Capone chimes in on CHICAGO & CATCH ME IF YOU CAN!!! Plus a few views on BNAT4!
Hey folks, Harry here with Capone and his ramblings about BNAT and a pair of press screenings he saw up in the Windy City... Unfortunately I missed the press screening of this a couple of days ago and had conflicting plans with the press screening of CATCH ME IF YOU CAN last night... Sigh... I'll pay, both of these movies deserve money! Here ya go...
Hey, Harry. Capone in Chicago here finally recovered from Butt Numb-a-Thon 4
and ready to head into the home stretch of holiday cinema. First I must tell
of one of my many personal highlights from BNAT4. Between movies, I was
standing by Harry gabbing about whatever and an older looking gentleman
walks up to us. My first thought was, "Who let this old dude in the
theatre?" My second thought was, "He kind of looks familiar; maybe I met him
last year." He shakes my hand and says, "Hi, I'm Bo!" in a powerful and
gravely voice. He was so damn friendly that I just starting a conversation
with him not even realizing he was Bo Svenson (his beard kind of threw me
off), but as soon as his film NIGHT WARNING was introduced I smacked myself
on the forehead repeatedly and said, "STUPID! STUPID! STUPID!" Here are some
other BNAT4 recollections:
THE MASK OF FU MANCHU (1932). Dir: Charles Brabin & Charles Vidor. Starring
Boris Karloff, Lewis Stone, Karen Morle, and Myrna Loy. Classic racist
cinema as both Karloff and Loy attempt to play extremely threatening Asian
MYSTERY MOVIE #1.
MACHINE GUN KELLY (1958). Dir: Roger Corman. Starring Charles Bronson in his
first starring role. Really entertaining gangster film with a
deeper-than-usual psychological examination of the character that leads to a
surprising and cowardly ending.
ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW (1959). Dir: Robert Wise (who introduced the film via a
special video-taped message). Starring Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan, Shelley
Winters, Ed Begley, and Gloria Grahame. Great cast in a bizarre heist film.
I’m pretty certain the moral of the story is that you must get rid of any
racist feelings you have to be a successful bank robber. And don’t have a
gun battle on top of an oil refinery.
CRIPPLED AVENGERS (1978). Dir: Cheh Chang. A Shaw Brothers production. A
group of four heroes have all be somehow “crippled” by the film’s villains,
some of whom are also handicapable. Blood, guts, dubbed English, and an
endless supply of kung fu. What’s not to like?
NIGHT WARNING (1981). Dir: William Asher. Starring Jimmy McNichol, Susan
Tyrrell, Bo Svenson (who was on hand after the film for questions), Julia
Duffy, and a very young Bill Paxton. This was by far the most out-there film
of the bunch. It’s got everything from incest, wild bloody murder,
homophobia; it’s just nutty.
MAY (2002). Dir: Lucky McKee. Angela Bettis, Jeremy Sisto, and Anna Faris.
CARRIE-like story of a maladjusted 20-something woman with no social skills
who tends to cling to any man (or woman) who pays attention to her (and even
a few that don’t). After being emotionally pushed and pulled by a couple of
potential lovers, she snaps and decides to build a the perfect friend out of
the body parts. Sounds reasonable. Bettis as the title character is amazing,
and although the films sounds silly, it’s actually quite entertaining. With
any luck, MAY will come out sometime next year.
HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES (2001). Dir: Rob Zombie. Sid Haig and Karen Black. If
you believe the type, Zombie’s long-on-the-shelf “extreme” horror film has
remained unreleased for two years because of excessive gore and overall
shock value. The truth is finally revealed: the movie is unreleased because
it sucks and exist primarily as a feature-length commercial for Zombie’s
music. The images are unoriginal and often “borrowed” from other better
films. The acting is so over the top as to be annoying from almost the
minute the movie starts. And the story doesn’t make a stitch of sense.
Capped off by an ending that doesn’t end, this film in fact sticks like 1000
CORPSES. Set for release in 2003 by Lions Gate.
MYSTERY MOVIE #2 (aka GREEN BOOTS). An exercise in patience and staying
awake. The version we saw (said to be the director's cut) is unreleaseable.
MYSTERY MOVIE #3
Exiting BNAT Coverage...
On to the new films: we've already had a host of raves on this site of THE
TWO TOWERS (I concur with them all) and the appropriate amount of scorn for
STAR TREK: NEMESIS (ditto). Here are a couple brief looks at two end-of-year
releases worthy of your attention and adoration.
I’ve been saying this a lot lately, and it bothers me that the studios are
cramming their best stuff into last month of the year, but for better or
worse, we have another contender for one of the best films of the year. The
thing that separates CHICAGO from many of my other favorite films of 2002 is
that it took me by surprise. I knew CHICAGO would be good; I had no idea how
much I’d enjoy the hell out of it. And I will absolutely give credit where
credit is due. Director Rob Marshall has done a great job transforming the
Fosse stage musical into a visually magnificent film, but it wouldn’t have
meant a thing without three people: Richard Gere, Catherine Zeta-Jones, and
especially Renee Zellweger. I don’t care what you think about any of these
people (my opinion of the first two were very low going into this film), all
three will shock you with how much talent, power, and enthusiasm they throw
into these roles.
Zellweger is Roxie Hart, a bored housewife with dreams of stardom living in
Chicago’s jazz age. She takes up with a man (Dominic West) who promises to
give her a big break as a singer, but all he really wants is a way into her
bloomers. She shoots him dead and claims he was a burglar breaking into her
home. Her sap of a husband (John C. Reily) backs up her story at first, but
when he begins to suspect his wife’s infidelity, Roxie’s alibi is shot and
she end up in a women’s prison, under the watchful eye of Matron “Mama”
Morton (the voracious Queen Latifah). Meanwhile, established entertainer
Velma Kelly (Zeta-Jones) has also committed an act of murder against her
husband and sister (and singing partner) and has also landed in the clink.
Both women realize that in this age of cutthroat journalism, they could turn
their cases into publicity-generating monsters, feeding the press both real
and false stories about their innocence being corrupted by jazz and
drinking. Through Mama, both women hire celebrity attorney Billy Flynn
(Gere) to represent them as both criminal defense attorney and publicist.
Velma and Roxie fight for their lawyers attention; Billy fights to keep his
clients out of prison while still keeping them interesting to the press.
But the story is only half the fun. CHICAGO is a top-notch musical. The
filmmakers have even thought of a clever way to explain why people suddenly
break out into song during these serious moments. And how about those songs?
You’ll probably know many of them even if you’ve never seen the musical (I
haven’t); I still find myself humming “All That Jazz” when I’m walking down
the street. Every song is great and every performance of it is note perfect.
Although it’s not entirely an apples-to-apples comparison, CHICAGO runs
circle around MOULIN ROUGE (my third-favorite film of 2001). The songs are
original and written for this show, the vocal skills of the actors in this
film are better, the choreography is more sophisticated, and CHICAGO doesn’t
rely nearly as much on art director and special effects to create its moods.
MOULIN ROUGE succeeded almost because it existed on another planet, where
emotions ruled the day. CHICAGO exists squarely on earth. There aren’t even
any traditionally likeable characters in CHICAGO, and certainly none that
are falling madly in love before us. With the understanding that both are
great films, MOULIN ROGUE is kids stuff; CHICAGO is for grown folk. Expect
to hear much about CHICAGO come awards season.
CATCH ME IF YOU CAN
You couldn’t invent a story as wild and amazing as the true life of Frank
Abagnale Jr. For three years beginning at age 16, Frank successfully
impersonated a Pan Am pilot, a doctor, and a lawyer so he could pull off one
of the most elaborate multi-million-dollar check fraud scams in history.
Steven Spielberg has taken Frank Jr.’s story (based on Abagnale’s
autobiography) and turned it into a fabulous and fun cat-and-mouse game.
Spielberg’s attention to detail in capturing the sights and sounds of the
1950s is flawless, and the light-hearted approach he takes at telling this
tale of white-collar crime is loads of fun, and blessedly free of
explosions, car chases, aliens, or any distracting special effects.
Leonardo DiCaprio returns to the big screen as Abagnale, a young man who has
learned the art of B.S. from his father, Frank Sr. (Christopher Walken), a
man whom the IRS is always hounding for tax evasion and who is constantly
struggling to keep his family financially above water. When Frank Sr.’s wife
(played by the luminous French actress Nathalie Baye) leaves him, Frank Jr.
ran away from home and embarked on his brief life of non-violent crime. In
fact, it’s the non-violent, victimless nature of Frank’s crimes that make it
easier for us to root for him as the FBI, lead by Agent Carl Hanratty (Tom
Hanks with an annoying New England accent), hunts him down. Spielberg keeps
things at a brisk pace but still manages to look into Frank Jr.’s psyche
just a bit, suggested that his family’s money troubles may have inspired him
to head down the criminal road (although neither of his parents seem aware
of crimes nor do they receive any money from him). There are wonderful
scenes where Hanratty literally has Frank in the in the same room with him
and still he escapes. The lengths that Frank goes to steal a buck and not be
caught are extraordinary and almost worthy of admiration.
Both DiCaprio and Hanks turn in solid performances that make Spielberg’s job
of telling a straight-forward story all the easier. There’s a bit of a dead
section in the middle of the film when Frank impersonates a doctor in
Atlanta, gets engaged to a mousy nurse named Brenda (Amy Adams), and has to
meet her domineering father (Martin Sheen) that doesn’t really pay off, but
this is faint criticism. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN has the look, feel, and pacing
that I wish movies like THE TRUTH ABOUT CHARLIE had had. No one who worked
on this movie is going to win any awards but there is always something to be
said to great storytelling without all the bells and whistles. Watching
CATCH ME reminded me of reading a Stephen King book without all the
supernatural elements; it reminds you that the guy is a great storyteller as
well as a genre master. Spielberg should try more of these.
Click here and I'll Hurt You Till You Say "MORE"!"