GRAY AREAS MAGAZINE FILM REVIEWS OCT. 1997
REVIEWS BY NETTA GILBOA AND CHRISTOPHER SCHANOT
THE 6TH MAN (Touchstone Home Video, 108 minutes) Marlon Wayans and Kadeem Hardison star in this comedy about a basketball team that gets some help from an invisible, dead member of the team. Space Jam was better, but this doesn't involve animated cartoon characters so perhaps it will appeal to a different crowd. Cute plot and good acting. Worth seeing if you love basketball or like these actors.
ADDICTED TO LOVE (Warner Home Video) Meg Ryan and Matthew Broderick star in this revenge film about a couple who meet because their ex's have taken up with each other. They decide to spy on the couple and set up an elaborate audio and video feed to do so. They then try to create mishaps in their targets lives and to cause suspicion in order to break the couple up. In the process, they mature a bit themselves and come to realize what real love is all about. Definitely not your typical love story, this i s recommended for comedy and romance lovers as well as those impressed by revenge.
ADRENALIN (Dimension Home Video, 76 minutes) Christopher Lambert and Natasha Henstridge star in this thriller about a group of people who must hunt the carriers of a deadly virus and eliminate them as quickly as possible. Alas this excellent premise is marred by a film that focuses solely on the hunt for one person and on his capture as one long chase scene. Skip it unless you love to watch battles of wits between the hunter and the hunted.
ALBINO ALLIGATOR (Miramax Home Video, 94 minutes) Faye Dunaway, Matt Dillon and Gary Sinise star in this action-thriller directed by Kevin Spacey. It's about three criminals who find themselves wanted by ATF and local police due to the fact the bar the y pick to clean up one of their crew in is inhabited by someone else wanted for being a gun dealer. A hostage scene quickly develops and everyone has their own opinion about how to get out alive. If you watch this with other people you will probably each disagree about how to get out of the situation as it unfolds. Well done!
ANACONDA (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 90 minutes) This horror movie about an oversized killer snake stars Ice Cube, Jon Voight and Jennifer Lopez. The cast is better than the script they've been given, but the script is passable. Alas, the snake is ve ry disappointing and he's the film's reason for being. He doesn't look like a real snake and you can clearly see he is fake when there are close-ups on his mouth. Worth seeing more for a laugh at how bad this is compared to top horror films than for the e xpected enjoyment of the film itself.
ANNABELLE'S WISH (Hallmark Home Entertainment, 54 minutes) Every Christmas holiday season there are several new animated cartoons aimed at children who still believe in Santa Claus. This one is about an unusual calf who asks Santa to let her owner, a m ute boy, get the gift of speech for Christmas. The film subtly promotes the superb work of the Make-A-Wish foundation which helps grant wishes to children with fatal illnesses. This is worth seeing if you have heard of this organization, know a handicappe d child or just enjoy good cartoons.
BAD MOON (Warner Home Video) Mariel Hemingway stars in this absolutely superb horror film about a man who becomes a werewolf after being bitten by one. It has everything you'd expect from the genre including special effects, a trail of victims, and a s ympathetic star who is forced to deal with discovering she knows the werewolf. If you like this type of movie do not miss this particular one. I thought it ranked right up there with An American Werewolf In London.
BREAKDOWN (Paramount Home Video, 95 minutes) Kurt Russell and Kathleen Quinlan star in this thriller about a couple whose car breaks down with no warning. The wife accepts a ride to the next town and never shows up there to meet her husband. He spends the rest of the film trying to find her. Once he does he is then forced to confront what the bad guys had in mind for his wife and to save her. Definitely one of Kurt's better films, you shouldn't miss this if you like his work or thrillers involving abdu ctions.
CON AIR (Touchstone Home Video, 115 minutes) Nicholas Cage, John Cusack and John Malkovich star in this first-rate action thriller about the nation's worst convicts holding up a Bureau of Corrections airplane which is supposed to be transporting them t o a new, maximum security facility. If you liked The Rock you'll love this too, and the film handles the gray areas of representing everyone from the DEA to the convicts shown flawlessly, so no one can claim their position was misrepresented. This is a must-see, although it helps if you like action films which contain some violence.
CURDLED (Miramax Home Entertainment, 87 minutes) Yet another success in Quentin Tarantino's series of films he recommends, this combination thriller and horror film stars William Baldwin and Angela Jones. It's about a woman who gets a job as a maid cle aning the homes in which grisly murders were committed. She becomes more and more interested in the remains of the killings she sees and then actually meets one of the more brutal serial killers. It's an unusual plot to be sure. Totally original and more engrossing than most horror films by far.
THE DAYTRIPPERS (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 87 minutes) In this unusual film, an entire family travels to New York City from their home in the suburbs to confirm their suspicion that the husband of one of the children is having an affair. They go to great lengths to check up on him and what they ultimately discover is more shocking to them than what they had originally imagined. Best classified as a cult movie although this is probably not something you will need to see more than once.
DEADLY ADVICE (Evergreen Entertainment, 90 minutes) It's pretty rare to run into a ground-breaking horror film, but this one's a winner. It's about a woman whose mother meddles into her life to the point where the woman cannot go on living unless someh ow her mother is factored out of the equation. Not strong enough to tell the mother off and simply move out, she instead decides to murder her. The twist comes in when she gets advice from one murderer after another. They appear before her and reveal how they committed their crimes and what to do to carry out the deed, get rid of the body and avoid being caught. Even Jack The Ripper makes a memorable appearance. This is not to be missed by fans of horror films, although it does have much more plot than go re to offer viewers.
THE DEVIL'S OWN (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 111 minutes) Brad Pitt and Harrison Ford star in this thriller about an IRA gunman who travels to the USA and comes to live with an unsuspecting Irish cop and his family. The gunman gets in over his head at tracting the attention of local police, FBI and British intelligence and he ends up dragging the policeman who houses him right into the middle of the mess. Good acting and plot, but not enough information provided about the IRA to make someone not famili ar with the struggle receptive or even entirely aware of what the controversy is all about.
DOUBLE TEAM (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 93 minutes) In one of the better films of its genre, Jean-Claude Van Damme teams up with Dennis Rodman as the two track down an assassin who is holding Van Damme's unsuspecting wife and his unborn child hostage
. There's lots more to the plot, but I don't want to give it away. Superb acting, great script, and the usual amount of violence to please people who like this type of movie. Highly recommended, even for those who usually pass on this type of action films
EVITA (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 135 minutes) Madonna fans, those interested in the life of Eva Peron and those heavily into musicals are about the only people who will enjoy sitting through this very long musical drama. I was bored stiff way sooner than I should have been. Madonna is superb and Antonio Banderas is well cast as well. Alas, the film does not hook viewers who hate musicals and/or who have no idea who Peron was into sitting through this.
EXIT IN RED (Paramount Home Video, 96 minutes) Mickey Rourke stars in this suspenseful thriller about a psychiatrist who gets framed for murder. The script has more intellectual dialogue than most films of this type, making this a pleasure to view. Rec ommended.
EXTREME MEASURES (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 118 minutes) Set in a hospital and involving unauthorized, dangerous medical experiments, this thriller stars Hugh Grant, Gene Hackman and Sarah Jessica Parker. The film starts off well but we both lost in terest in it and never finished watching it. There is a market for these films and fans of medical horror probably won't be disappointed, but it's too gruesome and too ghastly for the average viewer to enjoy sitting through.
FATHER CHRISTMAS (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 25 minutes) This animated film explores how Santa Claus delivers all those toys as well as what Saint Nick does the rest of the year when he is not working. Clearly designed for children, this is amusing a lthough one does wonder why Las Vegas is promoted as the world's ideal vacation spot for Santa (who apparently gambles) when there is so little to do there for children.
FATHER'S DAY (Warner Home Video) Robin Williams and Billy Crystal finally get to team up in this comedy about a woman whose son has run away. Desperate to get him back she calls her old flames and informs them both they are the child's father. You can' t begin to imagine what happens when they not only meet, but find the missing boy. This is quite well done, although I found most of it more poignant and serious than funny.
THE FIANCE (Live Entertainment, 94 minutes) Yet another addition to this growing genre of dysfunctional lovers who seek revenge, this one stars William R. Moses and Patrick Cassidy. A woman who suspects her husband of having an affair has one herself a nd then can't lose the guy she slept with. He starts to stalk her and eventually things are so out-of-control that she tells her husband about the affair. This is a me-too film on a me-too subject, but if you like this type of thing it probably won't disa ppoint.
THE FIFTH ELEMENT (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 125 minutes) Bruce Willis stars in this superb sci-fi thriller about a cab driver who is dragged into a complex plot to save the world from impending doom. The special effects are out-of-this-world, and s ome of the futuristic societal rules provide food for thought long after the film is over. Also stars Milla Jovovich and Gary Oldman. Not to be missed.
"…FIRST DO NO HARM" (Touchstone Home Video, 94 minutes) Meryl Streep and Fred Ward star in this gut-wrenching drama about a family who must come to terms with the fact their son has suddenly developed a severe case of epilepsy. Viewers learn a great de al about the disease, as well as some problems within the medical profession of not offering every possible choice to the families living with a person who has constant seizures. In the film, after the family goes against the doctor's wishes and tries a d iet on their son he stops having seizures altogether and is essentially cured. I don't want to give away the ending, but I will share that it does not disappoint and that it offers a wealth of information to those who want to learn the basics about a myst erious disease that probably affects someone they know.
GHOSTS OF MISSISSIPPI (131 minutes) Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg and James Woods star in this powerful drama about a civil rights case from 1963 which gets reopened 30 years later. The subject is racism, and people in power who get away with things, a nd the film does not flinch in exposing these issues. Well worth seeing, even though you can guess the film's outcome before you watch it.
THE GIFT (PHE Distribution, 80 minutes) This adult film was directed by Candida Royalle, who has earned quite a solid reputation for her adult films aimed at women. This one's about a woman who returns to her grandmother's home in order to sell it and works out her troubled relationship in the process. Starring Shanna McCullough and Mark Davis, this makes great use of outdoor scenes, and has far-better-than-average p roduction values for the genre. Worth seeing if other adult films bore or offend you, but the concept of seeing graphic sex on film does not offend you per se.
GLORY DAZE (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 99 minutes) This buddy film is about a bunch of about-to-be college graduates whom we get to know during graduation week. Alyssa Milano, Ben Affleck and French Stewart star in this fairly average film billed as a "smart comedy about getting stupid" and aimed at fans of films such as Animal House. If you're young and in the mood to see a film you should drink beer while you're watching, this might be it, but if you like films which contribute something to your life, even temporarily, this is surely not one of them.
GROSSE POINTE BLANK (Hollywood Pictures Home Video) John Cusack, Alan Arkin and Dan Akroyd star in this combination action and comedy film about a professional killer who goes home to attend his high school reunion. The reactions when he tells people w hat he does for a living are priceless, and this film has one great line (and scene) after another. Don't miss this unique and terrific film.
HARD EIGHT (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 101 minutes) Gwyneth Paltrow stars in this film about gambling and a professional gambler who teaches someone how to become one. It's as well done as the other "hit" films about the subject, and may actually rev eal more insider's tricks than most of them. The focus here is on the relationship between the professional and his protégé and the film is well worth seeing even if, like me, gambling fundamentally holds no interest for you.
HEAVY (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 104 minutes) Shelley Winters, Liv Tyler and Deborah Harry star in this film about a small town roadside diner and the new waitress who comes to work there. The acting surpasses the plot here, although fans of slice-o f-life films will probably enjoy this.
JOYRIDE (Live Entertainment, 92 minutes) This stylish thriller will captivate you if you like films like La Femme Nikita and Point Of No Return. It's about a motel employee and his friends who encounter a professional killer who is stayin g at the motel. Adam West has a small role as the father of one of the kids and the film also stars Tobey Maguire, Amy Hathaway and Wilson Cruz.
LEGEND OF THE LOST TOMB (Hallmark Home Entertainment, 93 minutes) This superb action-thriller involves two teenagers who arrive in Cairo, Egypt and discover the man they are coming to see, an archeologist, has been kidnapped. The film traces his captor s and his recovery and offers a tour of Egyptian and some of its many splendid treasures in the process. Worth seeing for the plot, but also for the look at life in Egypt.
MARVIN'S ROOM (Miramax Home Entertainment, 98 minutes) This tear-jerking drama about family illnesses stars Meryl Streep, Diane Keaton and Robert DeNiro. DeNiro is cast as a doctor, and Streep and Keaton star as two feuding sisters. The film offers eac h star a role that is a stretch and a challenge and has a superb plot although a disappointing, cop-out ending. Well worth seeing if you don't mind getting sad and coming to terms with your own mortality as you watch it.
MEN IN BLACK (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 97 minutes) Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith star in this action comedy about a branch of the government which deals with destroying alien bugs who land on earth. Super special effects, lots of scenes of the act ors looking cool as they put on their sunglasses and a cute story line. Overall, this was a bit of a let down from the trailers for the film, which gave too much of the film away, but it's worth seeing purely for entertainment value.
MIRACLE LEGION: WE'RE VERY CLOSE (Black Coffee Productions, Inc. http://www.blackcoffee.com) Very few of the artists in the music industry have come forth to expose the problems bands face in trying to get promoted. For the most part it seems as though those who make it never speak badly about the rise to the top, and those who don't make it are never heard from again. This documentary depicts a local band based in New Haven, CT who made it big enough to get MTV airplay and an appearance on the Letterm an show, and explores what happened to them after they had a conflict with their record company. This is worth seeing by anyone struggling to make it in the music business as well as those in any industry who have gotten shafted.
MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING (Columbia TriStar Home Video) Julia Roberts stars as a woman whose best friend announces he's getting married and expects her to be supportive of him. In this romantic comedy, Roberts realizes she is in love with this friend an d that she wants to marry him herself, not help some other woman have him. She does everything she can to sabotage things, but can't seem to do the one thing she should be doing which is to talk her feelings out with him. Worth seeing.
RIOT IN THE STREETS (Evergreen Entertainment, 96 minutes) Luke Perry and Mario Van Peebles star in this powerful film consisting of four intertwining vignettes. The plot involves the residents of a community during the L.A. riots. As the verdict is ann ounced, and word spreads that the four officers involved in the beating of Rodney King were let go, violence explodes into the lives of each of the film's characters when out of nowhere people near them begin to vent rage, loot shops, destroy property, et c. This film truly makes one think, and although not always pleasant to sit through, I found it well worth my time.
ROADRACERS (Dimension Home Video, 93 minutes) From the director of From Dusk Till Dawn comes this action-thriller starring David Arquette and Samla Hayek. It's about a guy in a small town who is picked on by the town bully who is assisted by his father who is the town's police sergeant and has a grudge against the hero dating back to a battle the police had with his father. This was better than average and recommended for anyone who has ever had to live in a small town, been hassled by a bully or had undeserved trouble with the police.
ROMY AND MICHELLE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION (Touchstone Home Video, 91 minutes) This comedy, while intended for women, will probably appeal to many men as well. The plot involves two girls who went to high school together and go back ten years later for a reunion. They concoct a lie about what they have done since graduating, and get exposed, and have to survive the night after being exposed as liars. It's funny, touching and easy to relate to, especially if you have ever been to one of these reunions or w ent to high school in the 70s as I did.
RONNIE AND JULIE (Hallmark Home Entertainment, 98 minutes) This superb films is about two teenagers who fall in love against the odds and manage to win the support of their families in the end. Ronnie's mother and Julie's father are competing against e ach other in a local election and one side is not exactly playing by the rules. The two families are bitter enemies and so the couple must keep their romance a secret. This works fine until a local television station airs a home video of them kissing and blows their little secret. Extremely well done, this will appeal to romantics of all ages.
SCOOBY-DOO GOES HOLLYWOOD (Warner Bros. Home Video, 51 minutes) The popular animated cartoon character gets his own feature, in which he tries to convince Hollywood studio executives to let him change his image. Numerous popular TV shows and movies are spoofed including The Sound of Music, Happy Days, The Love Boat, etc. Recommended for children and Scooby-Doo's biggest fans.
SEARCH AND DESTROY (Hallmark Home Entertainment, 91 minutes) Major star power created this bizarre film about a man in financial trouble who decides to leave town and change careers. Griffin Dunne, Rosanna Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken an d John Turtorro, among others, join forces in this film presented by Martin Scorsese. It spoofs drug dealers, new age charlatans, moviemakers, horror films and more. Thoroughly unique.
SGT. KABUKIMAN N.Y.P.D. (Troma Team Video) This destined-to-be-a-cult-film involves a man who, through a twist of fate, becomes a Japanese fighting superhero. It's bizarre and entertaining, and fairly unique, but it runs a bit long towards the end. Wor th seeing if you like campy, cult films.
SHADOW CONSPIRACY (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 104 minutes) Yet another film about government conspiracies formed from within the White House, this action-packed thriller stars Charlie Sheen, Donald Sutherland and Linda Hamilton. This past year has resulted in a deluge of these films and they are each so good it's hard to rank them against each other. Sheen plays a White House aide whose boss is quite corrupt. Sheen teams up with a top reporter and risks his life to save the President from an elabor ate assassination attempt. Worth seeing if you like political thrillers or want to see a film portray the government in an unsympathetic light.
SILENT TRIGGER (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 93 minutes) Dolph Lundgren stars in this formula thriller about a hired assassin who has angered his bosses and is now being targeted for murder by one of his own. There are lots of surprises here sure to keep you in suspense as well as the usual bullets, fighting scenes and murders always found in these type of films. I found this better than average, mostly due to a well-written script.
SNOWBOARD ACADEMY (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 88 minutes) This slapstick comedy stars Corey Haim, Jim Varney, Brigitte Nielsen and Joe Flaherty. There's a complex plot here, with multiple sub-plots, as well as airborne footage for those who want to s ee snowboarding in action. Not for everyone, but this will delight those who like these actors or who are curious about snowboarding.
SPRUNG (Trimark Home Video, 108 minutes) This romantic comedy is about two black couples who are dating, and the trials and tribulations they face. One of the guys is a "player" and the other is overly shy, so neither is perfect and they both make lots of mistakes. It's nice to see that Hollywood is now churning out films aimed at black moviegoers, a group utterly ignored for decades in film history. I notice a lot of stereotypes in these films, but to be fair the films aimed at white people about teen dating mishaps and adventures are pretty stereotyped too.
TRAVELLER (Evergreen Entertainment, 101 minutes) Those interested in gypsy lore and culture will want to see this film about a gypsy clan and the tricks and scams they pull to earn money. Not since King of the Gypsies has so much been shown on s creen about how gypsies live and work. I'm not sure how much, if anything, of what is shown here is true, but given the falsehoods about witchcraft in Hollywood films I would take this as fiction. Still, it's a great story either way, and one well worth s eeing.
TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES N.M. (Columbia TriStar Home Video, 101 minutes) Kiefer Sutherland directs, as well as stars in, this film about four people who plan to get rich quick in a drug deal. They have to shift gears quite suddenly when the deal goes sou r and they discover they have murdered an undercover cop, who was wearing a wire at the time. Lots of action here, as well as a solid story and believable acting. Kiefer Sutherland turns out to have lots of promise as a director and this is a superb first attempt.
UNHOOK THE STARS (Miramax Home Entertainment, 105 minutes) Gena Rowlands stars as a woman who becomes involved in babysitting a young child and finds herself growing from the experience. Marisa Tomei stars as the ditzy neighbor whose child Rowlands spe nds time with. This is surely a "chick" film, and although billed as a comedy I thought it had plenty of drama and serious moments. Well done, either way.
VENUS 5: THE IMMA BALL (Central Park Media, 49 minutes) Those new to anime will appreciate the excellent introduction to this genre at the beginning of this tape. As anime films go this one has more sex and less violence than usual. The plot involves a woman who battles five female warriors who have not been told they should be helping her instead of fighting her. It should appeal to females and those who seek plot over graphic violence.
THE WAR AT HOME (Touchstone Home Video, 123 minutes) Martin Sheen, Kathy Bates, Emilio Estevez and Kimberly Williams star in this drama about a Vietnam Vet having problems years after the war has ended and he has returned home. This is one of those rar e films with good plot, actors and no disappointments once those elements are in place. Well worth seeing, both by vets and those who missed the war as well.
THE WINNER (Live Entertainment, 89 minutes) Rebecca DeMornay, Michael Madson, Vincent D'Onofrio and Billy Bob Thornton star in this film about a gambler who suddenly starts winning and winning. He wins so much and so often that he ends up attracting th e interest of a loan shark, a showgirl, multiple hustlers and an ex-con, all of whom want to know him for the wrong reasons. Well done.
WISH UPON A STAR (Warner Home Video) A teenage girl wishes she could be her more traditionally attractive sister and gets her wish. The two girls switch bodies causing all sorts of commotion with teachers, peers, and boys they know. It's much better th an you'd think, although probably more of a "chick film" than one both sexes will enjoy. Really captures some of the intricacies of high school socialization. Highly recommended for both high school outcasts and former high school stars.