Sliver Recap

Jamie

After Carly Norris moves into a swanky new apartment in a sliver building everything seems grand. In particular the hot 20-something and the hot sex they have which is hot. What’s decidedly not cool is all the murders and stuff. Can she figure out what’s going on (and perhaps snag some sweet creepy Billy Baldwin action) before it’s too late? Find out in… Sliver.

How?! Carly Norris is a book editor who’s moving on up and moving on from a string of disastrous relationships. She finds a new apartment in a sliver building that seems to fit the bill. As she meets her new neighbors she’s taken by a young video game designer, Zeke, that seems a little too good to be true. In contrast there is an older writer, Jack, that seems to fit her usual type (and we know how that turned out). Over time she starts to get some weirdo feelings about what has happened in the building and after the death of one of the other tenants learns that the highrise has been the site of multiple grisly murders in the last few years. Bad luck or something more? Don’t ask Carly cause she and Zeke start to get hot and heavy and that… pretty much distracts her for most of the movie. They have sex everywhere and it seems like our boy Creepy Zekey (CZ for short) has caught some feelings cause he comes clean: not only is he the owner of the building but he, you know, kinda maybe sorta tricked out the entire place with a thousand video cameras and watches everyone all the time like a total CZ. But she still loves him, right? As they start to watch the footage together and continue their love affair, Jack becomes more and more crazy and all kinds of bad things start to happen in the building. Astute viewers will at this point be like “aha, I smell a red herring! It’s not Jack at all, but rather CZ.” Wrong! Just a regular old herring here because eventually Jack confronts Carly in her apartment and after a struggle Carly shoots him dead. Astute viewers will at this point be like “aha, Jack simply cracked under the cloud of suspicion, but in fact it’s still CZ all along.” Wrong! Still plain old herring as Carly dives into CZ’s video collection and finds proof that Jack indeed was the murderer. Unfortunately she also discovers that he is a fuck boy and a liar and she’s not down for that and so she destroys his video equipment and is like “deal with it.” THE END.

Why?! I feel like I’ve been struggling to grasp the motivations in some of these films lately. Maybe because I’ve been reading the books, which are just better mediums for conveying inner thoughts, and so that confuses the issue when the adaptations start to veer off course. But here goes. Carly wants love after wasting her years on some failed relationships. In the movie she is certainly more lonely and the distraction of the love affair seems more lust driven than anything else. Lust isn’t a big part of the book, probably because the book is more a horror book than an erotic thriller book. CZ is a voyeur, although in the book this goes hand in hand with him being a pathological liar. Everything in his life is driven by his voyeurism.

Who?! Been a while since we had a true blue Thanks credit that seemed interesting. Here Hans Bjerno got a thanks. He was a wescam technician at the time and really early in his career having just done his first job the year before for Basic Instinct. So I guess that early on he just got a thanks… but after that he’s big time. Like he just did Bad Boys for Life and Tenet.

What?! As Patrick points out, there isn’t much there for this other than the angle they took with Zeke being a video game designer and so there are a lot of conspicuous games and books that portray that fact in an interesting way (to us). It’s funny cause in the book I’m pretty sure the implication is that he’s lying about designing video games. He’s incredibly and independently wealthy and I think the point is that it’s a career he could pretend to have that most people wouldn’t understand that he could conceivably do from home… so he could hide the fact that he spends all his time watching people on his cameras. Then in the adaptation they seemed to miss that point and made it all so very real.

Where?! New York City for days. We’ve had a couple real good NYC films recently. This is funny just from the sliver building point of view just because they were kind of NYC specific. There had been a number built into the 80’s, but then there was push back and they were effectively outlawed at the time of both the book and the film… so I wonder if it was just more common to know what a sliver building was at the time. A.

When?! Hmmm, in the book everything takes place in the fall and then approaching Christmas… clearly from the weather that’s also the case here, but I don’t think it’s ever super clear. But come on… you think our boy Tommy Berenger would be sporting a heavy hoodie sweatshirt on anything but a crisp fall day? There is a chance there is something clearer in the film, but I just didn’t catch it, so we’ll call it a D+ for now.

The movie is certainly funny in that special 90’s sort of way. Like Billy Baldwin is a video game designer/1337 h4x0r and his come on to the ladies is like “I love volcanoes, check out this glass volcano I have,” and it’s like weird glass sculpture. And she doesn’t laugh straight in his face. She’s like cool volcano let’s have sex. And then she’s so distracted by the sex that she doesn’t immediately realize that he’s a weirdo creepster voyeur… even after he tells her. Anyway, that’s not really the problem. It’s funny but also a bit mundane and that would have probably been OK if not for the end of the film. They changed the ending so the obvious creepster weirdo is in fact not the murderer and my brain cannot accept that. Apparently it was foisted on them after the (more interesting) original ending bombed with focus groups… the one where Zeke is the killer and crashes a plane into a volcano… for real… it would have been amazing. As for the book, I actually really liked it. Short and sweet, you could easily breeze through it on a single day of vacation. The ending still isn’t good (a cat claws out the bad guys eyeballs in the end… cause he’s a voyeur… get it?) and it’s got some classic weird book ideas about the intoxicating effects of voyeurism, which probably tells us more about the author than society writ large, but it’s way more satisfying than the film. I think it at least has more to chew on in assessing the motivations of a pathological liar and how the lies all feed his underlying obsession. Easily the best I’ve read of this cycle. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! A landlord adds a few cameras to a building and the neo-Luddite tenants flip out! That is decidedly not the storyline of Sliver. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – This was Jamie’s choice for the new category this year, replacing Sci-Fi (which is just a very narrow genre and mostly fits into action or horror) with Achievement Unlocked. There are, indeed, only so many erotic thrillers of the 90s available, so I actually think we’ll be able to pretty much sweep this mini-genre up. I think that is mostly what this category is all about, sub-genres that wouldn’t normally get their own category. Mine this year I think will be “sports movies.” Regardless, that is what the preview was dominated by, the fact that this was an erotic thriller and how unerotic and unthrilling it was. What were my expectations? Well, I like Sharon Stone. I think she got unnecessary flack for getting typecast into sexy roles, just go and read the notes about how Sly treated her during the filming of The Specialist. But I hope she made a boatload of money and doesn’t regret a thing, and I hope she’s good in the film and everything else is ludicrous.

The Good – I really do like Sharon Stone. Something about her just comes across as authentic to me. I love the profession of book publisher or editor in film because it is extremely prevalent in book adaptations (Fifty Shades of Grey, and the After series come to mind) and there is something about writers writing about writing this is just so delightfully self-indulgent. There is something very prescient about the voyeur and the connection to state surveillance, although I’m not smart enough to articulate it. And finally, I love the idea of a film where people are merely known by apartment numbers. Stone lives in 20b, Gus was in 23b, Vida was in 20a, and Zeke in 13a. Only missing Berenger. Best Bit: Sharon Stone.

The Bad – I just can’t believe they are seriously trying to make me look at William Baldwin doing his 80s exercise routine and be like “ooooooo yeah, him and Sharon Stone, I see it, I dig it.” He must have been choice 50 for the male lead. There is a whole thing about volcanos that I just don’t get. The entire twist is nonsense. They ended up reediting it into Berenger being impotent and jealous of Zeke so he murders the previous tenant Naomi … that doesn’t make a lick of sense! But of course the gravest sin of all for an erotic thriller: it isn’t erotic or thrilling. Just a bunch of mundane sex with a rich weirdo who thinks everyone smells like roses.  Fatal Flaw: Maybe the least sexy erotic thriller ever made.

The BMT – This film as chosen specifically as a 90s erotic thrillers. I don’t think this is a very good one though. It doesn’t even get close to The Color of Night or even Body of Evidence. But you can’t rank erotic thrillers from the 90s without it, so it needed to be done. Baldwin saves it from blandness by being one of the more absurd casting choices ever with a weirdo character to boot. Did it meet my expectations? Yeah, I think so. I don’t think it was as absurd as something like The Color of Night, as I said. It was a little too mundane and confusing to do that. But Stone was good, and the writing was terrible, so that’s a solid 90s erotic thriller I think.

Roast-radamus – A bit of Product Placement (What?) in Zeke’s apartment with a bunch of video game boxes and posters, like the original Civilization. A good Setting as a Character (Where?) for New York City where, much like Rosemary’s Baby, the desire for a prestigious address outweighs concerns about mysterious deaths. Definitely Worst Twist (How?) for the big reveal that … Berenger is the murderer? Wait, that can’t be right. Definitely closest to BMT, as all erotic thrillers tend to be.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Oh this is easy. We make a Backdraft 2 for this movie, Sliver 2. The story goes like this, the building still exists and it is intimated that after the events of the first film Zeke managed to avoid prosecution and retain his building by blackmailing Carly into silence. And for years he’s existed there, making video games, watching his real life soap opera, but crippled by fear that Carly will eventually get her revenge (but ready if she tries). Then one day who shows up, but a young man who claims to be his son, Carly’s son from their tryst all those years ago. Zeke, suspicious at first, slowly introduces him to the building, it is now connected to the internet, streaming the “show” to select viewers, his clientele across the globe. After getting his son to be part of the “show” he has leverage over him and feels safe in allowing him full access to his world. Then, a young woman shows up that his protege shows some interest in, and so Zeke gets her into the building and begins to try and push his son to the edge. The tension mounts, his son is resistant, Zeke’s viewers are going wild … but in an ultimate twist the man and woman turn the tables on Zeke and, indeed, expose him as a voyeur to the world. The man is, it turns out, not his son, it is the woman who is his daughter! Boom, huge cameo right at the end when Sharon Stone shows up with the police and says “your show’s been cancelled, Zeke.” Sliver 2: Webisodes. Or like … maybe Webicide? Has anyone used that pun before, Webicide? It’s terrible and I love it.

You Just Got Schooled – Would I dare to play one of the video games we see in Zeke’s apartment? I would. I bought Night Trap, a full motion video interactive movie from 1992 which, amusingly, was one of the main video games interrogated during the 1993 Senate hearing on violence in video games. Unfortunately for me there was a 25th anniversary edition of the game on Steam, so I couldn’t bring myself to just download the game on an abandonware site, I did actually pay like $15 for it … so that made me feel pretty dumb. It ended up being a pretty amusing play. You watch a (very very bad) movie while switching cameras and clicking a button about 80 times during the story. Very similar to something like Five Nights at Freddy’s, except with an 80s cable film behind it. It ended up being unreasonably amusing to play for about 2 hours, and quite easy to beat within 3 I would say. It is somehow an important part of gaming history, with a bad movie, and found within a different big budget bad movie! Unfortunately none of the actors from the film are in anything else, otherwise we’d definitely be doing a Night Trap friend cycle in the fall. A-. The game is terrible by gaming standards, but by bad movie standards it is amazing. Just don’t pay $15 for it, that part wasn’t fun.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Sliver Quiz

Man, so hear me out. I moved into this swanky high rise, and all these people start being murdered! I don’t really know much about it, but I did get invited to a cocktail party and got real drunk and now I don’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Sliver?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Early in the film Carly Norris is approached by an older man who wants to discuss some of the gossip of the building she is moving into. Why?

2) Jack Landsford is an author, and Carly Norris publishes books. But Jack hasn’t written a book in 5 years, why not?

3) Who owns the “haunted building” and why is it so secret?

4) Why does Zeke suggest he watches everyone in the building?

5) Where is Zeke’s hidden compartment and what does Carly find inside?

Bonus Question: How long does it take Zeke to get his sweet voyeur system back up and running?

Answers

Sliver Preview

Jamie and Patrick creep around the water fountain of the local mall and espy Pretzel Stand Rachel doling out hot, fresh pretzels. “So what’s the plan, again? I’m not sure I understand,” Jamie says, pulling uncomfortably as his tie, his muscles nearly popping the buttons on his shirt. “Ok, so Rachel is in the book,” explains Patrick, “just like St. Mary’s Church. So our doppelgangers must have left something with her… some bread crumb on the trail to wherever this leads. So it’s your turn to buy a piping hot pretzel and… you know… see what happens.” Jamie arches an eyebrow, unconvinced, while Patrick shrugs. It’s worth a shot. Jamie ambles up to Rachel and from the distance Patrick sees him lean over and say something probably super sauve. They laugh at a joke and Rachel swats him playfully. Excellent. With that she takes off her apron and beckons Jamie to follow her, who quickly flashes a thumbs up to Patrick. What the hell? Jamie didn’t get a clue? Not a slip of paper with some page number on it? Where the hell are they going? Patrick continues to follow the pair as they head through the park. They skip stones on the pod, spend some time in the museum, ride bicycles in the rain, and finally settle in for some gelato at a hip gelato spot. Why is Jamie going on a full on date when they need to be tracking down their diabolical fiends? And why are laughing and living so much? Finally Jamie and Rachel head towards a tall building on the edge of the park. Patrick’s had enough and hurries to catch up. Time to stop whatever erotic thrills Jamie might have on his mind and get this investigation back on track. That’s right! We’re replacing sci-fi in the cycle this year. While we love sci-fi, it’s also a genre that can fit in action, horror, etc. So we removed it as a standalone and replaced it with Achievement Unlocked. What that means is that we will attempt to go after a certain subtype of film this year in that slot. This year that subtype will be the Thrills and Chills of the 90’s. So of course what exemplifies 90’s fun like a 90’s erotic thriller. Enter Sliver, based on the book by Ira Levin. It’s about a big ol’ building that’s probably some metaphor for a penis or something. Let’s go!

Sliver (1993) – BMeTric: 58.0; Notability: 46 

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 3.2%; Notability: top 18.9%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 5.7% Higher BMeT: Super Mario Bros., RoboCop 3, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Leprechaun, Mr. Nanny, Cop & ½; Higher Notability: Last Action Hero, Hocus Pocus, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, RoboCop 3, The Meteor Man, Rising Sun, Coneheads, We’re Back! A Dinosaur’s Story, Loaded Weapon 1, Life with Mikey, Son of the Pink Panther, The Pickle, The Three Musketeers, Indecent Proposal; Lower RT: RoboCop 3, Son of the Pink Panther, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Mr. Nanny, Hexed, Best of the Best II, Carnosaur, Father Hood, Weekend at Bernie’s II, Calendar Girl; Notes: Existed mostly as a sub-5.0 film so not at all a surprise it kills the BMeTric. This is actually one of the more impressive statistical performances for a BMT this year, so I hope it is a good BMT.

Leonard Maltin – 2 stars – Stone moves into a tall, slender, and luxurious Manhattan apartment building with a history of unusual deaths. Writer Berenger pursues her, though she’s more interested in Baldwin; however, she soon comes to suspect one of the two is a killer. Robert Evans’ handsomely produced sex-and-murder mystery (emphasis on sex) was severely damaged by reshooting (which changed the identity of the killer), but Joe Eszterhas’ script was already pretentious and exploitative. From Ira Levin’s novel.

(That is a huge review for the Leonard Maltin books. So basically, glossy, cut-to-ribbons, and pretentious. Sounds like quite the erotic thriller …)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rdSIyG6euDY/

(I think that is actually a really compelling trailer. The idea of moving into an apartment, where someone is watching you at all times and manipulating the entire building, and perfect murders are staged as accidents by this all knowing eye? What is still pretty relevant in our far more technologically advanced age today.)

Directors – Phillip Noyce – (Known For: Salt; Clear and Present Danger; Patriot Games; Above Suspicion; Dead Calm; Rabbit-Proof Fence; Blind Fury; The Quiet American; Catch a Fire; Heatwave; Echoes of Paradise; Newsfront; Backroads; Future BMT: The Saint; The Giver; The Bone Collector; BMT: Sliver; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director for Sliver in 1994; Notes: Australian. The Quiet American had an Oscar nominated performance, and he’s still going strong in both movies and television.)

Writers – Ira Levin (novel) – (Known For: Rosemary’s Baby; The Stepford Wives; The Boys from Brazil; Deathtrap; A Kiss Before Dying; Bunny Lake Is Missing; Critic’s Choice; No Time for Sergeants; Future BMT: The Stepford Wives; A Kiss Before Dying; BMT: Sliver; Notes: Nominated for a Tony for his play Deathtrap. Started in anthology television like Lights Out.)

Joe Eszterhas (screenplay) – (Known For: Basic Instinct; Jagged Edge; F.I.S.T; Showgirls 2: Penny’s from Heaven; Betrayed; Music Box; An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn; Telling Lies in America; Hearts of Fire; Big Shots; Szabadság, szerelem; Checking Out; Future BMT: Showgirls; Nowhere to Run; Flashdance; BMT: Basic Instinct 2; Sliver; Jade; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Screenplay, Worst Supporting Actor, Worst New Star, and Worst Original Song for An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn in 1999; Winner for Worst Screenplay for Showgirls in 1996; Winner for Worst New Star for An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn in 1999; and Nominee for Worst Screenplay in 1984 for Flashdance; in 1994 for Sliver; and in 1996 for Jade; Notes: Born in Hungary, he was originally a journalist, most notable at Rolling Stone. Got into screenwriting after writing Charlie Simpson’s Apocalypse which a studio executive loved.)

Actors – Sharon Stone – (Known For: Basic Instinct; Casino; Total Recall; The Quick and the Dead; The Disaster Artist; Alpha Dog; The Laundromat; Lovelace; Antz; Broken Flowers; Above the Law; Deadly Blessing; Bobby; Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold; Life on the Line; The Mighty; Stardust Memories; Mothers and Daughters; Fading Gigolo; A Little Something for Your Birthday; Future BMT: Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol; Cold Creek Manor; King Solomon’s Mines; Diabolique; Action Jackson; Intersection; Gloria; Sphere; He Said, She Said; Last Dance; Last Action Hero; Year of the Gun; BMT: Catwoman; Basic Instinct 2; Sliver; The Specialist; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Actress in 1995 for Intersection, and The Specialist; and in 2007 for Basic Instinct 2; Winner for Worst Screen Couple in 1995 for Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles, and The Specialist; Nominee for Worst Actress in 1988 for Allan Quatermain and the Lost City of Gold; in 1994 for Sliver; and in 2000 for Gloria; Nominee for Worst Supporting Actress, and Worst Screen Couple for Catwoman in 2005; and Nominee for Worst New Star in 1997 for Diabolique, and Last Dance; Notes: Stone was still on the rise at this point. She would be nominated for an Oscar in 1996, get married in 1998, and her major stardom would be over by 2000.)

William Baldwin – (Known For: Forgetting Sarah Marshall; Backdraft; The Squid and the Whale; Flatliners; Born on the Fourth of July; Internal Affairs; Bulworth; Aftermath; Curdled; Maximum Impact; Noise; Three of Hearts; Relative Values; Adrift in Manhattan; Welcome to Acapulco; Park; The Broken Key; Dino Time; You Stupid Man; Say Nothing; Future BMT: Virus; BMT: Fair Game; Sliver; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Actor for Sliver in 1994; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for Fair Game in 1996; Notes: You could argue this is right at the beginning of him almost being a legit movie star. He would star in eight films in the 90s, but then his leading career would be over by 2000. The second youngest of the Baldwin brothers.)

Tom Berenger – (Known For: Inception; Platoon; Training Day; Major League; The Big Chill; Faster; Born on the Fourth of July; Gettysburg; Sniper: Ultimate Kill; Supervized; Quad; Mr. Goodbar; The Sentinel; D-Tox; Deadly Pursuit; Eddie and the Cruisers; The Dogs of War; The Substitute; Fear City; Someone to Watch Over Me; Future BMT: Major League II; Chasers; Sniper; Shattered; Rustlers’ Rhapsody; BMT: Sliver; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for Sliver in 1994; Notes: He would do Sniper, Sliver, Gettysburg, Major League II, and Chasers in a three year span as his second peak as an actor. Nominated for an Oscar for Platoon.)

Budget/Gross – $30–40 million / Domestic: $36,300,000 (Worldwide: $116,300,000)

(Failed domestically to some extent, but I would bet they were reasonably happy with the international take. Erotic thrillers really were cooking at the time.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 11% (3/27): Sliver is an absurd erotic thriller with technobabble and posits prime Sharon Stone as a professional book nerd.

(Well, I don’t know if we really need to posit anything about Stone. She’s an editor at a publishing house, and I think quite believable in the role. At least the same believability as Robin Wright being a journalist in Message in a Bottle. Now whether she would be attracted to Baldwin however… Reviewer Highlight: Sharon Stone goes cold in this botched thiller-maybe from the effort of pretending that her character, a beauteous book editor, would fall for the preening young computer wizard played by the vacant-and-proud-of-it William Baldwin. – Michael Sragow, New Yorker)

Poster – In Your Endo

(The artistic effect of this is good. And the colors are stark, particularly with the font work. I think in each of its parts I like it, even if the whole seems a bit confused. So can’t go much lower than a B-. I wish it meshed a bit more. I can’t stress how hilarious the names on the poster are for an erotic thriller. It’s like “Sharon Stone, nice. Billy Baldwin, uh, ok. Tom Berenger, lol what?”)

Tagline(s) – You like to watch… don’t you

(I’m trying to figure out just how good this one is. It’s obviously a play on the concept of the film, but also plays on the very idea of an erotic thriller. So even though it’s not a fun pun like I generally like, it might be the cleverest tagline I’ve come across. I’m going to do it. A+.)

Keyword – ambiguous ending

Top 10: War Dogs (2016), Shutter Island (2010), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Interstellar (2014), Inception (2010), Joker (2019), The Dark Knight (2008), Titanic (1997), American Psycho (2000), Kong: Skull Island (2017)

Future BMT: 63.7 The Crow: City of Angels (1996), 63.0 Blair Witch (2016), 56.8 The Transporter Refueled (2015), 53.6 Lost Souls (2000), 26.6 Broken City (2013), 21.3 The Warrior’s Way (2010), 21.2 The First Power (1990), 19.5 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), 19.3 Now You See Me 2 (2016), 7.5 The Thirteenth Floor (1999);

BMT: Serenity (2019), Fast & Furious (2009), Rambo: Last Blood (2019), Ghost Ship (2002), Countdown (2019), Death Wish (2018), Truth or Dare (2018), Queen of the Damned (2002), Sliver (1993), Jason X (2001), Alone in the Dark (2005), The Devil Inside (2012), Never Die Alone (2004)

(I wonder how much of the peak is because of “twist” endings like The Sixth Sense, and surprise endings like Blair Witch? Hard to tell from the lists. I am excited for The First Power, a film I’ve never heard of where a murderer named Patrick comes back to life to kill again!)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 19) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Sharon Stone is No. 1 billed in Sliver and No. 3 billed in Catwoman, which also stars Frances Conroy (No. 5 billed) who is in The Wicker Man (No. 4 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 5 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 3 + 5 + 4 + 5 + 1 = 19. If we were to watch The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 11.

Notes – According to Phillip Noyce, Sharon Stone and William Baldwin disliked each other and demanded that their scenes be filmed separately whenever possible.

While filming a kissing scene, Sharon Stone bit William Baldwin’s tongue with such force that he couldn’t talk properly for days afterwards.

During filming, a crew was sent to Hawaii to film an active volcano for the opening credits. During the flyover, the volcano erupted, and the helicopter carrying the crew crashed. No one was killed, but all film was lost. The opening credit scene is referenced in the film by the crystal volcano in Zeke’s Room. (I think this was supposed to be the ending as well)

As part of the re-shot ending, Tom Berenger and Polly Walker were required to film a scene wearing S&M gear. Both actors refused as this wasn’t in their original contract, so the scene had to be filmed by doubles. (And … isn’t in the film from what I remember?)

Johnny Depp and Val Kilmer turned down the role of Zeke Hawkins. (Kilmer would have been cool)

The script originally called for full male frontal nudity, but William Baldwin changed his mind after the scenes had been shot. (hmmmmmm)

Joe Eszterhas’s original ending was incomprehensible to test audiences and an alternate ending had to be quickly devised and shot. Eszterhas cracked out five different endings in three days. (So apparently this was the reveal that Stone is in the helicopter with Zeke indicating that she bought into his lifestyle or something)

Sharon Stone signed for the lead for $2.5 million.

Ira Levin was reluctant to sell the rights to his book. He had only been pleased with the movie adaptation of Rosemary’s Baby (1968) out of all the attempts to film his novels. When producer Robert Evans, who had produced Rosemary’s Baby, got wind of this, he sent Levin a copy of Roman Polanski’s autobiography, with all the mentions of Evans’ salvaging the film highlighted. The ploy worked and Levin sold the rights to Evans for $250,000.

The helicopter crash in which Mike Benson (II), Chris Duddy and pilot Craig were involved, was documented in the 6th episode of the 2nd season of I Shouldn’t Be Alive (2005). (Huh cool)

Kurt Russell turned down the role of Jack Lansford. (Also a better choice … this entire film outside of Stone seems like B-movie second-choices)

According to his autobiography, producer Robert Evans initially wanted Roman Polanski to direct the film. Since Polanski will not return to the United States, Evans planned on having a second unit director shoot some footage of New York, whilst Polanski would direct the film in Paris. (gross)

The original script called for a different ending in which Zeke (William Baldwin) turns out to be the killer, but was re-shot when it fared poorly with test audiences.

Written by Ira Levin, author of Rosemary’s Baby, there are similarities: both are set in an expensive New York City hotel (albeit this one is super modern, the other is old style) that the main character, a woman, moves into; the woman meets a friendly resident who dies not long after meeting them; there is a secret (or two) hidden within the building and its inhabitants that takes the entire film for her to learn about.

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Picture (Robert Evans, 1994)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (William Baldwin, 1994)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actress (Sharon Stone, 1994)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actor (Tom Berenger, 1994)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress (Colleen Camp, 1994)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Phillip Noyce, 1994)

Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Screenplay (Joe Eszterhas, 1994)

Confessions of a Shopaholic Recap

Jamie

Rebecca Bloomwood has a problem. She’s deep in debt and she just got a job at a financial magazine. The irony! While doling out advice and trying to overcome her crippling shopping obsession, she’s also trying to evade her debt collector. Can she avoid public embarrassment (and perhaps get the guy) before it’s too late? Find out in… Confessions of a Shopaholic.

How?! Rebecca Bloomwood has big dreams. She wants a place in the world of fashion, writing for the top magazine Alette. Unfortunately she’s stuck at a gardening magazine while blowing all her money (and more) on the latest trends (that honestly and objectively look hideous). When she fails to get an interview at Alette she settles for an interview at the financial magazine Successful Saving helmed by Luke Brandon. She blows the interview and while drinking to forget that (and her crippling debt) she writes two letters: one to Alette telling everything she wished she could, and a second to Successful Saving raking them over the coals. Unfortunately in her drunken stupor she mixes up the letters! Uh oh! Or not so ‘uh oh’ as her spunk gets her a job at Successful Saving after all. Despite the irony of her position, Rebecca immediately charms everyone around her and starts churning out a wildly successful column tying sensible financing to the financial troubles she’s experiencing under the pseudonym The Girl in the Green Scarf. Soon she’s falling for her boss, booking appearances on TV, and trying everything to avoid her debt collector. Unfortunately on her big TV interview day disaster strikes and her debt collector is in the audience. The fallout is immense as not only does she lose her job, but her boss is also forced out. Realizing that her shopaholic tendencies have ruined all the relationships around her (including the one with her best friend), Rebecca declines a job offer from Alette to work on herself. Through Shopaholics Anonymous she organizes an auction of all her clothes (including her signature scart) and pays off her debt. Rebecca mends her relationships and finally runs into Luke, who reveals that he in fact bought her scarf and that he wants her to work with him at his new company. They then smooch a bunch probably. THE END.

Why?! Love, duh. Actually I take that back. This film is probably one of the least love-centric rom coms I can remember. Luke is very much a side character and they barely kiss before her addiction derails things. The film is much more interested in exploring the root of her addiction than love… at least on the surface. So I guess the motivation is, uh, shopping.

Who?! Funny cameo in this one as one of the members of Shopaholics Anonymous is John Salley. Yes, 4-time NBA champion and 0-time all-star John Salley. Not nearly his only BMT film, either as he also appeared in the film Eddie and Bad Boys II. I learned from wiki that he was friends with Eddie Murphy and used to do some stand up when he was on the Pistons. He was funny in this.

What?! Uhhhhhhhh, I mean, the film is a giant advertisement. It would actually be hard to list anything of particular significance as so many brands were spotlighted that they kinda washed each other out. The only thing I’ll reiterate is that I thought that a fair number of Fisher’s outfits were objectively terrible to the point where I wondered if the point was that she would realize that she was meant to be a financial writer rather than a fashion writer.

Where?! Big time NYC film, which is interesting as it’s not till the second book that the Shopaholic series went to America (and even then, just for that entry). A little weird they changed the setting and made Rebecca America, but whatever. Sprinkled in a little Miami too for good measure. A-. Could have been London.

When?! Another film, another purposeful dodging of the temporal setting. There are multiple parts where they could easily have dropped a “Sale of the Century, March 2nd” in there but they didn’t. Clearly this took place in winter and into the early Spring just given the general attire and mood of NYC. But never specified. D.

This is a hard film to review. On the one hand it’s a generic rom com that has some charming actors, some nice to look at locales, and literally no surprises (if you’re into that kind of thing). On the other hand, it takes everything good about the book and throws it in the trash in favor of shameless and mostly off-putting consumerism. I guess as far as a straightforward rom com my biggest gripe is the lack of love. There doesn’t seem to be much building of the Isla Fisher/Hugh Dancy love connection and can we get more than just a very PG-rated smooch? As far as the consumerism goes, I think this suffers mostly in trying to fit a not-very-generic rom com book into a generic rom com package. The idea of the book is kinda that Rebecca is actually very qualified for financial writing because she sees through all the lies that everyone is fed by the financial institutions because she herself has been duped into debt by them over and over. That’s a very prominent part of the book, her snide remarks as she listens to financial PR campaigns. They threw that all away in favor of someone who seemingly just bumbles and stumbles her way to success by mostly looking at her shopping bags and being like “credit cards are like… empty shopping bags…” and people are like ‘Brilliant!’ That being said, I also didn’t like the book very much. Rebecca is a giant liar in the book and it’s hard to take at times as she just keeps lying and lying and lying. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! A film about rampant consumerism literally moments after the financial collapse? What is this, Sex and the City 3?! Kind of, yeah. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I swear to god I’ve been racking my brain trying to figure out how to not do this film. It just is one of those films I didn’t really have an interest in. I figured it would be boring, and if not boring it would just be Sex and the City, and if not that it would be like … a bad adaptation of the book or something. Hugh Dancy was the only thing that gave me hope, he tends to be in weird secretly-good BMT films like the weirdo animated Oz film where he was a nutcracker. What were my expectations? An unfunny film that mostly people hated because of the rampant consumerism which was unbecoming in 2009.

The Good – Isla Fisher and Hugh Dancy are very charming and play their roles well. Actually, all of the actors do a serviceable job in the film. Outside of the context of the financial collapse the consumerism is probably not quite so disgusting. Really good NYC film with a very out of place excursion to Miami. Very much felt like they left NYC solely because that’s what Hollywood films are supposed to do. Best Bit: Isla Fisher.

The Bad – Much like Sex and the City the comsumerism is really gross feeling in 2020, and the film isn’t funny. The humor is actually mostly like The Office, which I guess makes sense considering this came out in the middle of its most popular run, but the awkwardness is a bit of a shock watching in 2020. The main character is also quite unappealing. If she was just a shopaholic that would be okay, that’s something she needs to learn to get over, good for her. But she’s also a compulsive liar, and the lies are what actually gets her in trouble. Why anyone would ever believe a word she says is beyond me. Fatal Flaw: Dated humor.

The BMT – Well, I don’t think I’ll ever think of this film again. Probably, the main issue is the film is kind of okay? I didn’t mind it. Isla Fisher saved it to a large degree. I can’t imagine a single situation in which I would recommend anyone watch this film … huh, usually at the very least people could marvel at a bad-BMT film for its blandness, but this is just not really much of a film if you don’t care for the book series. Did it meet my expectations? Kind of, I do think that the rampant consumerism is why the film got terrible reviews. It would get terrible reviews today as well though for its dated awkward humor, so nothing has changed for it unfortunately.

Roast-radamus – This might actually be the greatest Product Placement (What?) in the history of BMT. Is “all fashion brands” a valid product placement? Do you think any of them had to pay for their placement? Solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for New York City. I won’t count Miami, but that is one of the worst uses of a city in a film I’ve ever seen. And a small Worst Twist (How?) for the reveal that Dancy was both bidders for the green scarf at the end. Like why both? Why not outbid the actual people there? Whatever. Closest to Good in my opinion with some distance from the financial collapse.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – This is obviously prime for a Netflix streaming remake. It is already a book series so you have built in stories for multiple seasons. From what I can tell the movie isn’t super faithful to the book, so you have an opportunity to draw in fans there as well. And you move it to London (with Rebecca still being from the US) and you have some real Emily in Paris energy going. I can see it now, a woman, trying to escape her financial obligations in the US, moves to the UK to try and turn her life around. Initially lying about her experience and her financial situation (to employers and the UK government alike), the first series would basically be like the movie except you replace the debt collector with a government employee trying to unravel Rebecca’s web of visa application lies! I would actually probably watch that.

You Just Got Schooled – Final week for the suspension of You Just Got Schooled for the Hall of Fame rewatches. This week I rewatched both Endless Love films. Those previews and the Endless Love (2014) induction are all now live. Stay tuned as this section returns next week.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Confessions of a Shopaholic Quiz

Oh boy, I am in some serious debt. So serious in fact that to even bear to look at my bills I had to get mega-drunk and now I can’t remember a thing. Do you remember what happened in Confessions of a Shopaholic?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) At the beginning of the film they go through Rebecca Bloomwood’s debts. Approximately how much does she owe?

2) What magazine does Rebecca originally work for? And what magazine does she go to work for and why?

3) Where does Rebecca say she is from (and is fluent in the language of) multiple times during the course of the film and why?

4) Throughout the film Rebecca is trying to avoid Derek Smeath, a debt collector. Who does she tell people he is?

5) How much does Luke buy the green scarf for at the end of the film? 

Bonus Question: How long does it say that Luke’s business, Brandon Communications, last?

Answers

Confessions of a Shopaholic Preview

With bated breath Jamie and Patrick slowly turn to page 473 in the book. This could be the key to confronting their cyborg doppelgangers and saving Rich and Poe. They lean in close to read the all important words: “Fuck you, dweebs.” Gah! The only words on the page and they leave them just where they started. “I don’t get it,” Jamie says slowly, “what’s so important about calling us a couple of dweebs? Cause we aren’t… we aren’t dweebs.” Patrick assures him they aren’t and looks past page 473 for any clue. The half-cyborg terminator has finished bible class for the day and is walking with Mary out of the church.

“Oh, Cyborg, you’re so handsome and cool,” sighs Mary, “We just need to find you a nice lady to keep your mind off all those dweebs that need crushing.” The half-cyborg shakes his head, embarrassed. No woman would like a ¾ man like him… could she? He dares to dream. He imagines meeting a sweet gal who shares many of his passions. They crush dweebs together, but also crush cans of Diet Crush during their down time. She would be a rising star at the salt mines while he wrangled bounties in the Pit Station of Zaal. They would raise a couple of ⅜ boys and… sigh… but no. “Beep boop clothes,” he says sadly motioning towards his ratty battle armor. Mary laughs, “You know what? I’ll set up a hot date with Rachel down at the Pretzel Stand and then I’ll help you improve your style. And you know what that means.” Cyborg smiles, “beep boop shopping.”

Shopping? What does that help? “That’s funny,” says Jamie, “I used to know a Rachel down at the Pretzel Stand.” Suddenly Patrick knows exactly what to do. That’s right! We’re watching Confessions of a Shopaholic. You may be wondering why we are doing that. Well, against all odds it was the only BMT qualifying film we could find to connect back to The Skulls in the Chain Reaction. So congrats. Let’s get shopping. Let’s go!

Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009) – BMeTric: 36.2; Notability: 56 

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 29.6%; Notability: top 12.0%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 22.2% Higher BMeT: Dragonball Evolution, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel, S. Darko, Stan Helsing, Dance Flick, Year One, The Unborn, All About Steve, Halloween II, Bitch Slap, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, Obsessed, The Final Destination, Madea Goes to Jail, G-Force, Survival of the Dead, Sorority Row, Miss March, and 27 more; Higher Notability: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, 2012, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Angels & Demons, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Fast & Furious, The Lovely Bones, Terminator Salvation, Nine, Halloween II, Surrogates, G-Force, The Twilight Saga: New Moon, Land of the Lost; Lower RT: Old Dogs, Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li, Miss March, All About Steve, Whiteout, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, Echelon Conspiracy, Post Grad, Driving Aphrodite, Malice in Wonderland, The Unborn, Couples Retreat, Bride Wars, The Stepfather, The Pink Panther 2, S. Darko, I Love You, Beth Cooper, The Ugly Truth, Stan Helsing, Year One and 27 more; Notes: That notability is amazingly high. I guess that is what happens when you create a film chock-a-block with high fashion product placement? An IMDb of 5.9 is basically exactly what I would have expected of this.

RogerEbert.com – 2.5 stars – Look. “Confessions of a Shopaholic” is no masterpiece. But it’s funny, Isla Fisher is a joy, and — of supreme importance — it is more entertaining to a viewer with absolutely no eagerness to see it (like me) than “Sex and the City” was. Also, no movie can be all bad where the heroine attends a Shopaholics Anonymous meeting and meets a former Chicago Bulls star.

(Spoilees. We are on an interesting streak of films here. 3.0, 2.0, 2.5 stars by Ebert in the last three. This is the second one he seemed to genuinely enjoy. He seemed lukewarm on Message in a Bottle, but he liked The Rite and this it seemed. Nice to hear Isla Fisher was good in it though.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npFBRp716Qw/

(Her fashion is so in your face and crazy. Not at all what is in fashion now. Seems like an easy breezy comedy … so basically it is going to turn out that it is aggressively not-funny right? The only possibility sadly.)

Directors – P.J. Hogan – (Known For: Peter Pan; My Best Friend’s Wedding; Muriel’s Wedding; Unconditional Love; Mental; The Humpty Dumpty Man; BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Notes: Australian. Was nominated for a BAFTA for Muriel’s Wedding which he also wrote.)

Writers – Tracey Jackson (screenplay) – (Known For: The Guru; The Other End of the Line; BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Notes: Created the series Babes for Fox in 1990 which is kind of wild. Seems to have made multiple Bollywood inspired films in the 00s.)

Tim Firth (screenplay) – (Known For: Kinky Boots; Calendar Girls; Blackball; The Wedding Video; BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Notes: Pretty big name in British theatre, he won an Olivier award in 2003 and has made a few productions which have been nominated as well. Kinky Boots itself became a huge British musical.)

Kayla Alpert (screenplay) – (BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Notes: Mostly a producer, producing Ally McBeal and LAX among other shows. A good number of television writing credits as well.)

Sophie Kinsella (books) – (Known For: Can You Keep a Secret?; BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Notes: Her sister is also a novelist. Both credits are for adaptations of her books.)

Actors – Isla Fisher – (Known For: Blithe Spirit; Tag; The Great Gatsby; Nocturnal Animals; Now You See Me; Godmothered; Rango; Greed; Wedding Crashers; Rise of the Guardians; Horton Hears a Who!; The Beach Bum; Definitely, Maybe; I Heart Huckabees; London; Bachelorette; The Lookout; Life of Crime; Wedding Daze; Burke and Hare; Future BMT: Scooby-Doo; Grimsby; Hot Rod; BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Keeping Up with the Joneses; Notes: Scottish, but born in Oman and raised in Australia, she considers herself Australian. Has been Married to Sasha Baron Cohen for ten years.)

Hugh Dancy – (Known For: Martha Marcy May Marlene; Black Hawk Down; Ella Enchanted; Our Idiot Brother; Late Night; Savage Grace; Hysteria; The Jane Austen Book Club; The Sleeping Dictionary; Adam; Shooting Dogs; Tempo; Future BMT: Blood & Chocolate; King Arthur; BMT: Basic Instinct 2; Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return; Confessions of a Shopaholic; Evening; Notes: British. For me at least he’s most famous for playing Will Graham in the Hannibal series which is quite good if a bit gross.)

Krysten Ritter – (Known For: El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie; 27 Dresses; She’s Out of My League; Big Eyes; Margaret; Search Party; Veronica Mars; The Hero; Vamps; Animal Attraction; Killing Bono; Listen Up Philip; L!fe Happens; How to Make Love to a Woman; Frost; Asthma; Refuge; Slingshot; Heavy Petting; Future BMT: Mona Lisa Smile; BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic; Notes: The B in apartment 23 and Jessica Jones. She was also in Breaking Bad for a bit.)

Budget/Gross – $55 million / Domestic: $44,277,350 (Worldwide: $108,394,089)

(Not bad. I imagine they were, as usual, hoping for that unlikely $100 million hit. Didn’t get it, but I bet it came out even.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 26% (44/169): This middling romantic comedy underutilizes a talented cast and delivers muddled messages on materialism and conspicuous consumption.

(Uh oh. Middling. So unfunny and kind of boring. But maybe we’ll get some hilarious 2009-level “whoops, we made this gross materialistic film as the economy is falling apart, sorry” storylines going. Reviewer Highlight: Not only is it an unfunny movie shrilly told, it probably is the most ill-timed and appallingly insulting movie in recent memory. – Claudia Puig, USA Today)

Poster – Confessions of a Sklogaholic

(I like the artistic leap they took on this one, even if it doesn’t entirely work. I hate white space on posters, so I wish they could have avoided that, and the font on the bag is real boring. But gotta give credit when they take a risk. B.)

Tagline(s) – All she ever wanted was a little credit… (A-)

(I do like this. It’s clever in that special tagline type of way. The biggest problem with it is that the double meaning doesn’t totally work with the film itself. I wouldn’t describe her character as someone who doesn’t get the credit she deserves… but that’s besides the point really. It’s solid.)

Keyword – department store

Top 10: Wonder Woman (2017), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Prisoners (2013), Superbad (2007), Ocean’s Eight (2018), Baby Driver (2017), Love Actually (2003), Suicide Squad (2016), The Terminator (1984), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015)

Future BMT: 60.4 Maid in Manhattan (2002), 49.3 Mannequin: On the Move (1991), 46.1 Sleepover (2004), 44.7 Simply Irresistible (1999), 41.3 I Think I Love My Wife (2007), 38.2 Masterminds (2016), 35.6 Indecent Proposal (1993), 34.5 Suicide Squad (2016), 32.8 Mannequin (1987), 31.9 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze (1991);

BMT: Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009), Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016), Left Behind (2014), The Darkest Hour (2011), The Women (2008), Proud Mary (2018)

(Probably follows the growth-collapse of the department store through time. This film didn’t have very many good keywords in my opinion. Mannequin: On the Move is definitely the pinnacle of department store film.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Kristin Scott Thomas is No. 7 billed in Confessions of a Shopaholic and No. 2 billed in Random Hearts, which also stars Harrison Ford (No. 1 billed) who is in Hollywood Homicide (No. 1 billed), which also stars Josh Hartnett (No. 2 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 3 billed) => 7 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 3 = 16. If we were to watch Toys, Jack, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 15.

Notes – At the end, Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher) pays off her entire debt in coins, saying that she was doing it in the most inconvenient way possible. In real life, Derek Smeath (Robert Stanton) could have refused to accept it. While coins are legal tender within the Federal Reserve System, no law requires a merchant or anyone else to accept them. However, if he had refused payment, the debt would legally be considered paid off. (So … he couldn’t have refused? If the debt is paid off if he refuses or not what is the point in refusing?)

The novel is set in London. The movie changed it to New York City to connect with an American audience. Following the success of Sex and the City (1998), New York City was seen as a selling point to female audiences.

Dame Kristin Scott Thomas revealed in 2014 that she didn’t like the experience of filming. “I thought it would be quite good fun. But I spent my entire time waiting. I hated it, hated it, hated it, and I said that I wouldn’t do another one. Funnily enough, I haven’t been asked to.” (I don’t know what this means … she didn’t direct it or anything. She’s been in plenty of films prior and since. Weird.)

Isla Fisher researched her role by visiting some overspend/under earner groups, people whose lives have essentially become unmanageable because of their compulsive shopping.

Isla Fisher wore five-inch stilettos during filming.

Isla Fisher is only fourteen years younger than Joan Cusack, who played her mother.

In the book Rebecca Bloomwood wishes she was ‘someone really cool like Kristen Scott Thomas’ who stars in the film. (Fun)

Message in a Bottle Recap

Jamie

When Theresa finds a message in a bottle with a beautifully sad love note in it, it piques her interest in the writer. She tracks down Garrett, a widower and boat restorer and they embark on their own love story. But Garrett’s inability to move on from the death of his wife threatens to end it all in tragedy. Will they find love before it’s too late? Find out in… Message in a Bottle. 

How?! It’s a message in a bottle, baby. Come… come… come on and let it out. And that’s exactly what divorcee Theresa does when she finds such a bottle on a Cape Cod beach. Inside is a beautiful and yet sad love note to a long lost love. Theresa brings it back to her Chicago newspaper office and her boss subsequently publishes it in his column. Initially angered by this, the response to the letter and the fact that it results in the discovery of two other letters by the same writer make Theresa all the more excited to find the author. Tracking him down to North Carolina, she heads there and meets Garrett, a soft spoken widower who lost his wife three years prior. Taking care of his alcoholic father, Garrett’s life has stalled as he has attempted to preserve the memory of his wife in every aspect. But sparks fly when he meets Theresa and suddenly he’s taking her sailing and doing all kinds of things that he would have thought impossible. When Theresa heads back to Chicago she fears it’s the end of the affair, only to be surprised when Garrett decides to visit. They have a wonderful time, particularly in regards to Garrett’s ability to relate to her young son, but on their final night together he discovers the copies of his letters in her nightstand. He is shocked and wonders whether this was all a scheme by a journalist to get a story, but is even more shocked when it’s revealed that there are three letters… he only wrote two! The other was the final note written by his wife before her death. With this closure he is able to move on with his life and finish building a sailing boat that he designed for her. After seeing him complete the boat, Theresa tells him to call her when and if he feels ready to move on. Shortly thereafter he writes a final letter to his wife telling her he’s ready to move on with Theresa and heads out into a storm. Before turning back, though, he finds another boat in distress and tragically dies attempting to rescue the sailors. Theresa and everyone, including the viewer, are real sad because this is Sad Love by Nicholas Sparks. THE END.

Why?! Love… or more accurately getting over love. Both Theresa and Garrett are getting over lost loves in different ways. Theresa has recently divorced, while Garrett lost his wife. Now they kind of have to heal each other with the power of love. Unfortunately for them this is also a Nicholas Sparks novel so death is always right around the corner to snatch that sad love away.

Who?! There are a couple great little casting tidbits in this guy. First off there is a kinda nerdy looking dude that a friend of Theresa’s is like “yo, girl get on that accountant… he’s a real successful accountant or something,” and Theresa is like thanks but no thanks. That guy is the Director of Photography, Caleb Deschanel… yes, that Caleb Deschanel. The father of Zooey and Bones. Then the little girl that Garrett saves from the sinking boat at the end (before tragically dying) was played by a young Hayden Panettiere.

What?! This is a Budweiser film. Full Stop. Paul Newman plays Garrett’s father and he’s a recovering alcoholic who is allowed a beer a day. His beer of choice: Bud, of course. They are so delicious and refreshing that Garrett has to count them daily and pay the local kids to watch his father so he doesn’t slake his thirst a little too much.

Where?! North Carolina meet Chicago, cause we get some pretty sweet settings in this guy, particularly in the many sights and sounds of Chicago. Funny because the novel had Theresa based in Boston, which makes a little more sense in her finding the bottle, but I think I get why they made the change… it seems a bit odd in the book that Garrett seems totally unwilling to move to Massachusetts. It’s not that different from North Carolina given his passion in life is sailing. B+

When?!  I couldn’t really find a specific date for this one, although I think it runs similar to the book. She discovers the message in the bottle during the summer when her son is off with his father during summer break. Then she heads down to NC at the tail end of summer. After that it’s a couple months of distance dating before sometime in the winter he launches the boat. We know from his note that he launched “on the 25th.” I presume January as Theresa’s first article in the paper appears next to a couple articles from early January 1998… so it’s tenuous, but that’s where I place it. C-.

Saaad Love. I guess I appreciate the fact that the film didn’t pull the punch of the book and have Garrett live or something. But it is pretty rough stuff to have the whole book be like “isn’t love grand… until it’s shattered by death?” and then expect the reader to be like “but at least she loved, right?” I don’t know… still pretty sad. The book was fine and the film was fine. I guess I wish there was more to it than that. I thought Robin Wright was pretty good and charming, but Kevin Costner probably needed to give me a bit more than mumbling along and looking like he’s carved out of wood. Make me feel that Draft Day Jennifer Garner spark, Kevin Costner. Anyway, Nicholas Sparks was just starting out and didn’t yet have the clout to throw around his “yes, there is a ghost in Safe Haven and we’re keeping it in the film” weight. So pretty straight forward. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! He’s a message in a bottle baby, come on and let Kevin Costner out. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – The OG Sparks, it is a little stunning to realize that basically every Nicholas Sparks adaptation has gotten bad reviews besides The Notebook (and even that only got 53% on Rotten Tomatoes). We’ve seen his most recent for BMT already as well, The Choice. He seems to have slowed down with writing, he only wrote two novels since 2016. Can’t have bad adaptations if you don’t write novels I suppose, real 3D chess moves. What were my expectations? It is a bit weird, because prior to watching the trailer I legit thought the film was just about a lonely dude who threw bottles in the ocean. But it is about a broken dude who just needs that one special lady to mend his broken heart. Awwwwwww. I expected to weep uncontrollably in my living room.

The Good – I’ve seen quite a few Kevin Costner films over the past few months and years, both good and bad. And unlike something like Wyatt Earp (where his acting is almost a joke, especially as “young” Wyatt Earp), I feel like Message in a Bottle is directly in his wheelhouse. You can moan about the writing and ridiculous situations good actors are put into, but the actors themselves I think are doing their best with what they are given. The vistas are nice, always love a good Cape Cod / NC crossover, real Dawson’s Creek vibes. Best Bit: Setting.

The Bad – I can see why critics hated this film. It is a total waste of a decent story and some decent actors with situations and a plot which gives them nothing to really work with, and at worst (like in the end) launches itself into pure melodrama. I know they need to be like “I’m sad and forever broken, vague allegories about religion and forever love” because it is a Nicholas Sparks novel, but, again, I think the critics are mostly right in that the ending of the book and thus film let down what is otherwise a decent story. I will say that the “man’s man who never speaks and is so broken he lives with the ghost of his dead wife” doesn’t age well. The guy doesn’t need love, he needs a therapist and to actually work through his feelings instead of bottling them up (and throwing them in the ocean). Fatal Flaw: Poor ending.

The BMT – We’ll work through all the Nicholas Sparks novels, even if they are done one Based on a Book cycle at a time. There is also something about Kevin Costner here. Something magical about just how 90s his stardom was. You can watch him anchor a three hour epic in JFK and be completely lost in his character come to life, and then watch Wyatt Earp and be like “what the hell is he doing with his mouth … is he wearing fake teeth, what is happening?” Did it meet my expectations? Not really. I found Costner’s character so closed off and broken that I actually started to become concerned about his mental state. Surely this is just a changing mentality towards depression over the past 25 years, but still, it made it difficult to fully invest in the tragic love story which was so obviously being force fed to me. I didn’t shed a single tear. Now, that’s a tragedy.

Roast-radamus – Big Product Placement (What?) energy as both Costner and Newman guzzle Budweiser while giving each other haircuts and whatnot. That’s how you know Kevin Costner was made in America, he drinks all-American delicious Budweiser. Great Setting as a Character (Where?) for Chicago (where Robin Wright lives), Cape Cod (where she finds the bottle), and North Carolina (where every Nicholas Sparks book is contractually obligated to be set). At least part of this film is secretly during July 4, but nary a firework is to be seen. Disappointing. Closest to Good.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – This is an easy Netflix series. The first four episodes are from two different periods of time. Flashbacks to the two years prior and two years after Catherine’s death in North Carolina. And simultaneously the discovery of the first bottle, and then hunt for the other two bottles he sent out dealing with his love and loss of Catherine. Then the trip to North Carolina and a recap of that last year of his life mid-season. The final six episodes are then effectively the movie. The meet cute, dating in North Carolina, the trip to Chicago, one episode which is just the sex scene over and over in black and white (this is directed by David Lynch) … fine it is the big dramatic blow up about the story, the big dramatic finale, and then a closing episode wrapping things up. Boom, beautiful. Why aren’t there more Nicholas Sparks television shows? They seem really easy and cheap to make overall.

You Just Got Schooled – We are still working through the Hall of Fame. This week? Oooooooo Endless Luuuuuuuuuurv (the 2014 one, but of course I rewatched the 1981 one as well, get right on outta here!).

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Message in a Bottle Quiz

Oh man, so I was running on the beach (usual Sunday, natch) and I found this bottle. Wouldn’t you know it, it was from a lonely heart writing to his lost love awwwwwww. Then a rock was dropped on my head by a seagull and I got a horrible concussion and I can’t remember a thing! Do you remember what happened in Message in a Bottle?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Why does Robin Wright go on vacation and where? 

2) On the day of their sailing trip Costner gets into a fight with someone in the diner. Why? 

3) How did Catherine die? 

4) How many letters did Costner write? 

5) What gift does Costner give Wright and her son when he visits Chicago? What gift does Wright give Costner on the day he christens his boat Catherine? 

Bonus Question: So … why did Kevin Costner fake his own death?

Answers

Message in a Bottle Preview

Jamie and Patrick stride down the street towards St. Mary’s Church, Jamie’s nose still buried deep in the book. “Why are we going anywhere?” whines Jamie, “This book is really heating up, the cyborg just took Communion.” Patrick ignored him. For all its lack of literary merit, the book does seem to be giving them clues. Taking a deep breath Patrick busts into the church, half expecting a couple of cyborgs ready for some hand-to-hand combat. Instead a lone priest stands shocked in the middle of the empty nave. His eyes become wide and he starts to stumble backwards. “Los diablos… los robots,” he is able to sputter before turning and fleeing out a side entrance. Well, they certainly seem to be on the right track. “Ahem,” they hear and wheel around, hands ready for karate. A woman leans back lazily in one of the pews. “So I guess it’s true,” she says, a smirk on her face, “los diablos came back looking for a fight. Don’t worry, I’m not here to fight you, so relax. I’m here to find out what the hell is going on with the Bad Movie Twins. The name’s Lindsey Appleton, hardscrabble investigative reporter… and I presume you two aren’t los diablos.” Jamie and Patrick shake their heads. When they ask what she’s found out so far, Lindsey shrugs and tosses them an object. “This was here when I arrived, but it’s addressed to you, so I assume you better be the ones to read it.” Jamie and Patrick look at what they hold in their hands… a bottle. But not just any bottle. This bottle has a message in it. When they pull it free it just has two words on it, “page 473,” and Jamie’s already flipping to that place in the book. That’s right! With a based-on-a-book series comes great responsibility… but also mostly reading Nicholas Sparks novels. We still have quite a number of them to get through so we thought we should start at the beginning. Not his first book but the first one that got adapted, Message in a Bottle. Let’s go! 

Message in a Bottle (1999) – BMeTric: 22.4; Notability: 40 

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 30.4%; Notability: top 34.4%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 32.6% Higher BMeT: Baby Geniuses, Inspector Gadget, Universal Soldier: The Return, Wing Commander, Wild Wild West, The Haunting, Dudley Do-Right, Bats, The Rage: Carrie 2, Virus, The Mod Squad, The Bachelor, Breakfast of Champions, The Astronaut’s Wife, Eye of the Beholder, Superstar, My Favorite Martian, Random Hearts, Teaching Mrs. Tingle, Simply Irresistible, and 32 more; Higher Notability: Wild Wild West, Inspector Gadget, The 13th Warrior, End of Days, My Favorite Martian, Snow Falling on Cedars, Idle Hands, Joan of Arc, The Haunting, The Story of Us, The Out-of-Towners, Crazy in Alabama, Double Jeopardy, Random Hearts, Instinct, Stigmata, Dudley Do-Right, In Too Deep, The General’s Daughter, The Other Sister, and 9 more; Lower RT: Baby Geniuses, The Mod Squad, Universal Soldier: The Return, Friends & Lovers, The Bachelor, Eye of the Beholder, Wing Commander, Chill Factor, Virus, Body Shots, End of Days, Jawbreaker, My Favorite Martian, The King and I, Lost & Found, Molly, Gloria, Idle Hands, Random Hearts, The Astronaut’s Wife and 42 more; Notes: Low BMeTric, but a surprisingly high Notability, especially since this is the first Nicholas Sparks film. Looking at this list mostly reminds me that we have a ton to do still as far as 1999 is concerned.

RogerEbert.com – 2.0 stars – “Message in a Bottle” is a tearjerker that strolls from crisis to crisis. It’s curiously muted, as if it fears that passion would tear its delicate fabric; even the fights are more in sorrow than in anger, and when there’s a fistfight, it doesn’t feel like a real fistfight–it feels more like someone thought the movie needed a fistfight ’round about then.

(That is pretty brutal. Ebert mentions later in the review that he hadn’t read the book, so indeed, he wouldn’t really know whether all of this makes sense with regards to the book, not like that really matters.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wpb616fwYMk/

(I remember when this movie came out … and yet I don’t remember this trailer. Because I feel like I thought this was some Sleepless in Seattle, “lonely heart looking for love, going to do some silliness with a message in a bottle” story. But this is like “my wife died and I’m real sad, can you fix me, I’m a brooding and broken man” type story … somehow that is far less interesting than a story about a weirdo who thinks bottles in the ocean are a dating app or whatever.)

Directors – Luis Mandoki – (Known For: When a Man Loves a Woman; White Palace; Voces inocentes; La vida precoz y breve de Sabina Rivas; Gaby: A True Story; Future BMT: Angel Eyes; Born Yesterday; Trapped; BMT: Message in a Bottle; Notes: Gaby: A True Story was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. From Mexico City, he’s also made a few Documentaries, particularly about the 2006 election in Mexico.)

Writers – Nicholas Sparks (novel) – (Known For: The Notebook; Future BMT: The Last Song; Nights in Rodanthe; Dear John; The Lucky One; The Best of Me; The Longest Ride; BMT: Message in a Bottle; The Choice; Safe Haven; A Walk to Remember; Notes: It is just an incredible number of books he’s had made into films. Has twin daughters.)

Gerald Di Pego (screenplay) (as Gerald DiPego) – (Known For: Sharky’s Machine; Phenomenon; Words and Pictures; Little Murder; W; Future BMT: Angel Eyes; The Forgotten; Instinct; BMT: Message in a Bottle; Notes: Almost exclusively wrote television. Including an episode of Murder, She Wrote where Jessica probes a 20-year-old unsolved murder after attending the funeral of a New Orleans jazz great.)

Actors – Kevin Costner – (Known For: Let Him Go; Hidden Figures; Man of Steel; Molly’s Game; Dances with Wolves; The Untouchables; The Highwaymen; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; Waterworld; JFK; No Way Out; Mr. Brooks; Field of Dreams; Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit; The Art of Racing in the Rain; Silverado; Open Range; Tin Cup; Draft Day; The Big Chill; Future BMT: Play It to the Bone; Dragonfly; 3 Days to Kill; Swing Vote; The Bodyguard; Criminal; Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice; Revenge; Black or White; The War; BMT: Rumor Has It…; 3000 Miles to Graceland; The Postman; Message in a Bottle; The Guardian; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Director, and Worst Actor for The Postman in 1998; Winner for Worst Actor, and Worst Remake or Sequel for Wyatt Earp in 1995; Winner for Worst Actor for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves in 1992; Nominee for Worst Actor in 1993 for The Bodyguard; in 1996 for Waterworld; in 2000 for For Love of the Game, and Message in a Bottle; and in 2002 for 3000 Miles to Graceland; Nominee for Worst Screen Couple in 1995 for Wyatt Earp; and in 2002 for 3000 Miles to Graceland; and Nominee for Worst Actor of the Century in 2000 for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, The Postman, The Postman, Waterworld, Waterworld, Wyatt Earp, and Wyatt Earp; Notes: Rumors are swirling that he might be leaving Yellowstone! I’ve never seen it, but I am always intrigued by westerns.)

Robin Wright – (Known For: Wonder Woman 1984; Wonder Woman; Forrest Gump; Blade Runner 2049; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; The Princess Bride; Everest; Moneyball; State of Play; Unbreakable; Adore; Beowulf; A Most Wanted Man; The Pledge; The Last Castle; White Oleander; A Christmas Carol; New York, I Love You; The Conspirator; State of Grace; Future BMT: Toys; Justice League; BMT: Message in a Bottle; Notes: Won a Golden Globe for House of Cards. Her career started on the Soap Opera Santa Barbara. Was married to Sean Penn for nearly 15 years.)

Paul Newman – (Known For: Cars; Cool Hand Luke; Road to Perdition; The Towering Inferno; The Sting; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid; Slap Shot; The Verdict; The Color of Money; Nobody’s Fool; The Hustler; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof; Hud; The Hudsucker Proxy; Exodus; Twilight; Hombre; What a Way to Go!; Torn Curtain; Silent Movie; Future BMT: When Time Ran Out…; Harry & Son; BMT: Message in a Bottle; Notes: Was married to his second wife for 50 years prior to his death. Won an Oscar for The Color of Money, and then started a salad dressing company which was non-profit and donated all profits to charity. It has apparently raised over $550 million for charity.)

Budget/Gross – $80,000,000 / Domestic: $52,880,016 (Worldwide: $118,880,016)

(Amazingly terrible performance if the budget is to be believed. I guess a Kevin Costner rom com would have been looking for $100 million at the time? So yeah, it didn’t really do great overall I guess.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 32% (12/38): Handsome-looking but dramatically inert, Message in a Bottle maroons a formidable cast in a trite romance that lacks spark.

(But it doesn’t lack Nicholas Sparks (da dum chhhhhh). Reviewer Highlight: Adapted from Nicholas Sparks’ 1998 best-seller, ”Message in a Bottle” isn’t going to win any awards, but it’s a true all-stops-out gusher, the sort of solemn contemporary hankie-fest in which a sweet, smart, lonely-at-the-core professional woman … proceeds to fall for the Last Romantic Man. – Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly)

Poster – Sad Love 2: Even Sadder

(I mean, that poster is getting butts in seats, let’s not get it twisted. It does its job and I suspect it does it well. But couldn’t get a little better with the font? I’m gonna come in at a B. Like the overall sunset orange color tone as well.)

Tagline(s) – A story of love lost and found. (B-)

(I can see what they were going for. Not totally terrible, weaving in “Lost and Found” into the tagline along with “Love Lost”. So kind of a twist of two common phrases. Not clever enough though and a little clunky.)

Keyword – based on novel

Top 10: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001), The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), Goodfellas (1990), Forrest Gump (1994), Catch Me If You Can (2002), Jojo Rabbit (2019), Emma. (2020), Homefront (2013), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), The Invisible Man (2020)

Future BMT: 72.2 The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1 (2011), 47.5 The Dark Tower (2017), 43.8 Priest (2011), 43.6 Allegiant (2016), 43.4 The Rhythm Section (2020), 42.2 Pan (2015), 41.3 Addicted (2014), 40.8 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003), 40.8 Ben-Hur (2016), 39.7 Eat Pray Love (2010);

BMT: After (2019), Dolittle (2020), Fifty Shades of Grey (2015), Hunter Killer (2018), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), Fifty Shades Freed (2018), The 5th Wave (2016), The Three Musketeers (2011), Striptease (1996), The Circle (2017), Warcraft: The Beginning (2016), Fifty Shades Darker (2017), Death Wish (2018), A Walk to Remember (2002), The Twilight Saga: New Moon (2009), The Choice (2016), Conan the Barbarian (2011), Kiss the Girls (1997), Jumper (2008), The Snowman (2017), The Host (2013), Something Borrowed (2011), Around the World in 80 Days (2004), Mortdecai (2015), Eragon (2006), I Am Number Four (2011), Vampire Academy (2014), Dragonball Evolution (2009), The 13th Warrior (1999), Poseidon (2006), Seventh Son (2014), Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), The Postman (1997), The Haunting (1999)

(Looks to be in that last little wave of the 90s just prior to when they started making a ton of YA adaptations and things like Harry Potter, and instead they were harkening back to when you picked a wall-liked book and made a straight adaptation from the material (without sequels in mind).)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Kevin Costner is No. 1 billed in Message in a Bottle and No. 2 billed in 3000 Miles to Graceland, which also stars Kurt Russell (No. 1 billed) who is in Tango and Cash (No. 2 billed), which also stars Sylvester Stallone (No. 1 billed) who is in Expendables 3 (No. 1 billed), which also stars Jason Statham (No. 2 billed) who is in In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Seige Tale (No. 1 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 4 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 1 + 2 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 16. If we were to watch Toys, Jack, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 14.

Notes – After the scene where Kevin Costner gets involved in a fight, his lip is bleeding. He puts his hand to it and looks at the blood. This was not part of the script. Another actor, Steve Mellor (Man on Dock) was scripted to pull Costner away from the fight from behind. When Mellor’s arms came around, he accidentally gave Costner a bloody lip. After the take, Mellor apologized to Costner for the accident. Costner said not to worry about it; that he ended up turning it into something. And, in fact, the director ended up using that shot. (fun fact)

This is the 1st film adaptation from a Nicholas Sparks novel.

The sites that were finally chosen for most of the shooting of the scenes of Garret’s hometown were Northport and Popham Beach, Maine. Over $250,000. of renovations were done to the seasonal home in Popham that became Garret’s house, including the addition of the room which held Catherine’s artwork and the adjacent living room with fireplace (faux). At the end of filming the owner of the house demanded that it be returned to its original state costing the production company nearly as much to undo. (Ha!)

The producers originally planned to film on Tangier Island, Virginia, USA, but some members of the town council objected to the drinking, cursing and sex in the movie and demanded script revisions in exchange for shooting permission. Warner Brothers then tried Martha’s Vineyard near Chilmark, Massachusetts, USA, but the Chilmark Conservation Commission turned down a request to build a temporary 3,000-square-foot house on stilts in the dunes near Chilmark Pond. (They would, that is an incredibly irresponsible thing to do. Think about the poor Piping Plovers you lunatics!!)

This movie is set in North Carolina, but at the end of the movie when Dodge is brought to Garrets boat the Game Wardens sleeve patches have the state of Maine Logo. (Huuuuuuuge error!)

The painting in Catherine’s studio that Dodge carried outside during Garrett’s encounter with Catherine’s brother is “Girl With Lantern” by the American impressionist painter Helen Maria Turner. The painting, which was produced in 1904, is housed in the Greenville Museum of Art in Greenville, South Carolina, USA.

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Actor (Kevin Costner, 2000)

The Rite Recap

Jamie

Michael is a soon-to-be priest sent to Rome to study exorcism. He’s at a crossroads of his faith, but soon after starting to witness exorcisms under Father Lucas he begins to question his nonbelief in the devil. This comes to a head when he and Father Lucas are both confronted with possession. Can Michael stop the demon before it’s too late? Find out in… The Rite.

How?! Michael never really even wanted to be a priest. But it was either that or helping run his father’s funeral home, so celibacy it was. While he excels at the academics of the seminary, his profound skepticism about his own faith put him on the road to failure. But after witnessing Michael provide relief at the site of an accident, one of his teachers decides that maybe Michael is meant for something bigger. Enter exorcism school (note to self: write Exorcism School). He’s sent to Rome to study exorcism and due this skepticism is sent to study under Father Lucas. Suffice to say he starts to see some crazy shit, most pointedly in the exorcisms of a pregnant woman who seems to be in particular distress. One night, upon returning from an exorcism, they hear that the young woman is in the hospital and when they get there she is in the midst of a powerful possession. Later that night she and her baby die and Father Lucas is despondent. Michael, meanwhile, is dealing with his own tragedy as he gets word that his father has died. He attempts to head home but his travels are disrupted. Returning to Rome amidst a plethora of supernatural phenomena, Michael finds Father Lucas in full on DEFCON 1 level possession. Unable to get a hold of anyone else, Michael is forced to perform the exorcism himself and totally nails it because guess what: he does believe. And like Dumbo before him, the power was within himself the whole time. Hooray. THE END.

Why?! God. I thought about just leaving it at that, but I’ll elaborate. The whole film can be summed up in the overused quote: the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist. It’s all about belief, brotha. Once you get past that point apparently Baal ain’t got shit on you.

Who?! Literally this is so boring that there aren’t even characters to be like “wow, isn’t that an interesting character.” The least they could have done is throw me a pope. The best I can come up with is the fact that the demon depicted here is specifically Baal. So if we ever want to do an angels and demons challenge then… I guess we can mark Baal off the list. Let’s see apparently he is the commander in chief of the armies of Hell and *puts on glasses* Grand Cross of the Order of the Fly. Well then.

What?! You’re probably thinking, “a ‘serious’ film about exorcism? There is no way we have a rock solid product placement… it’s not like they would have him walking the streets of Rome, fresh from seeing demonic possession, and have him espy a McD’s. A gleam would hit his eye as he remembers the fresh taste of a McCafe coffee, the taste of home. They couldn’t do that, right?… RIGHT?!” Wrong, actually. That’s exactly what happens.

Where?! I’m not sure where in America the first part of the film is supposed to take place. In the book it was California, but that certainly doesn’t seem to be the case here. Looked more like Jersey or Pennsylvania or something. Regardless, this film is a Rome/The Vatican film through and through. Not the first exorcism film we’ve seen in BMT where people fly to The Vatican to learn more about the process… it’s like the place is used as currency: you know things are for serious with exorcism because The Vatican teaches it… so it must be true. A-.

When?! Patrick noted in the quiz for the film that this has one of the craziest temporal settings we can remember. When Michael gets the news that his father has had a stroke and he attempts to get home, his plans are foiled by an eruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, which would place that point in the film on April 15th, 2010 when air travel was first disrupted. Now that in itself isn’t too crazy for a setting, but given the context of the film there is only one conclusion that the viewer can possibly make: some force made that volcano erupt so that he couldn’t get home. Maybe Baal wanted Michael to stick around so that he could also possess him… or maybe God was forcing Michael back to Rome to help Father Lucas. Either way we can rest assured that that volcanic eruption in 2010 was unnatural. The Rite told us so. B+.

I did not like watching this movie. It was boring. It just kinda meanders along with our main character being like “I just can’t believe it” even as a girl throws up black liquid that turns into nails and a horse looks at him with gleaming red eyes. Man… either you believe in this shit or you are going crazy. It’s one of the two. Somehow Anthony Hopkins, the same man who barely got out of bed to act in Bad Company, gave the liveliest performance in this one, particular at the end when he’s all crazy possessed. Gotta give him some props. But that’s about it. As for the book? Well, the less said about that the better. It’s a terrible book. Laughable even, as it reads more as making fun of those that believe in exorcisms than anything else. The main argument it makes in favor of exorcisms being real? More people want exorcisms now than ever so they must be real, right? Riiiight. Can’t believe I read that terrible book. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! This is at least the second BMT film where a priest is sent to the Vatican to attend their very new (and very cool) exorcism course … that’s crazy. Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – I didn’t really know this film existed prior to making the preview. I certainly don’t recognize the main actor in it … so that bodes well. I was getting strong The Devil Inside whiffs coming off of this. I’m pretty sure it has the same origin story: someone found out about the Vatican’s spiffy new exorcism class, yada yada yada, they wrote a screenplay. I think the only real hope is that it is actually secretly good, because Ebert liked it. What were my expectations? Please be good. It really is the only hope. Otherwise it is boring. There isn’t an in between here, either Ebert is right and it is good, or everyone else is right and it is boring. And I hate boring movies. Hot take, I know.

The Good – I think if you don’t view this film as a horror film, and especially if you don’t view this film as endorsing the reality of possession and exorcisms … then there is a kernel of something good here. It is a slow and methodical look at a man turning towards faith in the face of the horrific realization that possession is real. Cool idea I suppose. Hopkins is quite good in the film, and, as inevitable as the final twist is, the ending is a better possession/exorcism finale that you see most of the time. Best Bit: Hopkins.

The Bad – I think the movie is made with the explicit idea that the audience buy into possession and exorcisms. Is that how all exorcism movies operate? I don’t know. I liked The Exorcist a lot, and I don’t think you necessarily have to buy into the religious bits of the film to understand the horror of “my daughter is sick and science can’t explain it” which is at the core of that film. In The Exorcist there is a deep understanding that what is happening to Regan could just be a devastating mental illness. Here they get really close to getting to that point, with the main character indicating that the “possessed” individuals might just be mentally ill people faking it. But in the end it feels like the movie scoffs at it and leans too heavily into possession/exorcism/catholicism being really explicitly real and that people who don’t think so are just arrogant know-it-alls or something. Plus it is kind of boring and the lead actor is a whole lotta nothing. Fatal Flaw: Possessions are fake and the movie seems like maybe it doesn’t think so.

The BMT – I always love adding a film to a mini-genre. In this case exorcism focused horror films, or I suppose more broadly religious-themed horror films. This is actually maybe one of the better ones? It is hard to tell. We’ve watched some real stinkers and this one basically is just one wink and nod about all this probably being fake from me declaring it either not-that-bad or merely boring. That’s pretty good. Did it meet my expectations? I think so. I was far more intrigued by this film than I thought I would be. It is a bit boring, sure, but there are enough fresh ideas in there to make it one of the better bad religion-focused horror films we’ve watched.

Roast-radamus – A true classic Product Placement (What?) as the film is genuinely brought to you by McDonald’s and their delicious American style coffee. When you’re off learning exorcisms Italian stizzle, and you’re yearning for the taste of home, there’s nothing better on a chilly Roman night than a McCup of delicious McCoffee. Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba I’m lovin’ it. A solid Setting as a Character (Where?) for Rome, where all the big exorcism action is happening. And a Worst Twist (How?) for the inevitable possession of father Trevant at the end of the film. Probably closest to Good.

Prequel, Sequel, Remake – Prequel. Michael mentions that his entire family have been morticians and priests. Well, this is truer than he ever knew! Flashback, Michael’s grandfather in World War II, naive with innocent blue eyes shining, enters the military as a chaplain. When a strange blue eyed charm starts being found at the scene of gruesome massacres, though, the American military sends Michael’s grandfather out to investigate. Ultimately, he discovers a plot by a cabal of eeeeeeevil satan worshipping priests to possess soldiers with demons to create super soldiers for the Nazis. Along the way Michael’s grandfather picks up a precocious Welsh boy sidekick (you guessed it! It’s Lucas Trevant!!) and they take down the cabal before they can possess Hitler with Satan himself. Ba ba baaaaaaa! Years later, Michael’s grandfather is killed during an exorcism, leaving behind a son, Istvan, who vows never to dabble in the exorcism rites. Smash cut to Michael entering Rome from the first film. Kovak Origins: The Rite 2. The subsequent sequel would then serve to dig further into the blue eyed charm and the (still surviving) cabal behind it, and the destiny of the blue eyed exorcists that Michael descends from.

You Just Got Schooled – Check out the Legend of Hercules Hall of Fame speech. I got that together this week in lieu of expanding my exorcism knowledge via a good exorcism movie.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs