Directed By: Louis Malle
Screenplay By: Andre Gregory 
Based On The Play “DYADYA  VANYA” By Anton Chekhov
Play Adaptation By: David Mamet 
Cinematography: Declan Quinn
Editor: Nancy Baker 

Cast: Julianne Moore, Wallace Shawn, Lynn Cohen, Larry Pine, Brooke Smith, Jerry Mayer, Andre Gregory, George Gaynes, Phoebe Brand, Madhur Jeffrey 

An uninterrupted rehearsal of Chekhov’s “Uncle Vanya” played out by a company of actors. The setting is their run-down theater with an unusable stage and crumbling ceiling. The play is shown act by act with the briefest of breaks to move props or for refreshments. The lack of costumes, real props, and scenery is soon forgotten.

though you can tell it’s more performance, so stripped down and organic that it sometimes feels like the actors’ lives and drama might be bleeding into the performances. Keeping the audience on its toes and feeling magically

Though from time to time you can see the people watching. As an audience as well as the director. The film begins traditionally as the actors and director arrive to let us see the setup and give us a New York street view placing the location to a degree.

How it works, not such a staged production, but any distraction. No illumination. So that we are close in the middle of the action and relationships and characters as the camera stays close, rarely moving, and is always close in and tight on their faces. Feels like it is giving us intimacy with the characters.

Wasn’t quite sure exactly when the play started as it seemed more like a general conversation at first then all of a sudden moved on. Though serious it feels adventurous and experimental, open and free.

This is another collaboration that feels similar in spirit yet bigger and not as much of an endurance test. Whereas MY DINNER WITH ANDRE seems almost like a documentary of an intellectual dinner conversation between two friends that reflects so much personality and personality about the people involved. Though we know it is a put-on production, in reality, it was the actors using their real names and partial history but really two originally created characters. Here we have Andre Gregory break up the scenes and guide the audience a bit so that we are In New locations within the play.

Though we are with the camera and the theatrical viewers are right up on them they manage to establish being alone and to themselves quite well. So good it’s hard to tell the difference

Truly be amazing if done straight through act breaks need to explain what has passed and where we are at

Happy to see Brooke smith who over the years has quite a resume. Not exactly a star but a recognizable character actress over the years. Who has earned her success from small to significant supporting roles seems as if we can watch her grow up on the screen as I remember her early first role in THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. One of my favorite immoral films in junior high school and high school where I earned the nickname Hannibal the cannibal by fellow students and Jeffrey danger because of the similar first name and I was also quiet and unassuming. It’s always a surprise to see her even at first if she seems miscast like in BAD COMPANY.

Grade: A


Directed By: Ernest R. Dickerson

Written By: Eric Bernt

Cinematography: Bojan Bazelli

Editor: Sam Pollard

Cast: Ice-T, Rugter Hauer, Charles S. Dutton, F Murray Abraham, Gary Busey, John C. McGinley, William McNamara, Jeff Corey, Bob Minor 

A homeless man is hired as a survival guide for a group of wealthy businessmen on a hunting trip in the mountains, unaware that they are killers who hunt humans for sport, and that he is their new prey.

At the time this might have seemed like an action film that was a fine by the dozen, but looking back it feels like it was a bit ahead of Its time.

As at the time it might have felt too basic or familiar. To a film like Jean Claude Van-Damme starring HARD TARGET. 

Casting Ice-T during a starring hot streak and then surrounding him with well-known character actors. As seemingly types though as the film goes alongside actually revealing decency or having specific reasons for their savagery and blood lust.

His casting works as he is not your typical action hero presence. So that gives him a kind of wild card status in which to impress and win over the audience. As he is the protagonist, we still don’t know exactly what to expect. 

Though race isn’t brought up it can easily be seen or interpreted. Even if the argument is over classism. As Ice-t’s character is a military vet who is homeless and most of the hunters are rich, successful white men. Racism and capitalism usually walk hand in hand. As for something to have value another must not have any. As really the only other person of color is Charles S. Dutton who helps discover him and convinces him to take the job.

The film offers plenty of surprises and double-crosses. It also offers ice-T’s character who was suicidal a reason to survive, a passion for life, and live again. 

The film comes across as a little bit more realistic in its action sequences. Which are quite impressive. As no one is an expert, some characters actually need to reload or rest. Though it never feels overplayed, overwrought, too expensive or stylish just to look cool.

The ending is a bit of a letdown by bringing up a point that is repeatedly brought up so many times. You know it will be integral later.

One of the reasons for the audience to enjoy the film is that most of the cast, the hunting party if you will, is made up of classic character actors who usually play villains. So it’s a murderer’s row hunting our hero down. Which gives the film and the lead a kind of bonafide status 

This ends up being one of the more memorable ice-t leading roles, especially in an action film. No less treated a certain way maybe because it is more contained. As far as cast size goes. 

Grade: C+


Written & Directed By: Kelly Reichardt
Story By: Jesse Hartman 
Cinematography: Jim Denault 
Editor: Larry Fessenden 

Cast: Lisa Bowman, Larry Fessenden, Dick Russell, Stan Kaplan, Michael Buscemi 

Cozy, a dissatisfied housewife, meets Lee at a bar. A drink turns into a home break-in, and a gunshot sends them on the run together, thinking they’ve committed murder.

This film is about a wanna Bonnie & Clyde. A makeshift couple on the run that is never romantic or lustful. 

The film starts off well and feels inventive and tells the story fast and vividly. Introducing us to the characters and their motivations. as even the small details help set up the main Characters and offer spontaneity in their day-to-day supposedly mundane lives. 

As it feels random at first. But the film catches up with that. As the story goes along we see how everything becomes connected and in this small town in Florida. They are literally passing by each other and not realizing they are the ones they are seeking.

A bored housewife seeks adventure in a loser would be a drifter and go on a crime spree of no regard though they think it is. As they go On the run. Not realizing no one is really looking. For them except for her. As her family wants to know why she has run away. Not to mention their crimes aren’t prosperous nor exciting. If anything they are more embarrassing but not in a broadly comedic way. They come off more as pathetic. As we watch the others their lives intersect with good ones.

Writer/Director Kelly Reichart films are very detail-oriented and more at the moment while we watch life and the characters move at a more day to day moment to moment pace. Her films are almost still Life may. They aren’t made with a broad canvas but are affecting if you are willing to watch and can take the slower pace and usually no frills.

This isn’t the first film Of her’s I have seen. Though this is one of her earlier ones and from the ones I have seen this is one of her quicker-paced and more conventional films.

This film shows an interest in a crime story. Where there is practically no crime. This was made before she went full-fledged into cinematic studies of life and characters At the moment.

NIGHT MOVES comes the closest of her later films where there seems to be some sort of action and offers more conventional entertainment.

In the end, this comes off as pathetic but a little soulful In its Eclecticness. So that it feels alive and free whenever offbeat 



Directed By: Robert Altman 
Written By: Robert Altman & Barbara Shulgasser
Cinematography: Jean Lepine & Pierre Mignot
Editor: Suzy Elmiger & Geraldine Peroni

Cast: Julia Roberts, Tim Robbins, Marcello Mastroianni, Sophia Loren, Lili Taylor, Forest Whitaker, Richard E. Grant, Rupert Everett, Kim Basinger, Sally Kellerman, Tracy Ullman, Lauren Bacall,  Linda Hunt, Stephen Rea, Ute Lemper, Lyle Lovett, Teri Garr, Danny Arielle, Jean-Pierre Cassel, Amouk Aimee, Chiara Mastroianni, Rossy De Palma, Michel Blanc, Jean Rochefort, Francois Cluzet, Sam Robarbs, Georgianna Robertson 

A fashion show in Paris draws the usual bunch of people; designers, reporters, models, magazine editors, photographers. Lots of unconnected stories which all revolve around this show, and an all-star cast.

This was my third official Robert Altman movie to see. Though unfortunately not in a row. I remember the film having a successful music video and soundtrack before it even came out. Unfortunately the movie didn’t match the soundtrack’s success. That included the hit single “HERE COMES THE HOT STEPPER” 

After the success of THE PLAYER it seemed like Robert Altman was having a comeback and he wanted to take on another world/culture. His last film was SHORT CUTS and that was more interlocking stories then taking a look into or try to dismantle another popular subculture from the inside. That was more foreign abs international but also glamorous.

Allowing him to use his dual methods of ensemble casts. Where even though the actors are playing characters here it feels more like an out and out comedy. So they are all over the top. Not as serious, nor are there any serious moments throughout. 

It might be understandable him taking on this movie after the more serious and sad SHORT CUTS, but while this is more lighthearted it also is a challenge. As this would be his most mainstream film in a while. As he was taking on a subject that was very popular and most audiences might not be used to his films and their outlook. 

This film is set in that world of fashion to tell ongoing stories and big inertia where the characters cross paths. All in all, it stays humorous with Kim Basinger playing an on air television reporter. Who comes in and out to explain certain relationships but is clueless about fashion. So that it feels like a replay of the reporter in the film NASHVILLE.

The film ultimately never encapsulates any meaning or why we are so enraptured by the glitz, glamour and celebrity of the fashion world. So that in the end it comes across as misguided and empty as the world he is capturing. As fashion constantly reinvents itself. It proves there are No rules and seemingly no depth. Not to mention watching this film feels dated. It’s very episodic. 

Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren get to reference classic scenes and relationships from their career and previous collaborations and give a scene where you believe they are remaking a classic moment only for it to end with a joke. 

Which is pretty much the mood of the film. As all plots and stories seem to end in that kind of manner. 

The film’s cast as usual is filled with stars. The biggest of whom seem here in an unneeded story but help make it more commercial. As Tim Robbins and Julia Robert’s seem stuck here in a bad afterthought of a romantic comedy plot line.

This film seems to find Robert Altman riding his high horse. This film goes for more populism but leaves viewers puzzled. As it is more artistic and voyeuristic than plotted.

This film is like a bunch of short stories stretched over fashion week. 

The film is flashy and appeals to itself but ultimately is frustrating, especially with all the talent involved. Where you are left to wonder what could have been. 

Everyone is well dressed but we are left as confused as Kim Basinger’s reporter. Where we wonder what this was all about. 

It seems like the director was unfocused but having fun. Filled with recognizable names, good actors, supermodels and models of the time. Where the film feels flirtatious as it always has a wink to give off 

Can’t tell if the film was rushed or cut together fast with a murder mystery in the middle that largely takes a backseat or is forgotten. Ultimately the film comes across as a farce. That feels like it is being made up as it goes along. Though with a stylish hand guiding it. Who leaves to perplex the audience. 

Grade: C+

WOLF (1994)

Directed By: Mike Nichols 
Written By: Jim Harrison & Wesley Strick 
Cinematography: Giuseppe Rotunno 
Editor: Sam O’Steen 

Cast: Jack Nicholson, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Spader, Christopher Plummer, Richard Jenkins, Kate Nelligan, Eileen Atkins, David Hyde Pierce, Om Puri, Ron Rifkin, Allison Janney 

Worn down and out of luck, aging publisher Will Randall is at the end of his rope when a younger co-worker snatches his job out from under his nose. But after being bitten by a wolf, Will suddenly finds himself energized, more competitive than ever, and possessed with amazingly heightened senses. Meanwhile, the beautiful daughter of his shrewd boss begins to fall for him – without realizing that the man she’s begun to love is gradually turning into the creature by which he was bitten.

I remember being entertained when I first saw this movie on video. Watching it now It comes across as instantly dated. As that is only part of the problems one might have with the film. 

Watching this film you can tell Mike Nichols who is a great and legendary director. Is more of a character and actors director more than a genre director. He brings esteem to the proceedings in what could have been easily more exploitive fare. 

Who brings a well-known and established cast to the movie. Actors who wouldn’t necessarily be bothered to be in this type of film. At the later stages of esteemed careers. 

As much of this movie plays out as a drama and romance rather than a monster movie or horror film. As a first, the film chooses to showcase the peers he gets from being a werewolf that helps bring vitality to him

And his life. Where he stands up for himself. Then it becomes more of a burden in his romance with the boss’s daughter but only after he finds out his wife is cheating on him.

It seems like they either tried to keep the horror elements on the periphery or forgot about it at times and were only interested in the dramatic thriller aspects of the story. Because it seems like there are scenes of it largely being absent, then “oh yeah” moments. 

After a while he has to deal with corporate politics and then being a suspect in his wife’s murder and trying to prove his innocence. 

While Jack Nicholson looks a little ridiculous in his wolf persona. It does make him seem more seasoned and watching him actually get into a battle as one looks a little silly but also reminds you what type of film you are watching. That tries to distinguish itself away from the fantasy elements. As it seems to look more ridiculous when it selves into them, but It’s not like it’s Corporate storyline is all that sharp about a senior getting pushed out by a younger contender who he helped train.

The film ends up playing way too long and very predictable. As the film seems to go through the motions. As it involves mostly main characters, is that a message to the audience that the older you are the more then you take? and the more thorough it must all be. 

As the film seems to want to make an example between the battles of nature and the battles in the business world and how they are similar. 

James Spader does what he does best. Where he puts on a spin on his upper-crust yuppie character image, but once we get to the third act of the movie. You can kind of predict his character arc. Even though when he starts acting peculiar the special effects give it away. Even though he doesn’t act too differently.

Considering the talent involved in this film. This should have been more memorable. As it is actually kind of forgettable. There are barely any memorable scenes. Even though Michelle Pfeiffer is the only one who has a history more with genre films out of the cast. Plus her playing in a werewolf movie after playing Catwoman is an amusing film irony.

Michelle Pfeiffer almost comes across as just another big name in a star-studded well-respected cast because while she is the female lead. She is the damsel in distress throughout most of the film or just simply the love interest. 

The special effects involved make the final fight look ridiculous. Rick Baker designed them and while One can give credit as at least they are practical effects instead of digital. 

This seems to join the ranks with THE HULK films. Just as there isn’t anyone good of those films. It’s Really hard to find a really good to outstanding Werewolf movie but you are more likely to find the latter than the earlier one. Though it is a little long in the tooth when it comes to running time 

Grade: C+

MY GIRL 2 (1994)

Directed By: Howard Zieff 
Written By: Janet Kovalcik 
Based On Characters created by: Laurice Ehlewany 
Cinematography By: Paul Elliott 
Editor: Wendy Greene Bricmont 

Cast: Anna Chlumsky, Austin O’Brein, Richard Mausr, Christine Ebsrsole, Dan Ayckroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis, Gerrit Graham, Ben Stein, Keone Young, Devon Gummersall

Vada Sultenfuss has a holiday coming up, and an assignment: to do an essay on someone she admires and has never met. She decides she wants to do an assignment on her mother, but quickly realizes she knows very little about her. She manages to get her father to agree to let her go to LA to stay with her Uncle Phil and do some research on her mother. Once in LA, she finds herself under the protection of Nick, the son of Phil’s girlfriend, who at first is very annoyed at losing his holidays to escort a hick *girl* around town. However, he soon becomes more involved in the difficult search.

This film is just as warm and charming as the first film. Though weaker overall in feel and subject matter

This is the last film that Howard Zieff directed, because he became increasingly debilitated by Parkinson’s disease. Carrie Fisher was also an uncredited script doctor on this film

It’s character from the first film we feel a connection with and want to see what is happening in their lives, but the movie offers less of a reason. So that it feels more like we are dropping by while something is developing . Which might have. Even the movies aim, it just never feels as compelling and things seem to happen more in a leisurely pace.

Which makes it seem like a film that adults might appreciate more then kids. Unless they are just connected to the characters from seeing the first film.

It goes more into the hippie lifestyle that she is around as well as delving more into a friendship than romance

The thing that is missing is that in the first film it was a coming of age story and we were introduced to her making her way through the world and seeing how her family worked while this outsider came in. As well as including a tragedy that you knew was coming

Though this film feels less needed than that film As it feels more like an unnecessary continuation of a story and characters where we leave half of the character from the original who appear more in a cameo. Which also loses some of the charm. As it’s nice to see them but we don’t get to see as much of them as we would Like.

And now she is dealing more with her uncle form the first film who here has a bigger part and we get to see him more humanized in his relationship with her and a romantic one. So we are dealing with the original character in a whole new landscape which seems smart, but isn’t as precious as the character is older and a lot more knowledgeable. It stays clean but she isn’t as naive.

Here the character is doing research more into her deceased mother which is what take up most of the films actions and time. She is also in a strange location for her. So she is exploring new territory. While being around the counter culture she still manages to stay innocent.

Strangely though older she is less boy crazy and fascinated by relationships. Which seems to be why by the end she finds herself in a minor one. Though still not really having any female friends. Which the film starts with her having but losing them to jealousy.

Anna Chlumsky has always been an earnest actress her performances have always felt truthful and soulful full of confidence. She is charming and is energetic in her performance. That feels adventurous and guides each performance she has. Though at least throughout she stay confident. Which leaves a good message and role model for little girls watching it and seeing themselves In the character. Luckily over the years she has come back as a major actress in adulthood and been Emmy nominated quite a few times on the award winning television show VEEP

Maybe it is that I grew up watching and dealing with the first film emotionally so that when the sequel was finally announced. –I looked forward to it and built it up on my head so that when i finally saw it I couldn’t help but find it disappointing. More as me and other might have grown out of it. As it came too little too late.

Now this is not a bad movie at all. If anything it feels heartwarming

Though it works as a continuation of a character like in the films MY AMERICAN COUSIN to AMERICAN BOYFRIENDS, also THE YEAR MY VOICE BROKE to FLIRTING, only skewing younger. Though offers motivation and moving into more adult themes for the characters here it maintains an innocence for everyone

The supporting characters are fun if not too memorable. The investigation is not that interesting or encompassing they seem only there to keep the story moving and the characters moving allowing for some developments.

Not too much of a side story by introducing another suitor for the uncle’s girlfriend.

This was a sequel that I was looking Forward to even though I was old enough to be skeptical and think how were they going to be able to equal the power (at least for me) of the original. As one Wanted to see the further adventures of Vada. 

Which is exactly what this film does. She is a little older abd the film transports her out of her hometown into sprawling San Francisco. Bigger city for bigger adventures. As this film comes off more as episodic.

The seed are planeted early in the film. When her friend who we last saw her playing. With st the end of the original. Is jealous and ditches her for a boy who seems to constantly be flirting by with vada and vada In turn has no interest in nor picks up on it. 

So as she searches for stories about her mother. The movie revolves around relationships. Her uncle and his girlfriends. Her and the girlfriends son who accompanies her everywhere In her fact finding mission and even her relationship with her mother and accepting her stepmother and her soon to be born Sibling.

That is what most films are about relationships. This one offers a bit of romance between her and the girlfriends son but other then a kids that is as deep as it gets.

One of the charms of the original so is that it came out of nowhere and had a more natural sense of character as well as generally good innocent humor for the most part. So that it felt like a gem out of nowhere that was also felt classical in A small town novel way. It felt comfortable.

Where as this film feels like most of the film it is stretching and feels way too planned out. It feels more designed then coming off natural and it kind of spoils it.

The film Still has some off the wall charm but not enough to make this film feel like it is worth the effort.

Though then Again I might be wrong as I was younger when the first film Came out and more cynical when the sequel came out and might have believed I was above it all. Kids might actually like it. So might those who took the first film to heart. Even though I did and still found myself disliking the sequels

Grade: C


Written & Directed By: Andrew Fleming  Cinematography: Alexander Gruszynski  Editor: William C. Carruth 

Cast: Lara Flynn Boyle, Stephen Baldwin, Josh Charles, Alexis Arquette, Martha Gehman 

Eddy and Stuart share two-thirds of a dormitory suite. Due to bureaucratic error, a woman named Alex is added to their room. At first, relations among the three are tense. Soon, however, Alex falls for Eddy, and Stuart lusts after Alex. Eddy comes to realize not only that he’s gay, but that he’s attracted to Stuart. The three pledge not to act on any romantic (or lustful) feelings with each other, and become close friends . . . while bottling up a lot of sexual tension.

The film is a bit pretentious and naive but at the time one of the more relatable, humanistic, and provocative looks at a burgeoning gay man and his second life. As he slowly comes out. 

So you must give it credit for that and also after all these years. It’s a movie I might not think about often, but never completely forgot. Though at the time by the title you expect a sexual thriller or exploitation 

The gay sex scenes or more the title sex scenes are soft core and involve touching mroe than actual action. That comes off tame by today’s standards. Then again you have to look at the time period when it came out and what seemed like the powers that be thinking and level of acceptance.

The film plays like a coming of age relationship drama with some comedy but exploring sexuality at the same time. Though not as graphic as expected the heterosexual sex scenes are more graphic.

This love triangle tale has the feel of an indie film filled with artistic flourishes, That was advertised more as a studio film. Though a college story that feels like a perfect plot but sex seems to be the main interest. 

As for once from the perspective of a guy man and not necessarily a sexual one. As the film takes certain types and makes them human.

Surprisingly sensitive sexual type of softcore sex film  that you would commonly see on cable channels like Cinemax for over the next decade. That helped keep them in business but also feels Ike an artistic version of it.

Grade: B-

THE MASK (1994)

Directed By: Chuck Russell 
Written By: Mike Werb 
Based on a Story by: Michael Fallon & Mark Verheiden 
Cinematography By: John R. Leonetti 
Editor: Arthur Coburn 

Cast: Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz, Peter Greene, Amy Yasbeck, Richard Jeni, Joely Fisher, Peter Riegert 

Stanley Ipkiss is a bank clerk that is an incredibly nice man. Unfortunately, he is too nice for his own good and is a pushover when it comes to confrontations. After one of the worst days of his life, he finds a mask that depicts Loki, the Norse night god of mischief. Now, when he puts it on, he becomes his inner, self: a cartoony romantic wild man. However, a small time crime boss, Dorian Tyrel, comes across this character dubbed “The Mask” by the media. After Ipkiss’s alter ego indirectly kills his friend in crime, Tyrel now wants this green-faced goon destroyed.I remember going to see this film in movie theaters. 

Before this film I was never a big fan of Jim Carrey Really but this film made me a huge fan of his. Yet this film won me over and made me more aware of his comedic talents. 

It set’s itself up early as it revolves around a fantasy world and not a real city. So it stays true to it’s graphic novel roots a little. Though where as the graphic novel is more dark and cynical this film is fun and like a live action cartoon with the mask character. There are deaths in the film that seem to be more about cartoons then violence. That is the beauty of the film where it is more of a kid’s film at heart for adults that kids will naturally want to watch and enjoy. 

 Jim Carrey at least plays a double-sided character instead of him just riffing with his more physical comedy. He plays the shy nice Staley Ipkiss with as fuch energy and fervor as he pays the mask. Who seems to be like all the looney toons characters all rolled up into one. That is the element that attracted him to the role in the first place. He adds his own touches like the banana yellow suit he wears is based on the one his mother made when he first started to perform stand-up. He laso says the way he played the character is based on his father. 

The film is the acting debut of Cameron Diaz (Who was a last-minute replacement for Anna Nicole Smith) and she is the ultimate Femme Fatale as she has never looked as good as she looks here and never been as memorable. Once she comes onto the screen she has one of the most memorable entrances ever. 

There is a backward plot that involves the mask going against the mob and stealing the mobster’s girlfriend and just when they set up a romantic rival for Cameron Diaz they dump her just as soon so that our hero can get the girl who led him astray in the first place only in the movies kids. 

I wish This is a fun film that utilizes it’s special effects and they look good and natural not fake and too far out. The film is still relevant as it has aged well and is still fun to watch. It’s not quite the risky film that would be made today or even taken a chance of today I am glad it was made. 

It’s just the type of off-kilter movie that initially you would think would be more of a cult type project but with the addition of Jim Carrey A mainstream star it became a worldwide hit. Followed by an inferior sequel almost a decade later that was even more lighthearted then this film was.  

This film has a dark heart that is never given a chance to fully flow, it is more dressed up to make it more mainstream. It’s still a good film. A film where you wish you could have the masks and the power of it. Realizing that half the time how he overreacts to things and contorts is how you wish you could express yourself in similar situations. 

Chuck Russell directed this film and for all the verve and inventiveness he brings to this film. He didn’t bring any to his projects after this film. He had one of note before this that I really enjoyed THE BLOB and NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET PART 3: DREAM WARRIORS 


ANGUS (1994)


Directed By: Patrick Read Johnson
Written By: Jill Gordon
Based On The Short Story By: Chris Crutcher
Cinematography By: Alexander Gruszynski
Editor: Janice Hampton

Cast: Charlie Talbert, Ariana Richards, George C. Scott, Kathy Bates, Rita Moreno, Kevin Connolly, Chris Owen, James Van Der Beek, Lindsay Price, Salim Grant

A miserable fat teenager secretly has a crush on the class beauty, ends up becoming the surprising participant to dance with her at a high school dance, meaning he’s got to get his act together with the help of his best friend.

Continue reading “ANGUS (1994)”

BAD GIRLS (1994)

Directed by: Jonathan Kaplan
Story By: Albert S. Ruddy, Charles Finch & Gary Frederickson
Written By: Ken Friedman & Yolande Finch
Cinematography: Ralf Bode
Editor: Jane Kurson
Score: Jerry Goldsmith

Cast: Madeline Stowe, Drew Barrymore, Mary Stuart Masterson, Andie Macdowell, Dermot Mulroney James Russo, James Le Gros, Jim Beaver, Robert Loggia, Nick Chinlund

When saloon prostitute Cody Zamora rescues her friend Anita from an abusive customer by killing him, she is sentenced to hang. However, Anita and their two friends Eileen and Lilly rescue Cody and the four make a run for Texas, pursued by Graves and O’Brady, two Pinkerton detectives hired to track them. When Cody withdraws her savings from a Texas bank, the women believe they can now start a new life in Oregon. But Cody’s old partner Kid Jarrett takes Cody’s money when his gang robs the bank, and so the four so-called “Honky- Tonk Harlots” set out to recover the money, with the Pinkertons hot on their trail.

This doesn’t feel like the classic westerns of yore. It feels more like a revisionist look at the genre. It feels more like a female-centered thriller with a western motif or like it is trapped in the western genre. That allows for no one to expect anything from these female characters and underestimate them

At every turn. As we watch them overcome the odds of every situation because of it. Show they are just as dangerous and ruthless if not more than the men.

This film is also beautifully shot. It is a western more an ensemble picture that seems more interested in its fashion and seeking to be somewhat cutting edge more than anything else at times.

The film has it’s fair share of history as at one point it was meant to be directed by Tamra Davis (HALF BAKED) who developed it and was subsequently replaced on the film by director Jonathan Kaplan by the studio. Where after a few days of filming the studio didn’t Like what it saw? So they got rid of Actress Cynda Williams who had the leading role. Had a whole new script written and dumped the old screenplay but kept the general idea of a female western tale. They began filming again two weeks later with new production design making the film more colorful and expansive than Originally envisioned. 

Director Jonathan Kaplan does a good job but by replacing the female director it seems the studio also took what was supposed to be the film’s point in the first place by having a female-centric western action film directed by a female for one of the first times with a noted mostly Female cast. Then all of a sudden the female director is brushed aside and replaced for an experienced older white male director. He does a decent job but it feels like a tone-deaf decision. Where the studio wanted to make something more mainstream and commercial and was worried at the time the film would be too female-centric and more about feminism in a genre women aren’t noted to see but men are. 

This might be why the film seems sexier than it needs to be and seems to use Drew Barrymore more or less as pure eye candy. Though one has to also look at the fact women might not be fans of westerns and action films at the time because they were barely represented other then. Damsels in distress, pure innocence, wives, mothers sexual objects, femme Fatales or just evil and old.

The film keeps your interest, nothing awe-inspiring but it is nice to see a film that feels routine try something different when it comes to formula adding a little something new to the typical.

There are some sharp images and beautiful imagery as well as a stylistic approach to the scenes and outfits. 

The characters and setting especially the costumes feel a little too clean and polished but downright orderly. Not to mention the story just feels average more then it should. It just happens to be that the main characters are female. They still mostly depend on men in most of the film. Only get a chance to stand up on their own and for themselves at the end 

It was one of the last times it seems Madeline Stowe plays a leading role. Which is a shame. She was one of my favorite actresses. She has beauty but also always seemed to bring intelligence and dignity to her roles. She always seemed tough and no-nonsense. She was never a pushover or a total damsel. Here she plays the leader of the female gang and tends to dress and have the demeanor of a male desperado.

Again Drew Barrymore plays the sexy one who is the ruthless right-hand woman to Stowe’s character. This was at the height of Barrymore’s popularity.

It’s a shame that this film was only a modest hit at the time and none of the cast really got more lucrative offers or films. Nor did the studio green light more female-centric genre films at the time. One can only guess because though they put a film like this out. It’s to test the wants and to seek to serve what they believe is a niche audience and once it becomes a hit they figure it’s a fluke more an anomaly with not enough evidence to make more films like them. This shocks me as you would figure a studio could corner the market on that type of film before other studios copy the idea. Then once the market is flooded it can be more about quality. If the box office on the films goes down then blame it on the abundance of the product but for then as well as now. If you make something of quality it will find an audience eventually but also there is such a drought if these films that this audience waiting for films like these will flock to it. As it is like water finally coming to them. Representation matters, if it’s decent they will convince others to come while coming back themselves. 

It’s an example of the movie BRIDESMAIDS brought to light. When it comes to female-centered films. Which they will use the excuse of it being an ensemble cast. Yes, the whole cast who all play their roles brilliantly and that you want to see each character and actress have their own movie though there is a clear lead.

The film plays more like an enjoyable crowd-pleasing action film that happens to be a Western. As the film only seems to note a little of what it was like to be a woman surrounded by men in that type of environment and time.