Tag Archives: Mark Isham

Timecop (1994, Peter Hyams)

Timecop is deceptively competent. Sort of. There’s often something off about it, but then director Hyams will do something else decent and distract. Hyams also manages to get a perfectly serviceable performance out of lead Jean-Claude Van Damme. Van Damme’s unsure, cautious performance–he tries to understate his terrible attempts at one-liners–is a great counter to Ron Silver’s bad guy.

Silver’s all over the place, the evil senator out to use time travel to win the presidental election and go after “special interests.” Who knew Timecop would be so prescient. Anyway, Silver’s a caricature playing a caricature. He’s definitely evil; he’s just nothing more.

Some of what’s wrong is the plotting. Timecop has a full plot, it just doesn’t have any character development. It’s like someone went through and chucked it. Van Damme’s wife dies mysterious. He’s haunted. And he’s a timecop. Even though he doesn’t do much as a timecop. The movie apparently doesn’t have the budget for multiple jaunts, just a couple before Van Damme is only jumping back to 1994.

You know it’s the past because there aren’t the future cars of 2004. They’re bulky self-driving things. Their design is unfortunate, but there’s a certain dedication to the special effects and design work. It’s like Hyams refused to be dismissive of the concept and he was going to do whatever he could.

Mia Sara’s okay as Van Damme’s wife, though she’s only around to be a damsel in distress and to beg Van Damme for nookie. Screenwriter Mark Verheiden does caricature, never anything more. When he gets around to a contradictory character, someone who can’t just be a thin caricature, he dumps the character as soon as possible.

It’s what happens to Gloria Rueben. She’s not good, but she’s kind of likable. She’s not as likable as Bruce McGill, who has to pretend to give a crap about time travel exposition. He’s Van Damme’s gritty boss who’s really just a softie.

The rest of the cast is the seemingly endless group of thugs Silver sends after Van Damme. Some of the resulting fight scenes are good, but Hyams drags it out too long. The movie’s not even a hundred minutes and the last third has multiple slowdowns. There’s an action set piece on a Victorian house’s roof. First, how does Van Damme afford such a big house in the DC area. Second, it’s boring. Van Damme can’t high kick or do the splits while he’s crawling around the roof–in a rainstorm–trying to save Sara (again). Hyams’s direction of the sequence doesn’t suggest any great interest in doing an action scene on a Victorian house’s roof. Nothing about the architecture actually lends itself to the sequence. Someone must have really wanted an action scene on a house roof.

By the third act, the absence of character development and transitional scenes have caught up with Timecop. Even the time travel-related story twists get tired. The movie’s hook isn’t Van Damme’s fighting, it isn’t the time travel, it isn’t the special effects. So what’s the hook supposed to be? Ron Silver ostensibly slumming only to be revealed as a perfect B-movie villain? Sloane Peterson? Certainly not Hyam’s cinematography (he’ll compose a perfectly good shot then screw it up with the lighting). Not Mark Isham’s simultaneously derivative and generic sci-fi movie score.

Timecop’s a disappointment. Hyams appears to know better, but doesn’t do better. I mean, Sam Raimi produced Timecop. He must have know the lighting was a big problem in the dailies.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed and photographed by Peter Hyams; screenplay by Mark Verheiden, based on a story by Mike Richardson and Verheiden and a comic book by Richardson and Verheiden; edited by Steven Kemper; music by Mark Isham; production designer, Philip Harrison; produced by Moshe Diamant, Sam Raimi, and Rob Tapert; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Jean-Claude Van Damme (Max), Mia Sara (Melissa), Ron Silver (McComb), Bruce McGill (Matuzak), Gloria Reuben (Fielding), Scott Bellis (Ricky), and Jason Schombing (Atwood).


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Cool World (1992, Ralph Bakshi)

What does it say about a performance when the actor is better voicing a cartoon than giving a full performance? I think it says the actor’s performance is godawful, but I’m not sure that adjective is strong enough to describe Kim Basinger in Cool World.

And Cool World is not a film with good performances, so for Basinger to come out so far ahead (or is it behind?) the pack is true atrociousness. If it weren’t already terrible, she’d ruin it. She does. She makes a terrible movie even worse.

Second-billed Gabriel Byrne is pretty bad too. He has the benefit of having an awful character though. The screenplay only totally fails Basinger’s character once the cartoon vixen becomes real. Before that change, it’s up in the air–the real problem’s the handling of Byrne’s character though. He’s even supposed to be the protagonist, which is a laugh.

Brad Pitt’s more the protagonist than Byrne or Basinger and he’s fairly bad. He has occasional moments, but all the acting by himself established some bad habits. His finish in the movie is actually worse than anyone else’s.

There are some good performances, but they’re all voice ones–Candi Milo, Charles Adler and Maurice LaMarche are all good.

Bakshi’s direction is a mixed bag. His real world sequences are lousy. His cartoon ones are okay, though Cool World‘s way too cheap for its ambitions.

Mark Isham’s score is occasionally good.

It’s a truly lousy movie, with Basinger making it worse.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Ralph Bakshi; written by Michael Grais and Mark Victor; director of photography, John A. Alonzo; edited by Steve Mirkovich and Annamaria Szanto; music by Mark Isham; production designer, Michael Corenblith; produced by Frank Mancuso Jr.; released by Paramount Pictures.

Starring Kim Basinger (Holli Would), Gabriel Byrne (Jack Deebs), Brad Pitt (Frank Harris), Charles Adler (Nails), Candi Milo (Lonette), Michele Abrams (Jennifer Malley) and Maurice LaMarche (Dr. Whiskers).


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THIS FILM IS ALSO DISCUSSED ON BASP | WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT (1988) / COOL WORLD (1992).

The Public Eye (1992, Howard Franklin)

According to IMDb, it took Howard Franklin ten years to get his script produced. In that time, I wonder if he worked on it, because the finished product does not appear to have been considered. The Public Eye is beyond tedious. The combination of Franklin’s plotless script and Mark Isham’s nap-inducing score make the whole thing unbearable. It’s not bad–though Pesci’s performance is flat and his character (thanks to Franklin’s script) lifeless–but there’s nothing good about it either. It’s totally uninteresting, a 1940s crime photographer who does… something.

Franklin’s trying to juggle a few genres here–one is a period-piece mystery, which isn’t exactly film noir and Franklin seems to know it isn’t film noir and he’s not using that genre’s standards. As a result, he’s trying something (relatively) unique and he isn’t suited for it as a director or writer. Additionally, Franklin doesn’t make the setting interesting. The Public Eye trades on the assumption the viewer is going to find 1940s mobsters interesting. Why I have no idea. But it certainly does, because Franklin does nothing to make his content compelling.

I’ve noticed I’ve been saving the “big problem” for its own paragraph lately. And again. The big problem–Franklin obviously thinks Pesci’s character is real interesting, the crime photographer who sees everything as a possible picture. The most embarrassing scene comes early, when Pesci is supposed to be selling a photo book and even Pesci can’t muster enthusiasm for his dialogue. It comes off monotone and disinterested, like he took the part because it needed a short guy and Pesci needed top billing in a film, any film.

The Public Eye is a pointless, meandering waste of time. An attempt at auteur from someone who shouldn’t try. It reminds me of a sitcom no one remembers, but it ran for three weeks in 1988, so someone must have watched it. But there’s simply no point in watching something like The Public Eye; though it does manage to be abjectly uninteresting, as an example of an uninteresting movie.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Written and directed by Howard Franklin; director of photography, Peter Suschitzky; edited by Evan Lottman; music by Mark Isham; production designer, Marcia Hinds-Johnson; produced by Sue Baden-Powell; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Joe Pesci (Leon Bernstein), Barbara Hershey (Kay Levitz), Jared Harris (Danny the Doorman), Stanley Tucci (Sal), Jerry Adler (Arthur Nabler), Dominic Chianese (Spoleto), Richard Foronjy (Farinelli), Richard Riehle (Officer O’Brien) and Gerry Becker (Conklin).


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