HURLY-BURLY (1998)

Directed By: Anthony Drazan
Written By: David Rabe (Screenplay/play)
Cinematography: Changwei Gu
Editor: Dylan Tichenor 

Cast: Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Meg Ryan, Garry Shandling, Anna Paquin, Chazz Palminteri 

Hollywood movers and shakers dissect their own personal lives when everything seems to clash together.


Based on a play this film feels very theatrical. Though it never comes alive or feels vivid it more feels like everyone is going through the motions. 

Even as it shows the dark side of Hollywood as the characters aren’t likable at all. They never exactly redeem themselves. We just keep watching them torture themselves and others in this kind of well dressed he’ll

As the lead character of Eddie seems to be the only character who realizes that he should loath his actions and character 

While the trailer makes the film Look exciting and alive. Watching it feels drab and almost colorless. Strangely it feels like while there is a great cast most of them feel miscast. 

Again though originally a play. Being set in Los Angeles it feels like the movie should feel more open. The film sometimes leaves the apartment that is shared by the two main characters but not enough. As Los Angeles is a place where your home is kind of your sanctuary but it is also Hollywood and the characters are all involved in that life. Which requires being more social and going places 

It’s not a total loss as the cast are all serviceable in their roles. Most seem to try so hard to be out of their usual roles and onscreen personae they are known for. 

Sean Penn brings his usual immersion to the role and feels electrifying no one else feels that way except maybe Garry Shandling, that is more him playing a producer creep that feels inside of his wheelhouse.

Kevin Spacey is fine in his role but his dyed blonde hair is distracting. Meg Ryan is good in her role and quite natural but it also feels like stunt casting 

None of these characters would you like or want to really spend any amount of time with. Though they complain quite a bit. These are characters who work for a theatrical price because you stay for the acting and character more than the story and are more trapped with them in play form. If only for the amount you paid to see it and made an investment and are not going to walk out as easily. When it comes to film you care about acting and characters, but an audience usually mostly is interested in where the story is going and plot and if it doesn’t move it feels stuck 

Maybe if director Anthony Drazan wouldn’t direct it as he is more a theater director and he can refine the performances and lock but a different director might have tried to make it more visual and open the movie up even though admittedly as a theatrical piece the strength is in the script, performances, and dialogue. The film called for more of a director with flair visually. 

So this feels like an all-star cast wasted not on a project not worth their time but one that doesn’t live up to its pedigree.

Grade: C+

IN THE CUT (2003)

Directed By: Jane Campion 
Written By: Jane Campion, Susanna Moore & Starvos Kazantzids
Based On The Novel By: Susanna Moore 
Cinematography: Dion Beebe 
Editor: Alexandre De Franceschi

Cast: Meg Ryan, Mark Ruffalo, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kevin Bacon, Sharrief Pugh, Nick Damici, Heather Litteer, Arthur J. Nascarella, Patrice O’Neal 

A psychological thriller: a lonely New York woman discovers the darker side of passion after becoming involved with a tough homicide detective who is investigating a series of murders in her neighborhood.


This film seemed to be dismissed and quickly forgotten by audiences and critics at the time of its release. Seen more as a failure or embarrassment. When actually it is a film that is worth exploring for the rules it abides by and the many it doesn’t. 

It’s grimy ugly not all that sexy. You don’t want to be there but are kind of forced to. As the film starts off disorienting and claustrophobic, it constantly feels like it’s tightening a noose. It stays intense with barely any noticeable score. 

Not a pleasant experience but this film is worth exploring. 

It’s strange as it is Jane Campion making a movie that is more seen as the most mainstream for her at that point and you have America’s sweetheart who wants to challenge herself and be seen in a different more dramatic light. In other words, trying to be anti-mainstream 

So you have these two working together trying to tell a tale that seems mroe obsessed with sex and maintain interest in a murder mystery that seems to be in the background until it hits close to home 

It certainly doesn’t help that all the male characters seem to be creepy as hell. Though make up a long suspect list 

The violence is more told or shown in the aftermath. After a while, the film’s problem is that you wonder what this is all about and what we are waiting for as it gets a bit monotonous at times but stays interesting. As you never know quite where it is going to go next so it feels alive 

The film is certainly well-directed though the material might not be the best. It works as everyone seems ordinary and doesn’t feel like a glamorous Hollywood production. As it does get down and dirty 

So can’t say you like or really care about too many of the characters. Especially when every cop character seems to have an overworked New York accent 

Then throw Kevin bacon into all this madness as a psycho stalking ex. He usually wears red so he might as well be labeled a literal red herring. Where you wonder why Meg Ryan’s character slept with him in the first place. As he seems to be there as a recognizable face and kind of a waste of time.

As Meg Ryan plays a nerdy teacher who is brought into all of this erotic and sexual obsession. At first, she seems Miscast almost like this film is more an experiment for her watching one time America’s sweetheart in a down and dirty role that for some might come across as desperate but for others, it shows she is up for the challenge. Between this film and her other dramatic performances in COURAGE UNDER FIRE and WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN. 

Mark Ruffalo gives the most convincing performance. As he comes across as a simple character with a lot of secrets and heMs not the type to talk about his feelings. More direct as he seems to inhabit the role than play it. Though will admit him, Nor most of the cast are the first you would think of or fantasize about seeing in an erotic thriller 

Though the film would have been easily welcomed and probably lauded had it come out in the ’70s or 80’s as it seems to agave that kind of grit and seriousness of those films even if it would have felt like more of the norm back then. Though it does show classic early 2000 New York 

It feels like a welcome daring film especially for the times that was just too gloomy for audiences of the time to really get into as it is far from enjoyable 

Doesn’t play into bigger-budgeted thrillers with plenty of tension but not as much suspense and lead up. The score is barely noticeable 

The film shows the violence that men do to women that isn’t always physical or sexual but mentally and emotionally. 

 No matter what you think you are going to get going into this film. Do you actually get, It’s A challenging film that has a mind of life or energy if it’s own. That isn’t quite like anything you might have seen before. Not for everybody 

The film is sexual and erotic but not sexy necessarily. When it comes to the more erotic scenes and nature of the film. In the cut is the first Hollywood movie where I have seen someone a man eat ass booty 

Even by the end of the film once the killer is revealed there are no real answers. It’s more left for the audience to put together from what they have seen. Not only when it comes to the murder mystery but even most of the characters’ motivations.

Grade: B-