Monday, January 16, 2006

Rental Reviews: Part 2 of 2

Dark Water. Available in both Rated 'PG-13' and Unrated versions
Synopsis: A mother and daughter, still wounded from a bitter custody dispute, hole up in a run-down apartment building. Adding further drama to their plight, they are targeted by the ghost of former resident.
Comments: First off, I have to admit I am not a fan of Asian horror. Knowing that this film had been adapted from the Asian version (AKA Honogurai mizu no soko kara), I went in skeptical, but the trailer looked promising, plus, I love Jennifer Connelly...when she doesn't look like she's starving. What the hell happened to her? I mean, yeah, I realize she had a breast reduction, but she looked so healthy and beautiful in such movies as Labyrinth (and yes, I know she was just 16 at the time), Career Opportunities (21), The Rocketeer (also 21), Mulholland Falls (26), Dark City (28) and Requiem for a Dream (30). And yes, before you mention A Beautiful Mind, I do own that one on DVD, but she looks skeletal in that movie. Come back to the Five & Dime, Jennifer Connelly, Jennifer Connelly.

Annnnyway, back to my review. I rented the 'Unrated' edition, in hopes that it would offer something that the original didn't. If it did, I can't imagine what it was. First, the Pros: The movie has a nice, consistent look, the actors are great, the story's plot had potential, I loved the fact that the director didn't rely on CGI for the special effects and the movie has a satisfying ending. Cons: Where the hell was the suspense? Where was the payoff? I kept waiting throughout the entire film, thinking to myself "This is an Asian ghost story, there's gotta be a twist somewhere. I can't wait to see what it is." And then there's no twist. What I thought happened from the moment I saw the building they were moving into is exactly what happened! That's it.
Verdict: Me no likee. The movie pace was waaaaaay too slow. There was little suspense with no payoff. A waste of my 105 minutes.

Partner(s). Not Rated
Synopsis: An enterprising lawyer , acting on a report that a female colleague is up to make partner, plays up the established rumor that he's gay in order to better his chances at edging out his competition.
Comments: When I first stumbled across this title online, I thought "Ugh! They remade the 1982 movie with the same title!" I LOVE the '82 version with Ryan O'Neal and John Hurt. It's so dated and unPC, but I still love it. If only it were on DVD...

As it turns out, the movie I rented is not a remake, but don't breathe a sigh of relief just yet. I didn't finish it. I dunno what it was about this movie that I just did NOT dig, but I couldn't even muster up enough fortitude to even finish the movie. On the one hand, I did like the fact that the token gay character (played by Michael Ian Black) was totally undetectable from the straight characters. In other words, no overly stereotypical gay affectations; i.e. no speech impediments, no 'fabulous' wardrobe/apt. surroundings, no super-sassy 'disses,' etc. I thought that was cool and a refreshing change of pace from the norm.

BUT, then I see the cover and I'm like "What?" They can manage to make the gay character 3 dimensional in person, but they revert back to the stereotypical purse-lipped queer for the cover art? It's like they got together and said "Just in case you don't get's a visual to make sure you do...even though there's clearly a movie synopsis on the back of the DVD case."

And at the risk of sounding overly sensitive about the whole gay charade schtick, I was irked that the straight guy, pretending to be gay to land the promotion, felt compelled to educate everyone in the office, one by one, on how he knew when he was gay, etc. I dunno, I think for the most part it was just a bad movie. I think maybe in the right hands it could have been funny, but as it was, it wasn't.
Verdict: Didn't finish it. Not funny. Rent 1982's Partners on VHS, if you can find it.

War of the Worlds. Rated 'PG-13'
Synopsis: As Earth is invaded by alien tripod fighting machines, one family fights for survival.
Comments: I love the original 1953 version of War of the Worlds, so I initially didn't have much interest in seeing this remake. I'm not a fan of Tom Cruise (I long lost interest, pre-Oprah couch-jumping days) or Dakota Fanning (though, I liked Uptown Girls). Dakota Fanning has those bizarre Cavity Creeps teeth. They look like she ate a handful of those little red pills the dentist used to give you when you were a little kid. Remember those? They looked like little red baby aspirin and you would chew one up and then check your teeth out in the mirror and the area where you weren't brushing well would be red. That's Dakota Fanning to me.

I primarily rented War of the Worlds to see the special effects. I love disaster movies where real places get destroyed (i.e. Independence Day, The day After Tomorrow, etc.). I was a little disappointed, but the movie had its moments. I couldn't get past my distaste for Cruise long enough to suspend disbelief, but Dakota did a fantastic job. Oh, and I hated the kid who played Cruise's "rebellious" emo son. I was counting the minutes until he got obliterated.
Verdict: The movie wasn't what the hype cracked it up to be. I wouldn't want to own the DVD. I've seen better.

Silent Night, Bloody Night. Rated 'R'
Synopsis: The secrets of a small New England town are violently exposed on Christmas Eve in this proto-slasher shocker. The owner of the long-abandoned Butler estate is desperate to sell, and dispatches his lawyer from New York to negotiate its purchase by the town council. Meanwhile, an inmate from a nearby insane asylum breaks loose and makes his way to the old mansion to take bloody revenge for a crime kept hidden for 35 years. The maniac makes mysterious phone calls to various prominent citizens, telling them that "Marianne" has returned, and lures each to the Butler house to meet their doom. The mayor's daughter, Diane, receives a visit from a man who claims to be Jeremy Butler, the mansion's owner, in town to investigate his lawyer's disappearance. Together they attempt to unravel the sinister mystery of the Butler house, which turns out to be a harrowing tale of incest, insanity and mass murder.
Comments: First off, I didn't actually rent this one. I've had this movie on a Double Feature DVD for some years now, but have never taken the time to watch it. I've attempted it in the past, but didn't have the patience to get past the first couple of chapters.

Secondly, don't confuse this movie with 1984's Silent Night, Deadly Night, which is a slasher movie about a killer in a Santa Claus suit. I like them both, but they are completely different movies.

Silent Night, Bloody Night, I'll admit, is slow as molasses to get started, but once it does, I thought it was really creepy. If you can hold out until the creepy phone calls begin and the town council members begin to be lured to the house and killed off one by one, then you're home free. THE scene that creeped me out: When Tess Howard, one of the town council members is lured to the house and discovers she's in the house with the killer. The lights go out and she's knocked to the floor. Looking up, a flashlight shines in her face and she can't see the killer. He hisses "Don't be afraid. I want to help you. Take my hand. Take my hand, Tess." She reaches out to take his hand only to discover it's someone's dismembered hand and it falls to the floor with a thud. She screams and the last thing you see is the silhouette of someone raising an axe above their head and bringing it down swiftly. CREEPY!!!
Verdict: Creepy lil' thriller if you have the patience for it. Not what I would consider gory by today's standards (more 'PG' than 'R'). I'm glad I own it. Don't be turned off by the cover of most of the DVDs. Whoever decided on that picture out of the tons of other stills they could have used, is retarded. It's not even a major scene and makes the movie look as if it is a B&W (the movie is in color) zombie movie that has been colorized. AWFUL cover. That's why I went with the original poster art, shown here.


Blogger Mariana said...

I knew it! I knew I hadn't imagined it, when I noticed her breasts looked much smaller. I never saw anyone with weirder, faker, more disproportionate looking breasts than Jennifer in Mulholland Falls. I'm so glad she took them out.

Monday, January 16, 2006 8:00:00 PM  
Blogger Stephaine said...

Labryinth I loved that movie. I liked Tom running from the aliens, I just wish they would have got him. The original is stil my favorite, nothing beats the guy running through the streets yelling, "Slyvia, Slyvia" or the campers ashes etched out on the ground at the beginning. Classic.

Monday, January 16, 2006 10:56:00 PM  

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