Now don't take this the wrong way, but you're a terminator, right?
You have to hand it to James Cameron. He knows how to spend money. Not only did he spend $300 million on Avatar without blinking, but he was the first to sink $200 million into a picture, that being Titanic. Even before that, T2 was the movie to break Hollywood’s $100 million cherry. Considering the results, none of that money was wasted, but do we really want to keep encouraging this sort of behavior? What happened to the James Cameron who could make the first Terminator movie for less than the loose change he found in his sofa?
It’s hard to argue with the results when they look like this. Terminator 2 takes the lean, stripped-down muscle car that was the original and straps on a couple of booster rockets from the space shuttle. It’s sci-fi action filmmaking at such a level of relentless professionalism that it just wears you down and makes you hand over your skepticism like it was your lunch money.
In my last review, 3:10 to Yuma, I lamented the casting of two non-Americans, Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, in the lead roles for a Western. I suppose, however, that would be our just desserts for movies like this, which retells an English legend with four Americans in the lead roles. The most visible British actor is stuck playing the villain, making this, I suppose, sort of an unofficial Star Wars film. To add insult to injury, the entire story is refashioned as a generic action movie, raining down clichés like flaming arrows.
This film would make an interesting companion to Lost in La Mancha. Both films deal in essence with the wheels coming off of film production. While Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote died a quick death from sudden blunt force trauma, Francis Ford Coppola’s troubled production of Apocalypse Now seems to suffer the slow death of a thousand cuts. Originally budgeted at $13 million with a shooting schedule of sixteen weeks, it took more than a year and cost more than twice as much. The story of how this production went so wrong yet resulted in a film regarded as an enduring masterpiece is almost more interesting than the movie’s actual story.
L.A. Story is a film dedicated to the premise that the city’s reputation as a haven for free-spirited oddballs is actually understated. It also looks under the well-buffed exterior of the so-called “beautiful people” and finds layers of desperation and loneliness below the insecurity we already knew was there. This Los Angeles is a place where a woman’s breasts feel odd if they’re real.
After being tripped up by their own mistake of letting William Shatner direct a Star Trek feature, the powers-that-be at Paramount did the only wise thing: They brought back Nicholas Meyer, director of installment number two, The Wrath of Khan, still the gold standard among the ten Star Trek movies.
While this sixth movie doesn’t rise to the same level of Khan, it comfortably leaps into second place among the Trek feature films. Continue reading →
Oliver Stone‘s JFK is a movie as admirable in its technique as it is troubling in its agenda. Much like Birth of a Nation sought to rewrite the early history of the original Ku Klux Klan, JFK represents a concerted effort on Stone’s part to insert certifiable falsehoods into the historical record of the Kennedy assassination. He gets two basic facts correct. John F. Kennedy was indeed assassinated on November 22, 1963 and New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison did actually prosecute businessman Clay Shaw for his role in an alleged conspiracy. After that, the facts and Mr. Stone have a strained relationship at best. I sincerely hope that this movie will be as routinely dismissed by future generations as Birth of a Nation is today.
Silence of the Lambs was a rule breaker from the start. Contrary to convention, its primary relationship is between its diminutive female heroine and an urbane serial killer. It cleaned up at the Academy Awards despite being essentially a highbrow horror film that was released in mid-February, approximately eight months before the start of “Oscar season.” Moreover, Anthony Hopkins won Best Actor despite being on screen for about 16 minutes.