UPDATE! ROBOGEEK here with three new film reviews from the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival up in Aspen, from our man-on-the-scene, SkiBum. Since they're short and sweet, in-a-nutshell reviews, I decided to go ahead and slap 'em on top of his four reviews from yesterday, which you can still find below. Enjoy!
Day 2 reviews from Aspen. The skiing was just too damn good today, so I only caught 3 features. More tomorrow.
I'm usually not a big fan of romantic comedies, so I went into 30 DAYS
without big expectations. Maybe that's why I enjoyed it as much as I did,
or maybe it's just a pretty good film. Writer/director Aaron Harnick put
together a talented, if largely unknown ensemble cast The film details 3 men
and their fear of real relationships, along with the joy that can come from
finding the right mate. It isn't plot-heavy, so I won't go into that. What
did impress me were the performances. Barbara Barrie was the only familiar
face, yet her role is not crucial. We see Jordan (Ben Shenkman), Sarah (Arija
Bareikis), Mike (Alexander Gaberman), Tad (Bradley White), Brad (Thomas McCarthy) and Lauren (Catherine Kellner). The characters were so real, at times I felt I was watching more of a documentary than a fictional tale. When that
happens, you know it's good. The only thing holding it back is some lacking
production values. 30 DAYS was produced by Matthew and Michael Rego and
(4 of 5)
I'LL TAKE YOU THERE
The highlight of I'LL TAKE YOU THERE, written and directed by Adrienne
Shelly, is the cinematography of Vanja Cernjul. Few Indie films are so
beautiful, it's a shame the rest of the film didn't live up to such high
standards. We open as Bill's (Reg Rogers) life is falling apart. He sold his
dream home, his wife left him, and it just looks like it's going to get
worse when he teams up with his sister Lucy (writer/director Shelly) who has
her self-help book at hand and wants to set him up on a blind date. Bill's
reluctant, but eventually relents, and meets Bernice (Ally Sheedy), who is
some type of new-age hippie. There isn't much of a plot here. Bernice is a
wack-o, and quickly becomes obsessed with poor, downtrodden Bill, and we're
left to watch him try and escape. It could've been funny. It had a good
cast, a great soundtrack, and passable directing, but the script let them
down. We've seen this all before, and it was better then. Shelley needs to
focus more on her directing, and let someone else handle screenwriting
duties. I'LL TAKE YOU THERE was produced by Jim Stark.
(2 of 5)
WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD
Sometimes I love seeing Hollywood skewered, raked over the coals, and
exploited. I loved THE PLAYER and I was hoping to love WELCOME TO
HOLLYWOOD. Unfortunately, what I got was something more akin to AN ALAN
SMITHEE FILM BURN HOLLYWOOD BURN. Adam Rifkin is a very talented man as
evidenced by DETROIT ROCK CITY, but his work her is more reminiscent of
PSYCHO COP RETURNS. Maybe Rifkin should have made this film under his old
pseudonym, Rif Cooogan. The script, written by committee including Tony
Markes & Shawn Ryan from a story by Ryan, Markes, and Rifkin is stilted and
leaves us unsatisfied and the story unfinished. Angie Everhart plays a big
role, and she's nice to look at, but annoying to actually watch. The rest
of the celebrity cameos were equally annoying. Save your money and watch
reruns of ACTION. WELCOME TO HOLLYWOOD was produced by Zachary Matz.
(1 of 5)
That's all for Thursday, more tomorrow.
Greetings, huddled masses yearning to breath crisp Aspen air! ROBOGEEK here with the next best thing -- four film reviews from that Rocky Mountain high of hilarity, courtesy of our man-on-the-scene, SkiBum. Looking forward to more!
SkiBum here reporting from Day One of the US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen, CO where the slopes are perfect and the women are even better. I plan a trip here every year to combine my two loves, skiing and movies. I decided to write up some quick reviews on what I took in. I'll have more tomorrow and Friday. I'll try to catch all the features, so your readers have a good idea what to look out for and what to avoid.
HIT AND RUNAWAY
I'd heard wonderful things about HIT AND RUNWAY, and was expecting an equally wonderful film. When I rent a movie and it's written by, produced by, directed by, and starring the same person, I know it's time to worry. At least Chris Livingston didn't try to act. He did write the film, along with Jaffe Cohen and he produced along with Andrew Charas and Chris D'Annible, and he directed by himself. HIT AND RUNWAY is the story of Alex (Michael Parducci), a wannabe screenwriter who has great ideas but lacks talent. He has recently been hired to write a script about a female cop who goes undercover as a fashion model. If Alex's script is a hit, he can have the success he's only dreamed of. If he fails, it's back to washing dishes in his family's restaurant. Ready to panic, Alex teams up with a sardonic, gay playwright (Elliot played by Peter Jacobson). In the process of their collaboration, this odd couple ends up completely changing each other's lives.
The performances were wonderful, and they were, by far, the greatest part of this film. They're so good, they mask a weak plot and some outrageous situations. Livingston's direction is only passable, making the experience neither extraordinary or visually exciting. His script has some good
laughs, but it doesn't really come together in the end. FWIW, I'd rather have seen the movie about the gunslinging undercover fashion model. There was a smattering of applause in the audience, and the reactions I gathered were mixed.
(3 of 5)
GREGORY'S TWO GIRLS
Bill Forsyth returns to his roots with GREGORY'S TWO GIRLS, and we again meet his famous character, Gregory (John Gordon Sinclair). Now a teacher and single, he leads a fairly normal life, except for lusting after his 16 year-old student Frances (Carly McKinnon). Now, while McKinnon is certainly a babe-in-waiting, this aspect of the script just came off as plain creepy, and not really funny. Is Greg a perv or a good guy with a thing for a very well-developed young woman? We're led to believe the latter, but can't shake the feeling of the former. A vaguely similar situation was handled infinitely better in ELECTION. Greg's love-life could get a needed jumpstart if he'd just go out with Bel (Maria Doyle Kennedy), a music teacher who badly wants his affections. The film gets some much-needed life by the infusion of Fraser Rowan (Dougray Scott), a millionaire who Frances believes is manufacturing torture devices. However, nerdy Greg is reluctant to take up on their challenge. What follows strains credibility, and borders on parody, but never makes the plunge. I expected better of Forsyth who wrote and directed this piece, but was left with loose ends, unbelievable antics, and paper thin characters whose actions are driven by the script, and not the plot. The audience was lukewarm, with more than a few walk-outs. GREGORY'S TWO GIRLS was produced by Christopher Young.
(2 of 5)
WE MARRIED MARGO
If I hadn't met JD Shapiro, I'd never have believed WE MARRIED MARGO was based in reality. Written and starring JD and William Dozier, and directed by Shapiro, the film tells the story of two ex-husbands, both married to the infamous Margo (Kyle Bax), and their trails and tribulations both during married life, and trying to live without her. Jake (Shapiro) and Rock (Dozier), become fast, if somewhat reluctant, friends, who eventually become writing partners. This is a tremendously funny film, with solid direction and a clever, inventive screenplay. The only thing holding it back is the fact that Dozier and Shapiro aren't cut out to be actors, and their lack of experience and questionable timing dampen a few of the films hilarious situations. The audience really enjoyed this touching story, and it could be a contender at the award ceremonies. WE MARRIED MARGO was produced by Stephan Zakman and Nancy Shapiro.
(4 of 5)
POOR WHITE TRASH
The first film I saw Wednesday was also the best. POOR WHITE TRASH, directed and written by Mike Addis from a story by Tony Urban, had everything an indie film needs. This movie had the best cast of any film at the festival, and it's easy to see why so many A and B stars were attracted to a miniscule budgeted project. Sean Young stars as Linda, a recently single/fired/alcoholic mother of a teenaged son (Mike played by Tony Denman). It begins when Mike and his explosive-addicted best pal Lenny (Jacob Tierney), try to buy fake beer and are turned down by the clerk who called them "White trash". The boys are out for vengeance, and a simple case of shoplifting puts them in court and threatens Mike's prospects of becoming the first member of his family to attend college. However, it's Ron Lake (William Devane) to the rescue, and a slimeball lawyer who won't represent his grandson Lenny and his friend for free, but will instruct them how to raise his legal fees. It's rare to see a film with characters so well-drawn. Even supporting roles like Brian (Jason London), Sandy (Jaime Pressly), Suzy (Danielle Harris), and Judge Pike (M. Emmett Walsh), all have a life and vibrancy of their own. Each character has their own motives and desires, rather than just supplementing those of the main characters. Addis' direction is another real bright spot. He brings a zany, kinetic feel to the film, and it's just what the situations call for. Th audience I saw this with loved it, and I'd expect it to pick up a few award. POOR WHITE TRASH was produced by Lorena David and Mark Roberts.
(5 of 5)