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

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THE BLEEDER (former title: CHUCK) (USA 2016) ***

Deadlines to Submit your Screenplay, Novel, Story, or Poem to the festival: http://www.wildsound.ca

chuckA drama inspired by the life of heavyweight boxer Chuck Wepner.

Director: Philippe Falardeau
Writers: Jeff Feuerzeig, Jerry Stahl
Stars: Elisabeth Moss, Naomi Watts, Ron Perlman, Liev Schreiber

Review by Gilbert Seah

 Quebec director Falardeau has made some excellent Quebec films like CONGORAMA, MONSIEUR LAZHAR (his most famous and critical acclaimed film) and MY INTERNSHIP IN CANADA. THE BLEEDER with all its good points, however, is unable to reach the director’s high point, probably due to its depressing subject matter, though based on a true story.

The film is based on the life of Chuck Wepner (Liev Schreiber). It traces the rise to fall to redemption of Chuck, the man concentrating on his personal life rather than his boxing. It is tough to see a man from the Bronx, go down after gaining fame. The life of fame and riches seduced the man, resulting in him leaving his wife, doing drugs like cocaine and flirting around.

The atmosphere of the 70’s where the story takes place is authentically created. There are 70’s period films that do not look as if they were made in the 70’s, The BLEEDER looks as if it was made in the 70’s. Everything from props, dialogue, hair, music and sets is perfect.

This is the life of Chuck Wepner, best known for his 1975 fight with the heavyweight champion, Muhammad Ali. The film is called THE BLEEDER because Chuck is able to take punishment, which allowed him to stay that many rounds in the ring with Muhammad Ali.

Live Schreiber plays Chuck the loser that he is. He is not too bright either. When he learns that Stallone stole his life story, he calls United Artists and asks to speak to directly to Stallone. When Chuck finally meets Stallone, he does not even ask him for royalties. One problem with the film is that Chuck is not a likeable human being. Worse, is that he is a loser with few redeeming qualities. It is hard to feel sorry for a man who was married three times who keeps cheating on his wives. His daughter is understandably upset with him. Everyone would be, including the teacher at a PTA meeting who walks away disgusted. Unlike the film ROCKY, which is based on Chuck’s life a film that became so popular because ROCKY was about a winner, THE BLEEDER is about a loser.

The boxing scenes are violent and necessarily so, as the film has to show the character living up to the name of Bleeder. The main match, the one between Muhammad Ali and Chuck is convincing enough to look like the real thing.
Schreiber is excellent in his role as Elizabeth Moss is as his second wife. The film does not really explain how Sylvester Stallone learned about Chuck’s life to portray him so accurately in his Oscar Winning film. The actor, Morgan Spector playing Stallone is totally laughable in his look – looking like a skinny though toned version of the Stallion.

THE BLEEDER is not a bad film. But a depressing film about a loser is going to be a tough sell to attract audiences.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0AQXwOOqNNw

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Film Review: Goon: Last of the Enforcers

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goon2.jpgDirector: Jay Baruchel
Writers: Jay Baruchel (screenplay), Jesse Chabot (screenplay)
Stars: Elisha Cuthbert, T.J. Miller, Liev Schreiber

Review by Gilbert Seah

Hockey is a Canadian sport with lots of fights and violence. Hockey films have been made when this essential characteristic was removed and looked down upon. This has resulted in the worst films (SCORE: A HOCKEY MUSICAL; HELLO DESTROYER) ever made on the sport. Fortunately GOON captures the violence and rowdiness of the sport and the two GOON movies can arguably be considered the best Hockey films.

When the first GOON was released, the film poster (with the tongue between the two fingers) created an uproar and all the posters had to be taken down in Toronto. Director Burachel who co-wrote and directed the second GOON, taking over the directing reins from Michael Dowse (IT’S ALL GONE PETE TONG, FUBAR) knows hockey and loves to create ‘shit’ like his supporting character, Pat in the movie. In real life, Baruchel is an avid Hockey fan who has worked in raunchy comedies before with the likes of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg. So, GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS uneven though it may be (as this is Burachel’s directorial debut), is still a good effort.

The story follows the first GOON film, with most of the characters still present. The film begins with a fight that puts the lead character, Doug (Seann William Scott) in hospital and unable to play again. Doug gets a job in insurance even though he (and his boss) know nothing about insurance. The insurance segments are very funny. Doug’s girl, Eva (Alison Pill) is expecting a baby. He promises to stop fighting, a promise he cannot keep. Anders Cain (Wyatt Russell, also seen in the recent TABLE 19), who put Doug in hospital is brought in as the new team captain. During the pro lockout, Doug’s team, the Halifax Highlanders, unites with a bunch of new players. Finally Doug is brought back in. Confrontation and a major fight between the two result.

For a comedy, this film is more violent than any boxing film (taking ROCKY and RAGING BULL as examples). Director Burachel knows how to shoot the fights and they are not easy to watch. Burachel also knows how to film hockey games, and the matches are well executed with all the excitement of a top sports film.

Jay Burachel has a few scenes as Pat, Doug’s best friend. Whenever Pat appears, there is trouble. But there are also laughs. The lead Seann William Scott appears here with full facial hair. Scott is a good enough actor, being in teen comedies like the AMERICAN PIE films and DUDE, WHRE’S MY CAR? This is the actor who plays a character that takes a dump in his enemy’s cooler at a camp fire (one of the AMERICAN PIE sequels), so a lot of toilet humour ca be expected from him. Canadian actor Callum Keith Rennie plays the team owner.

GOON: LAST OF THE ENFORCERS is a male comedy about hockey. So, don’t expect any messages or life lessons. The film is a lot of fun and laughs. It is like the game, very Canadian. I enjoyed it a lot.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4N__jY27zY

 

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Happy Birthday: Liev Schreiber

lievschreiber.jpgLiev Schreiber

Born: October 4, 1967 in San Francisco, California, USA

[on character Ray Donovan] She writes about violence, vulnerability, and the facade of machismo in a glossy, sexy way, but with depth, duality, and ­humanity. He’s very lonely and very isolated. The contract of ­marriage, sexuality, relationships, all of that stuff is outdated. Every other social group has­ gotten an upgrade except for the average white man, and Ray is working on old software, functioning in a world that no longer appreciates men as breadwinners and warriors, and there is a lot of pain in that.

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