1997 Movie Review: WILDE, 1997 – Starring: Stephen Fry, Jude Law

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WILDEWILDE, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Brian Gilbert

Cast: Stephen Fry, Jude Law, Vanessa Redgrave, Michael Sheen, Tom Wilkinson, Gemma Jones, Jennifer Ehle, Judy Parfit
Review by Stefan Leverton

SYNOPSIS:

The story of Oscar Wilde, genius, poet, playwright and the First Modern Man. The self-realisation of his homosexuality caused Wilde enormous torment as he juggled marriage, fatherhood and responsibility with his obsessive love for Lord Alfred Douglas, nicknamed Bosie. After legal action instigated by Bosie’s father, the mad Marquess of Queensberry, Wilde refused to flee the country and was sentenced to two years at hard labour by the courts of an intolerant Victorian society.

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REVIEW:

Wilde is the biopic telling the infamous story of Oscar Wilde, one of Ireland’s and the Victorian era’s greatest playwright and poet. Above that he represented the rise in the appreciation for all things aesthetic, fashion and style as well as being one of the wittiest historical figures that I can think of. His life wasn’t all plaudits though, and he courted controversy to the full.

The film begins with Wilde returning from America, marrying Constance Wilde and having two boys, Cyril and Vyvyan. Then it begins, not wanting to over-state anything, his rise and fall. Taking the theatre world by storm, Wilde’s plays illuminate the west end and he becomes the toast of the town. With an invigorated zeal for socialising, Wilde acquaints himself with all the lavishness his success affords him.

This ignites a spark within Wilde, especially after becoming familiar with Robbie Ross. After their meeting Wilde’s ‘outs’ himself amongst the homosexual community, and in doing so becomes the person he may’ve always known he was. Then the shift moves from his work to his personal life. An intense affair rises between Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas, nicknamed Bosie. Bosie is drawn to the artful and wise Wilde, while Wilde is drawn to the youthful pretty Bosie.

Their relationship has its ups and downs, mainly due to Bosie’s impetuousness, but ultimately has its dramatic anchor in the film as in Wilde’s life by being the scandal that brought shame upon Wilde’s family and indeed his professional reputation. Bosie’s father, the Mad Marquess of Queensberry, files a lawsuit against Wilde and his lewd illegal behaviour.

The ensuing court case, is widely publicised and the witch hunt that surrounds it sees the steadfast Wilde prosecuted for his actions and sentenced to four years hard labour after refusing to take exile. Then we witness Wilde’s decline, removed of his style in gaol. Even on his release when he takes refuge in Europe his healthy withers and Wilde dies resolute but very much alone in Paris, 1900.

As a fan of Wilde’s work, I feel this film does tremendous justice to the man, played with sheer perfection by Stephen Fry. Fry said of the role that it was the one he was born to play, and he is in no way over stating that fact. And the filmmakers have done a wonderful job of adding to the creation by giving Fry just the right appearance as a young-twenty-something but also as the broken-aged-man Wilde becomes during his incarceration. And special mention should go to Jude law who, aside from looking good in the role, acts as a great folly to Wilde, being that they are at different stages of their lives.

The only criticism of the film is that those who aren’t familiar with Wilde may struggle to be enraptured by the drama of the film which never really peaks. I think that to be slightly mis-guided as Wilde himself fully understood what was going on, there was no outrage from him, though he did stand resolutely and argued his case to spite all that, though sadly without success. What stands is the memory of such outrageous persecution from the justice system and society to persecute someone, when today that wouldn’t even enter the consciousness.

WILDE, 1997

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1997 Movie Review: WAG THE DOG, 1997 – Starring: Robert DeNiro, Dustin Hoffman

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WAG THE DOG MOVIE POSTER
WAG THE DOG, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Barry Levinson
Starring: Dustin Hoffman; Robert De Niro; Anne Heche
Review by Tom Coatsworth

SYNOPSIS:

When the US President gets caught with his pants down, days before the election, his spin-doctors create a fictitious war to divert attention.

Nominated for 2 Oscars: Best actor in a leading role: Dustin Hoffman;

Best Screenplay: David Mamet; Hilary Henkin

REVIEW:

Political satire in feature filmmaking is exceptionally rare. It’s a poor-boy genre that is shunned by producers, who prefer to make money. And so it’s a thrill to see top notch talent driving a witty political script all the way to the bank. On a fifteen million dollar budget ‘Wag The Dog’ grossed sixty-four million box-office worldwide — nothing to sneer at.

The story begins with scandal: the President has been accused by a Firefly Girl of sexual fondling. It’s only days before the election. He has a commanding lead in the polls but the story spells disaster. The President is in China. One of his chief advisors, Winifred Ames (Anne Heche), brings in ‘Mr. Fixit’ – Conrad Brean (De Niro) to handle the crisis. It seems an impossible task.

But lying helps: the President is sick and cannot leave China for at least a day – this buys time. Brean and Ames fly to California where they enlist Hollywood producer, Stanley Motss (Hoffman), to produce their war. (The Motss character was based on movie producer Robert Evans. Hoffman does a pitch-perfect job emulating Evans and was nominated for an Oscar. Evans, a former actor, insisted: “I was wonderful in that part”).

Brean wants a war – not a real war, but a pageant – he wants a song, a story line; he wants patriotic fervor to rise up and quell the Firefly Girl story. He pulls Albania out of the air. “What did they ever do for us? What do we know about them? They seem sort of shifty”. (Motss chimes in: they have ‘the bomb’ – a suitcase bomb – Albanian terrorists with a suitcase bomb in Canada.) Motss calls in his go-to team – John (Willie Nelson), a Nashville songwriter; the Fad King (Denis Leary) and Liz Butsky (Andrea Martin). They brainstorm the night away and by morning they have a song and a strategy.

They create film footage of the “War”. On a Hollywood Soundstage an actress (Kirsten Dunst) is hired to play a refugee fleeing a war torn village. She runs in front of a blue screen while a burning village complete with sirens and crying villagers is supplied digitally. Five hours later it is on the evening news. The Firefly story is buried. “It’s a pageant”, says Brean.

On route to Nashville Brean and Ames are detained by the CIA. There is no war and no bomb and someone has to answer for it. Brean spins the CIA agent (William H. Macy) like a top: if there were peace — you would be out of a job. Mr. CIA appears completely bamboozled and lets them go. However no sooner are they in Nashville they get word the war is over! The CIA has informed the Presidents rival and hence the public that hostilities with Albania have ended and all is right with the world! “This is nothing!” shouts Motss, “I’m producing this war, it’s not over till I say its over – we need an act 2”. Motss and the Fad King quickly spin Act2.

A soldier with a name like shoe has been caught behind enemy lines and is being held by the terrorists — a war hero. This plays perfectly with an ‘old shoe’ song they have dreamed up. The Army searches its ranks for a soldier by that name — William Schumann (Woody Harrelson). The campaign begins anew. The cry goes up: “bring back ‘Old Shoe’”. The new song is planted in the Library of Congress – 1930. Motss and Brean throw old shoes tied together over telephone lines and in tops of trees; catchy idea. The media loves it. (I remember when the movie appeared because so did the shoes – on telephone lines all over town.) School children start letter writing – the Firefly story is buried once again – they are almost home.

And then they meet Schumann – a dangerous psychotic who’s spent fifteen years in a military prison for raping a nun. (Part of the charm of the script is that as easily as the spin-doctors churn out lies and as easily as the public buys them the professional branches of the government – the Army, the CIA — are never really taken in and never quite go along with the charade.)

Harrelson is hilarious as the psycho soldier. I was particularly impressed with De Niro who displays some serious light, comedy chops. His attempts at broad comedy — at playing course, dumb, silly people — have never worked. Here he is at home. Hoffman is clicking as the slick Hollywood mogul; and Anne Heche fills some tall high heels, poised as she is between these two legends.

The script is deliciously funny and a subject of controversy – David Mamet, one of America’s finest, brashest playwrights, wrote the working script. It was nominated for an Oscar. But the original script, based on a book by Larry Beinhart, was written by Hilary Henkin. Barry Levinson has claimed that Mamet wrote his draft without reading the book or Henkin’s draft – but the case went to court and both Mamet and Henkin are now credited with screenwriting: they should get together more often, it’s brilliant.

‘Wag’ was released a month before the Clinton intern scandal, and so it was prescient. What’s more some believe the movie served to hamstring President Clinton’s actions: critics tied the timing of a missile attack on an enemy camp with a Presidential desire to ‘change the subject’. Whether it was true or not ‘Wag’ had spun ‘spin’ out of the box and there was no going back: the public had wised up. Since the days of Aristophanes that’s as good as it gets: ‘Wag The Dog’ is political satire at its finest. Enjoy.

wag the dog

1997 Movie Review: TWIN TOWN, 1997 Dir. Ingmar Bergman

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TWIN TOWN,   MOVIE POSTERTWIN TOWN, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Ingmar Bergman

Cast: Victor Sjöström, Bibi Andersson, Ingrid Thulin, Gunnar Björnstrand, Jullan Kindahl, Folke Sundquist
Review by DJ Haza

SYNOPSIS:

Julian and Jeremy, two brothers known as the “Lewis Twins”, prefer to spend their time on drugs and joyriding. When their father, Fatty Lewis, breaks his leg working for local bigwig Bryn Cartwright, they show up demanding compensation. Underestimating the vicious humour of the twins Bryn brusquely refuses to pay for the un-insured Fatty and unleashes a ferocious feud.

 

REVIEW:

Kevin Allen’s first outing as a Director is a rip-roaring story of drugs, bent coppers, thieves and family in the Welsh city of Swansea. The stories follows the Lewis Twins, played by Rhys and Llyr Ifans, as they steal cars, barter for prescription drugs and quiz each other as they smoke weed through a home made bong whilst sharing a bath. Life is anything but ordinary for these troublesome Twins. Living in two caravans with their father – Fatty (Huw Ceredig), mother – Jean (Di Botcher), sister – Adie (Rachel Scorgie) and the dog – Cantona, banter is a plenty.

Across town two of Swansea’s finest officers; Greyo (Dorien Thomas) and Terry Walsh (Dougray Scott) meet outside Swansea train station for a drug deal. As they wait they admire the Dylan Thomas quote on the pavement ‘An ugly, pretty town’. However, Terry Walsh refers to Swansea as ‘a pretty, shitty city’. Greyo is alarmed to see the amount of cocaine that Terry has ordered and thinks they are going to struggle to sell it, but Terry has big ideas. Another major player in Swansea is Bryn Cartwright (William Thomas), a local businessman who thinks he’s the big man in town.

When Fatty falls off a roof and breaks his leg whilst doing a job for Bryn the Twins think their father should have some compensation. They appeal to Bryn on their father’s behalf and are told, ‘take your sticky sticky and fuck off back to noddy land’. The Twins are not happy. Their revenge is swift and when the Cartwright’s family dog is found beheaded Bryn wants to send the Twins a message. In cahoots with Terry on the drug deal he asks him a favor – an eye for an eye, a dog for a dog. Terry’s bright idea to plant the Cartwright’s dog collar in Cantona’s dog house and then set to fire to it goes catastrophically wrong. The caravans catch fire and the Twins parents and sister are incinerated in the blaze. Now the Twins mean business.

As Bryn and Terry conspire to keep their actions quiet Greyo is seeking to find the murderer of the Lewis family. As Greyo thinks he’s close to finding the Lewis’ murderer Terry and Bryn blackmail him into stopping his investigations. They remind him his prints are all over the cocaine. However, when Greyo meets with Bryn’s wife, Bonnie, and she admits her suspicions of Bryn and that her and her daughter, Lucy, need to get away Greyo knows he has to do the right thing.

As family and friends gather outside the church to say farewell to the Lewis family the car carrying Fatty’s body goes missing. The Twins begin to hatch their final plan. Bryn is gagged and tied to the motorized garage door with a noose around his neck as the Twins steal his boat. When Greyo and Bonnie arrive at the Cartwright’s house, ‘the Ponda Rosa’, to pack her bags the garage door gets stuck. Greyo clambers into the garage to find Bryn hung.

On Swansea pier Fatty’s male voice choir start to converge. On Bryn’s boat the Twins have Terry tied to Fatty’s coffin and they push it off the boat as the male voice choir begins to sing. Terry’s body sinks with Fatty’s coffin and the Twins salute their father as they fulfill his wishes – to be buried at sea. With their vengeance fulfilled the Twins sail off into the night with dreams of Morocco and finding the source of their marijuana.

The comical Twins are fantastic characters with no redeeming features apart from their will to fulfill their father’s wish and seek vengeance for their losses. Terry and Greyo are absolutely clueless and Bryn is a small time idiot, but believes he is above the law. An array of other characters add amusement to the dark, yet comical story. Bryn’s daughter; who is sleeping with Dai the karaoke king, gets pissed on by the Twins whilst singing in a karaoke contest. Emrys; whilst walking his dog, buys a hotdog filled with magic mushrooms and marijuana off the Twins. Later he is seen cuddling a sheep in a field with his trousers around his ankles. Some hilarious Welsh dialogue including Dai’s – ‘as they say in Llandow, chow for now’ will keep you chuckling before the film takes a dark turn.

Twin Town is a fantastic little film of small time people trying to enhance their own lives in whatever ways are available to them. Every character is outrageously surreal, yet totally believable as they all try to enhance their own lives. Some deal drugs, some rob cars and others want to travel the world singing karaoke. The one thing they all have in common is that they all want more than what Swansea has offered them so far. Twin Town won’t be remembered as an art-house classic or a British blockbuster, but it will be remembered for it’s comical characters, fantastic dialogue and clever story. It may not be to everyone’s taste, but if you think ordinary life is not so ordinary and find regular people hilarious then you could do a lot worse with two hours of your time than watch Twin Town.

TWIN TOWN, 1997

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1997 Movie Review: TOMORROW NEVER DIES, 1997

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TOMORROW NEVER DIES MOVIEGOLDENEYE, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Roger Spottiswoode

Starring Pierce Brosnan, Jonathan Pryce, Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher,Joe Don Baker and Judi Dench.
Review by Jesse Ryder Hughes

SYNOPSIS:

Elliot Carver is a corrupt media baron out to start a war between the United Kingdom and China. China will not let Carver have exclusive media rights in their country. He uses a GPS system to send a British naval ship off course into the South China Sea where his stealth ship sinks the vessel and steals the missiles. He then blows up a Chinese fighter plane sent to investigate making it seem like the plane and the ship attacked each other. Bond is sent in to investigate Carver after Carver leaked the information before anyone else knew about it. The Chinese send in their own spy Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) to investigate as well. Bond and Lin team up to stop Carver from firing the British missiles at Beijing and starting a war between their countries, which is already starting to begin.

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REVIEW:

Tomorrow never dies is the most action packed Bond film in the series. It sets up the plot quickly and then it is one action set piece after the other. It is well done for the most part. The plot isn’t as complex as Goldeneye with a forced relationship between Elliot Carver’s wife Paris and Bond. The emotion feels forced within the writing as compared to Goldeneye. Other than that it is a fun ride. Michelle Yeoh is great as a Chinese agent with great martial arts, as always from her. The focus on the power of media is interesting and relevant. Carver uses it to his advantage dreaming of a world by his standards. He proves himself to be a powerful dictator and using the media to deliver his message and shape his world. It is interesting to think of the media and how it could be used for the ultimate good in mankind and the ultimate evil.

There are some great stunts involving Bond driving his car from the backseat using a remote control and being chased by a helicopter handcuffed to Wai Lin on a motorcycle. It is good to see a good evil henchman as well. (Stamper, who is scary and is obsessed with taking Bond down). Its good to know that henchmen are still fun and useful in the future.

Tomorrow Never dies may not be as sophisticated as Goldeneye in terms of an all round great Bond film, but it still does the trick and ups the ante with intricate action scenes. It is also in no way cheesy and I didn’t find myself feeling like anything was that far fetched for what it was. I always pop in Tomorrow Never Dies because it is just a fun action movie. By no means great, but a lot of fun. Michelle Yeoh has my vote for toughest Bond girl, doing all her own stunts and helping the action scenes seem more realistic.

 

TOMORROW NEVER DIES, 1997

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1997 Movie Review: TO DIE FOR TANO, 1997

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TO DIE FOR TANO MOVIETO DIE FOR TANO, 1997
Movie Reviews

Director: Roberta Torre

Cast: Ciccio Guarino, Enzo Paglino, Mimma De Rosalia
Review by Jordan Young

SYNOPSIS:

In this murder-mystery parody, Tano (based on the real lifemobster Tano Guarrasi.) is killed and in this Unsolved Mystery meets musical style, we are told of the events that lead up to, and follow his death.

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REVIEW:

Tano Da Morire is a lot of fun, it feels like it is the Italianequivalent of Tarantino’s and Rodriguez’s grindhouse double feature,with all the satire and absurdity of all the “Naked Gun” movies.

The video quality really threw me off, (it was shot in the early nineties which makes sense) but the filmmaker knew that this was a joke, which makes it bearable. It caught me on several occasions laughing out loud, not merely snickering.

This is completely tongue-in-cheek and the most light-hearted look at the mafia I have ever seen. This film transcends conventional genre as well. It is stylistically similar to the Unsolved Mysteries TV show, with the exception of ludicrous musical numbers laced through out the interviews.

There seems to be one unifying theme during transitional scenes. A very smarmy traditional sounding Italian dance mixed with thestereotypically southern twangy instrument (the mouth harp, or it’s unpolitically correct synonym the Jew’s Harp.) Which is used here as a joke by itself. This might have been done to indicate that they were all showcased as “townies” (with all of the negative implications of that term) in the film.

In previous reviews I have written, I have praised the amateur actors that have been used in the films of De Sica, and Herzog, and this film has the same aspects. It appears like this was just shot a village and everyone involved in this film was a native. (This is very similar to Troll 2, which has equally hilarious results.) However, this is nowhere similar to the tone of the two aforementioned directors. It is in fact directly contrasting the tragic aspects and making them hilarious.

 

TO DIE FOR TANO, 1997

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1997 Movie Review: TITANIC, 1997

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TITANIC, 1997
Movie Review

Directed by James Cameron
Starring: Kate Winslet, Leonardo DiCaprio, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates
Review by Andrew Rowe

SYNOPSIS:

Fictional romantic tale of a rich girl and poor boy who meet on the ill-fated voyage of the ‘unsinkable’ ship.

REVIEW:

He spends twenty minutes setting up the story before we are even introduced to the main characters. Atop of that he spends another hour and twenty minutes before introducing us to that big white block of ice that changed Hollywood forever. This is James Cameron’s film. He wrote it, co-edited it, and directed it. He made the film exactly the way he wanted to, and I would not have it any other way.

Cameron uses every single one of the film’s 194 minutes to tell his story. Every shot is there for a reason, and as long as its running time is, there is no point that boredom creeps in. Cameron uses a great storytelling device, which consists of the film opening and closing in a modern setting. Brock Lovett is a treasure hunter looking for the “Heart of the Ocean” in the wreck of the RMS Titanic. Rose DeWitt Bukater, a survivor of the Titanic sees Lovett on television. She contacts him and is sent with her daughter to his boat. There is a drawing of Rose that was found in a safe on the wreck, it’s a nude portrait of Rose wearing the “Heart of the Ocean”. Rose then begins telling her story of her time on the Titanic.

We’re then transported to 1912; Cameron puts his massive budget to good use with beautiful crane shots that mix dazzling special effects with brilliant art design. One shot in particular is when young Rose, played by Kate Winslet exits her car. The camera cranes down over her large brimmed purple hat to reveal the beautiful actress. It’s just one of the many moments Cameron uses filmmaking magic to bring his story to vivid visual life. He makes it well known that this is a film of epic proportions, and we are in for a treat.

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jack Dawson is introduced as a penniless artist who travels the globe with the clothes on his back. As compared to Rose who is a first-class socialite, Jack won his ticket on the Titanic through a poker game. The two find themselves meeting at the stern of the boat, where Rose is about to commit suicide. Jack talks her down, and their romance begins.

Jack tries to show Rose how to hawk a “loogie” like boys do, and although this scene may seem unnecessary; it’s just a pit stop on the road to their destination of love. Over the course of an hour and twenty minutes we’ve seen Jack and Rose fall in love, and it feels real. Cameron took his time, but because of his patience and gentle pacing, we’ve fallen just as in love with them as they are with eacthother. Teenagers and adult filmgoers alike cannot deny the chemistry between these two; their love is one for the ages.

When the boat does strike the iceberg it’s not an immediate threat, it’s a casual impending doom. Water slowly fills the lower class section of the boat. The women and children in first class begin loading onto lifeboats, knowing they’re leaving behind people that will never see land again. The sense of panic and intensity builds and builds. Cameron has a great ensemble cast he’s been developing the whole film and has a purposeful fate for each of them. When the boat breaks in half and begins sinking it is the greatest car crash you can’t look away from that has ever been caught on film. With little music, Cameron lets the screams of the passengers falling to their death haunt you. Bodies bounce off propellers and other pieces of the boat, women and children wait in their beds as water surrounds them, thousands of lives are ending before our eyes. The images are horrific, and you’ve never been so happy cuddled up on your warm couch.

You could nit pick at some of the script and its dialogue, just as you can the lyrics in best pop songs of our time. That is essentially what Titanic is, an amazingly crafted film that appeals to everyone, because it has something for everyone. It’s bubblegum pop in film form, a romantic tragedy, a disaster film, and the fact that the event is a part of history allows it to resonate even more. It’s such an experience that even after its initial impact, still delivers what it did a decade ago, popcorn chomping bliss on the greatest scale.

 

titanic

1997 Movie Review: SUICIDE KINGS, 1997

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SUICIDE KINGS, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Peter O’Fallon
Starring: Christopher Walken, Denis Leary, Jay Mohr, Henry Thomas, Sean Patrick Flanery
Review by Melissa Mendelson 

SYNOPSIS:

A group of youngsters kidnap a respected Mafia figure.

 

REVIEW:The cards are dealt. Aces are high, and Jokers are wild. Play your hand. Check your opponents. The game continues, and you’re on a roll. But moments later, you’re about to take a fall, and you have to make it through the game with only the cards that you hold. And the wheel of fate spins, and where it stops nobody knows. And you play, hoping your bluff isn’t called, but the game has reached its end.

You think you know life, but never doubt its poker face. The best of friends may have the worst intentions, and your worst enemy may turn into your savior. And if you fold all the time, you may become a puppet on a string, but if you bluff too many times, well, a spade will be called a spade. And Life continues to deal out the cards that you now hold in your hand, and nothing is what it seems. So, do you fold once more, or do you bluff, hoping nobody will see through your façade? And will you be ready for the next turn of events?

What are Suicide Kings? Are they men united, tin soldiers ready to fight for what they believe in? Are they pawns in the hands of another, paper dolls walking a thin wire? Do they know the company that they keep, and do they play their game? And if they must sacrifice to save a life, does that make them a Suicide King?

The game begins, and the enemy captured sets the plan into action. The stakes are high, and the dice is rolled. And a web of lies and betrayal hangs overhead, and the tension is digging in deep. And the life to save is the fuel marching those forward into a deadly, intricate plot, and life deals out another hand. And fate waits its turn to play.

In the movie, Suicide Kings, a close knit of friends risks all in a high stakes game to save a life. Drifting across a razor’s edge, they focus on their plan and the players, and their plot begins to unfold. And everything seems to go smoothly, but despite the cards that they hold in their hand, their captive may have a few aces up his own sleeve. And he is ready to raise the bar and push them to their limits, and their bluffs will be called. And when the dust settles, all bets are off.

The story of love is never-ending, and a love like Romeo and Juliet’s echoes deep within this dark tale. Would you risk all to be with the one you love? Would you lay your life on the line to save theirs? Loyalties are put to the test, confrontations fierce, and the bonds of friendship will be played against the games of the heart. But in the end, does love win, or will it destroy?

Suicide Kings is a rich cinematic treasure reflecting movies such as The Game, Usual Suspects, Unknown, and L.A. Confidential. Suspense and drama intensify the storyline, and the intensity continues to rise straight toward an ending that you will never see coming. A blend of talent and charisma from dedicated actors ignites the characters to life. The bonds of friendship are put to the ultimate test, and the act of betrayal is delivered as sharp as razor’s edge. And from the beginning to the end, we are held captive, taking a walk “on the dark side of the moon,” and watching as the cards fall. And Aces are high, Jokers dance, and Suicide Kings are wild.This film won Best Director and Best Cinematography, and was nominated for five other categories. The screenwriter was nominated, and rightly so. Taken from a short story that first appeared in the Saturday Evening Post in 1933 by Maurice Walsh, Green Rushes, Frank Nugent was able to weave a story rich in subtext and conflict.

The collector’s edition of the DVD includes an interview with Maureen O’Hara where she reminisces about filming The Quiet Man, and is well worth watching.

 

1997 Movie Review: SCREAM 2, 1997 (dir. Wes Craven)

 

AWAY WE GO MOVIE POSTER
SCREAM 2, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Wes Craven
Starring: Neve Campbell, David Arquette, Courteney Cox, Jada Pinkett Smith, Omar Epps, Liev Schreiber, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Jamie Kennedy, Jerry O’Connell, Laurie Metcalf
Review by Matthew Toffolo

SYNOPSIS:

It has been two years since the tragic events at Woodsboro. Sidney Prescott and Randy Meeks are trying to get on with their lives, and are currently both students at Windsor College. Cotton Weary is out of prison, and is trying to cash in on his unfortunate incarceration. Gale Weathers has written a bestseller, “The Woodsboro Murders,” which has been turned into the film, “Stab,” starring Tori Spelling as Sidney. As the film’s play date approaches, the cycle of death begins anew. Dewey Riley immediately flies out of Woodsboro to try to protect Sidney, his “surrogate sister.” But in this sequel to the 1996 horror film, the number of suspects only goes down as the body count slowly goes up!

 

REVIEW:

TRIVIA: Scream 2 actually beat Titanic at the weekend box office when it opened in December 1997. Titanic then went on to go #1 at the box office everyday for straight 5 months and eventually became the biggest grossing film of all-time. But, Scream 2 can say that it topped it when it went head to head.

Going back and watching this Scream sequel really got me very nostalgic. I remember sitting in the theater with my friends and really giving live play by play commentary of the film while it was happening. This is just one of those films. Of course now I hate it when others do this at it happened to me during a screening of My Bloody Valentine as people were talking so much, I couldn’t pay attention to the movie. But when you’re in your early 20s, you tend to be a little selfish. So I apologize to all the people who were sitting around us during the screening. We were jerks.

Scream 2 is one of those films that is probably more suited for a home viewing than watching it in the theater. It’s a campy film and you really can’t take it all that seriously. That said, the storytelling and characters are done well so you are definitely into the ‘what’s going to happen next’ feeling. You are definitely emotionally involved while you also get many of the wink-wink jokes during the climatic moments. The original Superman films are like this too. One moment of action leads to another moment campy comedy. Someone getting killed leads to people sitting around and chatting about horror films and their cliches. This is a film that is many things to many people. It’s a horror, a thriller, a crime movie, a mystery and most definitely a comedy. A hard thing to pull off but director Wes Craven really found the original tone that was in the script and put it on screen. Him and writer Kevin Williamson created a new movie recipe and they succeeded all the way to the bank.

When watching this film I was also surprised of all the actors who are household names or actors I respect that I completely forgot was in the film. Jada Pinkett Smith and Omar Epps play the two characters that ‘open’ the film like Drew Barrymore did in the first film. They play up how Horror films are a white man’s genre and you never see black people in the movie. As soon as you see then on screen, you know they are doomed. Craven and Williamson were pointing out to the world that they are not prejustice and even blacks can get killed in the movies. And they aren’t the killers.

Heather Graham, Luke Wilson and Tori Spelling play the ‘movie’ versions of the characters in Scream. A great campy plot as we jump into a film within a film. Luke Wilson especially was hilarious to see as at the time he was just an actor starting out and had only one credit on his resume.

Sarah Michelle Gellar, who was just getting going in her Buffy TV show, appears as well in a great ‘stab’ scene. So does pre-Dawson Creek’s Joshua Jackson who was also just starting out in the biz. Portia de Rossi and Rebecca Gayheart play the sexy sorority sisters. Jerry O’Connell plays Sidney’s boyfriend (who has an extremely awkward Top Gunish music scene in the school cafeteria) who could be the killer. And Liev Schreiber, who really only had a cameo role in the first Scream film, plays the obnoxious but charming Cotton Weary. You can tell in this role that Schreiber had something unique as he could change from sexy to scary in one emotional beat. And was an actor who definitely had a big future ahead of him.

And then there’s Timothy Olyphant. An actor I had no idea was in the film. I loved Olyphant in his role in the HBO series Deadwood. When he’s not donning a mustache, he’s a very creepy looking character. And because of that he sort of tips the hat of the film’s conclusion. Or perhaps not because he seems to be the obvious killer.

Of course this again is Sidney’s (Neve Campbell), Dewey’s (David Arquette) and Gale’s (Courteney Cox) film. Sidney is you classic main character. Strong, determined, vulnerable and haunted by past events. Arquette and Cox have fantastic on-screen chemistry (and off-screen too as they are married) and seeing that in the first film, the creators I’m sure made sure they had a lot of screen time together in the 2nd film. They are almost like a comedy team with a little romance mixed in. The geek and the princess.

Courteney Cox’s roles in these films should be pointed out as she is remarkable. If her performance doesn’t work, then the film doesn’t. We have to view Gale as a bitch with an agenda but also like her a great deal too. Her character too in Scream 2 also has the biggest emotional arcs happening. She’s the one who’s changing the most from the beginning to end.

Campbell’s role could be categorized as almost boring as it’s hard to find a storyline for her that wasn’t done in the first film. She delivers an almost thankless performance because she has after all the only ‘non sexy’ role in the film. She’s sexy but the role she plays is the role of the straightman. She must act in a thriller genre to keep the overall tone of the movie intact while all the other roles get to play it up and be campy. Sidney is the straw the stirs the drink of the movie and these type of roles can get forgotten. But if you don’t have it played well, then you don’t have a film.

Scream 2 also plays up on the sequel film. It asks the question of what sequel was better than the original in movie history. And ‘wink-wink’, is Scream 2 better than the original? Not really but it’s not bad.

SCREAM 2, 1997

1997 Movie Review: RETROACTIVE, 1997 (James Belushi)

  MOVIERETROACTIVE 
Movie Reviews

Director: Louis Morneau

Starring: James Belushi, Kylie Travis, Shannon Whirry, Frank Whaley, M. Emmet Walsh, Shermon Howard
SYNOPSIS:

A hostage negotiator makes several jumps back in time to save a woman from her brutal husband.

REVIEW:

‘Retroactive’ is one of those big studio films that went straight to video, but you wouldn’t understand why if I just gave you the plot, because it’s a damn good plot, unfortunately almost everything else lets this one down.

Karen (Kylie Travis) is stranded in the middle of the desert, her car has broken down and she ends up catching a lift with a strange weirdo guy (James Belushi) and his obviously suffering girlfriend. Even though fate gives her several opportunities to get away from this couple, who are obviously involved in some kind of illegal dodgy activities, she sticks with them until the jerk guy, Frank, shoots up a gas station.

Karen escapes and finds herself in a secret lab in the middle of the desert where experiments in time travel are being conducted. She is thrown back in time to when she was stranded. She tries to prevent the murders however each time she travels back she seems to make things worse.

It’s kind of like an action movie style version of ‘Groundhog Day’, just without the humour or good acting. Having said that though there are some good things about this film; as I said above the plot sounds interesting and probably would have been if it wasn’t for the acting. It would be interesting to see someone remake this film to see if they could make it work.

Another plus is that the time travel is pretty well thought out, considering the continuity errors which seem to occur throughout the film, it’s clear that the script writers were more vigilant than the director or continuity person, if there was one. It’s such a simple idea for a plot but it is the kind of plot that can end up being very complex to write, film and edit. So I give the film makers an ‘A’ for effort.

I have nothing against James Belushi or Kylie Travis, but I’m not really fans of either one of them. But both have acted in film and television before and after this film and quite obviously with a bit of success. But in this film it was as if they were just going through the motions.

With minimal effects and not a lot of different scene locations there isn’t that much a part from the plot to keep your attention. Which isn’t a bad thing but there are also too many points where you feel like the plot is being lost by the actors and so we as the audience get lost.

Someone should really remake this film, it needs it more than any other film. Although as I stated above it is such a simple plot and not that original so I look forward to the day when someone remakes this film accidentally. Then I will be able to say; ‘for once, this is better than the original.’

RETROACTIVE, 1997

1997 Movie Review: PRIVATE PARTS, 1997 (Howard Stern)

PRIVATE PARTS,  MOVIE POSTERPRIVATE PARTS, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Betty Thomas

Cast: Howard Stern, Robin Quivers, Mary McCormack, Fred Norris, Paul Giamatti, Jackie Martling, Carol Alt, Allison Janney
Review by Jarred Thomas

SYNOPSIS:

The film tells the story of Howard Stern, the popular radio personality whose candor and crude humor revolutionized radio.

 REVIEW: 

One of the most controversial disc jockeys of all time, Howard Stern revolutionized radio for the masses and created a radio show that all other personalities try to emulate but fail in their attempts. The film is based on the popular book of the same name and chronicles the career of Howard from his childhood to high school and college to his early days in radio eventually leading to his radical career in broadcasting.

Love him or hate, Howard Stern is truly an entertainer and Private Parts shows not only his eccentric persona but also the struggles and challenges he faced from all angles. Whether it was local bullies or vindictive program directors, every obstacle was essential in developing the personality that would later become an iconic radio star.

Howard Stern plays, who else, but Howard Stern and while that may seem like an easy task considering he’s only playing himself, it’s not. He has to be able to convey his emotions and dramatic moment convincingly, no matter if he’s retelling an experience he went through. It still requires that he present a believable moment and this requires good acting, which he does.

Betty Thomas does an excellent job balancing the crude humor with the more heavy scenes. The supporting cast does a fine job as well. Paul Giamatti is great as spiteful program director, Lenny, or “pig vomit” as Howard refers to him. Together their scenes are absolute gold as both Howard and Paul play off each other perfectly.

There’s a memorable scene in which Paul addresses Howard and his gang (Robin and Fred) about the seven dirty words they are not allowed to say. This of course only entices Howard, who later develops a segment in which he says those exact words but in the context of a game show so as to make it seem innocent and appropriate for radio listeners.

Those who are familiar with the Howard Stern show can expect the typical naked sexy women and certain bits that are popular on his radio program. But there is also a heart to the film that provides warm moments between Howard and his wife Alison, played by the talented Mary McCormack. There’s one intense scene in particular that felt completely real as the two argue about a bit Howard did on the radio about a recent miscarriage the two suffered.

Howard has always made it clear that nothing in his life is private and he can at anytime use parts of his life to entertain his audience. The issue of the miscarriage is one of them. It’s interesting to see behind the scenes and the method to his madness.

With a strong supporting cast topped off with standout performances from both Howard Stern and Paul Giamatti, Private Parts is one of the funniest films filled with an abundance of pure entertainment. Even if you’re not a fan of the popular radio personality, I can assure you that this move will have you laughing and sympathizing with the famous disc jockey. By the end, you’ll have a better understanding of who Howard Stern is as a personality, but more importantly as a person.

 

 

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PRIVATE PARTS, Fred Norris, Howard Stern, 1997, (c) Paramount