The setting is Colorado, sometime in the past, going by the Eastmancolour look of the filmstock and the National Geographic cinematography that could double as a tourist trawl. Hereís a verbally challenged Bush look-alike, running for governor, so hold the chilli nachos, weíre in for a bumpy ride! Maybe weíll get a searing expose of the megalomaniac invader with a glance at an ally so mesmerised that the destruction of the social fabric of his own country goes unnoticed. Just a line-casting minute, there! Whatís with the body in the water and the scorpion tattoo, the three names on a piece of paper, the maverick investigator and the puzzled ex-girlfriend, not to mention the evil property developers using illegal labour on contaminated land? Somewhere in the descent into Hitchcockian mayhem, a smirking lunk of a hero struggles to recover the fire in his belly, as well as his ex girlfriend, Richard Dreyfuss does his manic campaign- manager piece, and itís either A Chinese Kris Kristopherson look-alike or the man himself with a face-lift playing the arch-villain and head of the Pilager (geddit?) clan, backing the election of the Dumb One. Not that Iíd object if the homage were well-done and the McGuffin werenít compromised by a whole lot of issues which never quite hit the mark and the few genuine suspense opportunities werenít ruined by the palaver that surrounds them. The lead-in to the hero falling down a flooded mineshaft is preceded by a sequence which as interesting as watching someone pack a suitcase; when Daryl Hannah, in menacing Ursula Andress state of undress, shoots an arrow into the wood adjacent to the heroís ear, (not the head side, unfortunately) we donít want a lecture on the problems of combining single momdom with training for the Olympics and even less the hero pausing to show the hapless lad how to trace his father on the Internet. (ĎAre you connected to the Web?í). The tacked- on revenge-of-the-eco-system ending is just tasteless. This film pulls all its punches, avoiding even the suggestion that the Bush look-alike senator knows what the family is up to. Itís as if they made a film about Osama Ben Ladenís search for a good beard-trimmer.
Nice piece Cornelia. I think I could recognise one of your reviews now. I can hear the voice. And that's I guess partly what it's about from a writing point of view.
Stylish and witty. I'll still see the movie: can't resist something that takes the piss out of the endlessly deserving Bush. Shame it wasn't better done it seems.
I'll be interested to read what you think. I read a lot of film reviews, mainly in 'Sight and Sound'and 'Time out' but my favourite in terms of a distinctive voice is that guy called Derek who writes for 'Variety'. I don't trust the 'new' Guardian critic, Peter Bradshaw, and I suspected Derek Malcolm knew too many people in the industry to be objective. I find Cosmo Landesman in The Sunday Times a provocative read. 'Silver City' was my husband's choice, and he was happy with it. We are both avid cinemagoers with tastes which conflict, so take it in turns to choose, occasionally going separately. My favourites are Asian art-house, his all the predictable men's stuff - gangsters, westerns,politics,and anything with a lot of sex. It's maybe predictable I wouldn't like this one, but it's useful, if sometimes painful, I find, to see a film you wouldn't normally choose to see. Any reviewers you would recommend?
All my favourite reviewers are in the past I'm afraid. Like you I find Landesamn usually interesting but sometimes off the wall. I don't mind a critic liking something I don't or vice versa - but I listen for a voice and when I read a review by someone whose voice I thought I knew, sounding comletely different, that bugs me.
For sheer writing talent and authority - it is still worth Reading any one of the dozen or so Pauline Kael books before they go out of print. 'Reeling' is espeically good as it contains an extended essay on movies. Don't always agree with her but she perectly illustrates the point above. The Citizen Kane book is fascinating but there is some controversy over whether she actually got the facts right, downplaying welles vs Mankovitch.
Not a reviewer: but William Goldman's book 'Which Lie Did I Tell' is an absolute must if you are interested in the art of screen writing. Critic-wise George Melly was an old favourite but I think he got bored with it in the end. Dilys Powell, generous, literate but sometimes a bit predictable.
Kael's the one with the fire and writing talent and Goldman the one with the knowledge.
Sorry about the sloppy spelling and typemanship.