Wednesday, May 30, 2007
"A corpse is a corpse of course, of course...
And no one can talk to a corpse of course."
Hold your horses -- because I know two guys who can.
I'm referring, of course, to Brad Dourif (the voice of Chucky) who lubricates his discussion with white wine. Not to be outdone, Crispin Glover does his talking in his boxers. Each spends time with their very own delectable corpus delicti. The best part of all is that these gorgeous gals don't talk back.
While these scenes may sound disturbing, be advised that the two delicate damsels who have met their demise are not defiled in any way. Thanks to the skillful direction of Michael Philip, DROP DEAD SEXY is more like a ribald romp in the romper room. Yes, the film is rated R, but it is more of a Hardy Har Har than a Hard R.
In addition to cult favorites Dourif and Glover, the surprisingly strong cast includes Jason Lee (MY NAME IS EARL) who plays Frank, a dim-witted "decider" barely getting by in Bush country (aka Central Texas) whose get-rich schemes always seem to backfire. His partner is Eddie (Glover), a "subterranean architect" (aka grave digger) whose fondness for both Frank and the bottle make him a lanky, lovable and loyal lackey. Together they end up robbing the grave of Crystal Harkness, a trophy wife who they believe was buried with some of the family jewels -- the kind you get at Zales.
Melissa Keller plays the captivating cadaver who is schlepped hither and yon by the bungling bozos. Along the way this lively bunch of losers (well, two out of three are lively) encounter Frank's mother who is initially introduced while she is "stuffing her beaver." The always-wonderful Lin Shaye plays Ma Muzz, a no-nonsense taxidermist whose quick temper is anything but motherly, her beaver notwithstanding. They also pay a visit to the town's mortician, played with ebullient elan by Dourif, who is convinced that Crystal was murdered. The primary suspect is Crystal's slimy husband, but the local crime boss with the nystagmus eyes is a possibility also. Emmy winner Pruitt Taylor Vince plays the heavy with the pulsating pupils and he literally steals every scene he is in. In fact, his performance alone is reason enough to see DROP DEAD SEXY.
Throw in the Klimaszewski twins, a surprise plot twist or two, a half-dozen or more very funny lines of dialogue and a couple of Shiners along the way and you will find that 108 minutes can go by very quickly. When all things are considered, both here and at NPR, DROP DEAD SEXY raises the Lipper Average for films shot in Austin -- most of which are either overtly ostentatious or they project a maddening monochromatic burnt orange pallor.
Thursday, May 24, 2007
With more sultry steam than a Shanghai spa and more sub-plots than Forest Lawn, WILD THINGS aims to put a little hitch in your cock. I think Alfred would approve.
And for you females out there, Kevin's bacon is hung out to dry in a shower scene. Honest.
Award-winning Director John McNaughton (HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER) has assembled a strong cast that includes Matt Dillon, Neve Campbell, Theresa Russell, Denise Richards, Daphne Rubin-Vega, Robert Wagner, Bill Murray, Carrie Snodgrass and the aforementioned Mr. Bacon. Shot in stimulating "Voyeur Vision" by cinematographer Jeffrey L. Kimball (of TOP GUN fame) and with a throbbing musical score by George S. Clinton, WILD THINGS would admittedly be little more than a guilty pleasure without the slew of surprises from screenwriter Stephen Peters. Combining a sexy scene every five minutes with a plot twist every three minutes, this Florida film noir combining gator bait with jail bait will have you guessing until the final credits. Trust your old Uncle Bob, Stephen's screenplay never, ever peters out...
The tag line for WILD THINGS is "They can turn you on or turn on you." Clearly the nubile Denise Richards is a case in point, especially when she is dripping water. (This reminds me of the famous quote about Esther Williams: "Dry, she ain't much. Wet, she's a star!")
Dillon plays a guidance counselor at the local high school in Blue Bay, Florida. With an abundance of foxy females -- both students and moms -- the town should be called Blue Balls. Unfortunately, I could not find this place within the pages of my trusty Rand McNally. Bummer, I guess Bulverde will have to do...
The opening scenes revolve around a school assembly featuring two detectives, Bacon and Rubin-Vega, who have been invited to give a talk on sex crimes. When they ask, "What is a sex crime?" one of the students replies, "Not gettin' any." That's one answer. Another involves the word "rape" -- which is exactly what Dillon is accused of, first by Richards, the daughter of one of the yachting enclave's most financially prominent families, and then by Campbell, a sleezy swamp trash vixen who lives alone on an alligator farm. Given the corroborating charges, Dillon is suspended from his job, loses his home and is outcast from his little slice of paradise.
Desperate, and with no other alternatives, Dillon turns to Murray who portrays a slimy shyster who hangs his shingle on the seedy side of town. Murray's performance is just one of many surprising highlights; this is undoubtedly one of his best on-screen performances. Needless to say, Murray is sharper than he looks and Dillon ultimately gets a $8.5 million settlement from Richards' wealthy estate.
What happens next contains more twists and turns than the new Maverick roller coaster at Cedar Point. Bottom line: If you are into Technicolor titillation, if you like your cinema more cheesy than Cheetos, if you agree that "lurid" trash is the best kind of all and if you miss Russ Meyer, then you'll find WILD THINGS to be right up your alley.
Your Uncle Bob sure did...
Monday, May 21, 2007
"To me the great hope is that now these little video recorders are around and people who normally wouldn't make movies are going to make them. And suddenly, one day some little fat girl in Ohio is going to be the new Mozart and make a beautiful film with her father's camcorder and for once the so-called professionalism about movies will be destroyed, forever, and it will really become an art form." Francis Ford Coppola
Little fat girls from Ohio. Real estate agents in vomit-colored Century 21 blazers. Beaner leaf blowers. Even ex-Vice Presidents. Everyone, it seems, wants to make a movie. A few will be good; most will be awful -- and that, my fellow film buffs, is the inconvenient truth.
Having produced three low budget, independent features, all with first-time directors, I'm often asked for advice. My first suggestion is to find a script that lends itself to logistical simplicity and budgetary constraint. That's why so many first-timers opt to make horror films. But if blood and gore (no pun intended) isn't your thing, then a truly compelling thriller may be the answer.
One of the best examples I can think of is Roman Polanski's brilliant adaptation of Ariel Dorfman's riviting stage play, DEATH AND THE MAIDEN. Sigourney Weaver is outstanding as a former political prisoner in an unnamed South American country that has recently become democratic. Her husband, played by Stuart Wilson, is a newly appointed government official charged with investigating the torture policies of the previous regime. They live in a remote home near the coastline and 98% of the film takes place in the cliff-top house and the adjacent, deserted landscape.
One evening her husband comes home in the company of a stranger. Ben Kingsley is outstanding, as always, in the role of this seemingly well-educated and personable fellow. Weaver, however, believes him to be the interrogator who repeatedly raped her while she was incarcerated. Although she was always blindfolded, Weaver is convinced she recognizes his voice and his "smell," and so she turns the table on her putative tormentor and makes him her prisoner. What ensues is nothing less than a frightening fusillade of furious accusations and haunting humiliation. (What Weaver does with her panties, for example, gives meaning to the word demeaning.)
As the terrified Kingsley vehemently denies all of her charges, Wilson (and the audience) is kept on edge while attempting to determine who is telling the truth. This is a powerful, relentless story that confronts a litany of moral conundrums regarding guilt, revenge, justice, punishment as well as an individual's responsibilities to both himself and society. Rather than give anything away, let me simply say that the last few scenes are, at once, subtle, satisfactory and sublime.
DEATH AND THE MAIDEN is a fantastic film despite limiting itself to virtually one location and three characters. Of course, in the hands of a pro like Mr. Polanski, anything is possible.
Likewise, anything is now possible from the next generation of filmmakers.
Bring on the fat girl...
Friday, May 18, 2007
According to THE INDEPENDENT, there is a bizarre mystery unfolding which could have a devastating impact on mankind. Disturbing reports have recently surfaced which confirm that there has been an abrupt disappearance within the past few months of millions upon millions of bees that pollinate crops. This phenomenon started in the United States and it is now estimated that 60% of the commercial bee population on the West Coast has disappeared, while a staggering 70% have vanished along the East Coast. Could this be some kind of insidious retribution fostered upon those living and voting in Blue States by the Bush Administration?
To begin with, this phenomenon has spread to much of Europe. Leading scientists on both sides of the Atlantic now believe that the cause is due to radiation emitted from cell phones which interferes with the bees' inherent navigation system, preventing the famously home loving species from finding their way back to their hives.
Albert Einstein once said that if the bees disappeared, "mankind would have only four years of life left."
Why couldn't this be happening to mosquitoes instead?
Before closing, let me add that I had intended to write a review on AKEELAH AND THE BEE. This is a wonderful, uplifting family film that NEWSWEEK called "splendiferous."
Keke Palmer, the young actress with the title role, will definitely win your heart and mind. And unlike Abigail Breslin in LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, Keke comes across as totally "beelievable."
(It will be interesting to see how Dakota Fanning's upcoming appearance in THE SECRET LIVE OF BEES compares)
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
First it was the Graf Zeppelin. Then the Hindenburg. Now we have the Limbaugh.
News (real and imagined) travels slowly in the Texas Deutchland. And so the teletype machine at the Needtovent Intergalactic Headquarters just now delivered the incredulous news that "Fat Man" Rush Limbaugh nominated himself for the Nobel Peace Prize. Even the residents of Nagasaki are laughing at this gaseous gaffe of global gamesmanship.
Technically, it was the Landmark Legal Foundation who sent the letter to the Norwegian Parliament on Rush's behalf, declaring this pompous pontificating popinjay to be "the foremost advocate of freedom and democracy in the world today." Rush, of course, is a long-standing member of Landmark's Board of Advisors, thus making the nomination nothing less than a shocking case of self-indulgence that even trumps anything The Donald has ever done.
Luckily, the Landmark Legal Foundation does not possess nominating rights and so this entire effluvial episode will undoubtedly be shot down in flames. Hand me my Zippo...
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
Xanthomelanous xanthochroid xenophobia.
Do not misunderstand, TURISTAS is far from an x-rated film. That's too bad -- a little more sexploitation among the braless young nubiles and their ectomorphic male companions would have been welcomed. Unfortunately, the exposition by Screamwriter Michael Ross is as flimsy as a dental-floss bikini.
A group of American, English and Australian passported youth form a coalition of the willingly stupid. When they inadvertently stumble into a "snatch zone" for a local doctor who harvests human organs from unwary, unwanted tourists, we go from a Sports Illustrated beach-fest to a grisly jungle operating room where there's a lot more nip than tuck. Yes, one by one the hapless vixens get vivisected and the dorky dudes get dissected. Compared to other recent releases, however, the gore is surprisingly less graphic than Al's powerpoint presentation on global warming. That's too bad -- the premise had promise.
By any American Standard, TURISTAS is the shits...