"If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?"
STUFF SEEN ON VIDEO
by Richard Karsmakers
Yet another still fairly new column - one which will hopefully
grow even more as I get to see more films and other people start
sending in their reviews (!). This time I actually saw quite a
few films on video, so that makes for an article quite a bit
bigger than that of the previous issue (which was a bit pathetic,
Somehow I didn't see this film for the first time until June
this year. I guess I was one of the very few who hadn't. Somehow
I hadn't gotten round to going to the cinema for it, and despite
many people telling me to go and rent it once it was out on
video, I kept on delaying it.
But now I finally did it.
If you're among the even fewer few who still haven't seen it, go
and rent it as soon as you can. It's an exciting film with good
love scenes, a good plot, beautiful actresses (both Sharon Stone
and her lesbian lover as well as Michael Douglas' shrink,
Jeanette Triplehorn) and genuine suspense. Filming is brilliant
(Jan de Bont and Paul Verhoeven make for a great team!) and in
the end there's quite an interesting surprise.
But don't make the mistake of picking up the phone halfway and
talk to Chris of "Maggie" for the better part of half an hour -
it tends to make you lose touch with the film a bit, decreasing
its thrill factor.
After having rented the "Bodyguard" I really couldn't understand
why it had been such a big hit throughout the world some time
ago. We all know the plot: Bodyguard Kevin Costner has to protect
pop star Whitney Houston and falls in love in the process. Some
people want to kill her so there's a certain element of suspense,
but it's never really end-of-your-seat-provoking (then again,
this might have been due to a few interruptions by phone, the
longest of which was with Chris of "Maggie" who has immaculate
timing for calling when people are either having dinner or
watching television). The whole film hinges far too much on an
Oscar-winning actor and a pop star. I really doubt the film would
have been half as successful with unknown actors. I heard people
rave about this film, but I fail to grasp the reason why. It's
Quite a while ago I saw this film on TV, somewhere past
midnight. It tells the story of a young guitar player (the same
guy that played the "Karate Kid") on his way down south with a
true bluesman in order to become a bluesman himself. The Kid's
guitar playing is amazing and, if it's not actually himself
(which it might be), it's extremely well play-backed.
The climax, of course, is the end of the film when he has to
battle the devil's own guitar player, none other than Steve Vai.
The Kid will be a bluesman if he wins, but will lose his soul if
he doesn't. Of course he wins - Vai seems unable to play this
really quick classical thing, but by the time that happened I had
sweaty palms. Vai's guitar playing is awesome, and so is Ry
Cooder's (who, according to the credits, played at least the duel
bit of the Kid's performance).
The film itself is very slow and quite boring, except for the
girl they pick up on their way south. It's only worth seeing,
really, for those last truly exhilarating 10 minutes.
If you like guitar showcasing, that is. Miranda, for her part,
nearly fell asleep.
Starring Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh, this is a truly
magnificent masterpiece of the slightly supernatural. There's not
one hidden, depth, no, there are a whole handful of them. And,
provided you believe in the not totally ludicrous concept of
reincarnation (no irony intended here) it's all quite credible.
Whatever I say about this film, it will reveal too much of the
fascinating plot. Suffice to say: If you're in any way like me,
you will simply have to see this film. It helps if you have
someone to squeeze your own during the later stages of this
masterfully crafted thriller.
If I had to tell you which film I recently rented on video that
made most of an impression on me, I don't think I could go around
"The Fugitive", starring Harrison Ford as the hunted and Tommy
Lee Jones as the hunter (who also got an Oscar for Best
Ford's wife gets murdered and all evidence points to him. He's
sentenced to death (or was it life imprisonment), but unwittingly
escapes during transport when other inmates try to escape too. He
is hunted down mercilessly, but at the same time he has to find
the true killer, a man he knows nothing of except for the fact
that he's got one arm. It's truly amazing how he succeeds in
doing it, but right to the end you're never quite sure who's the
bad guy. This film will keep you glued to the screen, probably
because the story somehow gets across as a credulous one. OK,
well, maybe the drop off the dam would have been impossible to
Good acting, good directing, good plot. A really good film.
Hot Shots - Part Deux
Whereas "Hot Shots" (the original) was, let's say, inspired by
"Top Gun" and similar films, now it's "Rambo", most particularly
"Rambo III". "Hot Shots - Part Deux" is every bit as funny as the
prequel, possibly even funnier. Topper Harley is redrafted into
active service and generally has to fight baddies. There are some
kneeslapping scenes where he has no arrows to shoot and instead
uses a chicken, but there are lots more. Right up to the very end
it had me laughing.
Light entertainment, but precisely the way I like it. And, of
course, let's not forget Valeria Golino, the exotic girl with the
even more exotic accent that also played in the original. Wow.
Loaded Weapon 1
The challenge when seeing National Lampoon's "Loaded Weapon 1"
(claimed to be "the only film with that name") is to recognize
the real films that have been made fun of in it. I won't spoil
anything of the plot - which is really funny and which includes a
stunningly gorgeous Kathy Ireland who I'd trade Sharon Stone in
for any day - but I can tell you the film has bits in it from
"Dirty Harry", "Silence of the Lambs", the "Lethal Weapon" series
(of course), "Basic Instinct", "Star Trek", "Rambo", "Teenage
Mutant Ninja/Hero Turtles" and, at the end, a really funny bit
from "Wayne's World".
This is a film you will simply have to see if you're the kind of
person who's into stuff like "Naked Gun" and "Hot Shots".
Although Zucker-Abrahamams-Zucker had nothing to do with this
production, you most certainly could have fooled me.
Longest Day, The
Well, about two months ago it was half a century after D-Day,
the allied landing in Normandy. You couldn't switch on Dutch,
English, French, Belgian and even German television for more than
an hour without D-Day references, documentaries and films. A
worthy commemoration of this great day without which the world
today might have been totally different (for one thing we might
all be ruled by a very old, ugly, moustached nazi dictator now!).
Anyway, it gave me a chance to see one of the few best World War
II war movies, "The Longest Day". A true epic effort the quality
of which was only reached by "A Fridge Too Far" later.
As I saw this on TV I'll keep it short. It's quite an old film
(1962) and five people wrote the story. Several directors were
involved and more celebrity actors than you can shake a stick at.
I saw the coloured version, which was actually quite good except
when it was foggy or when there was too much smoke in which case
the fog/smoke got sortof a similar colour as whatever was behind
it. I know some people hate it when b/w movies get coloured, but
this was a good effort. As long as they keep their filthy hands
off Charlie Chaplin and Laurel & Hardy.
Harrison Ford plays an ex-CIA guy in this one, with goodness
written all over him. When the IRA stages a terrorist attack on
some English dignitaries he jumps in and rescues the whole thing,
killing a few IRA dudes in the act. Some of the baddies escape,
though, and want to kill Harrison and/or his family.
None too refined a plot, but that doesn't stop the film from
being thrilling, exciting, and generally good entertainment. You
never quite know who will die and who won't (except for Ford,
who'll probably never die in a film), and the bad guys are really
mean gastards. This one is throughly worth checking out!
Pump up the Volume
Some small remarks on a film I saw on TV. The story is about a
semi-nerd who does a pirate radio station. Things get out of hand
as his radio alter ego, Happy Harry Hard-On, becomes a cult
personality. Quite a nice film actually, with good music. Makes
you think. No further remarks. If it's on TV some day and, like
me, you were once a nerd, have a look at it and feel once more
the hope you needed back then.
This is probably the most crap paragraph in this entire issue,
but, hey, it's my magazine!
One Man's War
If you're into Anthony Hopkins, don't go and see this film.
Quite evidently, this is a film released not long after and
probably filmed not much earlier than "Silence of the Lambs" that
suddenly made the skyrocket of Hopkins' stardom go up, way up.
The plot is sortof OK - a left-wing doctor trying to bring to
light the violations of human rights in a 70's Paraguay bent
under Stroessner's dictatorship. And, lo and behold, it's a true
Acting is sometimes really bad, although Hopkins himself seems
consistently average to good. It ends fairly well, but not all
too happy together. If there are no other films in the video
shop, you might want to check this one out.
Robin Hood - Men in Tights
I had expected one and a half hours of knee-slapping humour of
the kind found in National Lampoon stuff and Zucker-Abrahams-
Zucker productions, but none of it happened. "Robin Hood - Men in
Tights" is a the humorous version of the classic tale, with
occasionally witty moments and mediocre acting. Of course Kate
Bush lookalike Amy Jasbeck (who plays Maiden Marian) looks good
but I need more than one pretty female to like an otherwise
average film. The humour is no way as relentless as other films
in the genre. I suggest you refrain from renting it until it's a
cheap rent (i.e. not a "premier film").
Another good film, where Robert Redford leads an group of
hackers into some undercover work and, eventually, into a
struggle to stay alive. Plenty of double plots here, with plenty
of computer to goggle (and frown!) at. Not much to say here,
because it would all too soon spoil the plot. If you're a
computer geek, go and see it to check out what kind of slight
nonsense would appear to be possible with hot technology. If
you're not a geek, check it out and prepare for over 90 minutes
Yeah, a truly good film if you're slightly into the romantic
genre. The story revolves around the identity of Richard Gere,
who returns to Jodie Foster after six years (in which there's
been the U.S. Civil War). The questions remains until the very
end, especially when he has to choose for the good of the
majority and a death penalty coming with it, or things generally
being really bad but his surviving himself. It's really easy to
identify with the characters and, yes, I had a few thingies in my
throat that needed to be swallowed in order not to burst out
sobbing. Quite a romantic film, well done, well acted, and a good
film to see with someone you like a lot. Jodie Foster is as
realistic as Gere (who I normally dislike almost solely because
of woman hurling themselves at him and his being involved with
Cindy despite his being just an average guy really).
This is one of the best love films I've ever seen. The strange
thing is that one of the other ones, "An Officer and a
Gentleman", also starred Richard Gere.
Probably something Freudian.
This is probably the most surreal film I've ever seen and liked.
Enter the life of Robin Williams, who plays the son of a deceased
toy manufacturer who leaves his entire estate to an older (and
much more decent) brother. Unfortunately the brother is in the
military so before you know it the factory is chucking out war
toys that Robin Williams doesn't like at all. The end is a
virtual reality climax with tons of ILM effects. There's a war
between the military toys and the good old stuff, and of course
it's an American film so the good ones win.
The good thing about this film is its surrealism and the
countless bright and original ideas that have gone in its design.
It's worth quite a few laughs and those of a slightly technical
persuasion won't cease to be boggled.
"Die Hard" and "Die Hard II" are among my favourite action
films, and watching "Under Siege" is basically the same. In "Die
Hard" it's a skyscraper, in "Die Hard II" it's an airplane.
What's left? Right, a ship. A warship, in this case, carrying
some nuclear warheads with which the hijackers intend to
blackmail the world.
The whole crew is killed or locked away, with the exception of
the cook who is overlooked for some reason or other. Steven
Seagal is the cook, and it's pretty damn evident that he's Bruce
Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger in one. He runs into little
trouble saving the ship, his country and the world.
It's a good film, but predictable in all respects other than the
deaths of a few good ones. Sure it's a "Die Hard" rip-off, but
nonetheless one you'll like if you liked the 'originals'.
Some Miscellaneous TV series
Before I sign off I would like to make some people aware of
series that are being broadcast on Dutch or English television
and that you should try to catch when they're still on or when
they're being rerun.
The other day Stefan told me I should look at "The New
Adventures of Clark and Lois: Superman", which I did and which
was quite enjoyable and very witty. It's almost a parody on the
original, with lots of humour. It's on Dutch and English TV (BBC)
The day before the other day I was idly lying in bed, not quite
able to sleep, and found a series featuring "The Searcher" on BBC
after midnight. I think it's called "Danger Theatre". This is a
totally insane series about a guy who rescues people. Parodies on
many films can he found in it, and the guy is totally crazy. Very
bad if you don't have a weird sense of humour.
"Woops!" was a series I discovered the day after the other day.
It's on Dutch television (RTL-5) and it's about an unlikely
gathering of people who have somehow found themselves in a small
farm in a valley that seems to be the only bit of the world not
destroyed in a nuclear war (this nuclear war, incidentally, was
triggered by two children playing with an RC car in the vicinity
of a military parade that had a live missile as part of it).
Quite crazy, but somehow I think it could even have been wittier.
A thing I liked was the fact that one of the guys survived the
holocaust merely because he was sitting in his Volvo at the time
- "How come the nation with the highest suicide rate builds the
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