Thursday, July 08, 2004

Movie: Anything Else (2003)

Woody Allen arrests his recent slide somewhat with this movie. It’s a mess, but at least it’s got something on its mind, even if that something can be summed up in three words: dames is grief. Jason Biggs makes an appealing Allen stand-in and Christina Ricci taps into her abundant natural charm, but he’s a doormat and she’s been saddled with too many psychotic quirks to make their romance plausible. Woody himself plays the most interesting character, a would-be comedy writer crippled with rage. And Danny DeVito scores the biggest laughs as an agent who’s too much of a mensch. As an actor, DeVito’s been on a tear lately, offering up one finely-tuned character performance after another. Allen can still crank out hilarious lines when he feels like it:

Psychiatrist: Tell me about your dream. You dreamt the Cleveland Indians all got jobs at Toys ‘R Us?

Video: Deep Blue Sea (1999)

It’s that old, primal story, man versus genetically-modified supershark. This is good, dumb fun, featuring one of the great death scenes of recent years. And it comes up with a perfectly credible reason for Saffron Burrows to strip down to her skivvies. That’s just good writing.

You can say this for Renny Harlin: he makes popcorn movies without a shred of pretense. No DAY AFTER TOMORROW pontificating for him. Some of his films are dopily entertaining, like this one and THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT. Some are not, like CUTTHROAT ISLAND. The film-going public needs to file a restraining order to keep Harlin away from Sylvester Stallone at all times, lest we get another CLIFFHANGER. Or worse, a sequel to DRIVEN.

I saw a trailer for Harlin’s phantom project MINDHUNTERS earlier this year. There’s still no sign of the film itself. Somebody may need to call Dimension and remind them that it’s ready for release. It has a typically overheated Harlin premise (one of the FBI’s Behavioral Science psycho experts turns out to be ... a psycho), with a script by THE COOLER’s Wayne Kramer and the prospect of another loopy Val Kilmer performance. The movie’s been wrapped for so long that Harlin has had time to reshoot Paul Schrader’s EXORCIST prequel in its entirety. MINDHUNTERS’ original release date was April 2003. According to the IMDb, it’s now slated for 2005. In the U.S., at any rate. Filmgoers in Harlin’s native Finland as well as the United Arab Emirates have already had their chance to check it out. It apparently opens in the Netherlands today. So to any readers in Amsterdam:

Ga naar de bioscoop! Geniet van! (Translation by Babel Fish. Blame them for any and all syntax errors.)

Newspaper: Daily Variety

I’d link to this if I could, but it’s subscription only. Variety connects its content to its ‘Slanguage’ dictionary. In its positive review of KING ARTHUR, the phrase ‘A.D.’ (as in 60 A.D.) is highlighted. Clicking the text brings you to this helpful definition:

a.d.: assistant director. ‘Alan Smithee’s career began as the a.d. on Warner’s GYPSY’