Little Red Riding Hood On Acid: Freeway (1996, directed by Matthew Bright)


Vanessa Lutz (Reese Witherspoon) may not be able to read but she ain’t dumb.

When her mother (Amanda Plummer) gets arrested for prostitution and her stepfather (Michael T. Weiss) goes to jail for meth possession, Vanessa knows that it’s time to leave South Los Angeles and go to her grandmother in Stockton.  She puts on her red jacket, packs her possession in a picnic basket, and heads for the freeway.  Vanessa is determined to get to grandmother’s house and she’s not going to let anyone stop her.  Not the police.  Not the gangbangers who murdered her boyfriend, Chopper (Bookeem Woodbine).  And certainly not Bob Wolverton (Kiefer Sutherland), the psychiatrist who moonlights as the I-5 killer.

An audaciously wild take on the story of Little Red Riding Hood, Freeway used to be a HBO mainstay, where it developed the cult following that it retains to this very day.  The violence is graphic and the humor is often viscous but Reese Witherspoon has never been better than she was in the role of the loud and unapologetically profane Vanessa Lutz.  Whether she’s cussing up a storm or shooting a pervert in the face or plotting her escape from jail, Vanessa is a whirlwind of nonstop energy and it is impossible not to get swept up with her.  Witherspoon has since won an Oscar and appeared in all sorts of “prestige” pictures but she’s never had a better role than she did in Freeway.

Witherspoon is such a force of a nature that she dominates the film but the rest of the cast is interesting as well, with several familiar faces in small roles.  Sutherland has played so many psychos that it is not a surprise when Bob turns out to be one but he still throws himself into the role.  (Like a cartoon character, it doesn’t matter how badly injured or disfigured Bob gets.  He just keeps on going.)  Dan Hedaya and Wolfgang Bodison play detectives.  Alanna Urbach and Brittany Murphy play two inmates who Witherspoon meets in prison.  Brooke Shields has a small role as Bob’s unsuspecting wife and is convincingly clueless.

Ultimately, though, the movie belongs to Reese Witherspoon.  Vanessa might not always be pleasant to be around but she’s so determined to make it to grandmother’s house but you can’t help but be on her side.  She’s the Little Red Riding Hood that we all deserve.

Horror Film Review: Flatliners (dir by Niels Arden Oplev)


Jeff and I are currently on a little road trip but we’re not going to let something like that prevent us from seeing the latest bad movies.

For instance, last night, we saw the remake of Flatliners at the AMC 8 in Ardmore, Oklahoma.  Ardmore is a lovely little town.  When I was six years old, my family briefly lived in Ardmore and I can still remember this deserted barn that was sitting right at the edge of our property.  My older sisters all told me that it was haunted and I can still remember sneaking over to the window in the middle of the night and staring at that dilapidated barn, searching for ghosts.  Even though I was only six at the time, it’s still an incredibly vivid memory and I still have dreams about that barn.  That’s the power of a good scare and that is exactly what’s missing from Flatliners.  This is seriously one of the most forgettable films that I’ve ever seen.

I did get a little excited when I discovered that the film co-starred Nina Dobrev.  Most people know her as Elena from The Vampire Diaries but, for me, she’ll always be Mia Jones on Degrassi.  (Mia was not only a high school student and a star on the spirit squad.  She was also: a single mother, a model, a drug addict, and J.T.’s girlfriend during the show’s sixth season.)  She’s one of many Canadians in the cast of Flatliners.  There’s also Ellen Page and Kiefer Sutherland.

That’s right, Kiefer Sutherland returns in the new version of Flatliners.  But don’t get too excited.  He’s not playing the same character.  If he had been playing the same character, this film would have been a lot more interesting and he could have told the new cast, “Your sins have returned in physical form … and they’re pissed off!”  Instead, he’s just playing a clueless doctor with really weird hair.  I think we’re just supposed to be impressed by the fact that he agreed to appear in the remake and I guess I would be if the first one was some sort of award-winning classic or something.  It’s not like the original Flatliners is the defining role of Kiefer Sutherland’s career.  Now, if they had gotten Oliver Platt to come back…

ANYWAY, it’s pretty much the same story all over again, just told with a lot less visual flair.  (Say what you will about Joel Schumacher as a director, he understood that the first Flatliners needed a lot of neon.)  This time, it’s Ellen Page who convinces her friends to let her die and then revive her after two minutes.  The remake does add an interesting wrinkle in that, when Page returns from being dead, she is now suddenly super smart and has total recall.  At the very least, this explains why all the rest of her friends are then so eager to try it out for themselves.  Even though it feels like a Limitless knock off, it’s still an interesting idea and I think that if the entire film had been about the students obsessively killing themselves and coming back, all in an effort to achieve some sort of Godhood, it would have made for an intriguing movie.

But that whole angle kind of gets abandoned.  Soon, it’s time for everyone’s sins to start showing up.  That means that Ellen page has to deal with her dead sister.  Nina Dobrev has to deal with a dead patient.  Another doctor has to deal with a girl she bullied.  The movie tries to make you wonder whether or not they’re just having hallucinations but why would a hallucination feel the need to sneak around a room while its target isn’t looking?

Plus, I have to wonder: there are real people out there who have been clinically dead, just to have been brought back to life.  Some of them have reported seeing the bright light and all the rest.  If you follow this movie’s logic, are they all now secretly smart and being chased around by their past sins?  If that’s the case then I’m looking forward to the sequel to Heaven Is For Real.

It’s a forgettable movie.  The first Flatliners had its own stupid charm but the remake just falls flat.

Horror Film Review: Flatliners (dir by Joel Schumacher)


“Our sins have come back in a physical form … and they’re pissed!”

That one line pretty much sums up the original 1990 version of Flatliners.  It’s a good line in that it’s one that you remember and it’s a line that you can use in almost any situation.

Have you gotten a phone call from an unknown caller?  “Our sins have come back in physical form … and they’re pissed!”

Have you and your boyfriend recently been driving across Texas and suddenly noticed that a car has been following you all the way from Lake Dallas to the border of Oklahoma.  “Our sins have come back in physical form … and they’re pissed!”

Have you ever had a stranger fail to hold a door open for you?  There’s only one possible reason for that rudeness.  “Our sins have come back in physical form .. and they’re pissed!”

And don’t even get me started on people who leave negative comments under my reviews.  We all know what’s going on with that!  “Our sins have come back in physical form … and they’re pissed!”

It’s a line that is both oddly memorable and also deeply stupid.  The same description can be applied to Flatliners.  It’s a film about a group of medical students (played by Julia Roberts, William Baldwin, Oliver Platt, and Kevin Bacon) who help Kiefer Sutherland investigate whether or not there’s actually an afterlife.  Sutherland believes that there is but he needs an atheist to be a part of the group, that’s where Kevin Bacon comes in.  And he needs a potential love interest and a Baldwin brother to be a member of the group as well, that’s why Julia Roberts and William Baldwin are there.  And, of course, someone has to provide comedic relief whenever things start to get too dark.  Say hello to Oliver Platt!  Anyway, Sutherland’s plan is to die for a minute or two and then have his fellow medical students bring him back to life.  It sounds like kind of a dumb idea but everyone agrees to it.

Anyway, it turns out that the afterlife looks a lot like an overproduced student film, full of weird camera angles, tinted lighting and disembodied voices.  When Sutherland dies, he sees a boy that he used to bully.  Julia Roberts sees her father, who committed suicide when she was younger.  Kevin Bacon sees a little girl that he used to bully.  (There are a lot of bullies in this movie.)  William Baldwin, a sex addict who is chronically unfaithful to his fiancée, sees hundreds of women, all saying, “But you said you loved me.”  Oliver Platt never actually gets to die and therefore, he sees nothing.  He does make a joke about how his vision would probably involve an angry babysitter.  I laughed.

What happens next?  “Our sins have come back in physical form … and they’re pissed!”

Flatliners has an intriguing premise but oh my God, is it ever a silly film.  It’s not really a spoiler to tell you that all of these returned sins want the characters to either atone for their mistakes or make peace with their past.  For Kevin Bacon, this means tracking down the girl that he used to bully and allowing her to bully him.  For Julia Roberts, it means getting an apology from her Dad and understanding that he was addicted to heroin.  For William Baldwin, it means making peace with never being as well-known as either Alec or Steven.  As for Kiefer … well, things are a bit more complicated for Kiefer Sutherland.

Flatliners starts out as a horror film but then it turns into a squishy movie about letting go of bitterness and learning how to forgive oneself.  It’s kind of annoying that the film couldn’t just stick to being scary because the first half of the film does have some effectively tense moments.  However, it all gets lost as the film’s plot sinks into sentimental, New Age-y quicksand.

Flatliners was directed by Joel Schumacher, who generally does well with shallow films that 1) don’t really mean anything and 2) don’t involve super heroes.  And really, the only film that I can think of that’s more shallow than the original Flatliners is the remake.  (But we’ll talk about that later…)  Schumacher’s direction here is not particularly bad — everyone looks good and the film is never boring.  It’s a very, very pretty film and one that doesn’t add up to much.

I would suggest watching it with your sins, especially after they take physical form.  Maybe they’ll be a little less pissed off afterward.

Film Review: Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (dir by David Lynch)


“It was a dream!  We live in a dream!”

— Phillip Jeffries (David Bowie) in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

Even among fans of the show, Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is controversial.

If you read Reflections: An Oral History of Twin Peaks, you’ll discover that many members of the television show’s cast either didn’t want to be involved in the film or didn’t care much for it when it came out.  Fearful of being typecast, Kyle MacLachlan only agreed to play Dale Cooper on the condition that his role be greatly reduced.  (Was it that fear of being typecast as clean-cut Dale Cooper that led to MacLachlan later appearing in films like Showgirls?)  Neither Lara Flynn Boyle nor Sherilyn Fenn could work the film into their schedules.

When Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me premiered at Cannes, it was reportedly booed by the same critics who previously applauded Lynch’s Wild at Heart and who, years later, would again applaud Mulholland Drive.  When it was released in the United States, the film was savaged by critics and a notorious box office flop.  Quentin Tarantino, previously a fan of Lynch’s, has been very outspoken about his hatred of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.  When I first told people that we would be looking back at Twin Peaks for this site, quite a few replied with, “Even the movie?”

And yet, there are many people, like me, who consider Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me to be one of David Lynch’s most haunting films.

It’s also one of his most straight forward.  Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is a prequel, dealing with the events leading up to the death of Laura Palmer.  Going into the film, the viewer already knows that Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) is full of secrets.  They know that she is using drugs.  They know that she is dating Bobby (Dana Ashbrook), while secretly seeing James (James Marshall).  They know about her diary and her relationship with the reclusive Harold (Lenny Von Dohlen).  They know that she is a friend to innocent Donna Hayward (Moria Kelly, somewhat awkwardly taking the place of Lara Flynn Boyle).  Even more importantly, they know that she has spent the last six years of her life being abused by BOB (Frank Silva) and that BOB is her father, Leland Palmer (Ray Wise).  The viewer starts the story knowing how it is going to end.

Things do get off to a somewhat shaky start with a nearly 20-minute prologue that basically plays like a prequel to the prequel.  Theresa Banks, who was mentioned in the show’s pilot, has been murdered and FBI director Gordon Cole (David Lynch) assigns agents Chester Desmond (Chris Isaak) and Sam Stanley (Kiefer Sutherland) to investigate.  Chester and Sam’s investigation basically amounts to a quick reenactment of the first season of Twin Peaks, with the agents discovering that Theresa was involved in drugs and prostitution.  When Chester vanishes, Dale Cooper is sent to investigate.  Harry Dean Stanton shows up as the manager of a trailer park and David Bowie has an odd cameo as a Southern-accented FBI agent who has just returned from the Black Lodge but otherwise, the start of the film almost feels like a satire of Lynch’s style.

But then, finally, we hear the familiar theme music and the “Welcome to Twin Peaks” sign appears.

“And the angel’s wouldn’t help you. Because they’ve all gone away.”

— Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992)

A year has passed since Theresa Banks was murdered.  The rest of the film deals with the final few days of the life of doomed homecoming queen Laura Palmer.  Laura smiles in public but cries in private.  She is full of secrets that she feels that she has to hide from a town that has literally idolized her.  She has visions of terrifying men creeping through her life and each day, she doesn’t know whether it will be BOB or her father waiting for her at home.  She knows that the world considers her to be beautiful but she also know that, within human nature, there is a desire to both conquer and destroy beauty.  When she sleeps, she has disturbing dreams that she cannot understand but that she knows are important.  At a time when everyone says she should be happy to alive, all she can think about is death.  Everywhere she goes, the male gaze follows and everything that should be liberating just feels her leaving more trapped.  For all the complaints that Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me is somehow too strange to be understood, it’s not a strange film at all.  This is David Lynch at his most straight forward.  Anyone who thinks that Laura’s story is incomprehensible has never been a 17 year-old girl.

This is the bleakest of all of David Lynch’s films.  There is none of broad humor or intentional camp that distinguished the TV show.  After the show’s occasionally cartoonish second season, the film served as a trip into the heart of the darkness that was always beating right underneath the surface of Twin Peaks.  It’s interesting how few of the show’s regulars actually show up in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.  None of the characters who represented goodness are present.  There’s no Doc Hayward.  No Sheriff Truman.  No Deputies Andy or Hawk.  No Pete Martell.  No Bookhouse Boys.  Scenes were filmed for some of them but they didn’t make it into the final cut because their tone did not fit with the story that Lynch was seeking to tell.  The Hornes, Dr. Jacoby, Josie, none of them are present either.

Instead, there’s just Larua and her father.  As much as they try to deny it, Laura knows that she is going to die and Leland knows that he is going to kill her.  Killer BOB and the denziens of the Black Lodge may be scary but what’s truly terrifying is the sight of a girl living in fear of her own father.  Is Leland possessed by BOB or is BOB simply his way of excusing his own actions?  If not for Leland’s sickness, would BOB even exist?  When Laura shouts, “Who are you!?” at the spirit of BOB, she speaks for every victim of abuse who is still struggling to understand why it happened.  For all the talk of the Black Lodge and all the surreal moments, the horror of this film is very much the horror of reality.  Leland’s abuse of Laura is not terrifying because Leland is possessed by BOB.  It’s terrifying because Leland is her father

David Lynch directs the film as if it where a living nightmare.  This is especially evident in scenes like the one where, at the dinner table, Leland switches from being kindly to abusive while Laura recoils in fear and her mother (Grace Zabriskie) begs Leland to stop.  It’s a hard scene to watch and yet, it’s a scene that is so brilliantly acted and directed that you can’t look away.  As brilliant as Ray Wise and Grace Zabriskie are, it’s Sheryl Lee who (rightly) dominates the scene and the rest of the film, giving a bravely vulnerable and emotionally raw performance.  In Reflections, Sheryl Lee speaks candidly about the difficulty of letting go of Laura after filming had been completed.  She became Laura and gave a performance that anchors this absolutely terrifying film.

“Mr. Lynch’s taste for brain-dead grotesque has lost its novelty.”

— Janet Maslin

“It’s not the worst movie ever made; it just seems to be”

— Vincent Canby

If you need proof that critics routinely don’t know what they’re talking about, just go read some of the original reviews of Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me.

And yet, having just rewatched the show and now the movie, I can understand why critics and audiences were baffled by this film.  This is not Twin Peaks the TV show.  There is no light to be found here.  There is no comic relief.  (Even Bobby Briggs, who had become something of a goofy anti-hero by the time the series ended, is seen here shooting a man in the head.)  There is no exit and there is no hope.  In the end, the film’s only comfort comes from knowing that Laura was able to save one person before dying.  It’s not easy to watch but, at the same time, it’s almost impossible to look away.  The film ends on Laura’s spirit smiling and, for the first time, the smile feels real.  Even if she’s now trapped in the Black Lodge, she’s still free from her father.

Since this was a prequel, it didn’t offer up any answers to the questions that were left up in the air by the show’s 2nd season finale.  Fortunately, those questions will be answered (or, then again, they may not be) when the third season premieres on Showtime on May 21st.

Previous Entries in The TSL’s Look At Twin Peaks:

  1. Twin Peaks: In the Beginning by Jedadiah Leland
  2. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.1 — The Pilot (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  3. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.2 — Traces To Nowhere (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  4. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.3 — Zen, or the Skill To Catch A Killer (dir by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  5. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.4 “Rest in Pain” (dir by Tina Rathbone) by Leonard Wilson
  6. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.5 “The One-Armed Man” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Jedadiah Leland
  7. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.6 “Cooper’s Dreams” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  8. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.7 “Realization Time” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  9. TV Review: Twin Peaks 1.8 “The Last Evening” (directed by Mark Frost) by Leonard Wilson
  10. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.1 “May the Giant Be With You” (dir by David Lynch) by Leonard Wilson
  11. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.2 “Coma” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  12. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.3 “The Man Behind The Glass” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Jedadiah Leland
  13. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.4 “Laura’s Secret Diary” (dir by Todd Holland) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  14. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.5 “The Orchid’s Curse” (dir by Graeme Clifford) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  15. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.6 “Demons” (dir by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  16. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.7 “Lonely Souls” (directed by David Lynch) by Jedadiah Leland
  17. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.8 “Drive With A Dead Girl” (dir by Caleb Deschanel) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  18. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.9 “Arbitrary Law” (dir by Tim Hunter) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  19. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.10 “Dispute Between Brothers” (directed by Tina Rathbone) by Jedadiah Leland
  20. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.11 “Masked Ball” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Leonard Wilson
  21. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.12 “The Black Widow” (directed by Caleb Deschanel) by Leonard Wilson
  22. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.13 “Checkmate” (directed by Todd Holland) by Jedadiah Leland
  23. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.14 “Double Play” (directed by Uli Edel) by Jedadiah Leland
  24. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.15 “Slaves and Masters” (directed by Diane Keaton) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  25. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.16 “The Condemned Woman” (directed by Lesli Linka Glatter) by Leonard Wilson
  26. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.17 “Wounds and Scars” (directed by James Foley) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  27. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.18 “On The Wings of Love” (directed by Duwayne Dunham) by Jedadiah Leland
  28. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.19 “Variations on Relations” (directed by Jonathan Sanger) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  29. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.20 “The Path to the Black Lodge” (directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal) by Lisa Marie Bowman
  30. TV Review: Twin Peaks 2.21 “Miss Twin Peaks” (directed by Tim Hunter) by Leonard Wilson
  31. TV Review: Twin Peaks 22.2 “Beyond Life and Death” (directed by David Lynch) by Lisa Marie Bowman

Cleaning Out The DVR Yet Again #16: Zoolander 2 (dir by Ben Stiller)


(Lisa recently discovered that she only has about 8 hours of space left on her DVR!  It turns out that she’s been recording movies from July and she just hasn’t gotten around to watching and reviewing them yet.  So, once again, Lisa is cleaning out her DVR!  She is going to try to watch and review 52 movies by Wednesday, November 30th!  Will she make it?  Keep checking the site to find out!)

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On October 14th, I recorded Zoolander 2 off of Epix.

A sequel to the 2001 cult hit, Zoolander 2 came out earlier this year and got absolutely terrible reviews and quickly vanished from theaters.  Watching the film last night, I could understand why it got such terrible reviews.  Zoolander 2 is not only a terrible movie but it’s also a rather bland one.  Somehow, the blandness is even more offensive than the badness.

Zoolander 2 opens with Justin Bieber getting assassinated and Derek Zoolander (Ben Stiller) being forced to come out of retirement and discover why pop stars are being targeted.  And, of course, Zoolander can’t do it without the help of Hansel (Owen Wilson)!  Penelope Cruz is in the film as well, playing  Zoolander’s handler and essentially being wasted in a role that could have been played by anyone.

Oh!  And Will Ferrell returns as well.  Ferrell gives a performance that essentially shouts out to the world, “Fuck you, I’m Will Ferrell and no one is going to tell Will Ferrell to tone his shit down!”

Actually, I think everyone in the world is in Zoolander 2.  This is one of those films that is full of cameos from people who probably thought a silly comedy would be good for their image.  For instance, there’s a huge number of journalists who show up playing themselves.  Matt Lauer shows up and I get the feeling that we’re supposed to be happy about that.  There was a reason why people cheered when the sharks ate him in Sharknado 3.

You know who else shows up as himself?  Billy Zane!  And Billy Zane has exactly the right type of attitude for a film like this.  He shows up and he mocks the whole enterprise by giving the Billy Zaniest performance of Billy Zane’s career.  For that matter, Kiefer Sutherland also shows up as himself.  I’m not really sure what Kiefer was doing in the film but he makes sure to deliver all of his lines in that sexy growl of his.  Kiefer knows what we want to hear.

You may notice that I’m not talking about the plot of Zoolander 2.  That’s largely because I couldn’t follow the plot.  This is an incredibly complicated film but it’s not complicated in a funny way.  Instead, it’s complicated in a way that suggests that the film was made up on the spot.  It’s as if the cast said, “We’re all funny!  Just turn on the camera and we’ll make it work!”

The problem with Zoolander 2 is obvious.  The first film pretty much exhausted the comic possibilities of making a spy film about shallow and stupid models.  Don’t get me wrong — the first film did a good job but it’s not like it left any material untapped.  But I would ask you to indulge me as I imagine an alternate reality.

Consider this: Terrence Malick was reportedly a huge fun of Zoolander.

Let’s take just a minute to imagine a world in which Ben Stiller asked Terrence Malick to write and direct Zoolander 2.  And let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that Malick agreed!

Just think about it — 4 hours of Zoolander and Hansel staring up at the sky and thinking about nature.  “What is this thing that causes the heart of man to beat?” Zoolander asks.  “Are we nature or has nature become us?” Hansel replies.

That would have been a fun film!

Back to School Part II #21: Brotherhood of Justice (dir by Charles Braverman)


Brotherhood_of_Justice_FilmPoster

For my next back to school review, I want to take a look at one of the best films that you’ve probably never heard of, the 1986 made-for-TV film Brotherhood Justice!

Brotherhood of Justice takes place at a California high school.  It’s a school that is pretty much ruled by the football team and the divide between the children of the upper and the working class is often violently apparent.  After several acts of violence, drug dealing, and vandalism, the school’s principal (Joe Spano) is left with a choice.  He can either hire full-time security guards and turn his school into an armed camp or he can meet with the most popular seniors and ask them to do their part to maintain order at the school.

He goes with the latter option.

At first, quarterback Derek (Keanu Reeves) is excited about doing his part to make the school a better place.  He and his friends quickly form the Brotherhood of Justice and make out a list of trouble makers.  At first, Derek and his friends are just roughing up drug dealers and demanding that all students show some school pride.  (In order to maintain their anonymity, they all wear masks to hide their faces.  However, no effort is made to disguise anyone’s voice, which means that this film takes place in a world where no one can recognize the voice of Keanu Reeves.)  However, things quickly escalate.  One member of the Brotherhood — Les (Billy Zane) — is especially enthusiastic and he has a thing for knives.

Meanwhile, Derek is having issues with his girlfriend, Christie (Lori Loughlin).  Christie, who is apparently incapable of recognizing her boyfriend’s voice whenever he’s wearing a mask, thinks that the Brotherhood is idiotic.  Christie also has a new job as a waitress and one of her co-workers is Victor (Kiefer Sutherland).  Victor obviously likes Christie and he also bravely stands up to the Brotherhood when they try to harass a student who is named Pasty.  (I kid you not.)

When Derek grows disillusioned with the Brotherhood, they decide that the situation with Christie must be distracting him.  So, they decide to blow up Victor’s car…

It’s all in the name of justice!

Obviously, one of the best things about Brotherhood of Justice is that it’s a chance to see Neo and Jack Bauer compete over Aunt Becky while Cal Hockley plays with a switch blade in the background.  (Oddly enough, Derek’s younger brother is played by Danny Nucci, who later appeared with Zane in Titanic.)  But there’s more to Brotherhood of Justice than just the curiosity value of the cast.

That plot hole about the voices aside, Brotherhood of Justice is actually a really good movie and one that everyone should watch.  If anything, it’s even more relevant today than it probably was when it was originally made.  It’s easy to be dismissive of the self-righteous and judgmental Brotherhood but actually, how different are they from the outrage brigade who show up everyday on twitter?  When the Brotherhood demands that everyone follow the rules and love their school, how different are they from those assholes who, today, claim that anyone who disagrees with the president or questions the moral authority of the government is somehow guilty of treason?  If the Brotherhood existed today, they would be cyberbullying and doxxing anyone who they felt had failed to say or think the right thing.

Let’s face it — we currently live in a fascist culture.  In its own modest but important way, Brotherhood of Justice is one of those films that can tell us why.

And you can watch it below!

 

Embracing the Melodrama Part II #104: Phone Booth (dir by Joel Schumacher)


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First released in 2003, Phone Booth is a good film.

Now, I know that you’re probably thinking, “Okay, that’s good, Lisa.  There were a lot of good films released in 2003.  I can’t think of any off the top of my head but let me go look on Wikipedia and I’m sure I can come back with a few dozen good films and…”

Well, before you go over to Wikipedia and do a search on 2003 in film (and I even included a direct link to make it easy for you because I like to be helpful), allow me to point something else out about Phone Booth.

Phone Booth is not only a good film but it’s a good film that was directed by Joel Schumacher!

That’s right!  There are several online film critics who will tell you that Joel Schumacher is one of the worst directors of all time and, to be honest, there’s actually a pretty good argument that can be made in support of that.  However, Schumacher did direct both The Lost Boys and Phone Booth.  So, he’s directed at least two good films and that’s two more than Uwe Boll.

In Phone Booth, Colin Farrell plays Stu, a slick publicist who has both a wife named Kelly (Radha Mitchell) and a girlfriend named Pam (Katie Holmes).  When Stu steps into the last remaining phone booth in New York City in order to call his girlfriend, he’s shocked when a pizza deliveryman shows up and attempts to give him a pizza.  No sooner has he gotten rid of the pizzaman (and, seriously, who turns down free pizza?), the phone rings.  Stu answers and is told by an unseen sniper (voice by Kiefer Sutherland) that, if he leaves the phone booth, he will be shot.  The sniper goes on to order Stu to tell the truth to both Kelly and Pam or to risk being shot as a consequence.

While all of this is going on, a group of prostitutes demand that Stu get out of the booth and let them use the phone.  When Stu refuses, their pimp approaches the booth and is promptly gunned down by the sniper.  Soon, under the assumption that Stu has a weapon, the police — led by Forest Whitaker — have surrounded the booth and are demanding that Stu step out.  The sniper, however, reminds Stu that he’ll be shot if he leaves the booth.

As a crowd of onlookers (including Pam and Kelly), police, and reporters surround the booth, Stu finds himself literally with no escape…

Telling the story in real time and keeping the film largely focused on Stu’s increasing desperation, Schumacher actually does a pretty good job with Phone Booth.  Colin Farrell gives a great performance, making Stu into a character who you like despite yourself.  While Kiefer Sutherland never appears onscreen, his sexy growl of a voice works wonders and he even manages to sell the point where his character starts to maniacally laugh.  Reportedly, screenwriter Larry Cohen came up with the idea for Phone Booth way back in the 1960s.  It took nearly 40 years for the film to be made but Schumacher, Farrell, and Sutherland made it more than worth the wait.