Saturday, March 29, 2008

"Ground Control"

Well faithful readers, it looks like the ‘ol Phantom here guessed wrong, because Channel 7 finally decided to reveal what tomorrow night’s movie is going to be… and it’s NOT the same movie their sister station is running (“One Hell of a Guy (MAYBE…)”)

Instead, we get this 1998 thriller called “Ground Control” (alternate title “Jet”). Unlike most “Late Nite Landfill” fare, this one is actually loaded to the gills with actors that most folks know. It seems to be loaded with some bad special effects, bad supporting performances and bad clich├ęs, too.

But you never know, it could be a passable time waster.

Some descriptions I found:

“A disgraced former air traffic controller is called back into service when the airport's traffic control system malfunctions;” and “An air-traffic controller endures an especially tense night of bad weather and electrical failures during New Year's Eve.”

That cast I mentioned includes Kiefer Sutherland (playing a different “Jack” from the most famous role he plays on “24”), Kelly McGillis, Robert Sean Leonard, Margaret Cho, Michael Gross and Kristy Swanson. As often happens in movies like these, a couple parts seem cast out of “left field” – in other words, featuring folks not known for starring in action films. Namely Charles “Roger Rabbit” Fleischer and Henry “The Fonz” Winkler.

Having grown up watching and mocking the “Airport” series, I’ve pretty much seen all the planes in peril movies that are worth seeing. I really don’t think they ever improved on the formula beyond the classic “The High & the Mighty” anyway; and the first “Airplane” movie spoof was pretty much the last word on the genre for me.

I will admit one intriguing element in the trailer that’s nagging at me. What, oh what is Henry Winkler doing with those wires?!?!?! I’m dying to find out, but not enough to actually watch this movie. Unless I wake up by accident just as Fonzie gets all tangled up!

View the trailer here:



Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 11:35 PM (instead of “One Hell of a Guy”)… if you dare!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

"One Hell of a Guy" (MAYBE)...

Why the maybe? Because Channel 7 has not revealed the movie they will be showing Sunday night. I am making an educated guess here based on the schedule of a sister station in a neighboring city. It’s possible that this movie won’t be shown on Channel 7 this Sunday… but odds are it will be at some point, as it certainly seems in line with the goofy “high concept” comedies that often litter the Late Nite Landfill, like the recently-shown "Elvis Has Left the Building".

I’ve expended most of my energy on "Freedom Strike" so I’ll make an effort to actually keep this one brief. This is described as follows: “Sent by the devil, a demon falls in love with the woman he was supposed to corrupt.”

The trailer seems to take things a step further by implying the woman may indeed be an angel. That would certainly explain the film’s alternate title, "Opposites Attract."

This one engages in “stunt” or “on point” casting. In other words, it takes an actor who’s already known for playing bad guys and makes him the chief bad guy, Satan himself. I’m speaking of Michael York, most famously known by most of the populace as Austin Powers' boss in the Mike Myers spy parodies. Of course, he has a large body of work, and like most British character actors it runs the gamut from great drama and period pieces to horror movies and general rubbish. But he’s always a game performer in whatever he does. And in addition to having played bad guys previously, he may have already played the devil, too. If memory serves, he played a character who was actually the anti-Christ in “The Omega Code,” but I couldn’t tell you for sure as I’ve spent the last 10 years trying to wipe the memory of that movie from my mind (and in fairness to York’s range, he was also John the Baptist in “Jesus of Nazareth”).

The other well-known actor in this has also played his share of bad guys AND is also an alum of the Austin Powers flicks: Rob Lowe. Just as I revealed a fondness for Tone Loc in my “Freedom Strike” entry, I have to be frank about Lowe: I actually find him an underrated comic talent. His impersonation of Robert Wagner while portraying the younger version of "Number Two" in ”Austin Powers 2” was sheer brilliance in my opinion, and his comedic turn in “Wayne’s World” was something to laugh about as well. Even in his bad guy roles he brings a certain wit – who could ever forget the audacity of his “I’m sorry” apology at the close of ”Bad Influence” – hysterical in its absurdity! In audition to audacity, he can also be fearless when it comes to comedy, as he was here, dancing with Snow White at the 1989 Oscars:



Okay… maybe that’s NOT the best example of comedy. But trust me, when given the right material, Lowe delivers more than he’s given credit for. His role as “One Hell of a Guy” appears to offer him the chance to put on his broad comic clown shoes...

...and you can view the trailer here:



Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, March 30th at 11:35 PM… MAYBE!

"Freedom Strike"

The Phantom is overworked and overtired this week, so he’s going to try to keep the latest entries as brief as possible. Luckily, with such fitting Late Nite Landfill fare as the films being served up this weekend, the trailers for these epics really do speak for themselves. But I’ll do at least a little “speaking” on behalf of “Freedom Strike.”

For starters, how this screenplay assignment eluded my friend (and Landfill reader) William C. Martell I’ll never know. The b-movie action screenwriter extraordinaire has a passel of similarly-themed military thrillers including:

STEEL SHARKS (1996) – A Navy Seals saga taking place almost entirely on a submarine… and incredulously the producers forced him to write a sex scene for it (you can read the entertaining explanation behind that request on Bill’s blog).

CRASH DIVE (1997) – Navy Seals and a submarine again, with terrorists vying for the nuclear cargo aboard… starring Michael Dudikoff (or maybe we should call him “Michael Dejavu,” – you’ll see why soon)!

BLACK THUNDER (1998) – A jet fighter instead of a submarine this time, but still the same nagging terrorists… and the square-jawed Dudikoff to mete out two-fisted justice! This one was recently remade with other writers at the keyboards.

THE BASE (1999) – we’re on an army (airforce?) base now, dealing with drug traffickers and trading Dudikoff in for our ‘ol pal Mark Dacascos. This one was revised by two other writers, and Bill doesn’t get credit on it.

…and those are just his PRODUCED screenplays. He has other scripts loaded with military mayhem just waiting to be produced and unleashed upon an unsuspecting Netflix renter...

Seriously, I do have to give a tremendous plug to Bill. His articles, books and tips on screenwriting (which you can find at Bill’s “Script Secrets” site) are invaluable, and I’ve never read a more practical book on screenplays than “The Secrets of Action Screenwriting.” I believe it’s out of print now, but I would recommend that ANY aspiring screenwriter track it down – even if you have no intention of writing action movies. The advice in the book really can be applied to any genre in filmmaking.

Now, I mentioned we should change Michael Dudikoff’s name to “Michael Dejavu”… because the plot of “Freedom Strike” is as follows: “A strike force must stop terrorists who have taken over a nuclear reactor.” More specifically, “Elite American commandos launch a precision attack against terrorists who have seized a nuclear reactor in Iraq.” It’s Dudikoff vs. terrorists again, with the threat of mushroom clouds looming large! Does this owe a debt to Bill Martell or what?

In addition to Michael-man-of-action-Dudikoff, “Freedom Strike” takes a page out of the “we need a wise-cracking sidekick, maybe a personality known for TV roles or a musician or something.” We get rapper Tone Loc in this case.

The Phantom must pause here to make something absolutely clear: while it may appear that I have nothing but disdain for these “train wrecks masquerading as movies,” the fact is, I love cheese. Some of the flicks that end up on channel 7 in the wee hours are indeed so bad they’re good. Some are actually not even that bad, or even bad at all. And some of them are merely worth it for the unique talents that appear in them. Tone Loc is one such talent. I admit, Tone is a guilty pleasure of mine. How could you not love that deep raspy voice on those rap records of his, records which are not disposable garbage pop to me but actually brilliant parodies of the pretentious, bravura-filled offerings of his peers. Besides, any rapper who samples Van Halen’s “Jamie’s Crying” shows that he “gets it.” He’s throwing rocks from “inside” the glass house. Again, brilliant parody in my book.

This film also offers us one of the all-time great character actors. There’s a short list of guys any director would absolutely love to have in their low-budget film just to guarantee a level of professionalism and an engaging performance. Dick Miller is one such journeyman who comes to mind. Another is William Schallert. Yet another is James Karen, who plays the US president here. You’ve seen him hundreds of times before, in movies and on TV, in big-budget, well-known fare and bargain-basement cheapos, too. From “Poltergeist” to the “Return of the Living Dead” series, from the “Larry Sanders Show” (playing a television network executive) to “Apt Pupil” and countless others. Still, he will probably be most familiar to the majority of you as the “Pathmark” guy from the commercials:



There are tons of other folks in this who you’ll recognize. I’ve already waxed rhapsodic too much on this film to take time going into them, so feel free to check out imdb.com’s credit listing of this film for the others.

What was I saying about this being a brief entry? Oh well…

View the trailer here…



Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, March 29th at 11:35 PM… if you dare!

Friday, March 21, 2008

A F.A.Q. and a fact

Hello Landfill fans. The Phantom is taking a break from mediocre movies to address a couple more things with you. Consider this a bit of a continuation of my "For Those Who 'Tuned in Late'" entry a few posts back (http://latenitelandfill.blogspot.com/2008/03/for-those-who-tuned-in-late.html)

1.) WHAT IS THE PHOTO ON THIS PAGE SUPPOSED TO BE, ANYWAY?

You may have wished you never asked: it's "spaghetti with mealworms." And it's a real dish. Of course, the thought of it would turn most of our stomachs. I thought it made an appropriate image for the Late Nite Landfill given the nature of many of the films we feature - they can be appetizing to a point, but may also leave a bad taste overall.

You can learn more about mealworms here at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mealworms - however, whenever looking anything up on Wikipedia, be sure to keep these words of Michael Scott from "The Office" in mind:



2.) CAN I TURN OFF THE "RECOMMENDATIONS LIST" SCROLLING AT THE BOTTOM OF TRAILERS FROM THE VIDEO DETECTIVE?

Yes, you can. Most of the trailers on this site come from either the YouTube or Video Detective sites. Recently, Video Detective has added their own form of "pop-up ads" to their trailers - with a list of "recommendations" that scroll at the bottom of the trailers. It can be quite distracting. I just learned (by accident) that you can turn the recommdations lists off. If you play a trailer and the list starts, you'll see a small white triangle outline or "down arrow" next to the list. Just click on it and the recommendations list will... "PRESTO!"... disappear, just like "magic!":

Thursday, March 20, 2008

"Last Exit"

Hooray, it’s another “Lifetime” movie! I’ve mentioned Lifetime movies before, and how films aired on that station in past years have ended up as part of a syndicated package of movies that help fill the Late Nite Landfill time slot at Channel 7.

This one looks like a doozy. One of the great things about Lifetime movies of recent vintage is what I call the “heightened escalation” factor. This is usually played out by the female characters in a story, and usually in one of two ways: the first is in their reaction to a cheating spouse or boyfriend, the second in response to a woman who has scorned them in some way (either the other woman stole her man, or ruined her career, or stole her identity, etc.). The characters go from “zero to sixty” in their hysteria, jumping to such insane extremes that they may even consider (and in some cases attempt or even succeed) to kill the party or parties who wronged them! Which makes the following description I found of “Last Exit” all the more amusing in its understatement: “Two ordinary women, both moms, succumb to stresses in their overburdened lives during a traffic jam.”

As I mentioned in an earlier post, there are alternate versions of many Lifetime movies created for international movie theaters, TV broadcasts or home video release. In some cases, those versions are longer and more liberal in their use of graphic language (in the “Last Exit” trailer you’ll hear a word that probably didn’t make it to the US Lifetime broadcast cut of the movie). A lot of Lifetime movies (and a lot of independent movies in general, including others seen on ABC’s late night movie) are co-productions between the US and other countries or Canada. Sometimes the films are made entirely in Canada, using Canadian actors and locales (I believe this may be changing soon, but for years Canadian productions have been government subsidized). Today’s movie appears to be Canadian in nature based on one of the descriptions I found online: “Road rage leads two Canadian mothers on an extended car chase.”

The cast for this one seems interesting. When you read Kathleen Robertson’s bio at imdb.com (http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005370/bio) you’ll find that she hasn’t had many lead roles, but she’s had several flashy supporting roles, often opposite big names. Her most well-known movies are probably “Scary Movie 2,” and “Hollywoodland,” and she had the title role in the serial killer bio-pic, “Torso: The Evelyn Dick Story.” Co-star Andrea Roth has done a lot of guest-star roles on TV series and is probably best known for recurring roles as Janet on “Rescue Me” and Diana on the TV series spinoff of “Robocop.” Linden Ashby has worked steady for many years appearing in direct-to-DVD movies, doing guest stints on TV shows, and having recurring roles on soap operas. He is most notable for taking on the role of Johnny Cage in the video game adaptation “Mortal Kombat” after originally slated star Brandon Lee was killed.

The director, John Fawcett has a mixed bag of credits, including directing, producing and writing on a variety of projects. I have to give him a shout-out for directing and co-writing “Ginger Snaps,” an at-the-time unique retelling of the werewolf legend.

View the trailer for “Last Exit” here:



Or watch the entire film on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, March 23rd) at 11:35 PM … if you dare!

"Under Hellgate Bridge" (NOTE THE TIME CHANGE THIS WEEK – THIS MOVIE WILL AIR AT 12:20!)

Here we go again. It seems every few weeks we’re reminded of how mobsters are just “good fellas gone awry” here at The Late Nite Landfill. From our very first post covering “A Good Night to Die” (http://latenitelandfill.blogspot.com/2008/02/good-night-to-die.html), to our entry on “Amongst Friends” (http://latenitelandfill.blogspot.com/2008/02/amongst-friends.html) just a few weeks thereafter, the neighborhood has been swarming with “wise guys.”

These movies all tend to have the same things in common:

1.) They borrow liberally from the oeuvre of Martin Scorsese, be it “Mean Streets,” “Casino,” or especially “Goodfellas.” You can throw in all the other low-level hood flicks you can think of (with or without DeNiro), too.

2.) Those made after the debut of “The Sopranos” TV show tend to add similarly quirky characterizations and humor.

3.) They try to exploit the above facts by either evoking the names of famous mob movie directors in their trailers or actually hiring actors who have appeared in better fare before.

Like actors from “The Sopranos.”

“Under Hellgate Bridge” hedges its bets. It features not one, not two, but THREE Sopranos alums… and as a special bonus, one of those alums also happens to have had a major part in “Goodfellas.”

Are the producers uncertain about the screenplay or is it simply a matter of marketing? I’d lean toward the latter if it weren’t for the fact that a precedent has already been set for exploiting known talents in lackluster productions. Of course, I could be wrong. My viewing of the trailer left me with a feeling that’s there an air of desperation to the whole affair.

I won’t go into details on the “Sopranos” actors – namely Vincent Pastore, Dominic Chianese, and Frank Vincent – as there’s already plenty on the internet about them and the famous characters they played on “Sopranos” (and for Vincent, the even more famous Billy “go get your shine box” Batts from “Goodfellas”).

Among the rest of the supporting players, I did notice one famous sibling - Jonathan LaPaglia, younger brother of Anthony. But co-star Brian Vincent is NOT related to Frank – Brian’s real last name is Kelly! Rounding out the cast are various TV series actors with a lot of “single time role” (as opposed to recurring role) credits.

I mentioned the time change for this Saturday’s movie. Due to the annual showing of the epic “Ten Commandments,” which fills a 4 hour and 45 minute time slot that starts at 7PM and ends at 11:45 PM, Channel 7 will start the late movie at 12:20 instead of the usual 11:35.

View the trailer here:



Or watch the entire film on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, March 22nd (wait, make that SUNDAY MORNING, March 23rd) at 12:20 AM... if you dare!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

For those who "tuned in late"...

With our readership growing week by week, I thought I'd take the opportunity to clearly communicate just what this blog is about and clear up any possible misconceptions anyone may have. Here goes:

1.) THE MOVIES ARE NOT RANDOMLY SELECTED

This blog is driven by WABC-TV Channel 7 in New York and their schedule of late night weekend movies. The idea is that I write about these movies before they air, and provide the trailers for these movies whenever possible. You can then make up your own mind whether you want to actually watch these films as they air in real time over Channel 7, which is usually at 11:35 PM on Saturday and Sunday nights (exceptions include when sports events run overtime, in which case the movie may start at an unspecified time or be shown "already in progress;" or when epic movies like the upcoming showing of "The Ten Commandments" air earlier in the evening- on those nights, the movies may start later and are usually officially given an alternate start time).

2.) I HAVE NOT WATCHED THE MAJORITY OF MOVIES FEATURED ON THIS BLOG

The opinions I express on this blog are purely based on viewing the trailers for the movies and not the movies themselves. The opinons are supplemented by commentary on previous work from the actors and directors, or by similarly-themed movies. It may very well be that some of the movies featured are worthy of your time from an entertainment standpoint ("Drive" comes to mind); although it is highly unlikely in most cases. I have attempted to watch many of the films that WABC-TV Channel 7 runs in this time slot, but often don't get past the first 10 minutes. Of course, there may come a time where Channel 7 schedules a movie I've actually seen before; if that happens, I'll be sure to mention it.

3.) WHY DO YOU MENTION "LIFETIME" MOVIES IN THIS BLOG?

I mention "Lifetime" movies because one of the movie packages that WABC-TV has leased is a collection of movies that originally ran on the Lifetime TV network. Lifetime has syndicated their movies from 2006 and earlier. Many of these movies have alternate versions that were created for international markets either for broadcast TV, home video release or even theatrical release. Those versions may be even longer than those that appeared on Lifetime and include elements such as profanity that would not make it to the on-air versions (but sometimes show up in the trailers I find). In addition to previously-aired-on-Lifetime flicks, the other packages that WABC has tapped for this late night slot include some real direct-to-video and direct-to-cable independent fare as well as a package of urban films (including some like "Sounder" that really are great, classic films that deserve a better timeslot and presentation).

So that's it in a rather verbose nutshell. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to click the comments button for this posting. - your fiend, The Phantom.

Friday, March 14, 2008

"The Accidental Witness"

Ah, another former “Lifetime” movie makes it to the Landfill! When the Lifetime Network first began, many of the movies they ran (both those they acquired from other sources and ultimately those produced expressly for their channel) featured sympathetic female protagonists beleaguered by the horrible men in their lives – mostly their cheating husbands who usually planned to kill them so they could spend the insurance money on their mistresses. As time went on, however, the station (perhaps unknowingly) often took the “embattled-turned-empowered woman” theme to the opposite extreme, giving us characters of such sheer hysterics that one was reminded of latter-day Bette Davis movies. I’ve never seen “Accidental Witness,” but this seems like it could fall close to what I describe, with an “intensity” so forced that it lapses unwittingly into unintentional parody, setting some viewers to giggle and guffaw at the proceedings.

In this one, a murderer is after the attorney that he thinks “accidentally witnessed” one of his killings. As someone close to me pointed out, “isn’t everyone an 'accidental' witness?” I reminded them that literal accuracy is not a hallmark of Late Nite Landfill films.

This one stars Natasha Wagner. You remember her – the stepdaughter of the oft-mentioned (at least here anyway) Robert Wagner, she was in “Sol Goode,” which we covered a few weeks ago and which ABC yanked in favor of a bad Elvis impersonator movie instead. Perhaps this weekend Natasha will get a chance to display her wares as one of the queens of Late Nite Landfill fare – just take a gander at her imdb.com filmography and you’ll see what I mean. It’s littered with direct-to-DVD and cable TV movie fare.

The supporting cast is made up of the usual mix of TV, soap opera, and Canada film industry actors. A common bond among them seems to be appearances on the top crime drama shows like the various Law & Order and CSI series, as well as syndicated sci-fi shows and Canadian programs.

Speaking of sci-fi, the director, Kristoffer Tabori seems to have quite the side-career going for himself as a voice-over artist in such fantastical fare as the animated series, “Avatar: the Last Airbender;” and video games of “Battlestar Galactica” and “Star Wars.” Too bad “Accidental Witness” doesn’t look quite so “out of this world” as those space operas!

View the trailer here:



Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Sunday, March 16th at 11:35 PM – if you dare!

"Boat Trip"

Well folks, here it is: for the first time since I started this blog, we actually have a well-known bad movie. Not that many people saw it – it was a colossal flop at the box office – but that, along with the fact that it starred a then-recent Oscar® winner made it a highly publicized disaster. People just couldn’t believe that Academy Award winning actor Cuba Gooding Jr. (who won the Supporting Actor prize as a pro footballer in “Jerry Maguire”) would agree to appear in a movie like this. My only guess is that he saw a connection between “Boat Trip”’s premise and “Some Like it Hot.” What he didn’t see was the definition of the phrase, “tenuous at best.”

I’m not going to talk too much about the movie itself. Most people have heard what it’s about. If you haven’t, the premise is that two womanizing pals are accidentally booked on an all-gay cruise. Well, all gay except for the convenient straight women that also happen to be on board. You guessed it, instead of merely saying, “our travel agent made a mistake but all we have to do is tell these attractive women that we’re really straight and we can be their dates for the duration of the cruise,” the men perpetuate the ruse that they are gay. Of course, there’d be no movie if they didn’t – but given the end result, that outcome would have been preferable.

But let’s get back to Gooding, or more precisely, the fabled “Oscar Curse” that seems to often befall those lauded luminaries of Tinseltown. Now I don’t personally believe in curses (although I love seeing them play out in movies with mummies), but I can understand how some could make the case here. For decades, Hollywood has been littered with feted actors whose post-Oscar® winning performances were followed by barrelfuls of reeking manure. Some of the more infamous examples include:

* Halle Berry (Best Actress for “Monster’s Ball”) went on to headline some really horrible duds like “Gothika” and “Catwoman”

* Roberto Benigni (Best Actor for “Life is Beautiful”) ended up playing the title role in a live-action “Pinocchio” – at the age of 50!

* F. Murray Abraham (Best Actor for “Amadeus”) portrayed the villain in the execrable modern-day update of Laurel & Hardy (that desecrated the cherished memories of those two genius clowns) called “The New Adventures of Laurel & Hardy: for Love or Mummy.”

* Louis Gossett, Jr. (Best Supporting Actor for “An Officer & a Gentleman”) found his career “lost at sea” when he set sail in search of a less-than-great white shark in “Jaws 3-D.”

…and we already talked about Mira Sorvino’s downward spiral after winning Best Supporting Actress for “Mighty Aphrodite” in our February 21st review of “Amongst Friends” (http://latenitelandfill.blogspot.com/2008/02/amongst-friends.html).

But enough about the so-called "curse." What about the “Boat Trip” supporting cast? A mixed bag indeed. Horatio Sanz is here as “the buddy.” He can be funny but usually only in a short-form SNL skit (and even those aren’t “short” anymore – they seriously need editors because they beat what few “jokes” they have to death as it is). I’m guessing the female roles here, performed by Vivaca A. Fox and Roselyn Sanchez are none too demanding and that these usually competent actresses give adequate if unremarkable performances. Looking further down the cast list reveals more interesting support. Richard Roundtree, the original “Shaft” himself, portrays the father of one of the girls. His is a career that helped define “blaxpoitation” and ultimately evolved into a steady stream of character roles. He is always fun to watch (although I’d recommend finding one of his other movies to view). Sir Roger Moore, once a Bond, has, like Robert Wagner, George Hamilton and William Shatner, figured out how to make a career out of portraying a self-parody of his perceived image. Last but not least, I notice Lin Shaye rounds out the supporting cast. She was hysterical in Farrelly Brothers movies such as “Kingpin” and “There’s Something About Mary.” If there are any funny moments in “Boat Trip,” my guess is they come from Shaye.

Speaking of “Kingpin,” it’s hard to believe that movie’s brilliant script was co-written by Mort Nathan – the writer and director of “Boat Trip!” Oh well, you can’t win them all!

View the trailer here:



Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 on Saturday, March 15th at 11:35 PM – if you dare!

Friday, March 7, 2008

"Attraction"

Here we have a movie that plants our feet back firmly on Late Nite Landfill ground. It's a salacious mix of violence, sex, and people bahaving badly.

I did find two descriptions of this movie that seem to contradict one another:

"A newspaper editor who is concerned about an employee stalking his ex-girlfriend soon begins doing the same thing."

---AND---

"A writer/radio advice show host fails to heed his own advice as he stalks his ex-girlfriend and then becomes involved with an actress friend of hers."

Further compounding matters, it appears in the trailer that after a girl's ex-boyfriend stalks her, her current boyfriend stalks the ex-boyfriend.

As the classic song "You say tomato, I say tomato" says, "let's call the whole thing off!"

Leaving the tangled mess of a plot behind, let's talk about the actors.

First, I have to mention poor Tom Everett Scott. Ever since his breakout role in "That Thing You Do," Hollywood just hasn't known what to do with him. It's obvious to me that his engaging, likeable charm is tailor-made for romantic comedies, screwball comedies and family comedies. In fact, not long after "That Thing..." I concocted a treatment for a big-screen remake of "Mister Ed," envisioning Scott as a natural choice to play the talking horse's human confidante, Wilbur. So what does Hollywood do with him? They put him in horror-comedies like "An American Werewolf in Paris," black comedies like "Dead Man on Campus" and (*gasp*) dramas like "Boiler Room" where we were supposed to buy him as a "you scratch my back, I'll break yours" ruthless financial broker. His last movie outing is a reverse of what I had in mind for him in "Mister Ed" - in "Snow Buddies," he's the VOICE of one of the dogs! Shame on you Hollywood, for misusing such an affable talent. In "Attraction," he looks particularly misused, as a seemingly-normal guy turned unhinged. The producers must have thought they had a profound character in this script, as they bill Scott not as "Tom Everett Scott" but as "Thomas."

The three other leading players have all had their share of success and failure over the years. The one who seems to be doing best is the other male lead, Matthew Settle, who currently has a recurring role on the TV show "Gossip Girl" amidst a host of TV and movie credits. Gretchen Mol has been at it for a little while now. People know at least her name, because her name is memorable. More so than her roles, of which the two most notable are probably playing Michael Madsen's girlfriend in "Donnie Brasco" and Christian Bale's wife in "3:10 to Yuma." She does a competent job in these roles which most actresses could essay. Finally, there's Samantha Mathis. She was one of those "it" girls for a while that got cast in a string of projects, but once Julia Stiles, Leelee Sobieski and Erika Christensen came along that was "it" for her.

An element that one of the above descriptions promises is one that's been beaten to death in movies, and usually very poorly done: the "provacative" radio talk show host. "Play Misty for Me" was one thing, having the great Clint Eastwood involved, but since then we've suffered through such depictions in films like "Talk Radio," a host of cable/direct-to-video offerings like "Midnight Confessions" (and I think Andrew Stevens produced some similar entries, too), and the recent execrable offerings "The Night Listener" and "The Brave One."

What more can I say? See for yourself.

View the trailer here:



Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 at 11:35PM on Sunday, March 9th - if you dare!

“The River King”

Here’s a film based on a novel by Alice Hoffman. It stars Ed Burns, who came to notoriety by financing, writing, directing and producing the indie hit “The Brothers McMullen” while he was still a gofer at Entertainment Tonight. Since then, he’s worked pretty steadily in both movies and television, juggling personal projects with work-for-hire gigs (most notably “Saving Private Ryan”). His supporting cast here is a mix of actors from both films and television, including many from Canada (where it appears this film was shot).

This is a “police procedural” with Burns cast as the lead investigating a student’s drowning in a river. This leads to several questions: Was it murder? Suicide? Accidental? Is Burns’ work here merely a dry run for a potentially inevitable stint on one of the many “Law & Order” incarnations? And how can this movie possibly be directed by the same man (Nick Willing) who brought us such disparate entries as the teen sex romp “Road Trip” and the befuddling TV mini-series re-imagining of Oz called “Tin Man?”

Watching the trailer, I have to admit that this doesn’t seem to have the level of “badness” most Late Nite Landfill offerings have. Instead of badness there is a “sameness” evident here – I’m reminded of “The River’s Edge,” “Stand By Me,” “The Gift,” “In the Bedroom,” “Mystic River” and countless others with the dredging of waters to uncover corpses, or tracking the trail in the woods, or both. It also has the elements of “secret societies” and “secret pacts” as seen in “The Skulls,” “Murder by Numbers,” “Scream,” and the little seen Toni Collete vehicle, “Like Minds” (aka “Murderous Intent”), which I wouldn’t be surprised to see make its way to the Landfill at some point. Yes, a heaping helping of sameness, which may put this into the “average” category at best.

Earlier I mentioned the questions this story and movie bring to mind. Now I have a question this trailer brings to mind: why, oh why does the trailer have a horror movie style shock ending?

View the trailer here:



Or watch the entire movie on WABC-TV Channel 7 at 11:35 PM on Saturday, March 8th – if you dare!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

The old "bait & switch!"

Well friends... if you tuned into Channel 7 tonight hoping to see "Sol Goode" - you didn't! They decided to run "Elvis Has Left the Building," aka "Love Me Tender" instead. Based on the trailer, it looks like a romantic comedy (allegedly on both counts).

If I were paranoid, I'd think they did this to throw the Phantom off... but knowing they've shown movies other than what they listed in this slot before, I know it's just one of those things.

Anyway, I probably can't improve upon the skewering you can come up with yourself simply by viewing the trailer.

Watch it here in English:

http://www.trailerfan.com/movie/elvis_has_left_the_building/trailer

...or watch it here in Spanish: