(au) wrote: There were some twisted minds that came up with this film. Fortunately, they did not push it too far. I was a tad worried as the opening scenes showed the artwork of Amos, which is some messed up stuff. The characters in this were totally original, the storyline is dark and so many scenes make you wonder if the film is going to turn a sinister corner att any minute. After all that anticipation, the ending was a bit of a let down but it has to be said, full marks for originality.
(it) wrote: A Nifty Idea Which Goes Nowhere I have, in my vast book collection, a young adult novel about a high school for the arts. One of the minor characters is making a movie. And that's all he does. Every other kid in the school attends classes--both the art kind and the academic kind--worries about grades, and so forth. This guy hardly ever puts in an appearance, and no one asks to see his footage. He's a mythic figure in the school, and every once in a while, people get little notes in their lockers with a time and place written on them. Maybe they get a bit of script. And they show up at that time and place, and they act in the movie. In my head, this is how John Waters films are cast. I mean, yes, this film has Mink Stole in it, and she knew John Waters Way Back When. But how else do you explain a movie starring Melanie Griffith, Alicia Witt, and Maggie Gyllenhaal? And featuring Kevin Nealon as himself? Griffith is horrible movie star Honey Whitlock. She's filmed some dreadful piece of sentimental garbage in Baltimore, and she's attending the premiere there. Only the premiere is interrupted by Cecil B. DeMented (Stephen Dorff) and his band of renegade underground filmmakers. They storm the premiere and kidnap Honey. Cecil tells her that she is to appear in his film, which is about how Hollywood movies have completely wrecked cinema. At first, she's horrified, but the more time she spends with Cecil and his madcap crew, the more intrigued she is. And she discovers that she's actually putting in a good performance instead of just coasting on a past Best Actress nomination. (Griffith herself lost for [i]Working Girl[/i] in 1988 to Jodie Foster in [i]The Accused[/i].) Things get a little chaotic, but of course they also started that way. I mean, they have a Satanic makeup girl (Gyllenhaal as Raven), an ex-porn actress costar (Witt as Cherish), and a male lead who is using drugs because that means he only has one problem--drug addiction (Adrian Grenier as Lyle). Naturally, the title comes from something Waters himself was once called, and this may be part of the problem. I get the distinct impression that he read that, got the title, and wasn't quite sure where he was going from there. There are some clever bits in it; I like that each member of the "Sprocket Holes" has the name of a different director tattooed somewhere on their body, and if you pay attention, the directors chosen make a lot of sense. Angry Black Woman Chardonnay (Zenzele Uzoma) has Spike Lee, for example, and ultraviolent sound operator Pam (Erika Lynn Rupli) has Sam Peckinpah. (Spellcheck knows who Sam Peckinpah is?) But I think perhaps he should have spent just a little while longer working out a plot, because the whole of the story is more disjointed than any Waters film I've seen yet. Not that I've seen all of them, and of course we have [i]Pink Flamingos[/i] yet to go. But you get what I mean. I'm sure it has occurred to Waters himself that he is heavily influenced by a pair of women who ended up in situations not unlike the mental state Honey Whitlock is in at the end of our picture. Indeed, one of the actresses in this movie, and one of the only actresses working today to have a Presidential pardon in her past, is Patty Hearst, and you can't miss the parallels there unless you don't actually know who Patty Hearst is. He is also close friends with Leslie Van Houten, who is serving life in prison for having spent too much time under the influence of a charismatic but crazy leader. A musician, in Leslie's case. And in fact, Waters himself has speculated about the kind of thing he and his friends might have done if they hadn't gotten involved in film. Perhaps with just a little more crazy, he would himself be branding people before he'd let them appear in his films, which is distinctly creepier than the tattoos the guys who played the eponymous Fellowship of the Ring got. I am almost certainly not his target audience, of course. Frankly, I think John Waters is his own target audience. And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Certainly he's been getting movies made for nearly fifty years now, though he hasn't really made very many. And I can agree with the anger the film shows toward the MPAA and those who want all movies to be "safe for the family." I think he and I could have a serious and intelligent conversation on the subject, because he's quite clearly intelligent and knowledgeable. But of course, you can never be sure how much the opinions espoused by characters are the opinions of the writers, and I'm quite sure even John Waters himself thinks the attitudes these characters have are extreme. That's okay; he likes extreme. He's been working with it for a very long time now. All that being said, I think he's serious about how people who talk audibly in theatres after the feature has started are unforgivable, as are people who come in after the feature has already started. I'm not sure I want to throw grenades at them, though.
(de) wrote: An attempt to combine two popular 1970s genres, the political thriller and the disaster movie. It even has an all-star cast. The plot is simple, a terrorist attack on the American wing of the International Health Organization (which is strangely well-guarded by U.S. Marines) ends up a terrorist infected by a strain of a deadly virus. Said terrorist stows away on board a transcontinental luxury train and infects some of the passengers. The passengers are the usual types you might find in similar movies. By this point in his career Burt Lancaster specialized in playing the right-wing authority figure and his U.S. Army colonel is able to wield incredible influence over America's NATO allies and even persuades the (then) Communist Polish government to let the train cross over into their territory. I suspect in real life several Polish and Soviet armored divisions would have blocked the train's entry into Eastern Europe. Luckily, on the train is a brilliant surgeon (Richard Harris) and his estranged novelist ex-wife (Sophia Loren) who take charge of the situation. The biggest kick I got was in watching a young, longer-haired Martin Sheen playing the younger gigolo lover of Ava Gardner (who does not look as good as Sophie in this one). Martin looks and acts a lot like his son Charlie in this one. There are lots of arguments between Lancaster and Harris over the radio as the train heads closer to a rickety bridge across a river, the crossing that gives the film its name. formulaic but enjoyable.