Tag Archives: Millennium Films

Command Performance (2009, Dolph Lundgren)

As Command Performance‘s end credits began to roll, I turned to my wife and instructed her to always say “No” if I ever suggest watching a Dolph Lundgren movie again. And it’d be hard to find a Dolph-ier Lundgren movie than Command Performance. He stars, he directs, he cowrote the screenplay. He also gives himself a love interest thirty-five years his junior (Melissa Molinaro), but that issue’s more with Lundgren’s ego than his filmmaking sensibilities.

Strangely, I like Lundgren to some degree. His acting has reached a point where he’s affably bad. And his direction isn’t completely terrible. Sure, it’s that lame video vérité television like “24” has made acceptable–Lundgren doesn’t need to actually compose shots–but if you’re going to direct a grandiose Die Hard knock-off on a rather low budget, it’s not a stupid way to go.

Unfortunately, the writing is completely atrocious, but it’s not all Lundgren’s fault. The screenwriter he brought in to script his story–Steve Latshaw–is clearly incompetent.

There’s a lot of terrible, terrible acting. Molinaro’s Britney Spears impression is probably the most hair-pulling, as Molinaro firstly can’t act, her character is just a lousy, lame person.

But Zahary Baharov (in particular), Hristo Shopov and Dave Legeno are all fine.

And Lundgren does have a sublime scene with a father being bewildered by his pre-teen daughters enthusiasm over a talentless, slutty pop star.

The writing’s just really bad, making it a tedious chore to watch.

Never again.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Dolph Lundgren; written by Steve Latshaw and Lundgren; director of photography, Marc Windon; edited by Peter Hollywood; music by Adam Nordén; production designer, Carlos Silva Da Silva; produced by Danny Lerner and Les Weldon; released by Millennium Films.

Starring Dolph Lundgren (Joe), Melissa Molinaro (Venus), Hristo Shopov (President Petrov), Dave Legeno (Oleg Kazov), Zahary Baharov (Mikhail), Clement von Franckenstein (Ambassador Bradley), Ivaylo Geraskov (Leonid), Shelly Varod (Ali Connor) and Katarzyna Wolejnio (Major Pavlikova).


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Leaves of Grass (2009, Tim Blake Nelson)

I wonder if Tim Blake Nelson has read Disgrace. Cheap, cheap, cheap comment.

One-liner even.

It’s a one-liner.

Leaves of Grass is not–if I underlined, I would here–an American Disgrace. It’s something different from that sort of attempt, but also something different from a mainstream or independent attempt… it’s a comedy drama unlike most others because the comedy is absurd at times and it’s got Edward Norton playing a genius pot grower.

It’s also got him playing a genius classical philosophy professor, which then makes it a twin movie–in a genre occupied, with the exception of Parent Traps, mostly–in recent history–by Jean-Claude Van Damme. I wonder if anyone mentioned that one to Norton.

It’s a fine, fine film. It’s funny, it’s touching–it features the best Richard Dreyfuss performance in many years not to mention actually talking about anti-Semitism in an American film without being sensational. I don’t think, actually, anti-Semitism even gets a sensational handling in American film anymore. American film pretends the country isn’t chock-full of bigots, unless they’re bigots who get easily cured by the end of the picture.

Great acting by Norton (the lack of Oscar nomination is a hilarious, gut-bursting joke), Dreyfuss and Nelson. Susan Sarandon’s underwritten but fine, as is Melanie Lynskey. Keri Russell’s surprisingly okay.

It’s a great film until the third act, when Nelson seems to realize something should probably happen and it’s fine after that point.

Just not great.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Written and directed by Tim Blake Nelson; director of photography, Roberto Schaefer; edited by Michelle Botticelli; music by Jeff Danna; production designer, Max Biscoe; produced by Nelson, Edward Norton, Bill Migliore, John Langley, Elie Cohn and Kristina Dubin; released by Millennium Films.

Starring Edward Norton (Bill/Brady Kincaid), Tim Blake Nelson (Bolger), Keri Russell (Janet), Richard Dreyfuss (Pug Rothbaum), Susan Sarandon (Daisy), Josh Pais (Ken Feinman) and Melanie Lynskey (Colleen).


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Streets of Blood (2009, Charles Winkler)

Of all the crap Millennium Films has released theatrically, it’s shameful they let Streets of Blood go straight to DVD. Sure, there’s an absolutely ludicrous Sharon Stone (playing a faded Southern belle Ph.D., the worst Ph.D. casting since Will Smith), but it’s a solid cop thriller slash character study slash Katrina exploitation film. It’s even mildly subversive, with the federal government playing the bad guys. And there is some bad acting–besides Stone–Barry Shabaka Henley, for example, is awful and, even though his character’s arc is solid, Brian Presley is lacking.

But the film does feature, as far as I can tell, the best Val Kilmer performance in about ten years. Maybe a little less, but definitely his best since Spartan. It’s an amazing leading man performance–again, it’s a shame this one didn’t a) get a theatrical release and b) a lot more production money thrown at it once it was clear the caliber of Kilmer’s performance. Kilmer really should have been done the Dave Robicheaux adaptation instead of Tommy Lee Jones.

Curtis Jackson’s bad in the monologue sections but he does well with Kilmer. It’s impossible to think anyone could not do well with Kilmer (even Presley does and Henley doesn’t have any scenes with him) in this one.

Only Stone and Kilmer come off wrong, with her character being totally nonsensical.

Oh, and Jose Pablo Cantillo is excellent.

But the problem’s the script. It needed a capable rewrite.

Even so, Kilmer makes the film essential viewing.

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Charles Winkler; screenplay by Eugene Hess, based on a story by Hess and Dennis Fanning; director of photography, Roy H. Wagner; edited by Clayton Halsey; music by Stephen Endelman; production designer, Gary Constable; produced by Randall Emmett, George Furla, Avi Lerner, Matthew O’Toole, John Thompson, Charles Winkler and Irwin Winkler; released by Millennium Films.

Starring Val Kilmer (Andy Devereaux), Curtis Jackson (Stan Green), Sharon Stone (Nina Ferraro), Michael Biehn (Agent Brown), Jose Pablo Cantillo (Pepe), Brian Presley (Barney), Barry Shabaka Henley (Capt. John Friendly), Luis Rolon (Fernando Chamorro), Defecio Stoglin (Jambalaya Jake), Davi Jay (Ray Delacroix), Pilar Sanders (Yolanda Green), Darcel White Moreno (Tanya) and Shirly Brener (Selina).


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Mozart and the Whale (2005, Petter Næss)

I’ve only been looking forward to this damn movie for two years. It missed its theatrical release date, but there’s probably a DVD on the way (which would have been the source of my illicit copy). It’s perfectly understandable why the film missed the date… it lacks any relatable center. My fiancée just said she wants a movie that shows the real difficulties of autism–Mozart doesn’t, because you can’t center a movie around someone operating on such a different level. The result, for Mozart and the Whale, is that Josh Hartnett isn’t really that bad… neither’s Rahda Mitchell. Their problems aren’t autism problems, they’re romantic drama-lite problems….

Mozart and the Whale was going to be the comeback of Ron Bass, who got a lot of work from the late 1980s through the late 1990s, when people finally got sick of him. He probably shouldn’t have staked it all on a Demi Moore vehicle (Passion of the Mind). It’s a shallow film, weighing in at ninety minutes. Many of these minutes are filled with music montages (not score, unfamiliar, but pleasant, songs). I spent the first half of it waiting for something to happen (hoping that Gary Cole was going to be Hartnett’s father and there’d be some more meat to the conflict)… but no. There’s no real conflict in Mozart, which would have been fine, it’s just that there was an attempt at it. A weighty attempt at it. Bass is famous for empty, dramatic endings and Mozart is no different.

It’s too bad, because Næss is an interesting director. Mozart doesn’t look like anything except itself, which is a lovely thing to be able to say about a newish director. He’s from Norway, so maybe that played a part… Oddly, for a film without a US theatrical release and a ninety minute running time, Mozart actually shot in the US. You can tell it throughout (I didn’t know where the location was–it’s Spokane) and the film has a nice feel.

The acting in the film is difficult to discuss–my fiancée gleefully pointed out I’d no longer be able to say Hartnett’s his generation’s finest actor, but he gives a great supporting performance in Mozart. If Mozart and the Whale had been about Billy Crudup banging his autistic brother’s girlfriend or something, Hartnett’s performance would have been extraordinary. It’s a character part in the lead… Mitchell (who I was really looking forward to seeing after Melinda and Melinda) ranges. The film misses her character’s best opportunity.

I wonder if there is a longer, better version of the film out there–there are a few moments, jumps in visual continuity, that certainly suggest it. But I’m not sure it would make much of a difference.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Petter Næss; written by Ronald Bass; director of photography, Svein Krøvel; edited by Lisa Zeno Churgin and Miklos Wright; music by Deborah Lurie; production designer, Jon Gary Steele; produced by James Acheson, Bass, Boaz Davidson, Frank DeMartini and Robert Lawrence; released by Millennium Films.

Starring Josh Hartnett (Donald Morton), Radha Mitchell (Isabelle Sorenson), Gary Cole (Wallace), Sheila Kelley (Janice), Erica Leerhsen (Bronwin), John Carroll Lynch (Gregory), Nate Mooney (Roger), Rusty Schwimmer (Gracie), Robert Wisdom (Blume), Allen Evangelista (Skeets), Kelly B. Eviston (Dr. Trask) and Jhon Goodwin (Rodney).


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