Movies / TV
So Many Movies, So Little Time
By Retro Rob
Apr 23, 2003, 17:47

So Many Movies, So Little Time

***This was originally going to be the introduction to my NWA compilation tape review, which is coming soon. Before I knew it, this took on a life of itís own, so I decided to split it from the tape review. I figured it may get skimmed over as introduction and more people would read it as an independent column. If you like this format, tell me and maybe Iíll make this a semi-regular deal.***

In the last two weeks I caught Phone Booth in the theater and bought a few DVDs including From Hell Ė Directors Limited Edition, Boogie Nights Platinum Edition, and Total Recall Ė Special Limited Edition (which I mentioned in my Confidential review a few weeks ago). As you could see, I go all out when I go to a store. Iíll be talking candidly about those films so beware of spoilers.

Letís start with Phone Booth. Iím not going to go over this one with a fine-tooth comb because Dr. Tom did that already. Instead Iím going to go over a few broad thoughts. Kiefer Sutherland and Colin Farrell both did a tremendous job in this movie, but without Forest Whitaker the movie wouldnít have been the same. He was fantastic as the captain of the police force and as always he came through in a supporting role. I was surprised Katie Holmes was essentially wasted in her role. My least favorite part of the cast was without a doubt the whores. Besides that funny one-liner from the black chick about her ďpenis handĒ all they did was ruin the parts of the movie in which they were featured.

For whatever reason some people donít believe that Stu didnít confess his affair to his wife because he thought he would die. They think he only did it in the hopes of preventing his death. Personally, I figured all along that Stu, like many other people in similar situations, came clean because he didnít want to die with anything hanging over his head. After saying that, it makes Stuís apology sound kind of selfish. I mean wouldnít his wife have been better off had she not known of his lust for another woman? It seemed like Stu was only interested in clearing HIS conscience. So, that situation could be looked at a few different ways. I donít know really where I stand on it 100%.

As for the surprise twist at the end, I was caught off guard. As soon as Stu rejected the pizza guy 15 minutes into the movie, I was sure HE was the sniper. Then of course it seemed like my prediction came true. Once we saw the real sniper, I first figured Stu was simply having a delusion from the medication that he was administered, but the panned out camera angle kind of shot that theory to death. I would imagine that they had the sniper live so that a sequel could be made in the future. Now if the sequel is just Phone Booth 2, it will fail miserably and suck immensely like Speed 2. I was thinking they do something a little different if a sequel is indeed in the works. Instead of taking the Phone Booth route, why not change it up a bit. Have Kiefer Sutherland become a crazed stalker or serial killer. He doesnít necessarily have to target Farrell again, but it would nice if they use Farrell to help get inside Sutherlandís head. Just an ideaÖ

In retrospect, I believe that the sniper was doing Stu a favor. After watching the movie it reminded me of when Tyler Durden put a gun to the head of a convenience store worker in Fight Club. Tyler Durden never intended to kill the guy, as was proven when he showed Ed Norton that the gun wasnít loaded. Instead, Tyler just wanted to scare the shit out of this guy, so he would make something out of himself. Go to college, follow a dream, make him into a better person. In my opinion, that is what the sniper wanted to do with Stu. Did he ever really intend to kill Stu? We will never know for sure, but I donít think that he did. The guy had more than enough time to pull the trigger while the stand off was going on. By scaring the shit out of Stu, he made Stu into a better man. The kind of man who would be honest to everyone in his life and loyal to his wife. If anything the sniper was doing Stu a favor. If it werenít for this incident Stuís relationship with his wife probably would have ended, not to mention all the gossip he was floating around biting him in the ass down the road. Thatís what I got out of the movie and that is what sets this movie apart from other suspense films like Speed. The sniperís motive wasnít just revenge like it is in most movies. There was more to it this time around.

Overall the movie was very good, but it wasnít perfect. Nevertheless, it was better than just about anything that was recently released. I did download the movie and will watch it again, but for the time being Iím gonna call it 8/10.

Next on the docks, lets go to Total Recall. Now for those of you who forgot, this is the DVD I bought for my friend, which he had already, so based on advice from Jay Spree I decided to keep it. Generally Iím not a fan of the mindless shoot Ďem up Arnold movies, but this movie wasnít like that at all. It actually has an overall theme about the environment and a totalitarian government. Not to mention the open-ended conclusion that is still being discussed to this day, 13 years after the movie was released. Iím leaning more towards it all being dream, but Iím not entirely sure why. Thatís what I love about this movie, the fact that you have to make your own decision at the very end. I would go 7/10 on this one.

I remember wanting to see From Hell when it first came out in 2001, but I never found the time to go to the theater. The movie got mixed reviews, so I was never in a rush to pick it up. Next thing you know, I find the two disc set for $10, for it was in the pre-owned bin. I fucking had to buy it, especially after taking into consideration that the single disc goes for $15 and the double is about $25. So I figured that no matter how the movie turns out, the Jack the Ripper documentary stuff on disc two would be worth the 10 bucks.

I found certain parts of the movie a little hard to follow. I probably just need to see it another time. The movie was very dark, but not dark to the point of not being able to see a damn thing, like Shadow of the Vampire. Johnny Depp turned in a great performance, as did Ian Holm. Robbie Coltrane was also good in a supporting role. Heather Graham on the other hand wasnít all that great. First of all, she was too good looking for a dirt poor, British prostitute. Especially when you compare her to the circle of friends she was running around with. The rest of them were dirty and disgusting. Then you have Graham with her hair all done up. I was surprised by Jack the Ripperís identity. Whether or not I was pleasantly surprised, Iím not really sure of. At the very least though, in hindsight Sir William was the logical choice for Jack the Ripper.

The DVD includes about TWENTY deleted scenes and an alternate ending. Some of the scenes are five seconds long and donít add anything to the movie. Others are more graphic slaughtering of the women. The alternate ending was pretty much the same ending we saw on the movie except Depp dies in Asia. He dies in an opium house just like in the actual movie. One of the Asian guys also puts the coins on his eyes. Iíve also heard that ANOTHER ending was filmed where Depp secretly went on to live with Graham, but that wouldnít really have fitted the movie and his character as well as the ending they decided to go with.

As for the actual Jack the Ripper material, some of it was a little dry. It was no different than what you would see on the History channel. My other gripe with the DVD is that menus are illegible because of the colors that were chosen for the text. It is practically impossible to see what you are selecting. I donít feel comfortable rating this movie after one viewing because I missed a lot of details during the first half. Like most mystery movies, you need to watch them twice before being able to accurately critique it. Although at this point, I would recommend it at least as a rental.

And finally, Boogie Nights. This movie shows just how good an ensemble cast can be with the right actors. Whether is be the headliners like Mark Wahlberg, Julianne Moore and Burt Reynolds or the supporting cast of John C. Reily, Don Cheadle, Luis Guzman, Heather Graham and William H. Macy, EVERYONE was on. Even though we obviously knew in the back of our minds who the real stars were, all the actors were fantastic and had scenes that showcased each one on their own. Many people say that this movie made Mark Wahlberg and Heather Graham. I agree on Marky Mark, but I didnít think Graham had a breakthrough performance. Maybe it was because Julianne Moore seemed to overshadow her as the female on center stage. My personal favorite actor out of the bunch was without a shadow of a doubt John C. Reily. Whether it be his magic act or just everyday interaction with the other actors, he was on fire and hilarious. If you already had the regular Boogie Nightís release, pick up this one for the ďJohn C. Reily FilesĒ on the supplementary disc. They demonstrate just how good he is with improvisation. Speaking of improvisation, Wahlberg and Guzman also have a side-splitting deleted scene. Back to Reily though, the guy reminds me of a young Bill Murray. Enough about the characters, lets get to the plot.

Essentially everyone that will be reading this review will also know what this movie is all about sex, drugs and rock ní roll, but there is SO MUCH more to it than just what you see on the exterior. Understandably, a movie like this is not for everyone. Even though there is a clear (and blatantly obvious) message at the end, the ride to it may be a little too rough for some people. The theme here is that everyone needs to belong to SOME kind of group. Whether it is your blood-related family, your circle of friends, your drinking buddies or even a group of porn stars. EVERYONE needs to belong. Even people who we look at and say that they have NO ONE, odds are that if they do belong to a group none of us would know of, like an internet message board (wink wink). Then there are those people who cannot find a group to associate with in the real world, so they create one of their own. Now I donít mean that they go out and start a club. No, these people actually compensate for a lack of comradeship by making themselves believe they belong to an imaginary group. The need to belong whether it is in a real or imaginary sense is demonstrated by the defense mechanism identification. The group of people in Boogie Nights were most likely considered social outcasts by both their peers and families. I mean you have Rollergirl who never takes off her skates. Buck, a black man who dresses like a cowboy and the most visible example, Dirk Diggler/Eddie Adams, a 17 year old kid that was essentially disowned by his drunken mother. He didnít have the brains to stay in school, so he lost that whole group of people. The one thing he had going for him was his 13 inch dick, and that was what he used in order to belong. Hey, everyone has something special, right?

Once this group of social misfits disbanded, they were all lost. If you thought their casual drug abuse as a group was bad, you ainít seen nothing yet. When alone they only had drugs. Without porn, and the money from working as porn stars, they were nobodies. Dirk Diggler soon learned that establishing yourself as a porn star does not keep you in the spotlight forever. The guy went back to jerking off for $10 a pop. He came full circle. Julianne Mooreís character fought to get custody of her son, but also learned that although porn is what kept HER going for so long, it also destroyed her reputation in the eyes of people not involved in the business. Buck, the one character that you thought would be able to bounce right back, stooped to a new low. He was an innocent bystander in an armed robbery. After the clerk and robber were shot, HE ran off with the money! He was the guy that seemed ready to restart his life, but now he steals from a FUCKING DEAD MAN. Burt Reynoldsí character soon found out that without his biggest star ever (Dirk), his business was in the crapper. Needless to say, at the end of the movie everyone reunites and does their own thing, using each other as friends to lean on for both financial and social support. Surprisingly, not all them decide to get back involved in the porn business.

In my opinion, this movieís one shortcoming is the fact that the theme is just THAT obvious. A filmmaker should not expose a theme; instead you should have to search for it. I also think that the theme itself caused the movie to get a little lame towards the end. Seriously, about four of the characters were coked out 24/7 and NOT ONE OF THEM DIED! Not too realistic in my eyes. On the other hand, the ensemble cast did an unbelievable job. So those two minor gripes leave this one with a 9/10.

Sooooo, hopefully my first try at a pop culture column wasnít too painful. If anyone is interested in seeing more of these, drop me a line. I was planning on seeing A Mighty Wind this weekend. I just picked up Jackass the Movie and Iím currently bidding on the Fight Club Ė Collectorís Edition DVD. Who knows you may see another one of these in the near future. That is of course as long as people actually enjoyed my first go around.

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