Threesome (1994, directed by Andrew Fleming)


Due to the type of administrative mix-up that always happens in the movie but rarely in real life, a college has assigned female student Alex (Lara Flynn Boyle) to share a dorm room with two males, Eddy (Josh Charles) and Stuart (Stephen Baldwin).  Stuart is an outwardly obnoxious jock while Eddy is a sensitive and gay film student who is obsessed with Jules and Jim.  It does’t take long for Alex to fall in love with Eddy but Eddy is in love with Stuart while Stuart is in love with Alex.  See where this is leading?  The three of them become close friends, to the extent that they actively drive away anyone else who shows any romantic or sexual interest in either one of them.

The title is not a lie.  There is an eventual threesome, though it’s a very tastefully shot threesome and it only happens once.  After all, this was a studio film, not a late night, direct-to-video Cinemax offering.  Unfortunately, things fall apart for the roommates after their threesome, as they are forced to reconsider all of their previous feelings towards each other and one of them is driven to a melodramatic breakdown.  The film’s story would work better if we cared about the characters but they’re all so shallowly written (and Eddy’s overwrought narration doesn’t work) that it’s hard to care about them.  They just come across as being three snobs.  Eddy may be obsessed with Jules and Jim but he doesn’t seem to have learned much from watching the movie.  As for the cast, Josh Charles and Lara Flynn Boyle are both likable but too bland to really hold your attention.  (There’s a reason why both of these actors found more success on television than on the big screen.)  Stephen Baldwin actually brings some depth to his character though I doubt he spends much time bragging about starring in a film called Threesome nowadays.

Threesome is a film that seems to think that it has much to say but it’s impossible for me to think about it without being reminded of the Menage a Trois episode of Seinfeld and Jerry’s plaintive declaration of, “I’m not an orgy guy!”  With those five words, Seinfeld said more about the reality of threesomes than Threesome does in its entire 93 minute running time.

 

4 Shots From 4 Films: The Craft, From Dusk Till Dawn, Scream, Thinner


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking!

This October, we’re using 4 Shots From 4 Films to look at some of the best years that horror has to offer!

4 Shots From 4 1996 Horror Films

The Craft (1996, dir by Andrew Fleming)

From Dusk Till Dawn (1996, dir by Robert Rodriguez)

Scream (1996, dir by Wes Craven)

Thinner (1996, dir by Tom Holland)

4 Shots From 4 Witchy Films: Burn, Witch, Burn, Season of The Witch, The Craft, Maleficent


4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films lets the visuals do the talking.

Today, we celebrate witches everywhere with….

4 Shots From 4 Witchy Films

Burn, Witch, Burn (1962, dir by Sidney Hayers)

Season of the Witch (1973, dir by George Romero)

The Craft (1996, dir by Andrew Fleming)

Maleficent (2014, dir by Robert Stromberg)

A Movie A Day #276: Bad Dreams (1988, directed by Andrew Fleming)


When she was a young girl, Cynthia (Jennifer Rubin) was a member of Unity Fields, a group of hippies led by the insane Franklin Harris (Richard Lynch).  When Harris ordered the cult to join him in a fiery suicide pact, Cynthia was the only one to refuse.  While all of the cult members when up in flames, Cynthia ended up spending 13 years in a coma.  When she wakes up, she has no memory of the incident and finds herself as a patient in a psych ward.  She has a support group to provide therapy.  She has two doctors (Bruce Abbott and Harris Yulin) watching her every move.  And she still has nightmares and visions of the long-dead Harris, appearing around the hospital, sometimes burned and sometimes not.  When the members of her therapy group start to die, Cynthia is convinced that Harris has returned to claim her.

A year before starring in Bad Dreams, Jennifer Rubin made her film debut in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.  That seems appropriate because Bad Dreams would never have existed if not for A Nightmare on Elm Street.  Franklin Harris is only a few bad jokes and a razor blade glove away from being Freddy Krueger’s older brother.  However, if you can see past the movie’s derivative nature, Bad Dreams is not bad.  Some of the deaths are inventive and Jennifer Rubin shows why she should have become a bigger star than she did.  Though Franklin Harris may have been developed as stand-in for Freddy, Richard Lynch is memorably menacing and makes the role his own.  Bad Dreams may have been a clone of another film but not all clones are bad.

4 Shots From 4 Films: Primary Colors, Dick, FDR: American Badass, Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies


The greatest President of all time, Rutherford B. Hayes

The greatest President of all time, Rutherford B. Hayes

4 Shots From 4 Films is just what it says it is, 4 shots from 4 of our favorite films. As opposed to the reviews and recaps that we usually post, 4 Shots From 4 Films is all about letting the visuals do the talking.

Happy Rutherford B. Hayes Day!

In honor of my favorite holiday, I wanted to share 4 shots from 4 films about Rutherford B. Hayes.

However, my plan ran into a little problem.  Despite the fact that he’s the best President that this country ever had, there aren’t any movies about Rutherford B. Hayes.  He is literally the most underappreciated leader this country has ever had.  (In 2011, the President joked about Hayes not being on Mount Rushmore.  For that reason, I voted for Gary Johnson in 2012.  Don’t you mess with Rutherford B. Hayes)

So, here are four shots from four films that deal with other people who exist in the shadow of Rutherford B. Hayes.

4 Shots From 4 Films

Primary Colors (1998, dir by Mike Nichols)

Primary Colors (1998, dir by Mike Nichols)

Dick (1999, dir by Andrew Fleming)

Dick (1999, dir by Andrew Fleming)

FDR: American Badass (2012, dir by Garrett Brawith)

FDR: American Badass (2012, dir by Garrett Brawith)

Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012, dir by  Richard Schenkman)

Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies (2012, dir by Richard Schenkman)

Shattered Politics #64: Dick (dir by Andrew Fleming)


Theatricalposterdick

I wouldn’t necessarily say that I love Dick but I still think it’s a pretty good film.  (Ha ha, see what I did there?)  Of course, to really appreciate this 1999 comedy, it helps to know a little something about political history.  For instance, it helps to know that the Dick of the title is President Richard Nixon (played here by a hilariously paranoid Dan Hedaya).  In 1973, as the result of his attempt to cover up White House involvement of a burglary at the Watergate Hotel, Nixon became the first President to resign from office.

A lot of the credit for Nixon’s downfall was given to two reporters for the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein (played, in this film, by Will Ferrell and Bruce McCulloch).  While Woodward and Bernstein investigated the Watergate break-in, they were reportedly fed information by a highly placed informant who was referred to as being Deep Throat.  For years, the identity of Deep Throat was a closely held secret.  Countless books were written that speculated as to who Deep Throat may have been.  (In the film All The President’s Men, he was played by Hal Holbrook.)  Finally, in 2005, it was revealed that Deep Throat was a FBI agent named Mark W. Felt, who was upset because he was passed over for a promotion.

And, quite frankly, that’s kind of a disappointing solution.  When you think about someone who brought down the government, you hope that he or she will turn out to be something more than just a disgruntled employee whose previous work consisted on running counter intelligence operations against domestic political activists.

In fact, it’s hard not to wish that, perhaps, Deep Throat could have been two 15 year-old girls who just happened to stumble across one of the biggest political scandals in American history.

Well, fortunately, this is the theory proposed in Dick.  Betsy (Kirsten Dunst) and Arlene (Michelle Williams) are two friends who, one night in 1972, sneak out of Arlene’s apartment so that they can mail a fan letter to singer Bobby Sherman.  While doing so, they happen to stumble across the Watergate burglars and get a good look at White House aide G. Gordon Liddy (Harry Shearer).

The next day, while on a field trip to the White House, the two girls are spotted by Liddy.  Liddy arranges for them to be pulled to the side and questioned by chief-of-staff H.R. Haldeman (Dave Foley), who determines that the girls barely know who Nixon is and that they don’t understand what they witnessed.  However, before Haldeman can send the girls on their way, Nixon himself enters the office and complains about how poorly planned the break-in was.

This leads to an unlikely relationship between Nixon and Betsy and Arlene.  Hoping to win their loyalty (and their silence), Nixon arranges for them to be his official dog walkers.  Betsy and Arlene, meanwhile, still don’t have the slightest idea of what’s going on.  They accidentally bring pot cookies to the White House (which Nixon particularly enjoys) and Arlene even develops a mad crush on Nixon.

But, of course, Nixon eventually shows his true colors and Betsy and Arlene take down the government….

In many ways Dick is a one-joke film, in which Betsy and Arlene regularly find themselves blissfully unaware while history literally unfolds around them.  But it’s actually a pretty clever joke and it’s also a very plausible one.  People are often unaware that anything important is happening when it’s actually happening.  Often times, it’s only in retrospect that historical moments are seen to be truly historical.  And, ultimately, Watergate itself is such a bizarre scandal that it’s the perfect moment in history to be reinterpreted as a comedy.

Dick is ridiculous enough to be funny but plausible enough to be memorable.

6 More Film Reviews From 2014: At Middleton, Barefoot, Divergent, Gimme Shelter, The Other Woman, and more!


Let’s continue to get caught up with 6 more reviews of 6 more films that I saw in 2014!

At Middleton (dir by Adam Rodgers)

“Charming, but slight.”  I’ve always liked that term and I think it’s the perfect description for At Middleton, a dramedy that came out in January and did not really get that much attention.  Vera Farmiga is a businesswoman who is touring colleges with her daughter (Taissa Farmiga, who is actually Vera’s younger sister).  Andy Garcia is a surgeon who is doing the same thing with his son.  All four of them end up touring Middleton College at the same time.  While their respective children tour the school, Vera and Andy end up walking around the campus and talking.  And that’s pretty much the entire film!

But you know what?  Vera Farmiga and Andy Garcia are both such good performers and have such a strong chemistry that it doesn’t matter that not much happens.  Or, at the very least, it doesn’t matter was much as you might think it would.

Hence, charming but slight.

Barefoot (dir by Andrew Fleming)

Well, fuck it.

Sorry, I know that’s not the best way to start a review but Barefoot really bothered me.  In Barefoot, Scott Speedman plays a guy who invites Evan Rachel Wood to his brother’s wedding.  The twist is that Wood has spent most of her life in a mental institution.  Originally, Speedman only invites her so that he can trick his father (Treat Williams) into believing that Speedman has finally become a responsible adult.  But, of course, he ends up falling in love with her and Wood’s simple, mentally unbalanced charm brings delight to everyone who meets her.  I wanted to like this film because I love both Scott Speedman and Evan Rachel Wood but, ultimately, it’s all rather condescending and insulting.  Yes, the film may be saying, mental illness is difficult but at least it helped Scott Speedman find love…

On the plus side, the always great J.K. Simmons shows up, playing a psychiatrist.  At no point does he say, “Not my tempo” but he was probably thinking it.

Divergent (dir by Neil Burger)

There’s a lot of good things that can be said about Divergent.  Shailene Woodley is a likable heroine.  The film’s depiction of a dystopian future is well-done. Kate Winslet has fun playing a villain.  Miles Teller and Ansel Elgort are well-cast.  But, ultimately, Divergent suffers from the same problem as The Maze Runner and countless other YA adaptations.  The film never escapes from the shadow of the far superior Hunger Games franchise.  Perhaps, if Divergent had been released first, we’d be referring to the Hunger Games as being a Divergent rip-off.

However, I kind of doubt it.  The Hunger Games works on so many levels.  Divergent is an entertaining adventure film that features a good performance from Shailene Woodley but it’s never anything more than that.  Considering that director Neil Burger previously gave us Interview with the Assassin and Limitless, it’s hard not to be disappointed that there’s not more to Divergent.

Gimme Shelter (dir by Ron Krauss)

Gimme Shelter, which is apparently based on a true story, is about a teenage girl named Apple (Vanessa Hudgens) who flees her abusive, drug addicted mother (Rosario Dawson).  She eventually tracks down her wealthy father (Brendan Fraser), who at first takes Apple in.  However, when he discovers that she’s pregnant, he demands that she get an abortion.  When Apple refuses, he kicks her out of the house.  Apple eventually meets a kindly priest (James Earl Jones) and moves into a shelter that’s run by the tough Kathy (Ann Dowd).

Gimme Shelter came out in January and it was briefly controversial because a lot of critics felt that, by celebrating Apple’s decision not to abort her baby, the movie was pushing an overly pro-life message.  Interestingly enough, a lot of those outraged critics were men and, as I read their angry reviews, it was hard not to feel that they were more concerned with showing off their political bona fides than with reviewing the actual film.  Yes, the film does celebrate Apple’s decision to keep her baby but the film also emphasizes that it was Apple’s decision to make, just as surely as it would have been her decision to make if she had chosen to have an abortion.

To be honest, the worst thing about Gimme Shelter is that it doesn’t take advantage of the fact that it shares its name with a great song by the Rolling Stones.  Otherwise, it’s a well-done (if rather uneven) look at life on the margins.  Yes, the script and the direction are heavy-handed but the film is redeemed by a strong performance from Vanessa Hudgens, who deserves to be known for more than just being “that girl from High School Musical.”

Heaven is For Real (dir by Randall Wallace)

You can tell that Heaven is For Real is supposed to be based on a true story by the fact that the main character is named Todd Burpo.  Todd Burpo is one of those names that’s just so ripe for ridicule that you know he has to be a real person.

Anyway, Heaven Is For Real is based on a book of the same name.  Todd Burpo (Greg Kinnear) is the pastor of a small church in Nebraska.  After Todd’s son, Colton, has a near death experience, he claims to have visited Heaven where he not only met a sister who died before he was born but also had a conversation with Jesus.  As Colton’s story starts to get national attention, Todd struggles to determine whether Colton actually went to Heaven or if he was just having a hallucination.

You can probably guess which side the movie comes down on.

Usually, as a self-described heathen, I watch about zero faith-based movies a year.  For some reason, I ended up watching three over the course of 2014: Left Behind, Rumors of War, and this one.  Heaven is For Real is not as preachy (or terrible) as Left Behind but it’s also not as much fun as Rumors of War.  (Rumors of War, after all, featured Eric Roberts.)  Instead, Heaven Is For Real is probably as close to mainstream as a faith-based movie can get.  I doubt that the film changed anyone’s opinion regarding whether or not heaven is for real but it’s still well-done in a made-for-TV sort of way.

The Other Woman (dir by Nick Cassavetes)

According to my BFF Evelyn, we really liked The Other Woman when we saw it earlier this year.  And, despite how bored I was with the film when I recently tired to rewatch it, we probably did enjoy it that first time.  It’s a girlfriend film, the type of movie that’s enjoyable as long as you’re seeing it for the first time and you’re seeing it with your best girlfriends.  It’s a lot of fun the first time you see it but since the entire film is on the surface, there’s nothing left to discover on repeat viewings.  Instead, you just find yourself very aware of the fact that the film often substitutes easy shock for genuine comedy. (To be honest, I think that — even with the recent missteps of Labor Day and Men, Women, and Children — Jason Reitman could have done wonders with this material.  Nick Cassavetes however…)   Leslie Mann gives a good performance and the scenes where she bonds with Cameron Diaz are a lot of fun but otherwise, it’s the type of film that you enjoy when you see it and then you forget about it.