About This Blog

A place to find my reviews not featured on epinions.com or horror-asylum.com, as well as opinions and lists on everything from movies to TV to music. It's all about me! Send hate mail to vegie18th@hotmail.com or just leave a comment beneath the posts. Review grading system assumes C+ is somewhere in the vicinity of a Passing grade or minor fail.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Review: Mixed Nuts


Steve Martin is the proprietor of an LA suicide hotline, that is being run in an apartment building run by Garry Shandling who hands Martin an eviction notice. On Christmas Eve. Martin’s seemingly only staff are sweet-natured Rita Wilson (who gets too involved with callers, and also has the hots for Martin), and Madeline Kahn as the rather cranky Mrs. Mushnik (Who doesn’t remotely convince as someone who works in this industry). Other people who drop by the apartment this evening include Juliette Lewis as Wilson’s pregnant sister whose douchebag baby daddy Anthony LaPaglia is dressed as Santa, Liev Schreiber as a depressed drag queen (his theatrical film debut!), Adam Sandler as Adam Sandler doing an Adam Sandler routine in a film not about Adam Sandler, Joely Fisher as Martin’s ex, and Robert Klein as a dog-loving neighbour. Anyway, someone dies, and oh, and there’s apparently a serial killer stalking the city. Could one of our characters be The Seaside Strangler?

 

OK, so it’s not quite as abysmal as other 90s all-star comedic misfires like “Nothing But Trouble” or “North”, but this 1994 effort from director Nora Ephron (“Sleepless in Seattle”, “This is My Life”) and her co-writer/sister Delia Ephron (“This is My Life”) is a complete and total failure from a bunch of people who should’ve known (and given us) much, much better, though I’ll give respected cinematographer Sven Nykvist (“Cries and Whispers”, “Chaplin”, “Sleepless in Seattle”) a pass, he at least does his job. It’s also a shithouse Christmas film to boot, I might add. I like some Christmas songs and carols, but the George Fenton (“Gandhi”, “The Fisher King”, “Groundhog Day”) score and soundtrack here are obnoxious and insistent (and not just because The Chipmunks feature at one point).

 

The fact that it’s based on a French film explains a whole lot about this film’s failure to work. Sure, it worked with “Three Men and a Baby” and “Three Fugitives”, but remaking a French farce can be quite hazardous, as this film proves tenfold. Nora Ephron, French farce and suicide prove a fatal mix this time around.

 

Everyone’s favourite insincere prick Garry Shandling is perfect casting as a Grinchy landlord, but he leaves the film almost instantaneously, leaving us with a baby-voiced pre-“Happy Gilmore” Adam Sandler, Liev Schreiber in drag and suicidal (It’s not his fault, and his career amazingly recovered anyway), Anthony LaPaglia as an unlikeable ne’er do well Santa (and shite artist), an ironically despondent-looking Steve Martin (aside from “Bowfinger”, his career didn’t recover), a shrill Madeline Kahn (Talented lady when she’s not simply doing that shrill voice thing), and a typically whiny Juliette Lewis (Whose exact talent I’m still yet to discern). Oh, and Rob Reiner as a supposedly comical vet. Mustn’t forget that valuable contribution. Rita Wilson is absolutely lovely, and the Ephron’s have obviously taken more interest in writing her character, with Martin in particular getting nothing interesting to do or say here (Make of that what you will), and everyone else being some kind of one-dimensional (and unlikeable) kook.

 

The whole thing is depressing, overdone, and unfunny, but mostly it’s just irritating, especially when Sandler is given free rein to do his baby-voiced shtick and “SNL” characters in the least organic way possible. He stops the film (already stillborn) dead with his every riff. I’m sure some people find Sandler’s baby-voiced, ukulele-playing shtick funny, but it’s not. At all. I spent the whole film wanting to punch him, which is kind of ironic given the suppressed rage his man-child characters tend to have. When he and Kahn share a scene together? Excruciating stuff. Poor Jon Stewart and Parker Posey barely have roles at all, though Posey was just starting to build a resumé and Stewart wasn’t a name back in 94, either. You’d think a comedy about suicidal and depressed people would fit uber deadpan comedian Steven Wright perfectly, and it might’ve if Ephron remembered she actually cast him in the film.

 

I’d be shocked if this film has any fans who aren’t currently under psychiatric care. Sure, someone out there will probably defend “Toys”, and we all know even Sandler’s worst films have their supporters, but this is truly disappointing, and frankly just off-putting. A major miscalculation, this sad sack farce is miserable.

 

Rating: D-

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Review: The Greatest


Likeable 18 year-old Aaron Taylor-Johnson takes an ill-advised stop in the middle of the road one night and is killed by an oncoming truck. His relatively new girlfriend Carey Mulligan was in their car at the time too, but relatively unharmed. The film deals with each of his family members’ grief, with maths professor dad Pierce Brosnan closing up somewhat, whilst despondent mum Susan Sarandon becomes obsessed with surveillance footage of the accident that suggests her eldest son (‘The Greatest’ of the film’s stupid title) lived for about 15 minutes after the accident and the now comatose truck driver who struck him (Michael Shannon) may have had a conversation with him before he died. When a heavily pregnant Mulligan (the baby was apparently conceived on the very night Taylor-Johnson died!) turns up at their doorstep looking to get to know her expectant baby’s family more (she wants to keep it), Sarandon is less than enthused, but Brosnan does his best to be welcoming as she apparently has nowhere else to stay. Meanwhile, Sarandon and Brosnan (whose marriage was strained before the accident) have another, younger son Johnny Simmons, likes to get high, but also attends a grief support group where he meets the somewhat likeminded Zoe Kravitz.

 

There’s nothing at all wrong with this 2010 family drama from debut writer-director Shana Feste…except it has been done to death. All of the performances here are outstanding, it’s just that there’s no more to say in this family grief subgenre that hasn’t already been said by “Ordinary People”, “Moonlight Mile”, “Reservation Road”, “Imaginary Heroes”, and “In the Bedroom”, and casting “Moonlight” co-star Susan Sarandon here as yet another grieving mum simply reminds you of this fact (and of the fact that “Moonlight Mile” was a bit better). Therefore, the waterworks never really come, and the film never quite draws you in emotionally the way you dearly want it to, though it does come close at times.

 

The fact that it does come ever-so close to winning you over is entirely due to the committed cast, although the film does also drive home the point that when someone dies it makes everyone else seem to become helpless. This married couple seem like they don’t know how to work now, even though things were already fractured. It’s actually hard to watch Sarandon here, and that’s a compliment. The woman she plays is practically losing her mind with grief. You know you’re in serious grieving mode when the morning alarm goes off and your first instinct is to cry. But this really does feel like “Ordinary People” with the parts all jumbled up. Sarandon is somewhat unlikeable at times, as was Mary Tyler Moore, but she is also shown to be very emotional and vulnerable, unlike the hardened Mary Tyler Moore. Sarandon is consumed with wanting to get answers, Mary Tyler Moore just wanted to forget and put up a front for her society friends. So it’s a shame that the spectre of other films hangs over this one. Hell, even Pierce Brosnan is pretty much doing Donald Sutherland from “Ordinary People”. And doing rather well, I might add. If you don’t think Brosnan is much of an actor, watch him in this. He’s subtle; stoic, yet kinda vulnerable too. I think he actually deserved an Oscar nomination for his performance here (As did Donald Sutherland in “Ordinary People”. It’s a crime that Judd Hirsch and Mary Tyler Moore were nominated, but not Sutherland, who was the best thing in it!). He gives it his all, and you’ve never, ever seen him like this. He probably knew all the places to go for the part too, given his own experiences with grief (That he serves as EP says a lot).

 

Carey Mulligan probably doesn’t get as much to play with here, but she is nonetheless immensely appealing. I’ve become very fond of her, actually and she gives the third top-notch performance in the film. In a smaller, but still very solid turn, Johnny Simmons is completely convincing as the younger brother (One of the best things about the film is that the brothers apparently coexisted amicably, a rarity in films and TV). Michael Shannon, who for the most part plays the most intense-looking comatose man since “Patrick”, gets only one dialogue scene, but as he often can, makes it count.

 

The “Ordinary People” connection truly becomes too much to ignore during an argument between Brosnan and Sarandon that sounds exactly like one that Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore had, just with the dialogue mixed up between genders this time. It’s a shame that familiarity holds me back from getting into what should be a truly emotional film experience. There are still a couple of really raw and uncomfortable moments, and there’s not one poor performance in the film. The central trio of Susan Sarandon, Pierce Brosnan, and Carey Mulligan are especially good. Kudos too, for the awful/brilliantly funny decision to play Bertie Higgins’ appalling ‘Key Largo’ at one point. Seriously, that song has some of the worst lyrics of all-time.  

 

Rating: C+

Review: The Dirty Dozen


Formerly at Epinions.com, written in 2007, and somewhat inspired by a Uni essay I totally aced a few years earlier. Not kidding, got a high distinction for it.

 

An anti-authority Army Major (Lee Marvin), is assigned by no-nonsense General Ernest Borgnine, the task of choosing and training twelve military prisoners-murderers, rapists and nutcases on either heavy jail or death sentences- for a top-secret WWII assignment to destroy a chateau in France supposedly hosting a lot of top enemy bigwigs. These uncouth and unseemly felons (who are promised quashed sentences should any distinguish themselves in combat and live to tell the tale), include; an antagonistic New York hood (John Cassavetes, in one of his best turns), a stoic Pole who can speak German (Charles Bronson, definitely one of his better efforts), a sneering religious zealot murderer (Telly Savalas, unforgettable), a gawky moron (Donald Sutherland, young and hilarious), a surprisingly sweet-natured Native American giant who is violent when provoked (Clint Walker), a hostile African American (Jim Brown, the first of his many film appearances), and others. Aiding Marvin in shaping up this motley crew is Richard Jaeckel, and Ralph Meeker, who as the military shrink has a helluva time getting single-minded Bronson to participation in a word association. George Kennedy, never more youthful or nerdy on screen, is Marvin’s friend, mild-mannered Maj. Armbruster. Robert Webber turns up as an unimpressed, by-the-book Army bigwig, and Robert Ryan is Marvin’s antagonist, the rigid and utterly humourless Col. Dasher-Breed.

 

There’s a lot more going on in this Robert Aldrich classic than it being just a ‘guy movie’, and some critics have underestimated it, even those who actually liked it. For instance, even Roger Ebert didn’t quite get it, his mostly negative yet three-star review from 1967 (he was on the anti-violence bandwagon, not for the last time, despite giving the abysmal “Last House on the Left”  three and a half stars!) was as woefully misguided as was his later assertion that “The Elephant Man” was just about a freak we were supposed to feel pity for (no, Roger, it was about man’s inhumanity towards man!).

 

Aldrich is an especially underrated director who dealt with strong themes, this film being a perfect example. The film is a deeply cynical one concerning the war machine- the top brass are seen as somewhat rigid and treat Marvin and his crew as a means to an end, the military own these men. But I think there is more being said here than even that. I believe the film is taking a definite- if cynical- anti-war stance, remembering that the film was made in the late 60s. By having a war effort carried out by some of the worst examples of human specimen possible, Aldrich seems to be saying that if you want to believe in war, well, here it is- ugly, brutal and inhumane. Thusly, it best fought by psychopaths, killers and the generally unbalanced. True, these twelve are exaggerations of that idea, but hey, it is a movie after all. To bring back the notion of the war machine, it is so-named because any trace of humanity is driven out of you in the training process. You are trained to be a machine, process orders and unblinkingly carry them out.

 

But the film wouldn’t be a success if it didn’t also work on the most basic level as well: pure, masculine entertainment. If you like your tough guys, big guns, jeeps, and explosions up to wazoo, then this film is probably already part of your personal collection, and if not, it should be. The funny thing is, as enjoyable as the final action segment is, the training sequences (which form the longest part of the film) are the film’s strongest. This is probably because it is hear that the characterisation and humour in the Nunnally Johnson/Lukas Heller script and excellent performances come through strongest.

 

Marvin is pitch-perfect as a definite hard-case tough guy, but one who quite probably has severe misgivings about what it is that he does, especially in regards to the apathetic attitudes of his superiors. Watch the scene in which he sees a man hanged and you tell me that this is a man that likes army and the military (whether he agrees with the necessity of it- let alone whether I do- is another matter entirely). Charles Bronson, a limited actor, gives one of his best performances as one of the quietest, but perhaps the most heroic and ‘honourable’ among the Dozen, much as he was the humble hired gun in another classic ‘guy movie’  “The Magnificent Seven”, or the equally excellent “Great Escape”, wherein his Polish tunneller continued to work to help free his fellow prisoners, despite his claustrophobia (though I reckon he was also fearful of the outside after being held captive for so long). John Cassavetes is the perfect antagonistic mid-level, brawling hoodlum who constantly tests the tough, uncompromising Marvin and attempts to lead a rebellion against his rigid ways. Telly Savalas, sans lollipop, creates one of the most disgusting, skin-crawling loonies I’ve ever seen, his character is aptly named Maggott, and he’s always on the verge of doing something to sabotage the mission.

 

My favourite of the Dozen, however, is the geeky-looking Donald Sutherland, whose dim-witted character actually doesn’t seem smart enough to even be capable of committing a crime to get in the can in the first place. He has the film’s funniest moment, when he is told by Marvin to impersonate a general to get them out of a sticky situation, and make Ryan’s Dasher-Breed look foolish (not hard) in the process. Although their roles are comparatively minor, Borgnine, Meeker, Jaeckel, Webber, and especially Kennedy and Ryan are nothing less than solid. Borgnine, one of my favourite actors, doesn’t get much to do, but his reaction shots during the celebrated war games sequence are very funny and show that his character isn’t as much of a stiff as say, Col. Dasher-Breed.

 

If there is a flaw to be found, I suppose it is in the other members of the Dozen whom I haven’t even mentioned in the plot synopsis. Of them, only Trini Lopez’s music-lover made any impression on me whatsoever, and even that wasn’t a good impression (Sutherland might have seemed an unlikely con and not much of a soldier, but this guy? Gimme a break, even I could take him, and I’m a paraplegic for cryin’ out loud!). But if you must know, I think the rest of the 12 are played by Tom Busby, Ben Carruthers, Stuart Cooper, Colin Maitland and Al Mancini. Yeah, a fine gallery of well-known, movie stars and A-grade actors there. Oh, well, at least the others are more than memorable.

 

A great ‘guy movie’ full of action, humour, fine actors, and yes, even some food for thought.

 

Rating: A+

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Review: Play it Again, Sam


Woody Allen plays a depressed and neurotic film buff whose wife has left him. His friends, married couple Tony Roberts and Diane Keaton try to get him back on the dating scene, with comically disastrous results. Meanwhile, Allen receives relationship advice from Humphrey Bogart (Jerry Lacy, shrouded in a lot of shadow), a figment of his own imagination. After a while, Allen starts to feel attracted to the one person he shouldn’t: Keaton! Susan Anspach plays Allen’s wife, Jennifer Salt turns up as one of Allen’s disastrous dates.

 

Written by and starring Woody Allen (“Annie Hall”, “Deconstructing Harry”, “Manhattan”), this 1972 comedy comes from Woody’s own stage play, so it feels much more like a Woody Allen film, despite being directed by Herbert Ross (“The Last of Sheila”, “The Seven Per-Cent Solution”, “The Goodbye Girl”). Despite my theory that it has helped cause everyone to misquote “Casablanca”, it’s easily one of the funniest and most entertaining films Allen has been associated with, but given I’m not a Woody fan, you might feel differently. For me, it’s not on the level of his best film “The Front” (which he also didn’t direct, merely acting in it), but it certainly deserves a mention alongside “Annie Hall”, “Deconstructing Harry”, and “Manhattan” for entertainment value.

 

The cast is pure 70s, with names like Tony Roberts, Susan Anspach, and Jennifer Salt, but it still holds up pretty well in 2014 nonetheless. When we meet Woody, he’s in vintage form; Depressed, neurotic, and abandoned by his girlfriend. An hilarious scene has Woody turn to bourbon and soda to drown his sorrows. It doesn’t go well. I also loved the line about his apparently impulsive ex: ‘Yeah, but she didn’t leave impulsively. She talked about it for months’. Later, he makes without question the worst first impression in human history before a double date even starts (Having said that, I would’ve taken one look at Jennifer Salt’s god-awful Suzi Quatro mullet and said ‘No thank you, sir…I mean, ma’am!’. Which is why I’m single, I guess). There’s also a very funny scene where Woody goes on a date with a self-confessed nympho and even she’s not into him. The film also features the funniest exchange in any film Woody has been involved in:- Woody: What are you doing Saturday night?’ Girl: ‘Committing suicide’. Woody: ‘What about Friday night?’. It’s the most relatable and ego-free Woody has ever been, whilst still starring in something he wrote himself.

 

This may be the most warm and likeable Diane Keaton has ever been. I prefer “Annie Hall” as a film overall, but she’s lovely here. I do wish she’d stop wearing suits and ties, though. I loathe that fashion trend on women. Can you predict the ending from the very title? Pretty much, and it’s a little pretentious, but what’re you gonna do?

 

The one element that doesn’t work is Woody’s fantastical conversations with Bogey, as played by Jerry Lacy. He’s not a very good impersonator, and no matter the film’s motif, it’s just not necessary (It’s the kind of thing Woody overdosed on in “Midnight in Paris”, which was terrible and pretentious). The film works really well without all the film school nerd stuff.

 

A funny film and certainly one of the more accessible films Woody Allen has been involved in, I can’t find too much to fault here, certainly nothing that ruins the fun. Just don’t tell me that the phrase ‘Play it again, Sam’ is from “Casablanca”. It’s fucking not. It’s ‘Play it, Sam. Play “As Time Goes By”’. Get it right, people!

 

Rating: B-

Monday, November 10, 2014

Review: In the Heat of the Night


Set in redneck central Mississippi, a wealthy industrialist from out of town is found dead by lunkhead Deputy Sam (Warren Oates). Chief Gillespie (Rod Steiger) tells Sam to be on the lookout for likely suspects. So he arrests the first black guy he sees, a well-dressed African-American waiting for a train at the station. Once he brings the man to the station and Gillespie starts to interview him, a call comes in informing Gillespie that the man is one Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier, robbed of an Oscar nomination- just sayin’!), a top homicide detective from Philly. Whoops. Gillespie wants Virgil out of town as soon as possible, but the dead man’s hysterical wife (Lee Grant- who else?) sees that Virgil’s the only one around with any brains or common sense and demands he be a part of the investigation, or else the factory (that her husband was planning to build) won’t be built. Scott Wilson plays a jailbird and likely suspect, Matt Clark plays a friend of Wilson’s, Larry Gates plays Mr. Endicott a plantation owner and chief enemy of the deceased, Anthony James plays a prejudiced diner cook, William Schallert plays the pressured local mayor, and Beah Richards has a cameo as the peculiar Mama Caleba, an abortionist.

 

If it weren’t for a horribly inappropriate music score and director Norman Jewison (underrated films like “The Cincinnati Kid” and the absurdist “…And Justice for All”) telegraphing the guilty person even earlier than he perhaps thinks he does, this 1967 racial tensions-infused crime investigation story would be an absolute classic. As is, it’s still highly enjoyable and socially very important, bolstered by excellent cinematography and brilliant performances right across the board.

 

Rod Steiger doesn’t do subtlety, but as the big-bellied, good ‘ol boy sheriff who is slightly more intelligent than his deputies, he’s perfect. It’s one of his best-ever performances, and proof that in the right role, he could be an asset (I’d also advise you to seek out his work in the excellent “No Way to Treat a Lady”). Sidney Poitier, meanwhile, never gives anything less than a top performance no matter the quality of the film. Not only is he one of the greatest actors of all-time, he’s also the most consistently good ones.

 

The standout in the supporting cast is probably Lee Grant, who delivers the exact performance you expect from her, and the exact performance that was required of her. She was quite fashionable in the 60s and 70s in rather melodramatic roles (the best of which was probably her Oscar-nominated turn in the underrated “Voyage of the Damned”), and this is one of her best. I like how your initial view of her turns out to not be the whole story with her character at all. In smaller turns, Warren Oates, Scott Wilson, Beah Richards, and Larry Gates are all excellent. Oates makes for a masterful dumbarse redneck, and Richards’ cameo is curious but memorable. 1967 really was Scott Wilson’s year with a memorable supporting role here and the co-lead in Richard Brooks’ “In Cold Blood”. Why he wasn’t able to capitalise on such early success is beyond me. He’s a helluva underrated talent, as viewers of “The Walking Dead” will no doubt attest to. Larry Gates scores in the film’s best scene as Mr. Endicott, but Poitier and Steiger are excellent in the scene as well. The shots of cotton being mowed over in the preceding scene are a precursor of what to expect, too. ***** SPOILER WARNING ***** If there’s one actor in the cast who rubs one the wrong way, it’s Anthony James who calls way too much attention to himself as the killer. Jewison doesn’t help rein him in, making the mystery obvious from the opening scene, which is a tad unfortunate. ***** END SPOILER *****

 

The biggest irritant with the film is the music score by Quincy Jones (“In Cold Blood”, “Mirage”) that just doesn’t fit in. The awesome title song by Ray Charles sets us off on the right foot, but along comes Quincy with his semi-blaxploitation chase music (The film being made in the period just prior to blaxploitation). African drums have no place in this film whatsoever, and the dramatic transitional moments are out of a bad TV cop show. The more laidback elements to the score, derived from Charles’ song, are great, but when the drums and horns start up…let’s just say Mr. Jones ain’t no Isaac Hayes, and this ain’t meant to be “Shaft”. The cinematography and location shooting by Haskell Wexler (“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”, “Coming Home”), however, deserve much praise, even though it ain’t shot in the South for the most part (It was largely shot in Illinois. Apparently Poitier and Harry Belafonte had some trouble in Mississippi with the Klan, so Poitier wanted it filmed up North, understandably if you ask me). There’s a really nice use of shadows, and the lighting for exterior night shots is outstanding.

 

A few flaws keep this very good and important film from being a true masterpiece, but if you’re a fan of these actors, you definitely need to see this film. The Oscar-winning screenplay is by Stirling Silliphant (“The Poseidon Adventure”, “The Towering Inferno”, “The Swarm”, “When Time Ran Out…”), from a John Ball novel. The film also received Oscars for Best Picture, Best Actor (Steiger), Best Sound, and Best Editing.

 

Rating: B+

Review: The Canyons


A vapid film about vapid people in which the vapid Lindsay Lohan stars as Tara, who is the main squeeze of douchy LA millionaire Christian (porn star James Deen), who is fond of group sex rendezvous that Tara has seemingly tired of (And is even more tired of how indiscreet Christian is about their late-night activities). Christian has invested in a low-budget film project starring Ryan (Nolan Funk), who is dating Christian’s assistant (Amanda Brooks). What no one knows is that Ryan used to be a thing with Tara, but she left him because he couldn’t make her feel financially secure at the time. Reunited over this upcoming film project, the old spark reignites. Can they keep things a secret from each other’s’ spouses? Tenille Houston plays another woman known in the Biblical sense to both men (Since when was LA a small freakin’ town?), and Gus Van Sant turns up as Christian’s shrink (!).

 

I’m far from a Bret Easton Ellis (“Less Than Zero”, “American Psycho”) fan, but when I saw that this 2013 film involved Ellis, Lindsay Lohan, hardcore porn actor James Deen, and filmmaker Paul Schrader (director of “Blue Collar”, “Hardcore”, and “Auto Focus”, writer of “Taxi Driver”) at the helm, I figured it’d sure be something, good or bad. Well yes, it is indeed bad, but it’s a whole lot of nothing. Not only that, it feels like Ellis must’ve written this story decades ago, as the whole thing is passé and completely uninteresting. From what I can gather, it’s not based on any of his novels, Ellis merely wrote the screenplay, seemingly not having watched a movie or TV show in the last three decades. Swingers? Orgies? Really? In a 2013 film?

 

Perhaps most disappointing of all, when you look at all of the somewhat controversial names here (and you could even include cameo player Gus Van Sant in this category), it’s astounding just how tame this whole thing is from a sex and sleaze viewpoint. This is especially disappointing when you consider that Ellis has claimed that Lohan (who served as EP, I might add) was drunk throughout filming. In a film that already stars a hardcore porn actor (I’m not suggesting they should’ve taken advantage of Lohan’s inebriated state, as that would be a horrible thing to do. I’m just saying I’m surprised they didn’t take advantage). There was potential for this to be fun trash, full of nudity and sex, but unfortunately, although we get some nudity here and there, the film’s foursome scene is ruined by stupid fancy-arse lighting tricks and poor…um…

choreography.

 

No, this is just a boring waste of time, and amazingly it’s hardcore porn actor Deen who delivers the only decent performance in the whole film. He can actually act a bit, unlike everyone else here. That says just about everything, doesn’t it? One has to wonder why he chose the avenue he has chosen for himself when it’s quite clear that there are hundreds of worse actors out there in non-porn films. And he’s certainly no male model, either.

 

Usually when you turn up in a film with a hardcore porn actor, it means your career and life have pretty much crapped out. For Lohan, the last ten years have been one long crap-out. Lohan’s participation in this kinda reminds me of sleazy crap Carroll Baker turned up in from the late 60s when her career crapped out. Except this ain’t remotely sleazy enough. Her performance is the worst in the film, but I think most of the blame goes to off-screen issues sadly affecting her ability on-screen more than her simply being a horrid actress.

 

Lohan has rather nice tits (but doesn’t show the rest), Deen shows actual promise as a ‘legit’ actor, but this is terribly old-hat. Sex-wise it’s nothing special, and plot-wise it’s like a mid-90s T&A thriller about hedonists who get in over their heads. The bizarre thing is that some of the camerawork/shot composition and acting for the dialogue-heavy scenes, plus the California setting makes this seem at times like an episode of “The Hills” (A show I’ve never heard of…nor have I ever seen…Why are you looking at me like that?) with a bit of sex and nudity thrown in.

 

Why did Schrader direct this? Why did Ellis write it? He’s covered these soulless, amoral LA characters before, and they’re even less interesting than on previous occasions. What’s the message? Hollywood is full of empty people? So fucking what? We already know that, and making a film featuring such people… playing such people doesn’t make anyone clever for doing so. Was the script written 20 years ago or something? I hope so, but even then, who thought this film was worth releasing? (Answer: People trying to make a quick buck off of the teaming of publicity-shy Lindsay Lohan and Shakespearean thespian James Deen, no doubt). Oh, and I hope it was a clever in-joke that Lohan plays a character called Tara. ‘Coz, y’know…

 

Rating: D