Monday, July 29, 2002

More DVD reviews:

1) Ordinary Decent Criminal: Much better than "K-Pax" and "The Shipping News". It's certainly interesting to hear Kevin Spacey speaking in an Irish brogue, and even more interesting to see him mooning police officers in one scene ( could be a stunt double though :)). This one has KS playing the leader of a gang of bank robbers in Dublin. Apparently, the film-makers will have you believe that the law enforcement agency there consists of a bunch of morons who can't conduct stakeouts without screwing up, which makes the bad guys look good and hence the "comedic" aspect of the story. There's also a "creepy" factor, in the form of a bizarre relationship between Spacey's character, his wife and his sister-in-law ( watch the show if you want the details ). The "star" factors would, of course, be Spacey himself, plus Linda Fiorentino and a then-unknown Colin Farrell ( in a blink-and-you'll-miss-him role). The plot is unimpressive at best -- this is not a DVD you rent for the sake of the script. But neither is it comparable to any of KS's baseline body of work. Though credit goes to the composer for his thumping soundtrack, this is just another run-of-the-mill film. Strictly for Spacey fans, or those with nothing better to do.

2) Someone Like You: Yet another Hugh Jackman romantic comedy ( sorry, I'm a sucker for anything starring this gorgeous and talented Australian ). I feel that this one's a lot more enjoyable than "Kate & Leopold", primarily because Meg Ryan isn't in it. But then, there's also a perkier script, with lovely direction from an equally cute guy ( ie. Tony Goldwyn, aka the villanous friend of Patrick Swayze in "Ghost"). Ashley Judd, another looker, is endearing as a lovelorn copywriter with a closet obsession with animal mating rituals ( especially of the bovine variety ). Her take on why men sow wild oats, superimposed on images of labcoat-wearing scientists leading bulls around, is surreal and hilarious. What I love most, however, is the sizzling chemistry between Judd and Jackman. Putting good-looking leads together doesn't guarantee steam -- look at Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt in "The Mexican", Johnny Depp and Heather Graham in "From Hell" -- but these two play off each other really well, and Jackman excels at making women squirm whenever he directs an intense gaze upon them. Be still my beating heart. :) And for those who just want a good movie, well, this one tells it like it is, giving lessons on why a man doesn't call, and what you should do if the guy leaves you and tries to crawl back into your arms.

3) crazy/beautiful: Garnered a string of good reviews for both young stars, but not for the faint-hearted, or anyone with a short attention span. Kirsten Dunst ( last seen in "Spiderman" ) is a drugged out, sexually promiscuous daughter of a congressman, who falls for A-student and scholarship recipient Jay Hernandez.
Predictably, they embark on a self-destructive relationship which threatens his aspirations of achieving his goals and questions her sanity. Dunst is a great actress considering her age, but I still think her performance in "Spiderman" is her best so far -- the second being her turn as a scheming bloodsucker in "Interview With The Vampire" .

4) The Exorcist: I saw this many years ago, but was probably too young to remember any of it ( plus the likelihood that I covered my eyes the whole time :)). This classic needs no introduction, and let me assure you that it's perfect for getting up close and personal with your date! ( In case you're wondering, I saw this at home with my parents, so there. :)) I'm a fan of horror movies, and my list of the scariest is "The Turn Of The Screw", "The Others" and "What Lies Beneath". "The Exorcist" ranks as #1, and if you think you need state-of-the-art visual effects in order to get people screaming, you're very wrong. This film is disturbing because it capitalizes on your worst fears. A sweet angelic child ( Linda Blair, now hostess of "Scariest Places on Earth" on cable ) is inexplicably possessed by a demon and tormented beyond imagination -- aside from the famous head-twisting scene, she's flung around, levitated and mutilated ( this part is censored in the Singapore version ). Slow at times, it is punctuated by images of profound terror, and the climactic finale is both horrific and heart-breaking. The remastered VCD ( the store didn't have the DVD ) has a 20-minute interview with the cast and crew at the end, so don't stop the disc after the credits start rolling. This segment is enlightening because it details how the special effects were constructed, as well as what the actors had to endure during the shooting. Ellen Burstyn shows her annoyance during her account of how director William Friedkin let the stuntman thrash her around despite her specifically telling him not to. Friedkin is revealed to be quite an ass -- perhaps the reason behind why his fame ended with "The Exorcist"? Rent this sometime, turn down the lights, and get ready to be chilled to the bone.

If you're wondering where I rent my VCDs/DVDs from, it's an outlet called Video Ezy, which just opened at Hougang Street 21. It has many other branches, and is affiliated to its Australian counterparts. They offer great packages for movie buffs who rent a lot. I took up its $100 package -- you pay up front, get 20 rentals at $5 each, but also get 12 free rentals as well. This adds up to 32 rentals for $100, and about $3 per disc, a real bargain. The outlet I go to also has other offers -- being newly opened and all. For example, I can get 4 DVDs for $10 and keep them for a week. They have a system that's too complicated to get into, so drop by your neighbourhood branch sometime and take a look. They get the latest releases as soon as a week after they stop running in cinemas.

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