Friday, September 17, 2010

Week in Review: Undiscovered Movies

A few months ago one of my sons’ favorite haunts, Hollywood Video, was going out of business. As a result, the store managers were sponsoring a liquidation sale, with discounts on DVDs that cut pretty deep. Never one to pass up a good movie or a bargain, Chan and I went to the store, ready to browse the shelves and bring home anything that sounded remotely interesting. As a result, I ended up with lots of movies that I’d never heard of, and some that I’m still wondering why I hadn’t seen them the first time around in the theater because they turned out to be my kind of film. Today I’m going to tell you about four of the movies that were all new to me.

 Hollywood Ending—I’ve never really thought much about being a Woody Allen fan. All that scandal that came about in his life with Mia Farrow and Soon-Yi Previn sort of turned me off, if you know what I mean. Of course, that doesn’t mean I didn’t respect Mr. Allen for his obvious talent to write for both stage and screen, so when I happened upon Hollywood Ending I thought it deserved a chance, one I’m glad I took. The movie was hysterical! Of course, because my husband works in the film industry, we know so many people who fit into a film such as this. The crazy director, his former wife who is now involved with the producer who is the only one who can save the director’s career—it’s all too, too—HOLLYWOOD! Because my husband used to work on Everwood, I’ve also developed this odd affinity for watching Treat Williams always get his comeuppance in the end, and Tia Lioni gave a great performance as usual. If you watch this one, be prepared to laugh right out loud.

Elvis Has Left the Building—Where was I when this movie came out? I loved John Corbett in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, and I’m sure if I’d known he was in another film so closely following that one I would have seen it. The marketing department must not have done a very good job! He’s just as cute and adorable in this one as he was in the previous film, so that alone makes it worth watching. Kim Basinger was also good, but starting even in 2004 to look a little old. And Annie Potts! She was just as funny as ever. The premise is hysterical—every place Kim Basinger goes she seems to be responsible for the death of yet another Elvis impersonator. When she thinks that John Corbett is just another member of the Elvis club, she knows she has to stay away from him, because he’s too cute and sweet for her to ever want to see him die. Come on, you know she's going to get him in the end, but the events along the way make the journey worth it, and the small role played by Angie Dickenson was a great bonus.

On Edge—Okay, so it’s rated R and slightly irreverent, but if you lived through the Nancy Kerrigan / Tonya Harding debacle of the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, then you’ll find the subtle humor of this rags-to-riches story of a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who wants to win the trophy. The story about the tubby skater also plays for some great humor, as does the interview portion with a much-in-costume real Olympic Gold-Medalist, Scott Hamilton. Also, keep an eye out for another skating legend, Tai Babilonia, and Jason Alexander also delivers his lines in a way that will keep you laughing.  There is good reason the movie’s tag line is, “Spinal Tap on Ice.”

Beau Jest—As in, surely you do? For some reason, I didn’t realize this was a Mormon movie. Okay, maybe it’s not, maybe it’s just filmed by a Mormon crew who came out of Utah and moved to Chicago to do their work. There’s only one problem, they brought along a cast of hokey wanna-be actors who got their years experience performing in a roadshow, and the DP (Director of Photography) seems to have an affinity for videotape rather than the real thing. Unfortunately, it shows. Even my 10-year-old pointed it out and knew the reason why this movie turned out just looking like a rehearsal rather than a real movie. I hate to slam it too bad because some of my friends actually worked on the crew, and honestly, I think they did the best they could do with the money I know they likely didn’t have. But it seems to me, they might have tried to at least cast a girl in the lead role who had a little talent—the love interest guy was fairly good, although his nemesis was almost as bad as the girl at acting. Then of course, it was hard to believe this cute little LDS  ingenue was a Jewish girl who would do anything to pull the wool over her parent’s eyes when it comes to who she is dating. The best performance in the whole thing was played by Lainie Kazan, in a reprisal of her role as the mother in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but even as actress as talented as she can only do what she can do with the part she’s been given

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