Synopsis: Aurora and Emma are mother and daughter who march to different drummers. Covering several years of their lives, each finds different reasons to go on living and find joy through humor and strength.
Stars: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Jeff Daniels, John Lithgow
Director: James L. Brooks
Running Length: 132 minutes
TMMM Score: (9.5/10)
Review: Many movies can be classified as tearjerkers but few earn their stripes with the dignity and humor of Terms of Endearment, James L. Brooks’ Oscar winning dramedy chronicling a tumultuous mother-daughter relationship and the various men in their lives. I return to this film every few years and it manages to always feel fresh and unexpected thanks to its uniformly excellent performances and Brooks’ nigh-perfect script.
What always sets this apart for me is the way the movie lets these big, eccentric characters retain their humanity even when placed in circumstances that challenge them. Based on Larry McMurtry’s novel, Brooks has tightened up the proceedings, added characters, and allowed his actors to own the quirkiness they bring to the table. There’s Winger’s multi-layered daughter, who evolves from a frustrated teen to a giving mother in an unhappy marriage with a philandering husband (Daniels) eventually being distracted by an unwise affair with Lithgow. Meanwhile, McClaine’s Oscar winning role as Winger’s mother takes shape as she battles brutal truths with her daughter while getting involved with an astronaut ladies man (Supporting Oscar winner Nicholson) who moves in next door.
All of these characters could have been overplayed in lesser hands but it works perfectly even today. Nominated for 11 Oscars and winning five (including Best Picture), the film has lost none of it charm or impact as it comes to its conclusion becoming one of the truly certified five hankie tearjerkers. I was surprised how deeply funny the film is and marveling at how honestly it deals with many different kinds of loss – trust me, you’ll be laughing through your tears.
Synopsis: As an asteroid nears Earth, a man finds himself alone after his wife leaves in a panic. He decides to take a road trip to reunite with his high school sweetheart. Accompanying him is a neighbor who inadvertently puts a wrench in his plan.
Release Date: June 22, 2012
Thoughts: What’s the deal with all the end of the world movies lately? What is this, 2012? Oh yeah…
I’d seen the poster for this movie numerous times before I actually saw the preview so probably came into it thinking it was going to have a different tone/feel to it. Researching it further I see that it was written and directed by Lorene Scafaria who also penned the fun but too clever for its own good Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist. Knowing that Scafaria is involved gives me the impression that there’s more good stuff to be had that the preview doesn’t give away. Both Carrell and Knightly (especially Knightly) have questionable box office appeal but aren’t afraid to take on roles that are polar opposites to their other efforts – it’s that willingness to be open that makes this movie all the more interesting to me.
Synopsis: A drama centered on the long-term friendship and partnership between two cops.
Release Date: September 28, 2012
Thoughts: This looks a little like Training Day, no? It seems that every actor worth their salt needs to take a spin in a cop car and End of Watch seems to be Jake Gyllenhaal’s moment to do so. I find myself having a tough time responding to yet another gritty cop drama and the trailer doesn’t do much to set it apart from other similar genre films. The timing on this one seems right with an early fall release so it’s possible that coming out of a bombastic blockbuster summer audiences will be interested in a watch. I’ll reserve some judgment until another trailer comes out but for now let’s just say I’m casually considering this.
Synopsis: A comedy about two misfit best friends incapable of growing up, whose direction is tested by an abandoned child, worn beyond his years; together they invent the family they’ve always needed.
Release Date: TBA 2012
Thoughts: Indie movies have an uphill battle in this new generation of technology. Nowadays, having indie-cred only goes so far and it’s the story you tell that will keep your audience interested. I’m not quite sure Bag of Hammers is the movie you’ll be busting down the cinema door to see but there were enough interesting faces in this trailer to hold my attention.
Synopsis: A color-blind psychiatrist Bill Capa is stalked by an unknown killer after taking over his murdered friend’s therapy group, all of whom have a connection to a mysterious young woman that Capa begins having intense sexual encounters with.
Stars: Bruce Willis, Jane March, Lesley Ann Warren, Rubén Blades, Lance Henriksen, Scott Bakula
Director: Richard Rush
Rated: R (or Unrated)
Running Length: 139 minutes
TMMM Score: (2/10)
Review: A stunningly awful film, Color of Night is the much ballyhooed 1994 erotic thriller that ended several careers and put the kibosh on the psycho-sexual thrillers that Basic Instinct spawned. It’s a film I’ve seen maybe a half dozen times and it only gets worse with each viewing. Now with that being said, any true film aficionado should try this one on for size…while it hasn’t achieved cult/camp status it really does deserve it because there are some howling amazing performances and even funnier bits of dialogue.
Willis was on the A-list when this came about and while he walked away relatively unscathed Color of Night was an important turning point for the actor: he never dropped his trou for an erotic thriller after. I don’t think Willis is a bad actor, just a specific one. As bad as this material is, he takes the completely wrong angle to come at it from and winds up looking fairly idiotic in the process.
I have to admit I don’t know quite how to summarize the movie for you…it’s so convoluted I can’t even get at the true inadequacy of the proceedings. However, I’ll give it a go.
After a patient of his commits suicide during one of their sessions, Willis’ Bill Cappa suddenly becomes color blind to red and quits his practice. To get away from things he goes and visits his friend (Bakula) in California only to be tossed into a murder-mystery before the end of day 2. Bakula pretty much picks up Cappa from the airport and brings him to the therapy group he leads…and the group is filled with every cliché in the book. The nympho, the gruff ex police officer, the OCD yuppie, the immature artist, and the one with the gender problem. Oh yeah…one of them also is a killer as Bakula soon finds out.
The movie is awkward up until Bakula meets the end of a blade and after that it just becomes bizarre. Somehow information about the death doesn’t reach the patients so Willis (encouraged by the police to continue as the leader of the group) has to break it to them in one painfully bad/funny scene. Also…while the film continues on for several weeks there is no mention of a funeral or how Willis can legally continue to live in Bakula’s expansive mansion or drive his car! The filmmakers just assume that we will accept all these conveniences but we know better.
Now on top of all this enters the femme fatale in the form of March as a kitten-ish beauty that spells bad news for Cappa. March was hailed by director Rush as the “eighth wonder of the world” and unless he was referring to the fact that she never wears underwear or has eight extra teeth in her head, I can’t see why. Her acting is horrible and she seems only to exist to wear clothes that come off easily. She’s even more ridiculous as the film reveals more about her and expands her role in a few twists I shan’t give away.
The sex scenes between Willis and March were cause for much buzz because they earned the film an NC-17 at first…then trimmed to receive its eventual R. None of these scenes is erotic in the least though one gives credit to both actors for baring all in such a laugh riot as this. The film is available on DVD only in a director’s cut that clocks in at an astounding 139 minutes. The film could have and should have been 90 minutes including credits.
Supporting players should be as embarrassed as Willis and March. Warren probably fares the best as the nympho of the group…though it almost seems like an extension of her character from Clue. She’s the only one that seems to be trying to give the proceedings their due but eventually she’s forgotten as are the rest of the group members. Worst performance is a close call between March and Blades as an un-PC and nearly unwatchable cop. I can’t imagine Blades looking back fondly on what he did on this film – it’s a pretty embarrassing role.
Director Rush directed the cult favorite The Stunt Man and his attempts to make this film with style falls flat because he’s missing the essential element for most films – taste. The taste factor of this one is incredibly low and he never seems to understand that. Camera angles that make no sense are used and filming techniques that maybe looked good in dailies look patently absurd here. Add to that the dreadful score that sounds like a church mouse on a circus organ and there’s just no way to escape this movie without hitting the eject button.
So yes…this is bad but yes…if you have the time and fortitude to check this one out it’s nearly worth it because it is so uniquely awful. A year later Showgirls would arrive on the scene and demonstrate how to make a bad movie that’s totally watchable. Scaling Color of Night is a feat…but there are much worse mountains to climb.
Synopsis: Jack is a children’s author turned crime novelist whose detailed research into the lives of Victorian serial killers has turned him into a paranoid wreck, persecuted by the irrational fear of being murdered.
Release Date: TBA, 2012
Thoughts: For me, the jury is still out on Simon Pegg. I’ve enjoyed him when he takes on a sidekick role (Star Trek, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol) but have been less impressed when he is front and center. This looks to be a surreal and silly movie…more like a Being John Malkovich and Terry Gilliam sort of vibe to it. Universal Studios seems to be pretty gung-ho about Pegg and this movie so we shall see how they choose to market and release this.
Synopsis: A journalist and his girlfriend get pulled in while they investigate a cult whose leader claims to be from the future.
Release Date: April 27, 2012
Thoughts: I’m always on the look-out for indie thrillers because they seem to have a very go-for-broke attitude about them. Most of them are a little raw around the edges but nearly all have a point of view and take chances that mainstream actors and studios won’t go for. This looks like an interesting little paranoid thriller with a new age-y feel to it. It’s always a benefit to using unknown actors in these types of film because it heightens the unexpectedness of the proceedings. Without any pre-conceived notions as to who is good and who is bad you have more opportunities to be generally surprised if a movie has some especially good twists to it. This could end up being a very run-of-the-mill outing but based on the trailer I’m interested in seeing where this one takes me.