ROCK STAR (2001)

Directed By: Stephen Herek 
Written By: John Stockwell
Cinematography: Ueli Steiger 
Editor: Trudy Sharp 

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Jennifer Aniston, Dominic West, Timothy Spall, Dagmara Domincyzk, Jason Flemyng, Timothy Olyphant, Matthew Glave, Michael Shamus Wiles, Beth Grant, Stephen Jenkins, Jason Bonham, Jeff Pilson, Zakk Wylde, Colleen Ann Fitzpatrick, Amy Miller, Rachel Hunter, Heidi Mark, Carrie Stevens, Carey Lassard, Kristin Willits 

The lead singer of a tribute band becomes the lead singer of the real band he idolizes.

This is a film built off of wish fulfillment and watching the life and fantasy most members of the audience dream of, sort of like those entertainment shows that show you the houses and yachts of celebrities to impress you even though you might never actually get a chance to actually see or experience it and better yet this is based on a true story.

So while the film is showing someone else living it up. It feels within arms reach for the audience. Like voluntary torture with a story. A real-life fairy tale with a moral to it.

It’s the old talented being careful what you wish for because you get what you want but you might not be prepared for what it entails and what you have to do to maintain it

An all-American dream movie that shows the dark side and in the end is a happy ending that lets the hero stand on his own Terms. Yet ends up feeling cheesy

Mark Wahlberg is strong. Here as the devoted fan and Everyman who won’t bend in his fandom and cover their songs but when he gets the chance to be part of them finds he has to constantly make compromises

He sees the dark side of stardom and the same type of doctoral behavior he had with his cover band he notices it’s the same way in the actual band

There are many scenes showing the access of rock-star life the lifestyle and legendary parties but also the toll they can take and how they can change you and practically make you a slave or zombie to it. Change who you are and who you are to people how flexible your morals can become

Jennifer Aniston is sexy but  the outfits they give her are made to be flattering but they also, unfortunately, show the limitations of her body and for some odd reasons  make her appear older than Her co-star

This is one of the folks that showed his appeal and has a prepared audience for his more Everyman appeal yet who they would want to Be. Watch him have good times and imagine themselves there.

This seems like a film that would have more of an impact when it is set more in the 1980s or even 90s to show how bloated that period of time was. Watching it now it seems to deliver more an obvious message as well as trying to be a kind of throwback that feels out of date and a satire with little to say about the time. Instead of just throwing in hooked jabs of Jokes

The casting of Mark Wahlberg seems ironic considering his past as an overnight music star as Marky Mark in his teens. So while his character here is in a different genre of music. You can’t help but think if he dealt with some of the same issues when he was a music star rapper.

Based on a true story it stays entertaining and funny at parts but seems to try so hard for something that is more of a minor tale. 

Though pretty much of ItMs time and more disposable back then. This film plays much better over time. Still ridiculous but more heartfelt. An earnestness of the modern era That is kind of missing in most modern films of these times. 

Grade: C+


Directed By: Frank Oz
Written By: Steve Martin 
Cinematography: Ueli Steiger 
Editor: Richard Pearson 

Cast: Eddie Murphy, Steve Martin, Robert Downey Jr., Heather Graham, Christine Baranski, Jamie Kennedy, Terence Stamp, Claude Brooks, Marisol Nichols, Phill Lewis, John Cho

When a desperate movie producer fails to get a major star for his bargain basement film, he decides to shoot the film secretly around him.

This might be a letdown considering the two comedic stars at its center finally teaming up to make a film together you would expect something funnier and better.

Though pretty much the film has a good premise a terrible follow-through and jokes. As it tries to be a Hollywood satire.  Where it seems too hard to be wacky above all else. Even though it seems a little more personal for Steve Martin who wrote the script and also takes aim at satirizing Scientology and also having some humor over it seems a past relationship.

Now the film wasn’t written originally for Eddie Murphy to co-star. As it was written for a big-name star. It was never intended to be a big-name comedic star. Eddie Murphy walks away with the film in a dual role that obviously he had to have input in because he creates a memorable comedic character as the Hollywood Star he also plays look-alike Jiff and kind of stunt double.  as well as spoofing Hollywood’s spoiled paranoid star as Kit Ramsey but that role feels a bit more familiar. 

Eddie Murphy does manage to create two totally different comedic characters and make them believable. 

Truthfully this movie felt crushing to me when I first watched it. As it stars two of my favorite living stand-Up comedians written by one of them and the film still falls apart.

This film is a satire on Hollywood. Though It’s not as sharp as Martin’s precious satire on Los Angeles L.A. STORY. Though that felt like a romance and love letter compared to this film which seems more to make fun of everything and everybody. As this is more silly than witty.

Though the film is certainly ahead of Its time with some of its ideas especially when it comes to the aspect of improv. Though after a while the film feels too silly for Its Own Good. 

If this film was made in the 1980’s it would be just ok and meant more like a classic. Getting a pass just for who starred in it. But made in the Savvy 1990s. It almost plays like a throwback.

There are moments that are original and funny but they are too few and far in between. If this movie had starred anyone else it would be forgettable and much easier for me to let go of it, but coming from such great talents. It was such a huge letdown.

Heather Graham is unresistable as the sexy actress co-star who Steve martin’s director character is also sleeping with and he is disturbed to find he might not be the only one. Based on her ambition and knowledge of his ex-girlfriends this seems his attempt to trivialize that relationship and maybe that person.

Robert Downey Jr. is in the movie he plays a small but pivotal role that really has no meat to it, but this was one of his first jobs post-rehab.

What is also a letdown is the movie within the movie they seem to be filming is so terrible. Even with a star, it looks like it would be bad, but again that might be the film making fun of not only itself but all-star-driven vehicles. Where no matter how bad it might be they will be funded and there will be an audience for them.

I didn’t see the movie in theaters but I did buy the DVD without seeing it first. Because I was so sure it was going to be a knockout. It is one of my least-watched purchases. 

Though strangely over the years I have warmed a little bit to it. It’s still bad, but at least it is watchable more to me now. Hopefully, you feel the same way. 

Grade: D


 Directed By: Dennis Hopper
Written By: Nona Tyson & Charles Williams 
Based on The book “ HELL HATH NO FURY” by: Charles Williams 
Cinematography: Ueli Steiger 
Editor: Wende Phifer Mate

Cast: Don Johnson, Virginia Madsen, Jennifer Connolly, Willam Sadler, Barry Corbin, Charles Martin Smith, Leon Rippy, Jack Nance, Jerry Hardin, Virgil Frye 

Upon arriving at a small town, a drifter quickly gets into trouble with the local authorities – and the local women – after he robs a bank.

This is one of those films I have heard about over the years that has gained a certain reputation. As for some, it’s a lost classic for others it might be an overhyped potboiler. 

The film seems to be slow as the story is revealed in what feels like real-time. Which could feel monotonous for some audience Members, but actually works for the film. Not only as a slow burn but leaves the audience to kindly walk in the shoes of the characters. Never quite knowing what is going to happen next or the next shoe is going to drop.

As we go throughout of course this is a noir tale that feels familiar. As we recognize the types but still offers surprises. As to the depths of certain characters and the ever-present blackmailing of characters.

Though from the outset it seems obvious who is going to fall into bed with whom. As the obvious more attractive members of the cast are set. Showing who are the true stars of the film. They work in their roles but can’t say they subtly appear with the rest of the cast.

As director Dennis Hopper has so much talent in front of the camera and behind. Filled with plenty of character actors who more set the scenes even though they don’t have much to do but be there and be witnesses to the actions going on around them.

This fits into noir more comfortably as it is a cynical film where the more innocent characters are either made to suffer or are natural-born victims. Whereas the more deprived characters seem to be the more successful ones and the ones the film and more interest in as more naturally they are more interesting even if they all don’t make it to the end.

The film has the aura of the type of film you would find for straight to cable or straight to how. Video in it’s days of release. That is how it was more discovered after being a box office bomb. Though it clearly deserved more credit than that. 

While the film certainly feels dirty and sleazy. it never quite feels as erotic or sexy as it should. That element while here and strong, especially As Virginia Madsen scorches the screen and has one of her finest performances. As a character who could easily have been cliche but offers up some surprises. It never feels like it rises to the occasion.

As it feels though, a driving force to the story oddly secondary and more means to an end. It’s necessary but not concentrated and maybe Dennis hopper as a known hedonist decided to try to pull back a little and focus on performances.

Strangely Dennis Hopper directed movies other than EASY RIDER & OUT OF THE BLUE. Always come off as sterile to a degree which includes this one. Though that might be out of expectations considering the man and his legacy. His later directed films seem more sedate as they slowly come from wilder independent to oddly more mainstream studio films. 

Jennifer Connolly plays the young innocent who is hiding her own secrets though also pulls at the heartstrings of the amoral drifter. Who he kind of see’s as his salvation or someone for him to rescue. As she seems usually In over her head or taken advantage of. Though in this film there is no denying her talent or her beauty.

As here he makes no short cuts or quick cuts. It feels kind of old school. As when these types of stories are brought to the big screen. Commonly they either play slick like they are smarter than the audience or believe the audience knows all the cliches so they offer more a sense of humor or spin on them or they tighten the narrative and scenes so much that each one feels either rushed or full of tension even when there doesn’t need to be. 

This takes its time and still offers up its own little surprises as well as what is expected. 

Grade: C+