Thursday, September 30, 2010

Critically Disclaimed Movies


There are so many movies that are panned by critics that I tend to wonder--are they all really that bad?

In the case of this movie the answer is a resounding YES!  I can fully understand why Elizabeth Berkley would want to be in this film.  It's an opportunity to put her Saved by the Bell persona in her past.  Unfortunately, she then had to live after this movie was released.

She's pretty.  Very.  Gorgeous body.  Very.  I honestly can't complain about how pretty some of this movie is but there is something ugly about the whole thing, about how exploitative and pathetic.  The sexy dancing that is supposed to simulate sex is actually sexier than the sex scene in the pool which comes across more like an act of violence than it does of either lust or love.  But that's nothing compared to the actual rape scene that occurs.

The whole movie is just silly and an insult to anyone's intelligence with pretty bodies in pretty costumes doing silly things.  You want soft core pornography?  There has to be something better than this out there.  Even Bull Durham is sexier than this and it doesn't have nearly as much nudity.


This one has one huge strike against it going in.  Forget the horrible reviews it received upon its release.  I'm talking about the fact that it stars Kevin Costner, an actor who inevitably leaves me feeling cold.  (I've liked him in two movies:  Bull Durham and Silverado.  I jokingly say I loved him in The Big Chill but, as we all know, he was cut out of the film.)

And really, this has a lot of things I typically could or would like--dystopian society, future worlds, etc.  Some clever elements.  But too few and far between.  It's rather like a watered down Mad Max movie.  No edginess. And Kevin Costner thinking means not acting comes off as understated.  No.  It comes off as boring.

Aside from the fact that the critics hated both of these movies I notice that they have another element in common:  they are both ridiculously long and could have benefited tremendously from serious editing.

But let's move on.


I read the book before it was more than a trilogy.  Since then there are so many books I don't even know how many there are.  I stopped reading after the third book.  And I like Kyle MacLachlan.  I think.  I don't know. I keep seeing him in movies I don't like.  (See above.)  Then again, this is a David Lynch movie and I rank him alongside other "disturbing" directors as Terry Gilliam and Timothy Burton--all three have the innate ability to create grotesque images that stay with me too long after the movie is over.

I don't know what Lynch and company were thinking. The novel is quite cerebral and rather than make the necessary changes to translate text to film, they have these annoying voice-overs to explain the endless internal thoughts of the various characters.   This, plus the slow pacing of a story that gradually unfolds, and you have a film that is simply dead in the water.  I wanted to like it.  I really did want to.  But nope.  Not happening.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Sub par special effects and a convoluted yet highly predictable script.

Dear Alan Moore,

I give you full permission to tell the various studios to fuck off if they offer to make any other of your graphic novels into a movie.  They never do a good job of it anyway.  And while I thank you for at least not coming off as a complete misogynist in this story line, I confess that I have not read your graphic novel and, therefor, am basing this judgment on the movie alone.  For all I know, your woman-hating subtext would manifest on the page in ways it doesn't do so on film.

But, on the assumption that at least this remains true of both film and text, thank you.  Now if only you could keep it up.



So the director originally envisioned this as two long movies, one focused on Cleopatra's relationship with Gaius Julius Caesar and the other on her relationship with Marcus Antonius.  What's even more interesting, in my mind, is that Dorothy Dandridge was originally considered to star in the movie.  I wonder how that might have changed things over all because, as a result of the romance between Taylor & Burton, the studio demanded the movie be merged into one film and the end result is huge.  Very lavish.  Occasionally plodding but really not as bad as I had thought it would be.  I can't say that Marc Antony comes off as a very interesting character at all in this film.  They don't even mention his having had any children with Cleopatra and they had three (including twins!) so you can see a clear bias in making their romance seem less domestic and more passion and romance driven.

The thing is, pretty costumes and spectacular sets still manage to water down what was a far more interesting and intriguing story.  There was so much more real drama happening politically and personally than ever makes it to the screen.  It would take a mini-series to do this woman's life any real justice.  At least the director appreciated the necessity in his initially planning on two films--hardly a mini-series but better than what ended up on the screen, no doubt.

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