Coming this summer is Spiderman. And, this must be two for one year, as Mel Gibson, Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson are all coming out in two movies by this summer! In fact Affleck and Jackson star in one together and it doesn't look all that good. It's about a mix-up of documents that occurs with two real jerks (played by Affleck and Jackson). Neither Affleck movie looks very good, but the other Samuel L. Jackson film seems like it has potential. That one is about terrorists blowing up an A-Bomb near the White House. The terrorists get the bomb by stealing parts from Russia, making it look like Russia was involved. This looks like a very good B+ action movie or a decent A minus movie. Jackson plays a CIA guy in this movie. Don't expect this movie to be as good as Blade II but it seems like a neat action film...!
Leni Riefenstahl plans to release a documentary on scuba diving this August entitled Underwater Impressions. The 45 minute film is compiled from dives made by her in the Indian Ocean over the last 25 years. The release date will be on her 100th birthday.
For many decades Riefenstahl was virtually the only woman filmmaker talked about in the various cinema history courses taught around the world at universities and colleges, as while there have been a few other women working (such as Dorothy Arzner, who made studio B movies between 1930 and 1960), Riefenstahl's five star documentary work has been considered one of the most impressive and eloquent ever made, placing her at the top of the heap with docu-filmmakers Joris Ivens, Robert Grierson and Basil Wright. To date few women filmmakers have made any of the 'critical lists' allowing them to stand toe to toe with male 'auteurs' such as Steven Speilberg, Alfred Hitchcock, Ingmar Bergman or Stanely Kubrick (one such woman who could make this list would be Penny Marshall whose films such as Big starring Tom Hanks, are considered meritorious but still short of five star quality).
Riefenstahl's two crowning glories are: Olympia a nearly four hour striking documentary of the 1936 Olympic Games held in Munich, Germany (released in 1938) and the propaganda film Triumph of the Will made as show-piece for the German Nazi party that was just coming into major power. 'Will' is generally show in virtually every film class at the major universities as an example of effective propaganda! Because of her work for the Nazi government Riefenstahl was blacklisted by the film industry (even though the French Government cleared her of any war crimes or collaboration with the enemy).
Since that time she has concentrated mostly on still photography, shooting some Olympic pictures for Time magazine and other publications. She became scuba diver and shot an amazing amount of footage underwater during her dives.
Her career began as an actor in the pulp-film genre known in Germany as the 'mountain films' written and directed by Arnold Fanck. These were a kind of action-adventure film series along the lines of the recent movie starring Sylvester Stallone, Cliffhanger, with treks up mountain cliffs and lots of skiing. Riefenstahl obtained financing and put a film crew together and directed her own 'clones' of these mountain films, the best known of which is The Blue Light which is quite a good film for a low budget action movie by anyone's standards.
When the Nazi's came to power all filmmakers were unable to obtain film or processing in Germany, hence when government officials approached her to make a film for them she agreed so she could make movie -- at that time, 1934, no one in the world knew what the Nazi's held in store for humanity other than their apparent ultra-right wing approach to government.
Riefenstahl made a recent appearance in Los Angeles at the Cinecon convention a few years back, where she drew in big crowds of autograph hounds as well as protestors.
Because of the length and nature of this film, it will probably only be shown in the so-called 'art house' cinemas and on cable or PBS television, but based on her impressive history it could end up being nominated from some international awards...
Reviews of Movies in Theaters Now...
A Beautiful Mind
Another movie that got me! I wasn’t expecting the fact that some of the characters were not real. I have never heard of John Forbes Nash Jr. so I went to see this movie ala virgin.
-- Lance Vermont
Queen Of The Damned
I recommend this movie to anyone who is an Anne Rice fan. This movie is much better than the other move “Interview With A Vampire” though that was a good flick in itself.
With Aaliyah as Akasha the mother of all vampires the movie is set. Stuart Townsend is Lestat, the rock and roll vampire who calls out to the hiding vampires, “Come out, come out, where ever you are!” in his hottest songs and boy, do they ever come out.
Oh yes, there is a love story in the middle but you have to find it yourself. Enjoy!
-- Lance Vermont
The Time Machine
Let’s go a little native...
I went expecting to dislike this movie and it isn’t that bad of a film. It’s a nice little B movie from an A studio (Dreamworks).
The original Time Machine was probably the best film ever produced by George Pal, who was an animator who made Puppetoons in Eastern Europe for Phillips Radio and then came to America and produced them for Paramount. He got into live action films and produced Destination Moon and War Of The Worlds both respected, credible science fiction movies in an era of Godzilla and Queen of Outer Space.
The Time Machine was one of the first movies shot in England by M-G-M for economy reasons. It was also one of the cornerstones of the special effects company (Effects Unlimited, made up of Tim Baer Wah Chang and Gene Warren ) who would go on to do most of the effects for television’s the Outer Limits in the 1960s. It starred Rod Taylor, one of the rugged he-man types from the 1960s and Yvette Mimieux as Weena the young Eloi who befriends our time traveler (he was, as I recall, unnamed in the book by Wells, but given the name George in the 1960 movie). The plot was a major concern to H.G. Wells - war. The movie dealt with World War I, II and the mythical A-bomb war III which put an end to most life above the Earth, forcing man into the fall out shelters.
In this new version it’s about the concept of “What If...?!” What if I go back in time and change something, which can’t be done. Our hero (Alexander Hartdegen in this version, played by Guy Pearce) tries to go back in time to save the life of his girl friend, Emma, but she is doomed to death in any time-line. So he goes forward to find out more about time and why it can’t be changed from his 19th Century era into later in our 21st Century when we are about the colonize the moon. They detonated A-bombs to clear underground areas for colonization and in the process caused a break up of the moon, showering debris to the Earth, forcing man underground.
Accidentally going way into the future (he was knocked unconscious from a piece of moon rock) the Earth is made all lush and green again. The “Eloi” are indigenous Indians like those dwelling on cliffs in South America, except this is New York city.
A woman (Samantha Mumba) named Mara and her young brother take the injured time traveler in after his machine slows to a halt. The Morlocks in this version come out during daylight hours, climb very well, fight very well, have no real aversion to sunlight. They still herd the “Eloi” and take them underground as a source of food (cannibalism) and Mara is taken just like Weena in the original. The younger brother takes him to a place that leads to the underground world. At this place he finds a computerized library reference center that he had first seen back in the 21st century before the moon exploded. This holodeck program that talks to you like a virtual librarian in some Britannica CD disk offering, tells him how to find the way down. He goes down, finds a civilizations of various castes including hunters, workers and thinkers.
I was unable to anticipate anything in this movie, which is unusually as I can usually figure out what will happen next. So this makes for a nice movie when I can't tell the ending in the first ten minutes! This is not a great movie, but it’s not a bad movie either. It’s a solid 2 and ¾ star movie. More worth my $8.50 than Swordfish or Ghosts of Mars and possibly a tad better than Tomb Raider. Well made, decent writing, good effects, a very interesting time machine with brass gears and wheels that look like they were indeed made in the late 19th century by artisan clock makers. Also features a cameo by Alan Young, who played Filby in the 1960 version (he's a flower shop clerk in this version). H.G. Wells grandson, an animation producer, worked on this film in a major capacity...
Speaking of Time and Clocks and Time Machines I saw a preview of Clock Stoppers which is kind of a semi-kids movie aimed at a teeny market and something akin to that TV show called Sliders. The effects look good. The film seems cute and with a few jokes, especially the dog and the meter maid scene! If you’re looking for a silly date movie this might be it! Akin to Legally Blonde or Scarey Movie.
Blade II Wesley Snipes (who is a real Karate guy with a real black belt -- he's never made a super big thing out of this unlike some movie guys) returns to kick butt and chop heads!
Jodie Foster stars in The Panic Room which also opens real soon!
Neither film is in preview, which isn't a good sign. It's either a lack of confidence of the film or an indication that both films are better than we might think. I hesitate to say how I lean, but a lack of trailer support makes me think neither film may be up to snuff, still I like both Snipes and Foster. Blade II couldn't be any worst than any other Karate film out in recent times and Snipes is always good on screen, so I'd go see it at least at the low cost noon hour slot!
Tom Cruise stars in a new Steven Spielberg film that comes out this summer called Minority Report that deals with the concept of stopping crime by arresting criminals before the crime actually happens! A concept done excellently by television's Outer Limits a few years ago as a time traveller executes crimials long before they do their crimes.