This page was last updated on: September 14, 2003
Cable and Rental Movie Reviews
I used to keep rented and cable-TV movies on a separate page from my main movies, on the theory that they are "out of sequence" from when they came out But, that only makes sense for the "recent" page; as far as the alphabetical pages go, it doesn't really make any difference, now does it? So I copied all of these movies to the alphabetical pages, and any new rentals/cables go on the appropriate alpha page as well as the recent page. But, I'm leaving this page up, for now, for historical purposes, and update it when I remember. No promises, though.
If I remember, I'll add new movies to the top of this list now, to make it easier on my dear readers. I used to add them at the bottom, who knows why, but I did. Consistency is overrated!......
- saturday, 9/13/03
rented at home, kenneth branagh's "dead again" (kenneth branagh, emma thompson, derek jacobi, andy garcia, wayne "newman!" knight, campbell scott, and robin williams) from 1991. a woman with amnesia shows up on the steps of an orphanage. the nuns call a former resident of the orphanage, now a private eye, to try to figure out who she is and where she came from. eventually, a hypnotist is consulted and past lives -- and past murders! -- soon figure into the convoluted equation. film noir conventions, parallel stories 40 years apart, and black-and-white and color story lines blend seamlessly. I saw this movie when it first came out, and liked it quite a bit. now, a dozen years later, I liked it even more! it has some over-the-top scenes and concepts, but it follows its own rules with a passion, and throws in enough twists and turns to keep you smiling to yourself, both at the ones you saw coming and the ones you missed. and when you see it a second time, you pick up on all sorts of subtleties (like mike church constantly protesting "I'm not roman!"). good fun!
- monday, 9/1/03
rented at home - don coscarelli's "phantasm" from 1979 (michael baldwin, bill thornbury, reggie banister, angus scrimm). this might well have been the film that spawned the phrase "so bad it's good", because it is a hoot, despite really bad writing, acting, and directing. somehow the clichés, the seventies-era clothes and haircuts, and the total lack of logic and motivation all come together to provide some bizarre but fun horror moments. basically, two dimwitted brothers and their equally dimwitted friend decide to take on a shape-shifting, body-snatching, alien mortician (the infamous "tall man"), his monk-hooded dwarf slaves, and his flying steel blood-draining billiard balls. it kind of reminded me of david lynch, minus the talent. but I liked it!
Below here, I was adding them at the bottom. Just a word to the wise, in case you care!!!
- october, 1996
"blue velvet", (dir: david lynch; kyle mcclachlan, laura dern, isabella rosallini, dennis hopper, jack nance, brad dourif, dean stockwell, hope lange), rented. not quite as erie as i remember it being, but still very bizarre. i had totally forgotten about the resolution of the mystery.
- saturday, 3/22/97
cable movie at home alone - tim robbins' "dead man walking" (susan sarandon, sean penn, robert prosky) - ineffective attempt at making you feel ambiguous. since the sean penn character deserved richly to die, all attempts to make me feel bad for him failed.
- saturday, 3/22/97
cable move at home alone - mike figgis' "leaving las vegas" (nicholas cage, elizabeth shue) - atmospheric slice of life with little plot; good characterizations and feelings of the hopelessness of life, great music (except that it was by sting). less humor than i expected.
- saturday, 5/24/97
alone, VCRed from tv - "heathers" (winona ryder, christian slater (thinking he is jack nickolson), shannen dougherty, glen shadix) - enjoyable, cult-ish, stylish black humor about social stratification and teen suicide in a high school. i've heard it is "uneven" and flawed, but i found it very smooth, well made, and consistently toned (ain't i something?)
- saturday, 8/9/97
cable TV - saw andrew bergman's disappointing "striptease" (demi moore, burt reynolds, armand assante, ving rhames, stuart pankin), a semi-screwball comedy with social and political commentary about a stripper trying to regain custody of her daughter from her wheel-chair stealing ex-husband. had all the elements of a classic bergman comedy (like "honeymoon in vegas" and "the freshman" (which i didn't see yet)) - oddball characters, bizzare yet believable situations, whacky little touches, surreal concepts and settings - but somehow didn't click. i think the problem is that demi just can't do comedy - the rest of the characters were all in tune, but she wasn't. reynolds was great - it was half an hour before i recognized him!
- saturday, 10/18/97
john sayles' "lone star" (chris cooper, elizabeth pena, kris kristofferson, matthew mcconaughey, frances mcdormand) on cable tv. slow moving but affecting western/mystery/self-discovery story. interesting blends between the flashbacks and the current-day scenes. slowly finding the truth was fun.
- friday, 11/14/97
watched on cable - "bound", written and directed by The Wachowski Brothers (gina gershon, jennifer tilly, joe pantoliano). great, atmospheric, funny, and deliciously lesbianly sexy gangster/caper flick. great scenes with jennifer and gina! oh my gawd!!
- saturday, 12/27/97
rented at home alone, "donnie brasco" (directed by mike newell; with al pacino, johnny depp, michael madsen, bruno kirby, anne heche), a disappointingly blase gangster flick with good atmosphere but not much in the way of plotting, pacing, or resolutions.
- saturday, 12/27/97
rented at home alone, william friedkin's "jade" (david caruso, chazz palminteri, linda fiorentino, michael biehn, kevin tighe, richard crenna) a really badly written mystery with more loose ends than a, uh, ah... (can't think of a good analogy), but some sexy cinema and good car crashes to keep you interested.
- saturday, 1/3/98
rented ron howard's "ransom" (mel gibson, rene russo, delroy lindo, gary sinise, liev schreiber) good tension and action and interesting concepts, and without that usual ron howard sappiness. (apparently mel has enough testosterone to share.)
- saturday, 1/3/98
rented "addicted to love" (matthew broderick, meg ryan) - cute and light, but funny and enjoyable, tangled love quadrangle flick. good date movie, if i ever get a date.
- saturday, 2/14/98 valentine's day
rented at home, lawrence kasdan's "french kiss" (kevin kline, meg ryan, timothy hutton, jean reno). cute and fuzzy atmospheric love story with great french scenery, great music, and good lines.
- tuesday, 8/11/98
"the game" (dir: david ("se7en") fincher; starring michael douglas, sean penn, deborah kara unger, james rebhorn, carroll baker, peter donat, and armin mueller-stahl), a taught, fast paced thriller that kept you guessing right up to the end, with several options always available for you to believe in, but real good at keeping you unsure which one is right.
- friday, 8/21/98
barry levinson's "wag the dog" (partially written by david mamet) (dustin hoffman, robert de niro, anne heche, denis leary, willie nelson, andrea martin, william h. macy, craig t. nelson, woody harrelson), a very droll and dry-humor satire of political spin doctoring. not outright hilarious, but creepily, stingingly poignant. sort of a semi-mamet feel to the dialogue.
- saturday, 12/5/98
orson welles' "the lady from shanghai" (orson, rita hayworth, everett sloane, glenn anders). not up to the usual welles famous directorial genius, but a decent basic mystery/thriller in sort of a hitchcock mold.
- sunday, 12/6/98
"the fifth element" (dir: luc besson; bruce willis, milla jovovich, gary oldman, ian holm, john neville, brion james, chris tucker, tom "tiny" lister jr.). choppy nonsensical story and uneven pacing, but great effects, imagery, and imaginative concepts - the phrase "eye-popping" comes to mind. would have been twice as good without chris tucker!
- friday, 6/25/99
taped off cable long ago, this has become an all-time favorite: gary fleder's "things to do in denver when you're dead" from 1995 (andy garcia, william forsythe, christopher lloyd, christopher walken, treat williams, jack warden, bill cobbs, bull nunn, gabrielle anwar, fairuza balk, steve buscemi). great small-time-thug flick, with lots of traditions and lingo that you gradually figure out as you go, and a double entendre on the movie title. good quirky plot, concepts, and characters too. sticks with you.
- friday, 8/27/99
rented steve kloves' "the fabulous baker boys" (jeff bridges, beau bridges, michelle pfeiffer, jennifer tilly); immaculately perfect screenplay and heart tugging soundtrack, along with stylish cinematography and slice-of-life drama that doesn't quit. all about what we do and what we want and how we get it and how we don't get it, set to a backdrop of low-rent lounge singing in seattle in the late eighties. and oh, that "makin' whoopee" scene on the piano! I love this movie.
- friday, 8/27/99
rented michael curtiz' "night and day" from 1946 (cary grant, alexis smith, montey woolley, eve arden, mary martin, alan hale, jane wyman); a dubious bio-pic of cole porter, made according to strictest formula, but chock full of great porter tunes performed by a poupourri of talent. saw it many years ago on TV, it still delights.
- saturday, 5/20/00
cable tv, saw andrew niccol's "gattaca" from 1997 (ethan hawke, uma thurman, jude law, gore vidal), pure science fiction concept, as in "what would happen if" extrapolated to its logical extreme. in this case, what if medical science can predict your abilities and life's potentials based on your genes, why the heck should anyone try to rise above their potential? and of course the one man who does try, and the society that smacks him down. good dry, straightforward storytelling makes the implications all the more chilling. very scary in a "makes you think" kind of way. a cautionary tale, it stuck with me for quite awhile. this is the kind of cerebral movie where visuals and special effects and set designs are meaningless; it's all in the thinking and the concepts.
- sunday, 7/2/00
rented "year of living dangerously" (peter weir; linda hunt, mel gibson, sigourney weaver), basic updating of "casablanca" with political intrigue, romance, and doing what's right battling it out for first place in your psyche. linda hunt was awesome as both the unsung main character and the moral compass of the story. beautiful scenery, nice tension, good ambiguity kept me interested all the way.
- sunday, 7/2/00
rented david lynch's "the straight story" (richard farnsworth, sissy spacek, harry dean stanton); hard to believe david lynch would direct this movie, let alone for disney! yet he did. and, as a lynch afficianado, I detected a few lynch-isms, especially at the beginning in his defining of the goofy lay of the land of the main character's domain. other than that, it was sweet, touching, americana at its best, with blind and lame (and un-driver's licensable) farnsworth traveling from iowa to wisconsin on his riding mower to visit his ailing brother, and the adventures he has along the way, and especially the pithy advice he dispenses to the good folks he runs into on his travels. the punchline was the casting choice of the brother, which had me in stitches! i recommended my parents rent this flick, which should tell you something, but i liked it too.
- saturday, 7/8/00
rented arne glimcher's "the mambo kings" (armand assante, antonio banderas, cathy moriarty, talisa soto, maruschka detmers, roscoe lee browne, desi arnaz, jr., tito puente); great story of relationship between an older and younger brother, immigrants from cuba to america, artists searching for success, independence vs. the establishment, and family vs. the outside world. armand and antonio are both awesome at portraying tortured yet passionate souls, and the music is great! can be viewed as light entertainment or tortured need for success at all costs, both professional and personal.
- saturday, 9/16/00
watched mel brooks' "blazing saddles" (cleavon little, gene wilder, harvey korman, madeline kahn, david huddleston, john hillerman, mel brooks, alex karras, dom deluise, slim pickens, etc.) on video with a bunch of drunken buddies in monroe, wisconsin. of course, we'd all seen this movie a gazillion times before. raucous, hilarious, cliché-busting, profound and profane parody of the classic american western, and probably the most politically incorrect flick ever filmed. I kept commenting to myself how "you could not possibly make this movie today!" given the crap that Dr. Laura receives for her relatively mild level of politically incorrect rhetoric, this kind of stuff would get you ridden off the PLANET on a rail in today's environment! but of course it is still hilarious, so THERE!!!
- saturday, 9/23/00
watched david lynch's 1997 "lost highway" (bill pullman, patricia arquette, balthazar getty, robert loggia, robert blake, gary busey, richard pryor, henry rollins, and the great jack nance) for a second time, showing on Bravo network. the first time i saw this flick, in the theater, i judged it to be 99% incomprehensible. but now, i have upgraded it to merely 90% incomprehensible (a video tape and pause button help a lot!). but i think it is starting to make sense to me. quentin tarantino, god love him, likes to make looping and self-referential plots, but lynch makes ole QT look like an amateur! and this movie makes "twin peaks" seem about as easy to understand as an episode of the brady bunch! but i must say it was very enjoyable, in a twisting, confusing, maddening, grisly, and strangely hilarious sort of way. bravo, DL!!