(gb) wrote: Around the time of the release of "What Lies Beneath", director Robert Zemeckis voiced his excitement to make a thriller, a genre he had never touched before. His goal, apparently, was to make a thriller that Alfred Hitchcock would helm had he lived in the digital age. Zemeckis has obviously studied many of Hitchcock's famous techniques - the long panning shots, the sexy blonde in trouble, the use of dark lighting to create a sinister mood - but plot-wise, "What Lies Beneath" is so unoriginal, so mind-numbingly stupid that it's an insult that Zemeckis would believe that Hitchcock would ever make a film as bad as this one. The woman in trouble is Claire (Michelle Pfeiffer), a gorgeous housewife that lives on a scenic lake with her seemingly ideal husband, Dr. Norman Spencer (Harrison Ford). They have just sent their daughter away to college, and Claire is already feeling a bit lonely. With Norman gone all the time with duties at work, she has nothing to do except sit in a pool of loneliness and anxiety. But around the time their daughter leaves, Claire begins to experience supernatural occurrences. Doors open by themselves, ghostly whispers echo through the halls ... at one point, she even sees an apparition in the reflection of the bathtub. Norman dismisses these events as empty nest symptoms, but Claire isn't so sure. One night, she sees her neighbor moving what looks like a body bag into the trunk of his car. He must have murdered his wife! At first, she believes that the being haunting her home might be her, but when she is proved wrong, something more ominous comes to light: it appears the supposed ghost has something to do with Norman's past. "What Lies Beneath" begins with the usual haunted house clichs, and transforms into "Dial M for Murder" territory; and not in a good way. It's odd how a film so technically well-made (the camera work is kinetic and reminiscent of "Rear Window") is so terrible in its story that it undermines everything else. Clark Gregg's script is unaware of itself, and the final twist ends up being so silly that it inspires laughing and pointing rather than gasping. The climax itself is intricately shot and impressive to look at, and it's a shame that it everything that surrounds it feels so TV-movie-of-the-week. There were so many questions I had while watching the film: why did the supposed ghost decide to haunt the lake house once Claire and Norman's daughter left for college? The daughter was busy in high school before then, making plenty of time to wreak havoc while Claire was home alone. There is one scene where Claire is seemingly possessed; was that bad writing or was she actually supposed to be possessed? Also, why did Pfeiffer and Ford, two huge movie stars, pick such a stinker of a project? Possibly, with Zemeckis' track record, it was hard to say no. Zemeckis directed "Back to the Future", "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", and "Forrest Gump". It's shocking to think that a director who is both a technical wizard and a master of storytelling could go so wrong. Perhaps the biggest waste is Pfeiffer and Ford's performances. Both are so dedicated and well-cast; but the screenplay is so rotten that it makes their work feel unbalanced and all over the place. Pfeiffer does her best to stay away from the woman in trouble scenario, but she is more Neve Campbell than Jamie Lee Curtis. Ford tries hard to be a creepy villain, but once again, the writing makes him silly rather than scary. Somehow, "What Lies Beneath" made $155 million domestically and $291 million world-wide. Maybe audiences in 2000 were blind and deaf, I'm not sure, but there is a reason why this film isn't as acclaimed as Zemeckis' other film of that year, "Cast Away". The latter is a good film. This one is a bomb.
(ag) wrote: This would be a great chronicle of Mozart's life except the Peter Shaffer took too much artistic license in the story. Much of what was portrayed in the film was historically inaccurate.. While there was some rancor between Mozart and Salieri , the two composers actually respected one another. History does not portray Mozart as being childish and vulgar. Other than these inaccuracies the film in quite good.
(es) wrote: The early 80's is an era where Woody experimented the most and began his habit of writing a movie per year. His run with Mia Farrow is most diverse and productive run up until the late 2000's. As Danny Rose, Allen is finally out of the repetitive role of the sexually neurotic intellectual. While Allen isn't perfect here, it's still a nice break from the neurosis of his other movies, and Farrow is wonderfully crass. The accordion music and comedian narration helps move the story along, and it ends up being another unique gem by the prolific director.A highlight is shoot out in the Macy's parade storage hanger.