only be unfortunately described as a 'gay night' airing several gay themed movies all in a row. It was an interesting selection from the bittersweet Silverlake to the morally devoid L.I.E. After sitting through the dreadful chickenhawk training film L.I.E., The Fluffer was a wonderful surprise.

Michael Cunio plays Sean a man looking for work in the adult entertainment field as a cameraman where he falls for a straight 'gay for pay' adult actor Johnny Rebel played by Scott Gurney. Sean eventually becomes Johnny's 'fluffer' getting him ready for the 'action scenes.' Sean being gay and Johnny straight makes for a heartbreaking dilemma. You feel Sean's pain as he knows he can never have what he wants and the status quo will never change.

The two principal actors are marvelous as are Richard Riehle, Adina Porter and especially Roxanne Day as Johnny's girlfriend, Babylon. I wouldn't mind seeing any of them again. This is an excellent professional cast. Also appearing are 1980s icon Taylor Negron, new wave diva Deborah Harry and of course Ron Jeremy, what recent movie hasn't he been in?

This film has a great sense of humor, good music and lots of inside video industry references for geeks like me unlucky enough to work there. The casualness with which folks in the adult entertainment industry deal with items and themes of that nature is both comical and real. It's just a job.

See this movie. It's like Boogie Nights only with good actors, a story and a sense of humor. I'm fluffed for The Fluffer.

Friday, July 18, 2003

The Time Machine (2002)


A Video Review of The Time Machine (2002)

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Did we really need a remake of this one? No, but it's a fun ride nevertheless. The original from 1960 was directed by George Pal and in most cases there can be no improvement on him but here is a legitimate case.

Guy Pierce plays as well as one can in a movie that is predominantly a special effects event. His transformation from man on a personal quest to hero saving others and the future of mankind is flawless. He is wooden as the time traveler but the performances of Orlando Jones (former 7-Up spokesman) as the library hologram and Jeremy Irons as the Morlock leader more than make up for it in their all too brief roles. More of either of these two would have only improved the flick. I am also once again stunned by the work of Mark Addy. He is superior in whatever role he takes on, either here, in A Knight's Tale or the CBS sitcom "Still Standing," he is always excellent.

The real star here is the special effects. The time travel itself is amazing. It is like an advanced time lapse photography experiment left to go for a few centuries. It is a very nice touch. It's fun to play with the fast forward, rewind and pause buttons during these sequences. There is so much to see.

The Morlocks as costumed actors and CGI effects are more than real and seriously frightening. Pierce's fight with the one Morlock is terrifying. The mind boggles when you realize he's going to go down where they all are. To be perfectly honest the Morlocks from the original 1960 version with the blue skin and white fright wigs never seemed anything but ridiculous to me. The new models are probably going to give me nightmares.

My only complaint is the politically correct editing of the film. Because of the 9-11 attacks a sequence was axed where chunks of the exploded moon crash into the World Trade Center. Politically correct? Probably not. A special effects pinnacle? Definitely.

Rating - ****

***** Must see
**** Worth seeing
*** So you have eight dollars you want to throw away…
** Is Adam Sandler in this mess?
* A bullet would be quicker.

The above review appeared in a slightly different form at
Project Popcorn

Thursday, July 17, 2003



A Video Review of XChange

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Hollywood hates cyberpunk. Look at The Matrix, Johnny Mnemonic and the classic Blade Runner. They are the exceptions. Everything else they crap on. Hollywood is so good at doing this. They take a brilliant cyberpunk science fiction concept, make a movie of it and make it completely unwatchable.

Here is XChange. It is set in a future where mind transference technology exists and is used for travel. You live in New York and need to attend a meeting in San Francisco so you send your mind to a body in San Fran - fast and easy. It beats airline food.

Now imagine all the cool things that go with that. Anonymity of meeting new people in a strange city. Letting your trainer take your body and work out while you do paperwork with his. And of course the nightmare and the plot of this film, a terrorist absconding with your body while you use his.

This is exactly what happens to businessman Toffler who is off to find his hijacked body in New York where this just becomes standard sci-fi action fare. The dull talents of Stephen the lesser Baldwin don't help. His casting may have been part of that Hollywood hate I mentioned.

This could have been so good but is simply mediocre with some cool special effects. It's a shame. I wish I could exchange XChange.

Wednesday, July 16, 2003

Message from Space


A Video Review of Message from Space or Uchu Kara No Messeji

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

After Star Wars came out every hack producer in Hollywood decided that any old crap about space or robots and stuff like that would sell and the barrage of garbage began in theatres. This was also the thinking over in Japan giving us Message from Space in 1978.

Now the Japanese cinema had been making sci-fi for decades and they had their own style and genre. With Message from Space they injected the American cowboy serial sensibilities of Star Wars into their standard formula. It did not mix well.

The casting is disturbing. Hard to believe the great Sonny Chiba of the legendary Street Fighter films had fallen so far as to appear in this dreck. The late Vic Morrow also falls into this category as he walks through the flick doing his best "Captain Harlock" imitation. Jerry Ito of Mothra and comedian Eisei Amamoto, the latter who plays the film's villainess in drag.

For a movie that purported to be the new Star Wars it demonstrated a deplorable level in special effects even by 1960s Japanese standards these were embarrassing. "Thunderbirds" or Gamera would be a few steps above this crap.

Not worth seeing for Sonny or Vic or Jerry or even for a laugh. I think "Mystery Science Theater 3000" might even give this one a pass.

Tuesday, July 15, 2003



A Video Review of L.I.E.

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Anyone who has had the misfortune to work in a video store that carries adult entertainment has had this experience; the customer who is either subtly or blatantly a pedophile. Usually a man and he wants to rent all the mainstream tapes containing footage of young boys. Somehow porn isn't good enough for him. Maybe because there are no little boys in it. Probably because child porn is illegal. They love stuff like Stand By Me, I Am Curious Yellow or either version of Lord of the Flies. L.I.E. should keep these freaks happy.

In L.I.E. a motherless boy with little contact with his father falls astray first with a bad seed peer and then with a pedophile with even more devious plans. It may have been well filmed but this is a reprehensible movie.

This chickenhawk training film for N.A.M.B.L.A. aired on the Sundance Channel. For this reason alone I thought it might be worth watching. I was wrong, oh so wrong. This is the most horrible crap. The Sundance Channel will hear of my feelings on this film and I've lost a lot of respect for Robert Redford. I'm disgusted.

Monday, July 14, 2003

Terminator 3


A Film Review of Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Why? Other than money, I mean. Why was this film made? A quick look at Terminator 2: Judgement Day will show you a sequel is both unnecessary and impossible. The future that created the Terminators was prevented and will never come to be. That dark future was averted thus no more Terminators and especially no more sequels.

Money ($170 million to be precise) was obviously the motivation, but not enough of it apparently. Rumors say Arnold Schwarzenegger offered up a portion of his salary to guarantee the notorious and notably boring fifteen minute crane chase scene was filmed. Money was not enough to secure original director James Cameron even though he stands to make quite a chunk of cash anyway due to his ownership of the Terminator characters.

Instead the project was given to novice director Jonathan Mostow who really has only Breakdown and U-571 under his belt, hardly a resume worthy of directing the third Terminator film. His constantly bouncing and moving camera obscures most of the fun special effects and great action scenes. Mostow made me almost fall asleep during the big chase scene. Where he attempts to pay homage to scenes from the first two films it comes across hokey rather than foreshadowing. Mostow's direction is pitiful.

Casting was another problem. While Schwarzenegger returns as does Earl Boen as Dr. Peter Silberman (the only two to appear in all three films), the rest of the cast does not. Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor is described as having died to explain her absence. The unconvincing Nick Stahl replaces Edward Furlong (missing because of drug problems) as John Connor. Claire Danes efficiently proves she is not an action heroine and newcomer Kristanna Loken effectively plays the new female Terminator but neither were the original choices for those roles.

The plot (if you can call it that) has holes big enough to drive a rampaging crane through. There is no backstory throughout the beginning of the film. It is all just hang on for the ride, gee, we hope you saw the first two movies. Later on when the characters are on a timetable to save mankind there is endless explanation and stopping for exposition. There are many flaws, too many to list here.

This is the worst film I've seen this year. Do not waste your time or money.

Sunday, July 13, 2003

Kaaterskill Falls


A Video Review of "Kaaterskill Falls"

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

A young couple on their way to vacation in the Catskills are too nice for their own good and picks up a hitchhiker who in turn turns interferes with their relationship. It may sound like the beginning of an urban myth but that's the plot of this independent wonder.

The shaky camerawork will seem like a vertigo-like flashback to The Blair Witch Project and the lack of noticeable background music makes the conversations drag but it's not bad. Despite the constantly moving camera the angles and shots are quite good.

The line of genius is defined here by whether or not the quick cuts and edits are mistakes or on purpose. The darkness scene and the dream sequence are especially well done. When the camera is still there is an air of professionalism perhaps might be better inhaled.

The couple in question played by Mitchell Riggs and Hilary Howard is in trouble. We all know a couple like this. They act like they are so in love but are seldom alone. It seems like they need a third or fourth person in the equation or else they'll go for each other's throats. They're afraid to be alone.

The third, the hitchhiker, Lyle by name, is played with stone-like immunity by Anthony Leslie. We see hints of danger for quite some time before they come to fruition but when they do he's quite good at being bad.

While it stinks of independent film it has pockets of oddball conversation about outsider art, being alone in the woods, cellphone towers and spontaneity that are kind of refreshing compared to other works in this vein.

See it at your own risk, but enjoy it if you do.

Saturday, July 12, 2003



A Video Review of Sisters

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Director Brian DePalma has many times been accused of ripping off the master Alfred Hitchcock's style and techniques with his films such as Carrie, Body Double and especially Sisters. 'Ripping off' and, to the extreme, theft are strong terms. After viewing Sisters again for the first time in a few years I would have to say the one we're looking for is 'homage.' DePalma is paying tribute to the master.

The film having been made during his lifetime I'm sure had Hitchcock known of the script for Sisters he'd have probably killed for it. It's right up his alley, every element is strikingly Hitchcockian. Voyeurism, murder by knife and of course the plucky independent girl reporter who wants more.

The pre-Lois Lane Margot Kidder plays a dual role of separated Siamese twins Dominique and Danielle. She is wonderfully dopey and believable even with her French accent. Jennifer Salt (whatever became of her?) is the plucky girl reporter who believes she saw Kidder slash up a lover from her apartment window across the way. Charles Durning is terrific in an early role as a helpful private investigator.

Although it begins quite bizarrely like Peter Veerhoven doing a 1970s ABC movie of the week but quickly turns into a Hitchcock flick. The "Peeping Toms" TV show in the opening looks precariously like a 21st century reality show. Perhaps DePalma was years ahead of his time voyeur-wise. His use of flashback and split screen images as well as his tricky camera shots make DePalma a genius all his own independent of the man whose mastery this film pays homage.

Sisters is a truly amazing accomplishment and should be able to stand alone as Brian Depalma's achievement rather than Hitchcock's tribute. It's a thriller and a shocker that should not be missed.

Friday, July 11, 2003

15 Minutes


A Video Review of 15 Minutes

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Probably Andy Warhol's most well known contribution to pop culture is his quote, "In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes." It's also the thrust of the movie 15 Minutes written and directed by New Jersey native John Herzfeld who also did 2 Days in the Valley and a whole slew of movies for TV.

Two Russian criminals on a murder spree in New York decide to film their exploits for tabloid TV to get 'their fifteen minutes' thus living out the American dream. Played by Karel Roden and Oleg Taktaarov they are almost like a murderous east European Abbott and Costello.

On the side of the angels this time are the critically invincible Robert DeNiro as a media savy cop and Edward Burns (The Brothers McMullen, Saving Private Ryan) as an arson investigator. They do their best to contrast each other and sometimes it works.

Rounding out the cast Kelsey Grammer actually has me believing him as a tabloid TV reporter and I hate "Fraiser." He's good herewith a surprising foul mouth. Perhaps if he dropped a few F bombs on "Fraiser" it might be worth watching. It is always great to see Avery Brooks as he should be seen - out of Starfleet uniform. Look for David Alan Grier as the mugger in the park. It's one of his funniest bits in years. And don't miss Rosanne's cameo as Jerry Springer.

15 Minutes is extraordinarily ultraviolent, definitely deserving of an R rating. It is an excellent "Columbo" type mystery in places. The relationship between the criminals is a bit disturbing to say the least. DeNiro and Burns do some of the best detective work this side of "Profiler" but none of this can save this film.

It's just too long. The movie never seems to end. If only it were just fifteen minutes long it might be worth it.

Thursday, July 10, 2003

Kiss of the Dragon


A Video Review of Kiss of the Dragon

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

With its smooth hero, vicious villain, exotic location and cool action scenes Kiss of the Dragon could have easily been a James Bond movie, an old school James Bond movie from the pen of Ian Fleming.

Kiss of the Dragon is based on a short story by star Jet Li, directed by first timer Chris Nahon with screenplay by producer Luc Besson, who also directed other great action flicks like La Femme Nikita and The Fifth Element.

A Chinese police officer is betrayed by corrupt French police while trying to capture a Chinese drug lord in France and then finds himself on the run. It's a simple plot but chockfull of very old school James Bond elements and sensibilities just without the snappy banter.

It of course could have had the snappy banter though. Of all the Asian stars that have come to our shores recently like Jackie Chan and Chow Yun Fat only Jet Li actually seems to have a grasp of the English language enough to be as good an actor here as there. The highlights of the flick are his as well with his amazing martial arts skills that like those of the legendary Bruce Lee had too be slowed down for the camera. The 'lights out' scene in the orphanage is brilliantly done.

Bridget Fonda is no Bond girl but she turns in an admirable performance as a prostitute forced into the life by the manipulations of the corrupt French police inspector played by Tcheky Karyo to the hilt as a typical but inept Bond-style villain.

While in the current political environment I don't mind seeing Jet Li kicking the asses of evil French police but it would have been cooler to see old Jet taking on foes that were worthy of his delicate attention.

Very old school James Bond, don't miss it.

Wednesday, July 09, 2003

Dolores Claiborne


A Video Review of Dolores Claiborne

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

Stephen King is a gifted writer. No, that's not quite right, it's an amazing understatement. King is the world's best selling author. He's also one of my favorites. If you've read him you know how he writes. Most of the stuff happens in people's heads. This is very hard to translate to film. This is why I shudder every time Hollywood brings one of his works to the big screen. They very rarely get it right.

The book of "Dolores Claiborne" was the rather disjointed if not entertaining life story of an abused wife who had had enough and finally fought back. The book covers decades. That's a hard thing to do in a film. So Hollywood changed the thrust of the story to a murder mystery with a mother and daughter's relationship at its center. The story is all still there just from a different perspective and additional information. It's really not as bad as previous King adaptations.

Kathy Bates, who has appeared in quite a few King works most notably Misery for which she won an Oscar, plays the title character and Jennifer Jason-Leigh is her daughter. Christopher Plummer does an interesting turn as the detective after Dolores, his affected Maine accent sadly diluting his acting ability.

Dolores Claiborne isn't a horror movie despite who wrote it. There is some pretty intense domestic violence and a couple of bizarre dissolves but no monsters that go bump in the night. It's not the book but it's not bad either. See it.