Reviews

Scream 3


Directed by: Wes Craven
Written by:Ehren Kruger
Starring: David Arquette, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox, Patrick Dempsey, Scott Foley, Lance Henriksen, Matt Keesler, Jenny McCarthy, Parker Posey, Liev Schreiber, Heather Matarazzo, Carrie Fisher
Released: March 23, 2000
Grade: B-

It’s been three years since the first Scream took the U.S. by storm and grossed over $100m.  It recreated the horror genre with a modern look and a teen flavour - I was a huge fan.  In those three years, many copycats have spawned to cash in on the new genre with little success and the style is wearing thin.  It is sad to see the film that inspired the idea, fall victim to its own fate.

In Scream 3, we again follow the traumatic life of Sidney Prescott (Campbell) who this time has gone into hiding following her recent thrilling experiences.  Back in California, production is set to begin on Stab 3 - the third in a series of films based around the Hillsboro murders and is to be produced by acclaimed horror producer John Milton (Henriksen).

Suddenly, the cast members of Stab 3 begin are killed off and the original “gang” are reunited.  Gale Whethers (Cox) returns to assist police in their investigations, Dewey Riley (Arquette) appears as an assistant to the film and Sidney comes out of hiding after the killer learns her secret location.

Scream 3 lacks all the charm and wit of the first two.  Neve Campbell is hardly seen, David Arquette and Courtney Cox continue their love/hate relationship and the newcomers overplay their roles.  It looks more like something from the dreadful I Know What You Did Last Summer series rather than the Scream series.  Parker Posey is clearly the standout performer in playing Jennifer Jolie (the Gale Whethers of Stab 3).

Ehren Kruger is responsible for the screenplay of Scream 3 and it is not up to the previous two (both penned by Kevin Williamson).  There are some really tacky moments including a conversation between Sidney and police officer Mark Kincaid (Dempsey) regarding movie trilogies.

I suppose a plausible ending could have saved the film but the disenchantment continued.  The ending is a real disappointment - it follows no real logic and makes little sense.  One of the pleasing aspects of the first two films is that there were multiple choices when guessing the killer and it became a real talking point as to whether you could pick who did it.  By the end of this film, I couldn’t care.

Hopefully this will bring closure to the Wes Craven’s Scream series.  Sure the last film was a letdown but it was one hell of a ride.  It redefined horror films and brought new audiences to the cinema.  For those familiar (and unfamiliar) with the first two,  I can’t recommend them strongly enough and suggest a trip to the video store is in order to catch up on the adventures of Sidney Prescott.  As you finish watching each three, you’ll see just how much has changed and how commercial the line has become.

     

Get Real


Directed by: Simon Shore
Written by:Patrick Wilde
Starring: Ben Silverstone, Brad Gorton, Charlotte Brittain, Stacy Hart, Kate McEnery
Released: March 16, 2000
Grade: A-

Steven Carter (Silverstone) is 16, at school and gay.  No one knows but his next-door neighbour and best friend Linda (Brittain) but he dreams of falling in love and meeting the right man.  In keeping his secret hidden, the only way he can meet guys is by hanging out at the local park toilets, a renowned spot where homosexual men hang out.

Imagine his surprise when one afternoon after school he meets school jock John Dixon (Gorton), whom he’s had a crush on for years but never dreamed he was gay.  And so the life of Steven Carter is about to become a little complicated...

Things go well at first and they hit it off but it soon becomes difficult to keep their relationship out of the public eye.  Why would one of the least popular kids and school suddenly become best friends with one of the most popular?  How can they find the time to see each other without their parents suspecting anything?  Threatened with exposure, do they have the guts to “come out”?

Get Real is based on Patrick Wilde’s play What’s Wrong With Andy? who adapted it for the screen and is directed by British TV director Simon Shore.  It’s a fabulous adaptation and an impressive feature of the film is that it captures all the awkward dialogue perfectly.  This is not some American teen flick where every line looks like it’s been rehearsed for hours.  It has a real and honest feel, a characteristic that English filmmakers always seem to capture.

It’s a mixture of comedy of drama with unexpected scene stealing lines from Silverstone and Brittain.  It keeps the pace steady and doesn’t give too much away.  Sure the ending is Hollywood-like but given the aura of the film, it couldn’t have ended more appropriately - it has a message.

Ben Silverstone burst on to the scene in 1994 in one of my favourite films, Mike Figgis’ The Browning Version.  This is his first major role since then and gives an extraordinary performance as Steven Carter and fills the role with brilliant expressions and reactions.  Charlotte Brittain steals all the great dialect and is hilarious as Linda whilst Brad Gorton has the toughest role as John Dixon and has the steadying influence over the film.

Get Real has been a big hit at film festivals around the world and made the top 10 of the audience’s vote at both the Brisbane and Sydney International Film Festivals in 1999.  Touching, funny and poignant, Get Real is a real people’s favourite.

     

The Story Of Us


Directed by: Rob Reiner
Written by:Jessie Nelson
Starring: Bruce Willis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tim Matheson, Rob Reiner, Rita Wilson, Paul Reiser, Julie Hagerty, Red Buttons
Released: March 16, 2000
Grade: A-

Looking at the trailers, you’d think The Story Of Us was another load of tacky, sentimental crap.  Ben (Willis) and Katie (Pfeiffer) have been married for 15 years.  They’ve been through their highs and lows but have currently reached a new low from which they may not return.  Their two children have gone off to camp for the summer and whilst away they begin a trial separation.

The Story Of Us, from acclaimed director Rob Reiner, is a passionate insight into what makes up a marriage and how many last as long as they do.  Bruce Willis is particularly frank in his portrayal and perhaps his recent split with Demi Moore provided inspiration.

The story is told by a series of flashbacks as the two reflect upon happier times and how they arrived to the current day.  As bad as things seem, they are determined to put the kids first and don’t want them having the impression that something is amiss.

It posses lots of questions but doesn’t offer too many answers which is the way it should be.  Many will see similarities with past or current relationships and it’s a movie that makes you realise that this happens to a lot of people and things cannot always work out.  The burning question is where is that point of no return and have they reached it?

The film is filled with many lighthearted moments also including a fantastic scene with Willis, Rob Reiner and Rita Wilson in a restaurant.  It’s a mixture of comedy and emotion without having it all forced down your throat.

A refreshing romantic drama which finally tells it how it is rather than how we want to be.  Well told and creatively shot, there are a few lessons to be learnt for us all.

     

Hanging Up


Directed by: Diane Keaton
Written by:Delia Ephron
Starring: Meg Ryan, Diane Keaton, Lisa Kudrow, Walter Matthau, Adam Arkin
Released: March 16, 2000
Grade: C+

Quite frankly, the script for this female “bonding” movie is a joke.  Eve (Ryan) is the central character and has a career as a party planner.  Her life is all hustle and bustle further complicated by her father (Matthau) being admitted to hospital after showing signs of senility.  Her sister Georgia (Keaton), has run her own magazine for 5 years and her other sister, Maddy (Kudrow), works as a soap star actress.  Over the past years, they have drifted apart and Eve seems to be the one left to care for the dying father.

From first time director Diane Keaton, Hanging Up isn’t worth answering.  The opening is just a tiresome, annoying sequence of phone calls and the stars are nothing more than overplayed rich bitches.  These people are not real in any shape or form.  As the film draws to its obvious conclusions, tears are shed as the girls reunite and they all live happily ever after.

Walter Matthau is the standout and provides the film’s best moments.  Meg Ryan is reasonable but Keaton and Kudrow are just wasted in their “plastic” roles.  Keaton’s direction isn’t much to be jumping about either - it’s pretty standard.

Following in the tradition of The First Wives Club, this movie is only going to appeal to women and there is absolutely no material here to maintain the interest of the opposite gender.  It’s a tiresome set up because you know where it’s all going and whilst the ending does have some touching moments, you’re just too tired to care anymore.

With an array of strange and useless side characters, this film is poor at best.  Don’t ask me what the point to all the phone calls was because I just didn’t get it.  I guess you can say I was “disconnected”.

     

The Beach


Directed by: Danny Boyle
Written by:John Hodge
Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton, Virginie Ledoyen, Guillaume Canet, Paterson Joseph, Robert Carlyle
Released: March 9, 2000
Grade: B-

It’s a question often asked - is it harder to write a screenplay from scratch or one based on a novel?  The answer is the later.  When you write an original script you have freedom to create anything you want.  When adapting, you face expectations from those who have already read the book and the challenge of editing 300 or so pages into just 2 hours.  It’s like taking a university assignment that you’ve perfected to 5000 words and then told you have to tell it in 500 words.  Plenty of good material is going to have to be cut, but you have to make sure the stuff you keep in is (a) worth it, and (b) not losing the essence of the story.

The Beach is the first novel from author Alex Garland and has become a sort of “backpacker’s bible”.  Its central character, Richard, travels to Thailand looking for adventure and is left a map with directions to a mystery island where paradise is promised.  With two French friends (Etienne and Francoise), they swim to the island and find a community of people from all over the world who have set up their own village.  They do everything themselves and it seems the rest of the world is a far distant reality...

Director Danny Boyle (Trainspotting) captures the beauty of the island and the craziness of Thailand well - the contrast is clear.  He uses the jungle surroundings well and creates some really great scenes.  Two worth noting are the scene where Richard tells the story of his capture of a small shark and a scene where Richard runs through the jungle “computer-game style” (although he’s said that DiCaprio was the inspiration behind that idea).

Speaking of Leonardo DiCaprio, his performance is marvellous.  He just has that ability to so accurately express his inner feelings through this exterior.  You can tell what he’s thinking and see his character evolving.  The rest of the cast are left underdeveloped but Tilda Swinton (as Sal) was well played.

What does let The Beach down is the screenplay.  It sort of plays like a checklist of the book’s leading events and never develops anything closely.  Changes were made to the movie (such as Richard’s sexual liaison with Francoise) that were understandable as they try to help keep the movie interesting for today’s audience but just when something looked like it might become worthy, it leads to a dead end (such as the plight of the injured Swede).

John Hodge needed to be more stringent with the screenplay and at the expense of certain events, should have expanded on some of the others.  By the film’s weak (and very short) finale, you feel underwhelmed and the whole point of the movie is lost.  It’s the case of a movie with a lot of potential that doesn’t use it.

Anticipated as one of the big hits of the new year, The Beach has floundered at the box-office and the reasons can be seen.  Conservative studio executives think they know what the public likes when they couldn’t be further from the truth.  It’s all too rosy and perfect in attempts to cash in on the Leonardo DiCaprio fan club.  As good as he is, DiCaprio should stick to more solid material and his role in the upcoming Martin Scorsese film, Gangs Of New York, should be just the ticket.

    

The Hurricane


Directed by: Norman Jewison
Written by:Sam Chaiton
Starring: Denzel Washington, Vicellous Reon Shannon, Deborah Unger, Liev Schreiber, John Hannah, Dan Hedaya
Released: March 16, 2000
Grade: B+

Director Norman Jewison effectively jumps back and forth in time to tell the story of Rubin Carter (played by Denzel Washington).  Rubin grew up in New Jersey where he spent the early years of his life in a youth correctional facility after being found guilty of assaulting a well-respected “white” member of the community.

It was whilst behind bars that he discovered boxing and went on to create an imposing record but lost his chance at a world title under controversial circumstances.  Not long after, he was framed and convicted of two murders and would spend the next 30 years in Trenton State Prison.

Many people would be familiar with the plight of the “Hurricane” and further detail isn’t really required.  Many politicians and celebrities campaigned to have Rubin released over his stint and Bob Dylan penned the famous song that’s echoed three times during the film.

The Hurricane has come under flak for fabricating the truth and misleading the viewer and their viewpoint is a valid one.  The story is told “fairy-tale” like - you can tell who the bad guys are, you can tell who the good guys are and you’d think Rubin was a better man than God based on this interpretation.

This is not a discredit to the film, but it distracts from what should have been a more interesting film rather than an entertaining film.  Jewison chooses to focus half the story on three Canadians and a 15-year-old Negro boy under their care who read of his story and then begin a campaign to clear his name and set him free.

In my eyes, they are the real heroes of this story.  It’s hard to believe four people who had never met Rubin before, trusted his word from day one without question.  It’s a quality that’s lacking in today’s world and leaves you thinking whether you yourself would feel and act the same way.  I feel few of us would.

Denzel Washington is superb and is the clear stand out amongst the cast and his Oscar nomination was surely deserved.  His role encapsulates more than 30 years of his life and the aging and change in the Rubin’s attitude and reflections on life shine through.  The remaining cast is sound but as mentioned earlier, seem a little typecast.

The movie touches on a lot of tempting material that it fails to develop such as the marches and protests to set him free, the prison guard who treats him well, the corruption behind the scenes, and the suffering of his friend who was also convicted of the two murders.  It’s just the interpretation that Jewison chose to take and I personally would have liked to have seen less of the Canadians.

All the gritty, tough material has been passed over and the lighter, rosier, “feel-good” material is substituted.  It has all the characteristics of The Shawshank Redemption - you know from the start he’s not guilty, and you’ll watch in sheer delight as he defeats those that put him away as he rises “back from the dead”.  A film that pulls one too many strings.