WHEN WILL I BE LOVED (2004)

Written & Directed By: James Toback 
Cinematography: Larry McConkey
Editor: Suzy Elmiger 

Cast: Neve Campbell, Frederick Weller, Dominic Chianese, Joelle Carter, James Toback, Barry Primus, Karen Allen, Michael Mailer, Lori Singer, Mike Tyson, Damon Dash, 

Feeling undervalued by her boyfriend, a young woman begins to explore her sexuality with other people.


Writer/Director James Toback rests a little too easily on the audience’s knowledge of his past work. He was a pretty much in-demand screenwriter, though became so tangled in controversy he is considered canceled in the industry.

I used to watch his films more for their examination of relationships but also for the way they were developed and filmed. More artistic and definitely more improvised.

This was the last of his films that I watched in a movie theater and this was the third strike in which I was very disappointed. After so much hype. After BLACK & WHITE and HARVARD MAN. Was really hoping for much better. Even if it was me and 3 other people in total in the theater to watch this film on opening day no less.

Neve Campbell in the lead role does fine with the role but she comes off a little too ordinary and long in the tooth to play this seductress that the male characters seem to obsess over. Though maybe more her personality and charm make it believable and let your guard down and hook you. Even though the role isn’t that strong, but puts her at the center of things and usually has the upper hand.

This might have been his way of making a Femme Fatale the main character and center of the film. His view of giving her agency, As she is put up as a pawn, but is actually in control most of the time. Even if the film never treats her as favorable. Toback seems to want to offer a film that is a conversation starter and shows him more about the side of the female characters. Even if when you watch more of his films from the second half of his career. He populates his films with these types of female characters. He paints as more scheming but never the main character. He also never truly offers any insight into their psyche. They just seem to behave in this manner as the stories require it for the films to have twists or tension

Frederick Walker is the only exciting and believable performance out of the main characters. This movie comes off as more an expressive and visual play than a movie. As it feels opened up to include more backdrops and scenery.

The film teases the audience when it comes to sex and nude scenes. That ends up rather Unrevealing and tame for a movie that is supposed to be an erotic drama. Even the brief one in central park is so brief and seemingly played more for laughs. 

The film offers strange cameos. One would guess is to the unpredictable nature of New York and its characters, but the characters in the cameos are more interesting than the main ones. Where we wish the film could follow or involve them more.

Even writer/director James Toback cameos as a parody of himself and his fascination with African Americans. 

The film doesn’t do intentional comedy well. The laughs in this movie are more unintentional. 

The story doesn’t make sense. As you wonder, the count can’t get his own women even though he is apparently world famous and would go to this sleazy guy, just to spend some time with his girlfriend? 

The film does have good camera work and a good soundtrack. Those are the film’s strengths. As it never feels real and it constantly feels like an act or a show. 

Grade: F

MA MERE (2004)

Written & Directed By: Christophe Honore
Based On The Novel By: Goeroges Bastille
Cinematography By: Helene Louvart
Editor: Chantal Hymans

Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Louis Garrel, Emma de Caunes, Joana Preiss, Jean-Baptiste Montagut, Dominique Reymond


Pierre, a youth, comes from his grandmother’s in France to stay with his parents in the Canary Islands. His father talks oddly about his lost youth and leaves abruptly for France. Mom promises to take Pierre to a nightclub, remarking that people will think he’s her lover. He prays. His father dies in France, and his mother wants him to empty his father’s office; Pierre finds it full of pornography. His mother takes him in tow into a night world without morality, a world of sexual exploitation, exhibitionism, and wildness. What will Pierre make of this, and what, ultimately, will he make of his mother?

Rated NC-!7

Is it art or is it pornography? Hobos to say, but this is a bad film that the only reason to watch the film is to see the beautiful euro-trash females in the hide and in sex scenes that seem realistic.

I just can’t get into a film about a mother and son who feel sexual feelings for each other. But don’t act on them.


The film is certainly erotic and has plenty of fetishes for the characters to act on and live out. As we watch the characters on their increasingly ridiculous erotic adventures.

From here on are spoilers. As this film is one you would watch more as an x-rated porn film than an actual art film. At least in my opinion as the film seems like those that as a child I would watch on cable dubbed never really knowing or paying too close attention to the plot. Though knowing nudity was involved and just sitting through the sort to get to the sex and nudity. The rest of the film feeling like filler. Now as a teen that was great, but now as an adult while it brings back a certain nostalgia. If that is all the film is really about it is disappointing or should have advertised that fact originally. Especially with such major actors cast in the film.

The story is about a son who comes home from boarding school after the death of his father. His mother, now a widow starts hanging out with some Eurotrash women, and together, they go out at night, seduce and prostitute themselves. Then the Eurotrash friend seduces the sexually frustrated son. That the film lets us know is sexually Frustrated by showing him constantly masturbating to his father’s porn collection. Not only does she seduce him. She has sex with him in public, then participates in an orgy with him. Which his mother constantly watches him and her and then actually congratulates him after. Then his mother leaves him. So he and a new girl he has met at the orgy and his mother has left him with start To date and have more adventures.

Major spoilers

The rest of the film involves beating a man half to death with a riding crop in as an S & M game. A man masturbating to his mother’s corpse. The mother slicing her own throat while giving her son a hand job.

End major spoiler

I’m sorry I just really couldn’t get into this film. I just don’t want anyone to has to sit through this film expecting something that is never coming. It was more like porn with a plot that had to include every fetish to appeal to every market out there.

This movie is based on a book. Why would anyone want to make it into a film? Maybe it sounded better on paper than it is in live-action. I don’t have European sensibilities. I’m just an ignorant American. So I don’t have too much Of an opinion on it.

For those of you who insist on sitting through it. Just to see if you can make it to the en as some kind of endurance test, why? You paid to see this for some kind of entertainment or at least to e intrigued.

I can admit the women in this film are fetching, but be warned there are not really three women to look at.

One of the problems with reviews in foreign films at times is that since they are in another language, a language you don’t really speak. Is that it is harder to tell if the acting is really good or bad. You just assume they are doing a good job as they seem believable with the text on the bottom of the screen. Or you go by the way they are saying things and the physicality.

Half the time you are reading subtitles so you look up after and may have missed a subtlety or a shot.

I give Isabelle Huppert credit as he mashes I keep her head held high and comes out of the film unscathed.

If you are looking for what amounts to erotic porn rent it. If not skip it.

 Grade: D

THE LADYKILLERS (2004)

Written & Directed By: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Cinematography By: Roger Deakins
Editor: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen (As Roderick Jaynes)

Cast: Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons, Tzi Ma, Ryan Hurst, Diane Delano, Jason Weaver, Stephen Root, Greg Grunberg

A remake of the 1955 comedy, the story revolves around a Southern professor who puts together a group of thieves to rob a casino. They rent a room in an old woman’s house, but soon she discovers the plot and they must kill her, a task that is more difficult than it seems.



This is the first Coen brothers film where Joel Coen and Ethan Coen are both given directing and producing credits. They have shared these duties on all of their films, but Joel has always been listed as the director and Ethan as producer.

A goofy cartoon of a movie that seems like the actors all came to try and do ridiculous characters and accents but soon the fun and craziness become infective and you find yourself transfixed joining in on the fun. The film has certain dark humor that is also goofy and deadpan.

Though Tom Hanks is top-billed and certainly makes an impression. As it is the first time it seems to be him having fun with a role in a long time. Since it is rare he gets not only a challenge playing a part, but such an off-wall character seems to be liberating for him, but the true star of the film is Irma P. Hall.


One can see why the Coen Brothers choose to remake this. It’s certainly a Hollywood film for them with a big star, but they also subvert the film to their type of humor and have the film be inhabited by the type of characters who are common in their type of films. It was made during what I like to call their Hollywood years.

After the success of O, BROTHER WHERE ART THOU they seemed to be making fluff with big stars which may have been a strategic plan. So in the future, if they wanted to make more personal films they could get better budgets or at least enough financing based on their record of hopefully hit studio films. At least this film lets them further explore the southern culture and satirize it with a bit of nostalgic heart. Like their hit O, BROTHER WHERE ART THOU

The film reminds the audience how successful that film was and explores similar territory not as philosophical or deep. There is enough room for stylistic choices. If there is one thing that is right above this film it’s the rich atmosphere and warm colors that fill the screen. Like a southern gothic tapestry. You could almost taste the scenes.
The Film involves plenty of Memorable characters that you hate to see go. Each could have been a start of there own movie or adventure.


As always with the Coens the film has a great soundtrack, Full of southern charm with gospel hits, Bluegrass, and hip hop.


Prior to filming, Tom Hanks had not seen The Ladykillers as he did not want it to prejudice the way he acted in the remake.


I almost like to think of the Hollywood movies they make as experimental at least for them. With an original idea but in the mode of old Hollywood classic films. The filmmakers are at home with the wild and wacky.


Whereas studio films they have the technicality down pat but when it comes to the more mundane slightly less outrageous aspects to story and character they can do it easily but you can see it makes them uneasy. It shows they are trying to do something completely foreign to them thus experimental

GRADE: C+

SPARTAN (2004)

Written & Directed By: David Mamet
Cinematography By: Juan Ruiz Anchia
Editor: Barbara Tulliver

Cast: Val Kilmer, Derek Luke, Kristen Bell, Tia Texada, Stephen Culp, Clark Gregg, Ed O’Neill, Aaron Stanford, Geoff Pierson, William H. Macy, Said Taghmaoui, Zosia Mamet

Maverick Ranger Scott, known for ruthless, unorthodox methods but good results, is called in to help the secret service after Washington big whig’s brat daughter is abducted while studying at Harvard. Scott quickly realizes the protection detail’s prime suspect, her boyfriend Michael Blake, is innocent and dumped her for being a drug-addicted slut. Next, he traces her to a bordello, only to realize the captors didn’t realize who she is but simply recruited her for the Middle Eastern white slavery market, and are likely to dispose of her rather than confront her father. But instead of the support expected in such a high-profile case, Scott gets orders to work in secret before the press catches on, and even finds his quest sabotaged.


This is a tight and taut film. Like a clock with airtight precision. It is also a strange film that has a rhythm and beat all its own.

It’s a top-notch thriller with a good story that plays small and close to the chest rather than a grand conspiracy blockbuster, but when you think you have it figured out. A twist you honestly didn’t see comes, then another one, then another one.

Truthfully I wouldn’t expect any less from playwright-writer-director David Mamet. Though I must say that while this is good. it is one of his lesser works. Which considering the excellent standing of his previous films isn’t bad.

His films specialize in sleight of hand movies. These days though he seems to take stories where you know and subvert them so you care more about the characters, their rapid-fire dialogue, and line delivery which have hidden meanings. Characters’ faces rarely betray emotion but do say so much with simple gestures and tone.

This film is noteworthy for a few reasons. It’s one of the closest Mamet will ever get to mainstream entertainment blockbuster type. Which is the direction. he has a top-notch low-key cast. Val Kilmer is the lead for one of the few times that a film he appears in makes it to the big screen. He really doesn’t get enough credit for how good an actor he is.

The film moves at a slow pace which adds to the slow burn of scenes, it is ultimately rewarding and gives the film more nuance. As it fleshes out characters. Which in other films would be strictly one-note. Mamet shows the procedures and what motivates their actions and reactions. So that you don’t get too far ahead of the lead, but doesn’t not leave you behind him in some scenes.

This film has action but is low on it. A fight scene for instance is started, but the camera stays on the face of Val Kilmer. while he watches it instead of on the actual action. So you can use your imagination to fill in the blanks while hearing it. Then you see the aftermath of the fight.

David Mamet performed rewrites during production using nothing more than a typewriter on a cardboard box between takes.

Except for a single day on a soundstage, the film was shot exclusively at practical locations.

Producer Art Linson and David Mamet were having lunch when Linson informed Mamet that he could not get anything more than a no-frills budget for the movie. Val Kilmer was literally at the next table. Linson knew Kilmer and asked him to come over, and they talked about the production. Kilmer was so impressed with the story and Mamet’s vision that he agreed to the role of giving a significant discount to facilitate Franchise Pictures giving a green-light to the production.

The film might be an acquired taste as I went to this film with one of my constant film companions my female cousin who was bored and really didn’t like the film. While I was quite captivated throughout

I don’t want to spoil too much, that would spoil the experience of seeing it with open eyes. Which I believe is where much of the film’s enjoyment lies.

One of the problems, with the film, is that one character does who is very close to the lead. When it happens he shows no emotions, but later when a character dies who the lead barely knows he tears up like a baby, delayed reaction as the person was hardly innocent. It feels out of place.

David Mamet incorporated a number of real-life experiences from various U.S. special forces members for the production, including Eric L. Haney who had served in highly classified operations during his 20-year military career. Haney’s experience included front-line combat units as a combat infantryman, as an Army Ranger, and as a founding operator within the elite Delta Force under Colonel Charlie Beckwith.

These experiences helped Haney effectively serve as a technical advisor, weapons expert, and actor’s mentor to Val Kilmer, ensuring that Kilmer reflected an accurate depiction of a special forces operative in every capacity. Haney retired as a highly decorated Sergeant Major, and his documented experience also includes security surveys, metro SWAT team arms training, oil company guard force management, executive protection, and the recovery of American children kidnapped and taken overseas.

The film never comes completely alive for all the thrills stays sedate and calm. While the size of production staying small and intimate brings a certain reality to the conspiracy it also feels like a letdown as the size of the story seems more on The scale of epic Or at least bigger proportions.

This is Mamet keeping his style for a major release that offers him a bigger palate. It actually reminds me of the minimalist style of Steven Soderbergh. I am surprised they never collaborated on a project.

 Grade: B

EUROTRIP (2004)

Written & Directed By: Jeff Schaffer, Alec Berg & David Mandel
Cinematography By: David Eggby
Editor: Roger Bondelli

Cast: Scott Mechlowicz, Jacob Pitts, Michelle Trachtenberg, Travis Wester, Fred Armisen, Kristen Kruek, Lucy Lawless, Joanna Lumley, Vinnie Jones, Diedrich Bader, Matt Damon, Jessica Boehrs, Rade Serbedzija, Steve Hytner, Pat Kilbane, Jana Pallaske 

When Scotty’s German online pen pal suggests they meet, he initially freaks out. But then he discovers that she’s gorgeous, and heads out with three friends after graduation to meet her. As they travel across Europe, the four friends have comical misadventures.


This film seems to want to be a satire of the thought of traveling to Europe and the myths in American Teenagers’ minds about urban legends they have heard of the place. Not to mention adults, but here more inspired by the carnal and drugs. While also trying to be an AMERICAN PIE inspired 1980’s teen movie.

This is definitely a movie of its time as it seems kind of lost though wants to put a spin on that common theme of a trip to a foreign land before you buckle down for the future. A familiar coming of age cliche for movies and sometimes in life. This movie isn’t aimed to witness profound discoveries while expanding the character’s minds, but more in comedic stereotypes and culture-clash comedy.

Where half the time the film seems more aimed at sex and drug humor with not as much nudity as one would think but does have enough nudity as a requirement.

The film has inspired moments that seem to be episodic depending on the country or region they are Into and combined. With some guest starring recognizable actors.

One of whom Fred Armisen totally steals his scenes in an all too brief Role. That works best in the small dose offered.

It seeks to try and break or push taboos that sometimes work but also come off as trying to be too eager in their aim. The film isn’t sincere enough to feel original but ends up feeling like it achieves what it set out for. As it is a teen comedy that is more juvenile but gives enough to its audience to be satisfying.

In a way, the film feels like ideas that were for an AMERICAN PIE sequel if Jim had pursued the exchange student Nadia back to Russia and the hijinks that would have ensued only without the same characters.

The film has the 90’s and 2000 equivalent of a teen sex comedy where like sometimes in reality sex and nudity is talked about more than experienced or shown.

The film’s popularity is helped by the catchy tune and a kind of unofficial anthem SCOTTY DOESN’T KNOW. which plays a pivotal role early in the film and throughout.

While the teen cast is mixed In With the hijinks. The other characters the adult ones do most of the comedic heavy lifting. As the teen cast does get involved but they more react to the cause of any comedy. As naive Americans who are at times ugly Americans inadvertently.

Michelle Trachtenberg at the time is the only real recognizable member of the main ensemble cast. This seems to be a film or Role that was more designed to break her out more into sexy adult roles. As at times, she is meant to be funny and eye candy at the same time.

This is a film that didn’t make much of a mark when it came out but over the years has gained an audience of appreciation. Maybe because of it trying to be a riff of inspiration that wasn’t appreciated in its own time so the next generation raises it to a certain level and can take ownership of it. Especially when it has so many noteworthy actors who cameo out of nowhere and seem to be relieved to be given freedom and room To break out of their more Cooke cutter and wholesome roles they are used to playing on television and movie teen roles that were more on the PG-13 roles.

The film plays more episodic and reminds one of the film National Lampoon’s European Vacation with the wild vast comedic stereotypes the film plays into that could also help sell to foreign audiences showing they have a sense of humor about themselves. As the film is over the top and as the characters are so young they try not to be but end up becoming the ugly Americans. By the end, though the film seems to have sex on its mind more than anything else.

 Grade: C

THE DAY AFTER TOMMOROW (2004)

DAYAFTER

Directed & Story By: Roland Emmerich
Written By: Roland Emmerich & Jeffrey Nachmanoff
Cinematography By: Ueli Steiger
Editor: David Brenner

Cast: Jake Gylenhaal, Dennis Quaid, Dash Mihok, Emmy Rossum, Sela Ward, Jay o. Sanders, Rick Hoffman, Ian Holm, Arjay Smith, Tamlyn Tomita, Austin Nichols, Glenn Plummer, Adrian Lester, Nestor Serrano, Perry King

Jack Hall, paleoclimatologist, must make a daring trek from Washington, D.C. to New York City to reach his son, trapped in the cross-hairs of a sudden international storm which plunges the planet into a new Ice Age. Continue reading “THE DAY AFTER TOMMOROW (2004)”

WALKING TALL (2004)

walkingtall

Directed By: Kevin Bray
Written By: David Klass, Channing Gibson, David Levien & Brian Koppelman
Based on An Earlier Screenplay By: Mort Briskin
Cinematography By: Glen MacPherson
Editor: George Bowers & Robert Ivison 


Cast: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Johnny Knoxville, Neal McDonough, Ashley Scott, Kevin Durand, Michael Bowen, John Beasely, Kristen Wilson, Khleo Thomas, Cobie Smulders

After eight years serving the U.S. Army Special Forces, Sergeant Chris Vaughn returns to his hometown seeking for a job in the local mill. He is informed by Sheriff Stan Watkins that the mill was closed three years ago and now the Wild Cherry Casino, owned by his former high school friend Jay Hamilton, is the major source of jobs and income to the town. Chris goes home, and meets his best-friend Ray Templeton, who organized a football game with their friends. After the game, Jay invites Chris and his friends to spend the night in his casino on him, but when Chris finds that the casino crabs dealer is cheating with loaded dice, he fights against the security men and is almost killed by them. When his nephew Pete overdosed on crystal meth sold by the security men at the casino, Chris realizes that the town is dominated by the mobsters and the corrupt sheriff and with a huge piece of wood, he breaks the casino and the criminals. He is prosecuted and in the trial, he promises to the jury and to the population that if he is acquitted, he would be a candidate for sheriff and clean up the town. Later, Sheriff Chris Vaughn has to fight against the organized crime to keep his promise.

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CONNIE & CARLA (2004)

connie

Directed By: Michael Lembeck
Written By: Nia Vardalos
Cinematography By: Richard Greatray
Editor: David Finer

CAST: Nia Vardalos, Toni Colette, David Duchovny, Stephen Spinella, Ian Gomez, Robert John Burke, Dash Mihok, Debbie Reynolds

A mob mix-up in Chicago sends two chanteuses screaming for L.A., where they score a perfect gig: posing as drag queens on the dinner theater/cabaret circuit. Things get extra-weird when a guy falls for one of the girls.

Continue reading “CONNIE & CARLA (2004)”

SEED OF CHUCKY (2004)

seed-of-chucky

Written & Directed By: Don Mancini
Based On Characters Created By: Don Mancini
Cinematography By: Vernon Layton
Editor: Chris Dickens 


Cast: Jennifer Tilly, Redman, Hannah Spearritt, Brad Dourif, Jason Flemyng, Billy Boyd, John Waters 

Chucky and Tiffany are resurrected by their innocent son, Glen, and hit Hollywood, where a movie depicting the killer dolls’ murder spree is underway.

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SPANGLISH (2004)

Spanglish Movie

 

Written & Directed By: James L. Brooks
Cinematography: John Seale
Editor: Richard Marks & Tia Nolan 


Cast: Adam Sandler, Paz Vega, Tea Leoni, Cloris Leachman, Sarah Steele, Shelbie Bruce, Phil Rosenthal, Thomas Haden Church, Angela Gothelas, Freddy Soto, Nichole Hiltz, Eric Schaefer, Spencer Locke, Sarah Hyland 


Flor emigrates to Los Angeles from Mexico in hopes of finding a better life for her and her daughter, Cristina. Hired by the John and Deborah Clasky as their housekeeper, Flor contends with the language barrier, Cristina’s budding femininity, and the eccentric Clasky’s way of life. 

Continue reading “SPANGLISH (2004)”