13 Moons (2002)

Lost Characters You have a few choices when sitting down to write a story. One of these is to decide what sort of agency your characters have. To my mind, the best storytellers start with a world, a notion of sweeps within that world that creates situations or drives or needs. Within all those gusts… Continue reading 13 Moons (2002)

Killer Condom (1996)

No Protection When I enter one of these worlds, I expect risk. Not by itself of course, but paired with clever insight, unusual metaphor or sliding perspective. But above all, risk. Their risk is my risk. Quite literally, I enter these film relationships promiscuously without protection, bare, expecting permanent change. That’s why I have higher… Continue reading Killer Condom (1996)

Bloodsport (1988)

No Bruce Lee Bruce Lee invented a genre; Jackie Chan invented a genre; Sly Stallone invented a minigenre, all with various approaches to personal combat. But these guys deeply understood how film works so they could tap the relevant pressure points. Van Damme did not invent a genre here, despite the best efforts of his… Continue reading Bloodsport (1988)

Juwanna Mann (2002)

Tootsie Got Game One of the most disturbing trends in film is how we have started manufacturing “special audience” films. They used to have their own lives, their own autheticity. Here we have a mindless copy: “Tootsie” plays basketball. This goes beyond dumb and stereotypical — both of which are tolerable in movieworld — into… Continue reading Juwanna Mann (2002)

Joan of Arc (1948)

Burned Alive I wonder if there is anyone who can view this film with any sort of fondness today. Everything about it is false, with no element one can point to for relief. Yes it has Ingrid, but as wooden as a pike. Yes it has a powerhouse story, but rendered here lifeless. Even the… Continue reading Joan of Arc (1948)

The Jazz Singer (1980)

No Jazz I like to see remakes, because in many cases you experience two films at once: the film you are watching of course, and the one you recall. Usually that prior one is pretty good. In this case, it IS pretty good, and historically important too. It was the first popular talkie, and not… Continue reading The Jazz Singer (1980)

By Any Means Necessary: The Making of ‘Jason X’ (2002)

Cronenberg Chronicles This little feature was made to promote the movie and is included on the DVD. It shows a real problem in filmmaking. The actual movie was dumb, made for dummies. The dynamics behind how it was designed and to some extent executed is a matter of high sophistication. “Making of” films are intended… Continue reading By Any Means Necessary: The Making of ‘Jason X’ (2002)

Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

Basement Steps When a film plays with the narrator’s credulity, and if it is essentially cinematic then I am predisposed to like it. This film has the additional benefit of some competent actors. Plus, we all like to dump on government lying during the Nixon era. I think this is a waste of time in… Continue reading Jacob’s Ladder (1990)

The Kennel Murder Case (1933)

Surprised I’m trying to find where film audiences started to accept the mystery as merely a surprise ending. You know that the successful mysteries for many decades were “detective stories” that had very clear rules about how the viewer could outwit the writer and guess, actually determine the reality of what happened. It was something… Continue reading The Kennel Murder Case (1933)