September 24: X: The Man with X-Ray Eyes (1963, 76 minutes): Pretty entertaining Corman flick about a doctor who gets addicted to X-ray vision. He goes from having fun at cocktail parties to madness-and-misery pretty fast. Happening score by Les Baxter.
September 22:Clockers (1995, 128 minutes): Donít do like I did and hit the "Play" button while dining. Film opens with some very gruesome real or very realistic crime scene photos. Iíd read the book, so I knew the end. It was OK, less didactic and irritating than other Spike Lee movies.
September 20: The Rock (1996, 136 minutes): A giant exploding piece of schlock! Just pure idiocy, but I was in the mood for it, so whatever. Hereís an example of how poorly they spent those millions. What did this film cost - about $80 million at least. Takes place in San Francisco, they set up a FBI headquarters on an abandoned pier. Pier 39. Now, in reality, Pier 39 has only been a two-story shopping mall packed tourist attraction for 20 years! This is really sloppy writing. They shot the film on-location, didnít some grip notice?!
September 17: Five Easy Pieces (1970, 98 minutes): A lot of folks dig this film, Iíd never seen it. Seemed a little dated to me Ė soooooo 1970s letís-make-a-meaningful-talkie. Well, my tolerance for Jack Nicholson always very low.
September 16:Hoffa (1992, 140 minutes): This should have been a gripping tale, but it was a waste of 140 minutes! The narrative was laid out all chip-chopped, with no dates or explanations. I guess if you knew Hoffa, this film might make some sense. Danny DeVito directed and it shows - lots of look-at-me awkward shots. Big chunks of the movie were filmed in Pittsburgh, though I was never quite sure where the film was supposed to be taking place.
September 14: Il Mostro (The Monster) (1994, 110 minutes): Broad physical slapstick. An unemployed loaf is mistaken for a sex serial killer (talk about wacky!) The first 30 minutes has some hilarious physical comedy pieces, then the movie just goes on too long - same jokes, and all those people screeching in shrill Italian is tough on the ears. Points for subtitles through.
September 13: Double Happiness (1994, 92 minutes): Canadian film about a Chinese family in Vancouver. It suffers a little from itself in places, but overall I dug it. Smart, modern gal tries to balance her own life and her familyís traditional expectations. Funny in places, generally well-observed and well-acted dramedy.
September 13: Picture Perfect (1997, 100 minutes): Iíve never seen Friends on TV, so what do I know? This film was more amusing than I thought it would be, though the premise is pure nuts - pretend to be my husband, OK? great! no problem, so I can get promoted. Whatever, Jennifer Anniston was fairly funny. Kevin Bacon is a trifle terrifying in this flick, like heís mutating into Wilem Dafoe.
September 10: Blow Out (1981, 107 minutes): Oooh, itís all arty. Remember when whats-his-name, DePalma, was the director du jour? Watch him direct! See him "homage" (rip off) every tired Hitchcock gimmick - plus the whole plot of this movie is lifted from Blow Up (not to mention the title!) and The Conversation. Marvel as he casts his no-talent then-wife, Nancy Allen, again! And naturally, any DePalma film, even one about the re-creation of a political hit, has got to have the requisite sex-killer stalking and slashing scenes. Why canít this man get some therapy in private?
September 9:Anaconda (1997, 89 minutes): This was a blast. Big giant snake! Big giant Jennifer Lopez butt! I was bustiní a gut over Jon Voightís crazy-man-Brando role, the nods to Fitzcarraldo, Apocalypse Now, Ice Cubeís "It was a good day" line. Viva anaconda.
September 9: Murder at 1600 (1997, 107 minutes): Though Iím psyched to watch all the White House sex-and-death mess movies (Who isnít?), this was lame. I screened this two days before the Starr report smutted up the country, these extra-dumb fantastic movie plots canít touch the real stories. What? Only one sexual encounter in the Oval office? Borrrrriiing.
September 7: Soul Food (1997, 114 minutes): Entertaining family soap opera. The title is metaphoric but also literal. Lots of food shots, donít watch hungry. The end was a trifle tidy, but it wasnít as overwrought as a I feared, and overall it was a fun ride. Vanessa Williams was a wrong note. Hard to believe she as from the same family, whatís with those light blue eyes?! A $3 pair of contacts would have helped.
September 2: My Best Friendís Wedding (1997, 105 minutes): Iím at a loss to understand why this movie was so popular. Itís an unpleasant, unsuspenseful little tale about a small-minded, mean chick, unrelieved by any larger point or humor. If it tried harder to be a black comedy, maybe it would have worked (memo: birng in some real writers) but it was pitched as a lighthearted romantic romp. Blech. The appeal of Julia Roberts and whoever the faceless guy was they were all fighting over was is beyond me. The attraction of Rupert Everett has also been way overrated. Puhleez. He had one good line, he didnít save the movie. That "Say A Little Prayer" restaurant scene made me want to charge my head through the TV screen. Anything to stop the cloying preciousness of it.
September 1: Danteís Peak (1997, 108 minutes): Like in Volcano, the Chevy Suburban gets a real work-out on film. Itís tough alright, but in both films, itís no match for an ooze of hot lava. Many similar set-ups as Volcano - single man, divorce, dog in peril, dysfunctional families that place kids in right in harmís way (gasp!) -- Danteís Peak pulls out all the stops on the Bad Family plot device -- earnest young vulcanologists, heel-dragging city officials. Danteís Peak gets props for better scenery, an impressive dam burst (Volcano rules on the realistic lava), the Lake of Acid (somebody email me if they know this is true!) the horribly miscast but always yummy Pierce Brosnan. You know things are taking a bad turn when his hair gets knocked askew, but nothing prepared me for the terrifying scene near the end where his beautiful hair is literally crushed! I screamed, I shook. Iím trembling still.
August 21: Volcano (1997, 102 minutes): I was just getting over the canít-we-all-just-get-along claptrap of Grand Canyon and I hardly expected to have to wade through another mound of it in a movie about a marauding volcano, but Oh! LA! The closing couldnít be more inane - close-up shots of dusty, ashy people holding hands - young, old, black, white, rich, poor. I felt all warm and fuzzy as I realized that we are all equal covered volcano jizm. If only it were as simple as a volcano to bring us all together, every city could get one! Actually, this movie is highly recommended for anybody who canít stand LA. Youíll thrill to the core to see never-native palm trees bursting into flames, lava bombs landing on Yuppies, cell phones shorting out, SUVs exploding. They manage to "save" LAís moral high-brow center - a clump of art museums. Ah cultcha. But, in pure demented car-obsessed LA fashion, the movie seems to blame the subway, transportation for the working poor, for the volcano. Tommy Lee Jones is boring; one mitigating point for no romantic sub-plot.
August 19: Grand Canyon (1991, 134 minutes) Oh! LA! The burdens. The self-consciousness. The white liberal guilt. Some rich white people and working class black people intersect, after a Lakers game, natch. This movie is so transparent you can practically hear the director calling, "Iím gonna need another race-relations cliche here to prop up this tired plot device." Any movie that gives us Kevin Kline as a moral center needs some re-work. Sit through this whole movie, and I promise you, youíll never visit the Grand Canyon again.
August 16: Wag the Dog (1997, 97 minutes): I screened this the night before Clintonís mea-culpa-sorta speech. Lucky timing on my part. Then two days later, we take out some foreign country. Oy. Now itís like Network. Real life ridiculousness is surpassing the film parodies. Itís increasingly hard to sort out mentally. I blame the millennium. Enjoyed the movie though. Dustin Hoffman seems to be having a blast in the Peter Sellers role.
August 2: They Shoot Horses, Donít They? (1969, 121 minutes): One of those extra-grim early 70s movies about Los Angeles. This oneís based on the Horace McCoy tale of the same name about a Depression-era dance marathon. Any film that actually makes you feel sorry for the usually-insufferable Jane Fonda has gotta be good.
August 1: The Blue Dahlia (1946, 96 minutes): I had some trouble following the plot of this noir-y thriller. A Chandler script, but it never quite engaged and the acting was pretty poor too. Only William Bendix had the plummy role as the Navy vet with the steel plate in his head.