Tag Archives: Claire Forlani

The Rock (1996, Michael Bay)

I’m loathe to say it, but The Rock isn’t bad. Its good qualities are questionable, but it’s not bad. Besides some of the acting, what’s best about the film is how it fuses the action and adventure genres. Bay does his action stuff in traditional adventure settings—there’s a setting straight out of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom but Bay plays it as action and it works.

What doesn’t work—I’ll finish with what does to be positive—is, first and foremost, the writing. Most of the one-liners flop. There are occasional decent moments, like when Sean Connery’s character shows his army experience, but there are also the terrible scenes with Ed Harris. Every one of them is awful. Harris tries, but there’s nothing he can do. His voice cracks during one tense scene and it sort of sums up his entire attempt at essaying the character. He just can’t sell it.

As the lead, Nicolas Cage has some problems. He’s appealing in his first Hollywood manic role, but not quite good. But he’s irreplaceable.

Oh, I forgot the other bad stuff—some of the acting is terrible. Gregory Sporleder, Tony Todd and Bokeem Woodbine give awful performances.

Then there’s the score. Nick Glennie-Smith and Hans Zimmer make some terrible music together.

Great supporting work from David Morse, John Spencer and Stuart Wilson. Bay knows how to fill a room with character actors and make it work.

It could be better, but also a lot worse.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Michael Bay; screenplay by David Weisberg, Douglas Cook and Mark Rosner, based on a story by Weisberg and Cook; director of photography, John Schwartzman; edited by Richard Francis-Bruce; music by Nick Glennie-Smith and Hans Zimmer; production designer, Michael White; produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer; released by Hollywood Pictures.

Starring Sean Connery (John Patrick Mason), Nicolas Cage (Dr. Stanley Goodspeed), Ed Harris (Brigadier General Francis X. Hummel), John Spencer (FBI Director James Womack), David Morse (Major Tom Baxter), William Forsythe (Special Agent Ernest Paxton), Stuart Wilson (General Al Kramer), Michael Biehn (Commander Charles Anderson), Vanessa Marcil (Carla Pestalozzi), Claire Forlani (Jade Angelou), John C. McGinley (Marine Captain Hendrix), Gregory Sporleder (Captain Frye), Tony Todd (Captain Darrow), Bokeem Woodbine (Sergeant Crisp), Raymond Cruz (Sergeant Rojas), John Laughlin (General Peterson), and Philip Baker Hall (Chief Justice).


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Magicians (2000, James Merendino)

Supposedly, Magicians came out on DVD (pan and scanned), then disappeared as the releasing company went under. Merendino shot it Panavision, so there was some painful cropping. It’s still possible to see some of what Merendino was doing, but sometimes I just had to imagine how much more effective it would be. Merendino’s a filmmaker who does more with his money than John Carpenter did back in the late 1970s, which is an incredible feat. Merendino knows how to make things work and if I weren’t aware of that ability, I wouldn’t have been looking for the signs and I wouldn’t have found them.

Much of Magicians is an absurd comedy about a great pick-pocket, played by Fabrizio Bentivoglio, and a lousy magician, played by Til Schweiger. They go on the road to Vegas, learning their act on the way, assisted by trainer Alan Arkin and Claire Forlani. Maybe what won me over (not really, it happened to far in) was the scene where all of them are laughing. It’s obvious the actors are laughing, mostly at Arkin, who’s hilarious. Bentivoglio has the leading man role and he does a great job with it. Merendino loves conversation and Bentivoglio has some great scenes because of that emphasis. As for Claire Forlani… her work in Magicians made me reevaluate my opinion of her. I kept stopping myself, realizing it was really Claire Forlani (she has short hair instead of the regular long–and her acting is good). Only Schweiger is bad. He’s funny at the beginning, but he gets old fast. Even though Magicians is absurd, his handle on the character is just too loose. And his uncanny resemblance to Leonardo DiCaprio only makes things worse. The character does have a great scene at the beginning–before it’s revealed he’s a bit of a twit, which Schweiger can’t handle–and one towards the end, when he has to stop acting like a twit.

Merendino’s script is deceptively simple. It’s inventive and intelligent, giving perfect little moments to characters–Arkin in particular. When it gets to the end, after some really funny scenes and some great low budget filmmaking, Magicians has developed into a touching story about friendship. Then, for the close–which is great–it finally becomes about magic. And wonderment. It’s a great close. It’s appalling this film doesn’t have an acceptable DVD release.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Written and directed by James Merendino; director of photography, Thomas L. Callaway; edited by Esther P. Russell; music by Elmo Weber; produced by Sam Maydew and Peter Ward; released by Pop Art Films.

Starring Til Schweiger (Max), Claire Forlani (Lydia), Fabrizio Bentivoglio (Hugo), Alan Arkin (Milo), Chi McBride (Tom) and Christopher McDonald (Jake).


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Mallrats (1995, Kevin Smith), the extended version

Of all my youthful indiscretions, I think my affection for Kevin Smith is–today–the most embarrassing, simply because it perplexes me. I watch Mallrats and I don’t get how I could have watched and liked this film multiple times. By 2000 or so, I didn’t. But from 1996 to 1999, I must have watched this film six or seven times and thought it was good. Even the things I thought were good about–things I thought I would still think were good about it (namely, Jason Lee)–they aren’t good. He isn’t good. He’s bad. His acting is bad. All of the acting is bad. Jeremy London is worse than Lee and I am a little surprised Shannen Doherty is so much better than Claire Forlani, but I just can’t believe I sat and watched this movie.

I rented the ten year anniversary edition because it finally has the original cut. On the original DVD, there are deleted scenes and a lot of talk about the longer version, and it has been a while since I’ve Mallrats. I thought maybe I was wrong. No, I didn’t. I thought at the least, I’d laugh. But it’s not funny. Maybe Kevin Smith’s Mallrats style has so saturated modern Hollywood film I can’t appreciate it for the constant… no, I lost the thought it was so silly. Essentially, the longer edition makes the film more about Jeremy London, which is not a good idea, because it means Claire Forlani is in more scenes and Michael Rooker is more scenes. The film finally gets to the mall at the thirty-five minute mark, after the first act, making the title a little perplexing. The additional footage probably makes the film better, because it gets worse when they get to the mall. Smith isn’t in his element anywhere in this film–I kept thinking about Clerks’ tight opening and the lack of one in Mallrats, theatrical or extended versions.

Mallrats is an incredibly influential film–it created the expectations of a significant portion of a filmgoing generation. This film was a big video hit and, though the general “fanboy” public has abandoned him, Smith tapped something the audience desired in Mallrats. The film is not good, the characters are not good–the dialogue is stagy and bad and a high school drama class could do better–but it connected. It’s filled with pop culture references and bad dirty jokes and people (unfortunately, mostly of my age group) wanted this experience. And they didn’t grow out of it because Mallrats isn’t about actual film reference, like Tarantino’s films. It’s about faking it.

I realize Mallrats doesn’t deserve all this vitriol (the audience’s reaction is offensive, not the film itself; the film is just awful), but I really didn’t know how bad a film it truly is… and, of course, I’m only angry at myself because I was a member of said audience.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Written and directed by Kevin Smith; director of photography, David Klein; edited by Paul Dixon; music by Ira Newborn; production designer, Dina Lipton; produced by Sean Daniel, James Jacks and Scott Mosier; released by Gramercy Pictures.

Starring Shannen Doherty (Rene Mosier), Jeremy London (T.S. Quint), Jason Lee (Brodie Bruce), Claire Forlani (Brandi Svenning), Ben Affleck (Shannon Hamilton), Joey Lauren Adams (Gwen Turner), Renée Humphrey (Tricia Jones), Jason Mewes (Jay), Ethan Suplee (Willam Black), Stan Lee (Himself), Priscilla Barnes (Miss Ivannah) and Michael Rooker (Mr. Jared Svenning).


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