Film Review: Jaws 2 (dir by Jeannot Szwarc)


The 1978 film Jaws 2 poses a question that has been asked many times under many different circumstances:

When will people learn?

Seriously, you would think that after everything that happened during the first Jaws, the people of Amity Island would be a little bit smarter when it comes to sharks.  I mean, did Ben Gardner, the Kintner Boy, Quint, and Chrissie Watkins all die in vain?  If I lived on Amity Island, I would be so paranoid about another shark attack that I would probably move to Manitoba.  At the very least, I would demand that the beach be closed if there was even the slightest chance that another great white shark was somewhere out there, eating anyone foolish enough to get back in the water.

It’s just common sense!

But no.  In Jaws 2, when another shark shows up and eats two divers and a water skier before blowing up a motor boat, no one is even willing to consider shutting down the beach.  Even after Chief Brody (Roy Scheider) insists that another shark has shown up, no one is willing to listen to him.  “I know something about sharks!” Brody insists but the town council just shrugs him off.  Maybe they think that Quint and Hooper did all the work the last time and that Brody was just along for the ride.

Of course, Brody does bring some of his problems on himself.  Brody spends a lot of this film sitting in the dark, brooding about sharks.  When he sees a shadow in the ocean, he runs down to the beach and starts shooting at it.  “It’s just blue fish!” someone yells while Brody looks a little confused.  How shocked can we really be when the town council fires Brody?  He was a loose cannon.

Before he gets fired, Brody orders his teenage son, Mike (Mark Gruner) to stay out of the water.  Of course, Mike doesn’t listen.  He goes sailing with his friends and his younger brother, Sean (Marc Gilpin).  That’s a big mistake, of course.  As soon as Mike and company are a good distance away from Amity Island, the shark attacks and leaves them all stranded at sea.  Mike is knocked unconscious.  Sean is trapped on a boat all by himself.  One of the teenage girls, Jackie Peters (Donna Wilkes), totally freaks out while her older sister, Brooke (Gigi Voran), suggests that they all play charades to pass the time.  Everyone dismisses her idea but you know what?  I have it on very good authority that sharks love charades.  I think Brooke was on to something…

Jaws 2 is a strange, strange movie.  It’s really two films in one.  Jaws 2 starts out as an almost by-the-book remake of Jaws.  True, Quint’s dead.  And Richard Dreyfuss had just won an Oscar so there’s no way Hooper was going to come back.  But Brody’s back and he’s once again an island police chief who is afraid of the water and who can’t get anyone to listen to him.  Just as Jaws started out as almost a small town comedy, Jaws 2 has an early scene where Brody has to deal with the quirky citizens of Amity Island. (Unfortunately, Harry and his really bad hat don’t make a return appearance.)  A scene where a dead killer whale washes up on the beach is shot to remind us of the scene in the first in which Hooper and Brody examine a dead shark.

But then, halfway through, Jaws 2 turns into a totally different movie.  Suddenly, the teenagers are trapped out in the middle of the ocean and the shark is circling them and Brody is searching from them and the whole movie just goes insane.  Roy Scheider abandons any attempt at subtlety as he becomes as obsessed with shark as Donald Pleasence was with Michael Myers in Halloween.  The shark turns out to be incredibly sneaky.  He’s never around until you stick your hand in the water and then suddenly — SHARK!

How powerful is this shark?  He’s so powerful that he eats a freaking a helicopter!  Seriously, a coast guard helicopter tries to rescue the kids and ends up getting eaten by the shark!  That scene alone is worth whatever’s led up to it.  (I think Jaws 2 might be the first film to feature a shark eating a helicopter.)  The film only gets crazier from there, with Brody eventually reduced to verbally taunting the shark while clutching onto a power cable.

Now, admittedly, those stranded teenagers aren’t the most developed characters in the world.  There’s a lot of them and it’s sometimes difficult to keep track of who is who.  Fortunately, this is a 70s films and that means that Jaws 2 is all about the hair.  You may not know their names but you’ll never forget their hair:

Check out some of the members of the Jaws 2 hair club:

Jaws, come out to play…

(Okay, Luther wasn’t actually in the movie but just imagine if he had been!)

Anyway, Jaws 2 cannot begin to hold a candle to the original Jaws but it’s still a lot of fun.  Admittedly, there are a few parts, especially during the first hour, that drag in a way that Spielberg, the consummate story teller, would not have allowed.  I could have done without some of the lengthy scenes where Brody tries to convince the city council that there’s another shark in the water, if just because we already know that the shark’s there and we can guess that the beach isn’t going to be closed.  (After all, if the beach was closed, there wouldn’t be a movie…)

But once the teenagers are stranded in the ocean and the shark is eating the helicopter and Brody is calling it a bastard while hanging onto a power cable, there’s no way that you can resist the charms of this sequel.  Jaws 2 isn’t exactly good but it’s just so entertaining!

Jaws 2 frequently shows up on AMC so keep an eye out for it!

And, for the love of God — stay out of the water!

Film Review: Game Night (dir by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein)


In this time of division and conflict, can we all agree that Game Night is a damn funny movie?

The film tells the story of three couples who regularly get together for, as the title suggests, a game night.  Ryan (Billy Magnussen) and Sharon (Sharon Horgan) are quirky and a little bit daffy.  Kevin (Lamorne Morris) and his wife, Michelle (Kylie Bunbury) are generally dependable and Michelle has a really interesting story about the time that she met a man who may have been Denzel Washington but probably wasn’t.  Meanwhile, Annie (Rachel McAdams) and Max (Jason Bateman) are an ultracompetitive married couple, frustrated in their attempts to conceive a child but always confident in their ability to win any game that they play.  At one time, Gary (Jesse Plemons) and his wife used to be a part of the group but, after they got divorced, Max and Annie stopped inviting him.  You really can’t blame them.  Gary’s seriously creepy.

And then there’s Brooks Davis (Kyle Chandler).

Brooks is Max’s brother and, at first glance, he would appear to be everything that Max isn’t.  Brooks appears to have a lot of money.  He claims to have a successful career, even if no one’s quite sure what he does for a living.  He drives a nice car.  When he comes to town to visit his brother, he rents out a mansion.  Brooks is the type of older sibling who always has an embarrassing story or two to share about his younger brother.  In fact, Max feels so inadequate when compared to Brooks that it’s even interfering with Max and Annie’s efforts to have a child.  When Brooks invites everyone to come to his house for a very special game night, Annie and Max are determined to beat Brooks at whatever game he’s planning on having them play.

It turns out that Brooks has hired a company to put on an interactive role-playing game.  While listening to a fake FBI agent (Geoffrey Wright) explain the background of the mystery that they’re about to solve, the couples are shocked when several masked men burst into the house.  Everyone’s impressed as the men beat the fake FBI agent unconscious.  When the men start beating up Brooks, everyone praises Brooks for the realism of his game.  After Brooks is dragged out of the house, the couples set out to solve the mystery of who is behind this kidnapping.  As for the fake FBI agent, he lies on the floor motionless.  Even when Ryan kicks his body, the agent doesn’t move.  Everyone agrees that the agent is a really good and committed actor.

Of course, the joke is that Brooks really has been kidnapped but nobody realizes it.  It’s a good joke but, to the film’s credit, it’s not the only joke.  In fact, Game Night actually get funnier after everyone eventually realizes that they’re no longer playing a game.  Ever after they realize that Brooks actually has been kidnapped, Annie and Max are so competitive that they still keep trying to outdo everyone else.

Annie and Max also discover that they have no choice but to involve their creepy neighbor and former friend, Gary.  Jesse Plemons doesn’t have a lot of screentime but he gives a performance that is so exquisitely strange and awkward that he ends up stealing the entire movie.  Watching Plemons, you both feel sorry for Gary and understand why no one wants to play with him.  His desperation to be apart of the group is both exasperating and somewhat touching.

In fact, the entire cast does a good job, bringing their often clueless characters to life.  Max and Annie are a likable couple and Bateman and McAdams have a natural chemistry that makes them a lot of fun to watch.  There’s a great scene where Max and Annie, still thinking that they’re just playing a game, subdue a group of criminals in a bar.  Max and Annie’s clueless joy is intoxicating.  They’re having fun playing at being tough and we’re having fun watching them.  Of course, it eventually turns out that the gun that Annie thought was a toy is real and loaded and … well, things get a little bit messy.  While the scene where Annie and Max try to figure out how to dig a bullet out of a man’s arm may have made me cringe a little, it also made me laugh.  That’s a credit to both Bateman and McAdams, who made the scene both real and funny at the same time.

Anyway, I really enjoyed Game Night.  Clocking in at 100 minutes, it’s a briskly paced and good-natured comedy that never makes the mistake of lingering for too long over its own cleverness.  Director Jonathan Goldstein and John Francis Daley both redeem themselves for 2015’s Vacation.  If, earlier this year, you missed this one when it was in theaters, see it now and have a good time.

What Lisa Watched Last Night #182: Stalked By My Doctor: Patient’s Revenge (dir by Doug Campbell)


On Sunday night, I watched the third chapter in the Stalked By My Doctor franchise, Patient’s Revenge!

Why Was I Watching It?

The obvious answer is that I was watching it because it was on Lifetime.  This summer, Lifetime is going to be premiering a new movie every Sunday.  Given my obsession with Lifetime movies, it shouldn’t be hard to guess what I’ll be doing on most Sunday nights.

Of course, at the same time, I absolutely loved both Stalked By My Doctor and Stalked By My Doctor: The Return.  There was no way that I was going to miss the next chapter in the saga of Dr. Albert Beck.

And finally, there’s the Eric Roberts factor.  Quite a few of us here at the TSL Bunker are fascinated by the always interesting, often downright bizarre career of Eric Roberts.  He’s a talented and always quirky actor who apparently really likes to work.  The appeal of Eric Roberts is you never know where he’s going to turn up.  You can find him in theaters.  You can find him on Lifetime.  You can find in him in blockbusters and you can find him in short students films.  You can even find him in music videos.  Eric Roberts is everywhere!  And, even more importantly, he’s always willing to throw himself into every role that he plays, no matter how bizarre that role may be.

What Was It About?

Following the events of the second Stalked By My Doctor film, Dr. Albert Beck (Eric Roberts) was put on trial for kidnapping Sophie Green (Brianna Joy Chomer).  Despite all of the evidence against him, Dr. Beck was acquitted.  (Perhaps it had something to do with the way he smiled and waved at one certain juror during the trial…)  Now, Dr. Beck is teaching at a college in Arizona.  To most people, Dr. Beck appears to be perfectly normal, if understandably anxious.  However, it doesn’t take long to discover that Dr. Beck still has plenty of issues.

For instance, the first time he steps into a classroom, he immediately imagine all of his students undressing in front of him.  Whenever Beck talks to himself, he imagines that he sees another Dr. Beck sitting in front of him.  The imaginary Dr. Beck wears a Hawaiian shirt and always seems to disagree with whatever the real Dr. Beck wants to do.

Following Beck’s acquittal, Sophie has started dressing in all black.  She’s also secretly transferred to Dr. Beck’s school, where she immediately starts to circulate a petition to get him fired.  However, Dr. Beck apparently has a new girlfriend.  Her name is Melissa (Anna Marie Dobbins) and she appears to be just as obsessed with Dr. Beck as Dr. Beck once was with Sophie.  When Melissa says that she’ll do anything to protect Dr. Beck, she’s not exaggerating.  Soon, Melissa is taking things further than even Dr. Beck could have predicted…

What Worked?

Three words: Dancing Eric Roberts.  At one point, out of nowhere, Dr. Beck starts to sing to Sophie.  He takes her hand and the two of them start to dance by the side of the road.  Of course, it’s another one of Dr. Beck’s fantasies but who cares?  It’s a brilliantly strange and unexpected moment and it’s also a perfect example of what makes the Stalked By My Doctor films so much fun.  Dr. Beck is such a flamboyantly unhinged character that literally anything can happen.

Just as in the previous two films, Eric Roberts appears to be having the time of his life in the role of Dr. Beck.  He’s just so weaselly and desperate to be viewed as normal that it becomes fascinating to watch him try to fool everyone.  Each Stalked By My Doctor film starts with the question of just how far Dr. Beck is going to go this time and, thanks to Roberts, it’s always a lot of fun to discover the answer.  Rather brilliantly, in this installment, Roberts plays up Beck’s befuddlement.  Often times, not even Dr. Beck can believe how crazy he is!

(“Did I do that?” Beck sincerely asks himself at one point.)

Brianna Joy Chomer and Anna Marie Dobbins also did good work in their roles.  Dobbins, especially, seemed to be having a lot of fun outcrazying Dr. Beck.

There’s a twist towards the end of the movie, of course.  You might see the twist coming but it’s still entertaining.  In fact, the whole film is entertaining.  This is a fun and over-the-top Lifetime melodrama, one that knows better than to take itself too seriously.  With each wink at the audience, it invites us to relax and enjoy.

What Didn’t Work?

It all worked!

“Oh my God!  Just like me!” Moments

Much like Sophie, I used to always wear black.  And, much like Melissa, I’ve learned that pretending to faint is a good way to become the center of attention.

Lessons Learned

You can’t keep a good doctor down!

 

 

Lisa’s Early Oscar Predictions for June


We’re nearly halfway through 2018 and it’s time for me to once again post my somewhat random Oscar predictions!

As usual, these predictions are a combination of instinct or wishful thinking.  Do I really think that Orson Welles’s final film will dominate the Oscars?  Well, why not?  It’d be a great story if it happened.  The same goes for Black Panther becoming the first comic book movie to receive a best picture nomination.  It’d be nice if it happened and, with most of the contenders still unseen, there’s no reason to arbitrarily dismiss the film’s chances.

Based on the reaction that it received at Cannes, I’ve added Spike Lee’s BlackKklansman to my list of predicted best picture nominees.

As always, take these predictions with a grain of salt.  Some of these films and performers will be nominated.  (First Man, for instance, seems like a lock.)  Many of them will not.  If nothing else, my monthly predictions always seem to be useful for a good laugh in retrospect.  And there’s nothing wrong with that!  The predictions that don’t come true are often even more fun than the predictions that do.

It should also be remembered that some of the films listed below don’t even set release dates yet.  Some of them might not even open this year.  There are other films — like Burden — that seems like they should be contenders but they’ve yet to get a distributor.  And then there’s Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman, which is scheduled to be released by Netflix in 2019 but it’s always possible that film could be moved up on the schedule.  If The Irishman does get a last-minute December release, chances are that the Oscar race will be dramatically altered.

Or maybe not.  Remember how Silence was a front runner all through 2016, just to end up with one nomination?  It’s hard to predict which films will have “that Barton Fink feeling.”

(Yes, I’m currently watching Barton Fink.  Thinking about the Oscars will enjoying a film from the Coen Brothers?  Life is good, as my twitter girl crush often puts it.)

Please be sure to check out my predictions for January, February, March, April, and May.

Best Picture

BlackKklansman

Black Panther

Boy Erased

First Man

If Beale Street Could Talk

Mary, Queen of Scots

The Other Side of the Wind

A Star is Born

White Boy Rick

Widows

Best Director

Damien Chazelle for First Man

Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk

Spike Lee for BlackKklansman

Steve McQueen for Widows

Orson Welles for The Other Side of the Wind

Best Actor

Steve Carell in Beautiful Boy

Bradley Cooper in A Star is Born

Willem DaFoe in At Eternity’s Gate

Ryan Gosling in First Man

Robert Redford in The Old Man & The Gun

Best Actress

Viola Davis in Widows

Felicity Jones in On The Basis of Sex

Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Chloe Grace Moretz in The Miseducation of Cameron Post

Saoirse Ronan in Mary, Queen of Scots

Best Supporting Actor

Timothee Chalamet in Beautiful Boy

Russell Crowe in Boy Erased

Adam Driver in BlackKklansman

Sam Elliott in A Star is Born

Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

Best Supporting Actress

Claire Foy in First Man

Nicole Kidman in Boy Erased

Regina King in If Beale Street Could Talk

Margot Robbie in Mary, Queen of Scots

Sissy Space in The Old Man & The Gun

Scenes That I Love: James Bond Meets Sylvia Trench in Dr. No (In memory of Eunice Grayson)


Earlier today, I read the sad news that British actress Eunice Grayson passed away at the age of 90.  Grayson may not have been a household name but true fans of James Bond (as opposed to those who think that the franchise started with Daniel Craig) know Grayson from her role as Sylvia Trench in both Dr. No and From Russia With Love.

Eunice Grayson was the first Bond girl.  When we first meet Bond in Dr. No, he’s sitting down across from her at the Baccarat table.  When Bond asks her name, she replies, “Trench. Sylvia Trench.”  When she asks his name, he playfully replies, “Bond.  James Bond.” and history is made.

Grayson originally auditioned for the role of Miss Moneypenny but, when the producers decided to give that role to Lois Maxwell, Grayson was instead cast as Sylvia Trench.  At first, Sylvia was envisioned as being Bond’s permanent “off-duty” girlfriend.  That’s certainly the role that she’s plays when she briefly reappears in From Russia With Love.  The original plan was for Sylvia (and Grayson) to appear in at least six Bond films and to be the principal Bond girl in the sixth one.  However, those plans were abandoned with Goldfinger.

(Check out this 2012 interview that Grayson gave to the BBC for more details about her experiences as a part of the Bond franchise.)

Today’s scene that I love is in memory of both Eunice Grayson and the role she played in the history of one of my favorite film franchises.  From 1962’s Dr. No, James Bond meets Sylvia Trench for the first time…

Trailer Round-Up: First Man, The Predator, How To Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, Bad Times At The El Royale, The Old Man & The Gun, Operation Finale, A Star is Born, and The Girl In The Spider’s Web


There were a lot of interesting trailers released this week.  Among those that I’ve already looked at: Suspiria, Widows, White Boy Rick, Wreck-It Ralph 2Bumblebee, The Lego Movie Part Two, Halloween, Billionaire Boys Club, 14 Cameras, and Siberia.

Here’s the best of the rest!

First Man is Damien Chazelle’s follow-up to La La Land.  In this one, Ryan Gosling plays the first man to ever step on the moon.  Many critics, including me, expect this will be a definite Oscar contender.  (Chazelle may even find himself competing once again with Barry Jenkins, whose If Beale Street Could Talk is also considered to be a possible contender.)

Here’s the second trailer for The Predator, which emphasizes action above all else.  (Check out the first trailer here.)

Here’s the trailer for the third installment in the beloved How To Train Your Dragon franchise, The Hidden World!

Here’s the trailer for Bad Times At The El Royale, which is either going to be brilliant or totally suck.  I don’t really see any middle ground here.

Normally, I would be tempted to roll my eyes at something like The Old Man & The Gun.  I mean, didn’t Robert Redford say that he wasn’t going to make another movie until climate change was defeated or something like that?  However, this film was directed by David Lowery, who was also responsible for the best film of 2017, A Ghost Story!  So, I will definitely give this one a chance.  Here’s the trailer:

Here’s the trailer for Operation Finale, a dramatization of the 1960 intelligence operation that led to the capture of Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann.  Why do we need this movie?  Go to YouTube and read some of the comments left under this trailer.  With anti-Semitism on the rise and more and more people buying into the despicable BDS movement, this is a story that needs to be told.  Hopefully, Operation Finale will do it justice.

Damn, Bradley Cooper’s got a pretty good singing voice!  Check out the trailer for A Star is Born if you need proof.

And lastly, here’s the trailer for The Girl In The Spider’s Web.

Hilariously, there’s a lot of people bitching about the fact that Rooney Mara will not be playing Libseth in The Girl In The Spider’s Web.  Folks, there’s only one Lisbeth Salander and it’s not Rooney Fucking Mara.  Noomi Rapace was, is, and always will be the only Libseth Salander who really matters!

Here’s The Trailer for Keanu Reeves in Siberia!


The action film career of Keanu Reeves continues this July with Siberia!

In this one, Keanu’s a diamond trader whose partner disappears in Russia.  Keanu hops on an airplane so he can investigate.  I’m going to guess that it will all somehow involve the Russian mafia because almost everything does nowadays.

Personally, I think they missed an opportunity when they didn’t call this one, “John Wick in Siberia.”

I also think that someone needs to team Keanu and Liam Neeson up for an action film.  Speaking of Liam, did you remember to see The Commuter earlier this year?  It was surprisingly good.

Anyway, here’s the trailer for Siberia!