Dangerous Minds Recap

Jamie

Louanne Johnson is recently divorced and looking for work. She finds it teaching a class of low-income students. Through teaching poetry and boosting their confidence in themselves, she helps them find a voice. But can she help them in the classroom and get them off the streets before it’s too late? Find out in… Dangerous Minds.

How?! Louanne Johnson is fresh off a divorce and looking for a new start. Through a friend she gets hooked up with a job at Parkmont. Little does she know that she got the full time position mostly because they were having trouble filling it due to the low-income students in the class. But Louanne Johnson, former marine, doesn’t back down from the challenge and slowly earns the attention of the students by first teaching them karate, then rewarding them with treats, and finally speaking to them in the language of music and poetry. Soon she is building their confidence with new methods of grading and positive feedback and is reaping the rewards of finding some truly talented students amongst the group. However, all is not well. Her star student Callie is pregnant and is being pressured by the school to leave in order to attend a school geared more towards raising kids than schoolwork. Two other students are pulled out of school when their grandmother finds out they are studying poetry instead of learning something that might help them make money. Finally, Emelio, a troubled student, is threatened by a drug dealer and hides out with Louanne before trying to tell the principal of the school what’s happening. But when the principal turns him away he ends up getting shot and this sends Louanne into a tailspin. She decides to quit, but on the last day of school all the students band together and tell her how much she means to them. She ends up deciding to stay and everyone is happy. Hip hip hooray. THE END.

Why?! I mean… it’s not really a cynical movie, so that’s a positive. The motivation is teaching children and trying to make sure they have opportunities in life. While the focus is on the white teacher to the film’s detriment, it at least dispenses with any personal issues and all her thought, motivation, and strife comes from wanting to help the students.

Who?! This one is easy. Raymond and Richard Grant play Durrell and Lionel Benton, star pupils who are pulled out of school much to the dismay of LouAnne. They are actually twins (Twin Film Alert) and comprise the rap duo DJ Twinz. Uhhhhhhhhhhhh, yeah. That sound you hear is me listening to some DJ Twinz right now.

What?! Besides being a stellar advertisement for education and love (awww) it’s also got a pretty good advertisement for butterfingers as that is the candy of choice that LouAnne throws around as a reward for correct answers. Although I prefer the sweet taste of karate and expensive French dinners, the other rewards she uses in the film.

Where?! This is very much an LA film, which is fine, but also not necessarily always the most exciting since so many films are set there. This at least seems to have a reason. The real LouAnne Johnson taught in the LA area and more specifically there is an underlying commentary about the fact that the kids are being bussed in from a lower income neighborhood, only to be shuttled into a class where they are ignored (that is until LouAnne shows up). B+.

When?! This takes place over a school year more or less. We don’t really get much holiday  talk or anything like that, and LouAnne is clearly a replacement teacher, so it’s possible that she took over in the new year and we see from Jan-June or something. Doesn’t really matter, this is basically a road trip through time. No specific timing. C.

It is perfectly possible to make an entertaining and engaging tale of helping high risk youths and still totally miss the mark. Beyond being just a cliche of the white savior trope, I think there is a real fundamental lack of familiarity with the world that is being portrayed that hamstrings the film from the jump. I would assume LouAnne Johnson’s book probably does a better job (I couldn’t get my hands on a copy in time to read it), but the film completely glosses over some of the most poignant and heartbreaking aspects of the children’s stories in favor of surface level stereotypes and instead spends an inordinate amount of time on the trials and tribulations of the white teacher. It’s hard to say anything more than that. Despite the good songs, engaging filmmaking, and good acting by Pfeiffer… this is not a good film. Just not in the typical BMT way of being a bad film. Patrick? 

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! This week it was Louanne Johnson’s Dangerous Minds versus the Bad movie Twins beautiful minds. Friday night fights! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – We’ve just been living in a gangster’s paradise. I think the legacy of the film is entirely tied up with maybe the most successful song-movie tie-in in history? Maybe a Will Smith song or The Bodyguard narrowly beats it out, but the Coolio track is basically I know (or need to know) about this movie. What were my expectations? Well, Ebert spelled it out in his review: white savior nonsense. If that is the biggest complaint I fear there won’t be much to like in the film.

The Good – Fear not, there were quite a few good things with this film. Like with Rising Sun it feels pretty gross to be like “well, besides the racism, the film was pretty good!” … but I guess here goes? The film is basically that classic Stand and Deliver or Lean on Me story. The visionary teacher comes in and gets these kids to learn (and learns a thing or two him/herself!), everyone cheers or the teacher gets fired, it depends on how cynical they want to be about the American education system. And you can do worse, Pfeiffer is solid in the lead role and it does a good job avoiding an unnecessary romance angle for her character. Best Bit: Pfeiffer.

The Bad – The biggest issue is probably Courtney B. Vance’s character. I’m not sure if it was his choice or explicitly laid out in the script or what, but his character might as well be named Feckless Principal. He ends up being some sort of cartoon metaphor for how “rules” and a lack of compassion have poisoned the American education system … or something. We’ll get to the issue with the portrayal of the education system i.e. “if only teachers cared more”. But then, yeah, this film is top-to-bottom a white savior tale. That really shouldn’t be dismissed. Fatal Flaw: White savior tale.

The BMT – This is a classic addition to the BMT Discography (not a section on the website …. yet) with Coolio’s jamming tune remaining a highlight of the trailer for this film. I choose to remember this film within the lens of Coolio’s track alone. Would I watch it again? I would, especially in some bizarre “Badass Teacher”-mersion podcast me and Jamie are now definitely starting. Did it meet my expectations? It was actually a bit better than I expected. I think, outside of the Vance character and the white savior nonsense, the film is pretty entertaining and an easy watch. I was kind of expecting The Substitute, but it was basically just Lean on Me.

Roast-radamus – A minor Product Placement (What?) for Louanne tossing around Butterfingers (as Bob Dylan once said: No one better lay a finger on my Butterfinger) among other candy bars. And Setting as a Character (Where?) for the explicit setting in Palo Alto. Definitely closest to Good, although I hope that something better crops up.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – Easy, a sequel. This is about Louanne’s daughter, who herself has just gotten out of the Marines and is going back to her mother’s old stomping grounds in Palo Alto. And hooooooooooooooooo doggy she has a whole other crop of issues to deal with with her children. Cyberbullying, sexting, like … I don’t know, like meeting people on the internet? My point is that this ain’t her momma’s high school, she now has techmologies to deal with, and she is ill-prepared. So when an elite North Korean hacker starts trying to hack the election via the school’s servers, she has to assemble her ragtag group of students together to unleash their viruses, hack the Gibson, and take down Ellingson Mineral. HACK THE PLANET! We can workshop the ending, but rest assured, right at that 80 minute mark Michelle Pfeiffer busts that door down and says “Miss me boys and girls?” and the whole theater cheers. Dangerous Minds 2: Cyberwar.

You Just Got Schooled – We’re back baby! A real BMT Homework section because Dangerous Minds was also a television show! Starring Annie Potts, the first episode kind of follows the storyline from the movie, except the students in the television show are far less disruptive, and the things Louanne is teaching are just normal high school English curriculum. The first episode mainly focuses on Of Mice and Men for example. The show got cancelled after a season, which isn’t too surprising since it wasn’t very good. The biggest issue I had with it was it really cranked up that “if only American educators cared you know?” attitude to 11. Louanne is buying people books, paying for a nursery for another student, letting people stay in her enormous house … in the first episode she probably spends like $1000 of her own money on her students. And the other teachers are like “yeah, if we can all just chip in we can really make a difference!” No! These are the things the school and local government should be dealing with, not rogue teachers with, evidently, a fortune to distribute to the needy. It feels like it ends up with the moral being “yeah, the issue with the education system isn’t class sizes or underfunding … it is probably that most of the teachers don’t give a shit!” D. An interesting watch, but the movie is better and, against all odds, less preachy.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Dangerous Minds Quiz

Oh man, so here I was trying to teach these beautiful minds in a high school in Bad News U.S.A. when a fight breaks out! I got in the middle, natch, but I got sucker punched in the head and now I can’t remember a thing! Do you remember what happened in Dangerous Minds?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) What does Louanne want to be a teacher in Palo Alto?

2) What is the first thing she teaches her young students?

3) Hal is helping Louanne out with teaching and got her the job. How did Hal know her before the start of the movie?

4) Why is Louanne getting a divorce?

5) Why did Emilio get shot?

Bonus Question: What Coolio song is most like a Bob Dylan song? Whoever gives me the right answer gets a free ice cream cone.

Answers

Dangerous Minds Preview

As they sit and watch the beautiful sunset, Patrick and Jamie wonder about the plans of their cyborg doppelgangers. Perhaps there never was a plan, just random clues they followed to a dead end. Sipping their delicious mimosas, they aren’t sure they cared. When a *ding* rings out from the direction of the elevator all three of their heads swing that way. Beads of sweat form on their brows as they hear the soft sobbing from Rachel. Saboteur! But anger softens to sympathy as Rachel explains that her family was kidnapped by the cyborg fiends. Her family will live in exchange for luring them here. The final *ding* from the elevator sounds and the doors swing open. They gasp. It’s… it’s them. Aside from the glowing red eyes and robot limbs they are the Bad Movie Twins. “Bad Movie Twins,” they chuckle in deep robot voices, “at last, you have returned. And to what? Failure? Despair? To witness the deaths of your beloved Rich & Poe,” they spit out in disgust. Jamie and Patrick quake in fear. Death is surely next, but as the robots approach a smirk appears on their cyborg lips. “No… no, we won’t kill you.” they say, still smiling. Then with lightning fast robot speed they search Patrick and snatch the Obsidian Dongle from his pocket. “Not before you witness our grand plan come to fruition. You will watch Rich & Poe die, then you shall die. Bwahahahahaha,” they laugh violently as they stagger out of the apartment. “All a trap and we fell into it,” mumbles Jamie softly, but Patrick shakes his head firmly. It can’t be over. Not when they still live. “Come on,” Patrick says, “they may have taken the Dongle, but they left us with our most dangerous weapon… our minds.” That’s right! We are transitioning to the next cycle of the year: Cross Promotion Mania. Originally conceived as a hit song tie in cycle, we ended up expanding it to video games when we realized that that would make for a better overall cycle. But it didn’t change our first pick: Dangerous Minds, featuring Gangsta’s Paradise. Based on the book My Posse Don’t Do Homework by LouAnne Johnson. Let’s go!

Dangerous Minds (1995) – BMeTric: 15.8; Notability: 40 

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 43.2%; Notability: top 28.4%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 22.8% Higher BMeT: Showgirls, Vampire in Brooklyn, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Fair Game, Batman Forever, Congo, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, Tank Girl, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, The Babysitter, Judge Dredd, Nine Months, A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, Operation Dumbo Drop, Jade, The Scarlet Letter, Johnny Mnemonic, Man of the House, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, and 33 more; Higher Notability: Batman Forever, Congo, Judge Dredd, Virtuosity, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, Showgirls, Four Rooms, Stuart Saves His Family, Assassins, Panther, Money Train, Tank Girl, Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead, Jade, Jefferson in Paris, Hackers, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Canadian Bacon, Free Willy 2: The Adventure Home, Nine Months, and 4 more; Lower RT: A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, It Takes Two, The Hunted, The Tie That Binds, Vampire in Brooklyn, Bushwhacked, The Pebble and the Penguin, Fair Game, Johnny Mnemonic, The Scarlet Letter, Four Rooms, Three Wishes, Jade, Canadian Bacon, Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde, Houseguest, Man of the House, Reckless, Two Much and 22 more; Notes: That is a shockingly high IMDb rating … I guess maybe that’s what you get when the only thing really notable about a film is the incredible rap single used in its advertisements.

RogerEbert.com – 1.5 stars – “Dangerous Minds” tells another one of those uplifting parables in which the dedicated teacher takes on a schoolroom full of rebellious malcontents, and wins them over with an unorthodox approach. Movies like this are inevitably “based on a real story.” Maybe they tell you that because otherwise you’d think they were pure fantasy.

(This review is really really worth reading. The end of it speaks to why critics, I think, wholesale rejected the film. The film is made about an urban school, but for a suburban audience. It is a really good review that succinctly explains why the film fails the book and the audience.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gA-5nLQCmW8/

(Oh shit, the goddamn song kicking in got me amped! And then I just remembered this is a run of the mill white savior “these kids just need a fair shot!” type drama. But I haven’t seem many of those, so bring it on.)

Directors – John N. Smith – (Known For: A Cool, Dry Place; Love & Savagery; Train of Dreams; Geraldine’s Fortune; Sitting in Limbo; Welcome to Canada; The Masculine Mystique; BMT: Dangerous Minds; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for the short First Winter. Canadian, seemed to have retired in 2009.)

Writers – LouAnne Johnson (book) – (BMT: Dangerous Minds; Notes: Basically her only other credit is the Dangerous Minds television show which came out in 1996 and ran for 17 episodes.)

Ronald Bass (screenplay) – (Known For: Rain Man; My Best Friend’s Wedding; What Dreams May Come; Stepmom; Before We Go; When a Man Loves a Woman; Waiting to Exhale; The Joy Luck Club; How Stella Got Her Groove Back; Black Widow; Gardens of Stone; Snow Flower and the Secret Fan; Passion of Mind; Mozart and the Whale; La boda de mi mejor amigo; Space Warriors; Code Name: Emerald; The Lazarus Child; Future BMT: Amelia; Entrapment; Snow Falling on Cedars; BMT: Sleeping with the Enemy; Dangerous Minds; Notes: Won an Oscar for Rain Man. He appeared to have done a ton of uncredited rewrites in the 90s (including things like a Spielberg film), and was also a creator on the aforementioned Dangerous Minds television show.)

Actors – Michelle Pfeiffer – (Known For: Avengers: Endgame; Ant-Man and the Wasp; Scarface; Stardust; Mother!; Murder on the Orient Express; French Exit; Batman Returns; Hairspray; The Age of Innocence; The Prince of Egypt; What Lies Beneath; Dangerous Liaisons; One Fine Day; The Witches of Eastwick; Wolf; Tequila Sunrise; Ladyhawke; White Oleander; Amazon Women on the Moon; Future BMT: Grease 2; The Story of Us; Dark Shadows; The Family; To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday; Up Close & Personal; Maleficent: Mistress of Evil; Into the Night; I Am Sam; BMT: New Year’s Eve; A Thousand Acres; Dangerous Minds; Notes: Nominated three times for an Oscar, for Love Field, The Fabulous Baker Boys, and Dangerous Liasons. Her sister Dedee Pfeiffer is also an actress.)

George Dzundza – (Known For: Basic Instinct; The Deer Hunter; Crimson Tide; No Way Out; The Beast of War; White Hunter Black Heart; City by the Sea; No Man’s Land; The Happy Hooker; Adam and Eve; Streamers; Impulse; The Chosen One; Trading Favors; Massage Parlor Murders!; Honor Bound; Future BMT: That Darn Cat; The Butcher’s Wife; Instinct; BMT: Species II; No Mercy; Dangerous Minds; Notes: I know him mostly for one of his rare television roles, he was one of the two main cops during the first season or two of Law & Order. He’s very much a “that guy” in that he’s almost exclusively known for character parts, not starring roles.)

Courtney B. Vance – (Known For: Project Power; Isle of Dogs; The Hunt for Red October; Holy Matrimony; Final Destination 5; The Photograph; Space Cowboys; Office Christmas Party; Ben Is Back; The Divide; Hamburger Hill; D-Tox; Uncorked; Nothing But the Truth; The Preacher’s Wife; The Adventures of Huck Finn; The Last Supper; Beyond the Law; Hurricane Season; Cookie’s Fortune; Future BMT: Joyful Noise; Terminator Genisys; Extraordinary Measures; Panther; BMT: The Mummy; Dangerous Minds; Notes: Blew up a few years ago for his performance as Johnnie Cochran in American Crime Story (which he won an Emmy for). Went to Harvard.)

Budget/Gross – $23 million / Domestic: $84,919,401 (Worldwide: $179,519,401)

(Huuuuuge success. According to the notes, it was released under Pfeiffer’s production company which ended up giving her the ability to start producing her own projects afterwards. So that’s nice.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 29% (12/41): Rife with stereotypes that undermine its good intentions, Dangerous Minds is too blind to see that the ones it hurts are the audience.

(Yep, that is basically what Ebert said. Again, read his review, it is well worth it. Reviewer Highlight: The tale screenwriter Ronald Bass came up with, and the way director John N. Smith tells it, is stereotypical, predictable and simplified to the point of meaninglessness. – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times)

Poster – Dangerous Sklogs

(Overall, I don’t mind this, mostly because if I saw it in a theater I’d be interested in it, which is the point. Doesn’t tell me much, though, and the color scheme isn’t cohesive. So merely not the worst. C.)

Tagline(s) – She Broke The Rules… And Changed Their Lives. ()

(Looks like the main poster didn’t have a tagline, so this must be an alternate. You can tell as the poster is better off without it. The cadence is OK and does sum up the film in a way. But not clever or short enough to break out from the middle. C+.)

Keyword – urban setting

Top 10: Coming to America (1988), Birds of Prey (2020), Inception (2010), Joker (2019), The Dark Knight (2008), Black Panther (2018), Seven (1995), Back to the Future (1985), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Future BMT: 78.6 Superhero Movie (2008), 68.7 Supergirl (1984), 63.9 Underdog (2007), 63.7 The Crow: City of Angels (1996), 61.9 Poltergeist III (1988), 54.3 Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2005), 50.6 My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988), 50.2 The Wild (2006), 44.1 B*A*P*S (1997), 43.0 I Love Trouble (1994);

BMT: RoboCop 2 (1990), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014), Predator 2 (1990), The Happening (2008), Shaft (2019), Death Wish (2018), Battle Los Angeles (2011), Catwoman (2004), Superman III (1983), RoboCop 3 (1993), Red Dawn (2012), Dangerous Minds (1995), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Punisher: War Zone (2008), The Specialist (1994), Alex Cross (2012), Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), New York Minute (2004), Max Payne (2008), Daylight (1996), The Bonfire of the Vanities (1990), Vampire in Brooklyn (1995), Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li (2009), Exit Wounds (2001), Dragon Wars (2007), Knock Off (1998), Never Die Alone (2004)

(Not very many good keywords here, so I kind of wanted to see if there was any rise in big films set in cities during the crime panic of the late-80s / early-90s … there wasn’t. Even the Future BMT list is pretty lame. Sorry, this one is one me, I blew it.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 19) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: John Neville is No. 5 billed in Dangerous Minds and No. 7 billed in Urban Legend, which also stars Alicia Witt (No. 1 billed) who is in 88 Minutes (No. 2 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 5 + 7 + 1 + 2 + 3 + 1 = 19. If we were to watch The Story of Us, Last Man Standing, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 13.

Notes – Michelle Pfeiffer was pregnant during production. Although shot out of sequence like most films, it becomes apparent when methods are used to hide the actress’ stomach. Methods such as long skirts and bulky sweaters along with scenes where Pfeiffer is shown carrying large objects were used.

Originally entitled “My Posse Don’t Do Homework”, the name of the book from which this true story was taken. (Huh, terrible name)

Released under Michelle Pfeiffer’s production company, the movie’s success bolstered Pfeiffer’s reputation as an actress/producer.

Andy Garcia’s scenes as Louanne’s love interest were filmed but cut.

A running gag involves confusion between two lyrical men of words: Dylan Thomas and Bob Dylan. The similarity between the two names is not coincidental, as the latter adopted his performance name as a tribute to the former.

The actor who played Emelio, Wade Dominguez, died 3 years after the 1995 film was released ( in 1998 ) of respiratory failure.

One of the last films worked on by producer Don Simpson. He helped pick songs for the film soundtrack.

“This Is The Life”, is a song that features on the film’s original soundtrack, and is performed by ‘Wendy And Lisa’ In the 1980’s, both of these artists were from Prince’s band ‘The Revolution’, and even acted alongside him, in his movie, “Purple Rain”. If you listen carefully to the music for “This is The Life” and “Purple Rain”, you will notice, that they both have exactly the same music in their intro.

The real Emilio Ramírez wasn’t murdered, he graduated high school spent four years in the Marine Corps and is alive and well living in California with his wife and two children.

Rising Sun Recap

Jamie

Web Smith is a police liaison called in to mediate a homicide found during a big time Japanese business’s gala. Surprisingly he is asked to bring along Capt. Conner, a police expert on Japan. Soon it becomes clear that there is more to the homicide than the company will let on. Can Web and Conner untangle the dastardly web of deceit before it’s too late? Find out in… Rising Sun.

How?! Web Smith is just trying to raise his daughter and do his job as a police liaison. One night he gets a call to help mediate a homicide call at a highfalutin Japanese business gala attended by all the bigwigs in town. Curiously, he is also asked to pick up Captain Conner, a semi-retired police expert on Japan. When they get to the crime scene the party continues uninterrupted while the crime scene is teaming with the company’s men. It becomes clear that they just want the whole thing dismissed, but Web and Conner are suspicious. Particularly when they discover that some of the tapes are missing from the state-of-the-art surveillance in the building. They suspect the boyfriend of the victim, Eddie, in the crime and cover up and when the missing disc shows up it appears to confirm their suspicions. They raid Eddie’s house only to have him flee and appear to die in a fiery crash. The next day they find that Eddie attempted to contact them about the missing disc and so they decide to take it to an expert who shows them how the film was manipulated. Returning to Web’s apartment, Web and Conner are shocked to find Eddie there alive and well. Someone else had died in the crash. He gives them the original surveillance tape, but the Yakuza show up and kill him and attempt to kill Web. After regrouping they view the tape and find that the killer appears to be Senator Morton, a powerful politician who was holding up a big acquisition for the Japanese company. The tape was being used to blackmail him, but in fact showed that someone else came into the room and killed the girl after he left. Wanting to smoke out the rat, Web and Conner go to a big meeting at the company and show the tape. Panicking, one of the lawyers flees and is ultimately killed closing the case, although leaving doubts as to how high the conspiracy could have gone. Bum bum bum. THE END.

Why?! Unfortunately, Web’s motivations are the least interesting in the film. Just doing his job. The Japanese company is a bit more interesting. They want to acquire an American microchip company , which is causing some concern in the government due to the connection of that company to national defense. Senator Morton initially is blocking the merger in the name of sovereignty, but ultimately is swayed though blackmail. Low key the most interesting motivation is Conner, who is semi-retired and living it up golfing and chilling with the wealthy Japanese businessmen of LA. There is some implication that he ends up turning a blind eye to the involvement of some of the particularly powerful people involved in the crime in order to keep his good standing (and great tee times) with them… kind of a last minute anti-hero twist for Connery.

Who?! Rooted in “real” economic concerns, the film also has “real” TV news entertainment segments in it. This includes a segment with Senator Morton hosted by Michael Kinsley and including a few well known journalists. Most interesting of the bunch is Pat Choate who went on to be Ross Perot’s running mate in the 1996 presidential election. Given his political stances, it actually makes perfect sense he appears in this film.

What?! There is something to be said here about fake businesses cooked up for BMT films. Here Nakamoto is portrayed as a powerful keiretsu housed in the Two California Plaza skyscraper. In Die Hard they have the fictional Nakatomi corporation housed in the Fox Plaza. Same companies? Different companies? Doesn’t matter. It tells you where Hollywood’s headspace was heading into the early 90’s collapse of the Japanese economy. 

Where?! Extremely solid LA film, to the point where I think you’d have to give it an A. I’m not sure there is another city in the United States that you could set this film and for it to still make sense. Unless you were to change the focus and thus the name… and thus pretty much everything about it. Funny enough, I think I had always assumed this was a film set in Japan. Tells you how little I knew about it before diving in.When?! The phone call to Web to get over to Nakamoto occurs at 9pm February 9th according to the testimony we see him giving in periodic flash forwards… turns out the testimony is from after Eddie is killed, Web gets shot, and then he gets put on leave. So really it’s like a flash middle. Fun to think that the climax of the film takes place 4 days after the date given… meaning we came very close to a Super Secret Holiday Film Alert with this taking place on Valentine’s Day. A- just for that fact.

When?! The phone call to Web to get over to Nakamoto occurs at 9pm February 9th according to the testimony we see him giving in periodic flash forwards… turns out the testimony is from after Eddie is killed, Web gets shot, and then he gets put on leave. So really it’s like a flash middle. Fun to think that the climax of the film takes place 4 days after the date given… meaning we came very close to a Super Secret Holiday Film Alert with this taking place on Valentine’s Day. A- just for that fact.

There were a number of critiques levied at the book and then the film adaptation for their portrayals of Japanese culture and business practices. For good reason! The book is even harsher, but you get the drift from the film as well. An unending stream of pejorative statements about Japanese business and America’s willingness to sell to them. Crichton defended the book as a purely economic argument, which might have gone over better if the Japanese economy wasn’t in the midst of a severe crash at the time of publication and then the film’s release. So it comes off as more rooted in xenophobia than the economic reality of the situation. All that being said up front, I think the film is otherwise just an adequate buddy cop police procedural. At times it lacks some direction and forward momentum, but I actually think it’s a bit of an improvement over the book. The book is just kinda boring, with a pretty bland main character and then Conner, who was clearly written with Connery in mind (but aren’t all Crichton characters… think about it). It feels like Crichton was more interested in getting his specific (offensive) point across and then built a generic police procedural around it. Of his books I’ve read it’s pretty easily my least favorite. As for After We Collided, I enjoyed watching the first one, I enjoyed watching this one, and I’ll enjoy watching the next one. They are real dumb and chock full o’ product placement, which gives a good laugh. I will also contend that, unlike Fifty Shades, this series actually has a purpose. It is about a young girl in love with an addict and the hope and desire that their love can ultimately overcome his trauma and his disease. He is not a bad person, but he has a problem and the depiction of their relationship is done more deftly than this dumbo series kinda deserves. So it’s not total trash. Patrick?

Patrick

‘Ello everyone! A pinch of noir, a dash of buddy cop, and juuuuuuuuuust a little (read: a lot) of cultural insensitivity, and you got a Rising Sun cooking baby! Let’s go!

P’s View on the Preview – This movie has actually been on my radar for a long time … although mostly because I’ve been continually disappointed it wasn’t set in Japan. It would definitely be the best set-in-Japan bad movie ever, but alas, they set it in Los Angeles like dummies. Yawn. Always fun to hit up a Crichton though, they always scream “90s” to me. Just something about him. What were my expectations? I had a problem: I hadn’t seen much noir, and I hadn’t seen much Snipes. So I was mostly going into it curious to see how it played.

The Good – I liked the dynamic between Snipes and Connery. It works as an odd couple pairing. A despite the Hollywood-style exploration of Japanese business culture that feels both racist and immediately outdated, I did enjoy the specific moment where they exposed Connery’s character’s hypocrisy, specifically his attitude towards the bribe he was effectively given early in the film. Among an otherwise muddled film there were a few things that still seemed to at least focus the film in an interesting way. Best Bit: The buddy cops.

The Bad – I mean … the immediately outdated and racist portrayal of Japanese customs and business culture? That’s it isn’t it? Even if you wanted to dismiss that all as pearl-clutching nonsense, the film was made in 1993, well after the Japanese economy entered a recession, and so at very best the Japanese business villains come across as Hollywood feeling around for a Big Bad after the collapse of the USSR. Other than that boring and borderline confusing are probably the biggest slights. Fatal Flaw: Racism.

The BMT – This is certainly a unique film at the very least. I’m not sure how many other films even exist with the Japanese business world as the bad guy … Gung Ho maybe. Remember that film? About like … making a lot of cars or something? Anyways, I think I ultimately enjoyed the underlying noir element too much to think about watching this again, but the specific time it was made makes it an interesting one time watch. Did it meet my expectations? As a noir I guess not, I kind of expected Connery to be a PI. But maybe once I watch more noir I’ll know better. As a Snipes film also maybe not? I got the distinct feeling he was playing himself in the film, but I haven’t watched enough of his films to know better. I’m giving myself an Incomplete on this assignment.

Roast-radamus – A pretty good Setting as a Character (Where?) because how can you create a noir film without setting it in LA? A very amusing, and borderline super-secret holiday film, Exact Temporal Setting (When?) for the fact that all of the events take place between February 9th and February 13th, one day off from being an incredible Valentine’s Day film! And finally Worst Twist (How?) for having the same twist as The Skulls whereby the person who was killed wasn’t actually dead until someone else came into the room and killed her! Solid stuff, with the overall film being closest to Good I think.

Sequel, Prequel, Remake – The Sequel is obvious here. A year after the events of the film Webster Smith gets an urgent letter from Jingo Asakuma that John Conner is back in Japan and in serious trouble! But when Webster arrives in Tokyo neither Conner or Asakuma can be found. In fact, Conner is wanted for question in connection to the disappearance of Asakuma a week prior. Huh, how odd. Webster, using some of the connections he had developed from the first film, ends up unwinding the strange tale of Conner’s return to Japan after decades in self-exile to discover who was responsible in the death of his old friend Yoshida. Along the way the daughter of the desk bound and contrite Ishihara helps Webster to navigate the underworld of modern Tokyo and the ever changing dynamics of the international business world. You have to know what the name is right? … Setting Sun. Boom, I think I just sold that spec on title alone. Call me Crichton, you can even write the book.

You Just Got Schooled – This one a film where I couldn’t quite decide whether to do a Snipes film or a noir. I went noir as I haven’t seen many of the classics and I’ve been watching only bad movies for too long. Naturally, I had to go for one of the best with Double Indemnity, which seems to be considered the noir to watch if you are looking for a definitive list. I was definitely thrown a bit by the subject matter and dialogue, because I’m mostly used to the Maltese Falcon where it is about a private detective / femme fatale dynamic. The insurance salesman, and the way he spoke, just really threw me off. But ultimately the perfect murder plot line is very engrossing and I can see why it is considered among the creme de la creme for the genre. Edward G. Robinson was particularly good. It ended up being the perfect choice because it broke me out of the mindset of noir = private eye, and I can see now why Rising Sun is considered to at least take inspiration from film noir (even if it is closer to a buddy cop film from the 80s). A+, obviously, it is a great film.

Bring a Friend Analysis – A pretty special week since we were able to bring along a BMT sequel as a friend, After We Collided, the sequel to the YA-romance novel-turned-movie After. The film is basically nonsense, but in that very special modern filmmaking kind of way. It appears to be something like six sex scenes held together by modular “destination” plot lines (a jaunt to the ice rink, a babysitting gig, a hot yoga session, etc.). Basically, it seems like the film could have been filmed by 20 different directors and then stitched together in any order they wanted at the end. Oh, and it is also one giant commercial for Amazon. It can’t be a coincidence I was watching the film on Amazon Prime while the main character is getting a Kindle as a gift. There was a storyline in this film … it just isn’t coming to me. Something like alcoholism is bad news, and you should make amends with your dad? Something like that. B+. I love YA-nonsense. This was kind of cheating because by all accounts this should have been released to theaters if not for the pandemic. But I’m glad we get to continue our journey into this YA-romance series.

Cheerios,

The Sklogs

Rising Sun Quiz

Oh boy, so I was called in as a special consultant on a murder inside a large Japanese conglomerate’s Los Angeles headquarters, and then wouldn’t you know it, but I was bopped on the head by some yakuza and don’t remember a thing! Do you remember what happened in Rising Sun?

Pop Quiz Hot Shot!

1) Who is the murder victim and what is her relationship to the Nakamoto Group and how did she die? 

2) Why is it explained that Connery took indefinite leave from the Los Angeles police department?

3) Why does Connery let Eddie go without questioning or arresting him at the party later on the evening of Feb 9th? 

4) Did Webb take a bribe? Why?

5) So … who killed the girl? Walk me through the events.

Bonus Question: Detective John Conner retires soon after the events of the film, what does he do after leaving the force (officially)?

Answers

Rising Sun Preview

“Get outta my way,” Patrick says gruffly, shoving the security guard out of his seat and setting up shop at the bank of security cameras. It’s not that he doesn’t trust Jamie, it’s just that sometimes he thinks with his greased up, rock hard muscles rather than his brain and they need a clue and fast. He watches the screens, sensing the many unfolding dramas, comedies, and dramedies in the lives of the residents of the building. “Intoxicating, isn’t it?” says the security guard hovering close over Patrick’s shoulder like a total creepster. Patrick looks at his nametag and back up to the creepily smirking guard, “I don’t want to have to use a patented Twin Chop on you, Zeke.” As he sulks away, Patrick shakes his head… Creepy Zeke… what a creep. Anyway, preserving the privacy of the other residents, Patrick finally lands on Rachel’s apartment where aha! She’s got a knife! But before he runs to bust in and take her down he sees that in fact Jamie and Rachel are just enjoying some cake. But what’s this?! Now she’s got a gun! Halfway out the room, though, he realizes that it’s just a BB gun to scare away the pigeons. He starts to get bored when something catches his eye. She’s got some nunchucks! Knowing there isn’t any innocuous explanation for nunchuck action, Patrick races upstairs and kicks in the door. Jamie and Rachel whirl in disbelief. “What are you doing here, bro?” Jamie asks, letting his new nunchucks fall to his side, clearly a present from Rachel for their wonderful day together. Patrick is ashamed, but before he can go, Rachel invites him in. “We were about to watch the sunrise together, would you… like to join?” With tears in his eyes, Patrick accepts. That’s right! We’re watching Rising Sun starring Sean Connery and Wesley Snipes. Another Crichton adaptation for BMT and one that generated some controversy at the time for how both the book and the film depict Japanese people. So no wonder it qualifies. We paired it for Bring a Friend with one of our most anticipated releases of last year that was supposed to be released to theaters but ended up on Netflix instead. After We Collided, sequel to BMT film After and continuing adaptation of the After series, gets this coveted spot. How is it connected to Rising Sun? It isn’t, we just wanted to watch it… deal with it. Let’s go!

Rising Sun (1993) – BMeTric: 22.8; Notability: 63 

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 30.0%; Notability: top 4.8%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 30.9% Higher BMeT: Super Mario Bros., RoboCop 3, Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III, Leprechaun, Mr. Nanny, Cop & ½, Sliver, The Beverly Hillbillies, Coneheads, Boxing Helena, Weekend at Bernie’s II, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Made in America, Son of the Pink Panther, Carnosaur, Dennis the Menace, Surf Ninjas, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, The Meteor Man, and 26 more; Higher Notability: Last Action Hero, Hocus Pocus, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, RoboCop 3, The Meteor Man; 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, Hear No Evil, Sliver, Surf Ninjas, Another Stakeout, My Boyfriend’s Back, Cop & ½, Gunmen, Boxing Helena, Loaded Weapon 1, Striking Distance and 36 more; Notes: Sub-5.0 for most of its existence, which is pretty impressive. It’s notability is gaudy though. I guess it was another Crichton in 1993 though so everyone was picking up.

RogerEbert.com – 2 stars – “Rising Sun” is, of course, a slick, goodlooking movie. Kaufman is one of the best American directors (“The Right Stuff,” “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”), and he has a sure visual sense. But the screenplay by Kaufman, Crichton and Michael Backes is not about much of anything important, and Connery’s deep penetrating wisdom takes away some of the suspense: If he knows everything that’s going to happen, why keep us in the dark?

(I do think one of the most interesting bits of the film is that the director himself was very good, and the actors involved were solid. I guess given some of the notes that the producers meddled too much, foisted a bunch of changes from the book, and everything blew up. But who knows.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mb-s5IRn7Y/

(Wesley Snipes was actually a 5th degree black belt in Shotokan karate and a 2nd degree black belt in Hapkido. I should watch more Snipes films. This makes me wonder in how many films he actually got to show off his skills. Most of his filmography feels like martial arts would be somewhat out of place.)

Directors – Philip Kaufman – (Known For: The Right Stuff; The Unbearable Lightness of Being; Invasion of the Body Snatchers; Quills; The Wanderers; Henry & June; The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid; The White Dawn; Fearless Frank; Goldstein; BMT: Twisted; Rising Sun; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for writing The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Has a son Peter Kaufman who executive produced his films in the 90s.)

Writers – Michael Crichton (novel & screenplay) – (Known For: Jurassic Park; Jurassic World; Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom; The Lost World: Jurassic Park; Twister; Jurassic Park III; Westworld; Disclosure; Runaway; The Andromeda Strain; Coma; Looker; The First Great Train Robbery; The Carey Treatment; The Terminal Man; Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues; Extreme Close-Up; Future BMT: Sphere; BMT: Congo; Timeline; Rising Sun; The 13th Warrior; Razzie Notes: Winner for Worst Written Film Grossing Over $100 Million for Twister in 1997; Notes: Won a technical Emmy for “pioneering computerized motion picture budgeting and scheduling” in 1995. Was a medical student prior to becoming a best-selling author.)

Philip Kaufman (screenplay) – (Known For: Raiders of the Lost Ark; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull; The Right Stuff; The Outlaw Josey Wales; The Unbearable Lightness of Being; The Wanderers; Henry & June; The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid; Fearless Frank; Goldstein; BMT: Rising Sun; Notes: Notably helped George Lucas come up with the actual plot for Raiders of the Lost Ark, specifically the Ark storyline, which is why he gets credits on all of the Indiana Jones stuff.)

Michael Backes (screenplay) – (BMT: Rising Sun; Notes: Was a technical consultant on a ton of films (including Real Genius). Got into the biz because his then-wife Martha Coolidge directed Crichton’s wife in a pilot (Sledge Hammer!) and they introduced their husbands.)

Actors – Sean Connery – (Known For: The Untouchables; Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves; Highlander; Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade; The Rock; A Bridge Too Far; The Man Who Would Be King; Thunderball; From Russia with Love; Murder on the Orient Express; Dr. No; Goldfinger; Time Bandits; The Name of the Rose; You Only Live Twice; Diamonds Are Forever; DragonHeart; Zardoz; Never Say Never Again; First Knight; Future BMT: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; Family Business; A Good Man in Africa; Entrapment; Just Cause; The Man with the Deadly Lens; BMT: The Avengers; Highlander II: The Quickening; Medicine Man; Rising Sun; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for The Avengers in 1999; and Nominee for Worst Screen Couple for Entrapment in 2000; Notes: Y’all know Sean Connery. Sadly passed away last year, but he was mostly retired and like 90 years old, so he lived a good long life. The definitive Jame Bond I think, and got third in the 1953 Mr. Universe competition (Junior class, although it is somewhat unclear).)

Wesley Snipes – (Known For: Blade; Blade II; Cut Throat City; Dolemite Is My Name; White Men Can’t Jump; New Jack City; Major League; King of New York; Chi-Raq; Waiting to Exhale; Jungle Fever; Chaos; Mo’ Better Blues; Brooklyn’s Finest; Undisputed; Final Recall; Gallowwalkers; One Night Stand; Drop Zone; Future BMT: Money Train; Boiling Point; The Art of War; Play It to the Bone; Blade: Trinity; The Fan; Passenger 57; Murder at 1600; Wildcats; Sugar Hill; U.S. Marshals; To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar; Streets of Gold; BMT: The Expendables 3; Rising Sun; Demolition Man; Notes: I didn’t know much about his tax issues, but it seems likely he is a genuine sovereign citizen and feels like it is illegal for the government to tax him. He served three years in federal prison for his shenanigans.)

Harvey Keitel – (Known For: Pulp Fiction; Inglourious Basterds; Taxi Driver; The Grand Budapest Hotel; The Irishman; Reservoir Dogs; Red Dragon; From Dusk Till Dawn; Isle of Dogs; Moonrise Kingdom; National Treasure; Fatima; Sister Act; Get Shorty; The Piano; Thelma & Louise; Mean Streets; Youth; The Painted Bird; Future BMT: Little Nicky; Little Fockers; Arthur and the Invisibles; The January Man; National Treasure: Book of Secrets; BMT: The Ridiculous 6; Be Cool; Rising Sun; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Supporting Actor for The Last Temptation of Christ in 1989; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for Bugsy. Notably for working with Quentin Tarantino in particular, and worked as a stenographer when he was a struggling actor.)

Budget/Gross – $40 million / Domestic: $63,179,523 (Worldwide: $107,198,790)

(That seems mostly okay. I always say this, but I’m sure they were expecting more from a Crichton adaptation coming hot on the heels of Jurassic Park, but for a noir detective thing it seems pretty good for the 90s.)

Rotten Tomatoes – 32% (13/40)

(Let’s make a consensus: A muddled genre-bending mess. At times a political thriller, a noir, a buddy cop film, Rising Sun never seems to be anything but confusing. Reviewer Highlight: When working in genre territory before, the idiosyncratic Kaufman has shown a marked tendency to debunk or subvert conventions. Playing it straight here, he brings little to the table. – Todd McCarthy, Variety)

Poster – Rising Sklog

(Ummmm yes. Yes. Yes. Yes…. yes. I’m into that. Yes. I like everything about it. Only critique I can even come up with is maybe a little too action-y given that the film is more a noir murder mystery. A.)

Tagline(s) – A coalition of East and West. A conspiracy of seduction and murder. A battle between tradition and power. Business is war. (D)

(Egad! I will chalk this up to the fact that the poster actually doesn’t have a tagline (boo) so this must be some extra bullshit. I mean they clearly know what a tagline is. They have the rule of three and stuff, but come on. Who’s reading this?)

Keyword – yakuza

Top 10: Avengers: Endgame (2019), Suicide Squad (2016), Deadpool 2 (2018), Kill Bill: Vol. 1 (2003), Beverly Hills Ninja (1997), The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), The Wolverine (2013), Predators (2010), Ghost in the Shell (2017), Big Hero 6 (2014)

Future BMT: 47.0 Beverly Hills Ninja (1997), 34.5 Suicide Squad (2016), 26.8 War (2007), 23.6 Ninja Assassin (2009);

BMT: The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006), Johnny Mnemonic (1995), RoboCop 3 (1993), Rising Sun (1993)

(I wonder if the Yakuza being baddies in film basically represents Japan still being perceived as an economic threat to the U.S., but that perception not really being updated after the collapse of their economy in 1991 … anyways, not that surprising it constantly rises as I think Japanese culture (e.g. anime) has become more and more popular from the late 90s onwards. My god, I can’t wait to watch Beverly Hills Ninja again.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 14) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Wesley Snipes is No. 2 billed in Rising Sun and No. 2 billed in Demolition Man, 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) => 2 + 2 + 1 + 1 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 1 = 14. If we were to watch Murder at 1600, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 9.

Notes – Michael Crichton wrote the part of Connor with Sir Sean Connery in mind.

The Sempai and Kohai relationship is touched upon during the movie, however there were a couple of problems. In Japan, “Sempai” is often used as an address and as a show of respect to one’s superior. “Kohai”, on the other hand, can be considered offensive when used to address an individual directly, as it is “putting someone in his place.” Hence Captain John Connor (Sir Sean Connery) effectively insults Lieutenant Webster Smith (Wesley Snipes) throughout the movie. Given that Connor is supposed to be well versed in Japanese customs, this action should be taken very seriously. “Kohai” is normally used as a reference, not an address. For example: Smith is the Kohai of Connor.

Michael Crichton and Michael Backes quit the project, largely over disagreements with writer and director Philip Kaufman, that one of the lead characters should be changed into an African-American.

Eddie’s (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa’s) red car is a Vector W8, an American-made supercar with a top speed of 242 mph.

In the scene at the country club, the advice that Senator Morton tells the detectives is “If the battle can’t be won, don’t fight it.” That quote is from the book “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu.

The building housing the company “Hamaguri”, where the video recording ‘could be doctored’, is the same building housing Starfleet Headquarters in Star Trek: Voyager. (Bomb, I love Voyager)

The second of three movies released in as many years featuring Harvey Keitel and Steve Buscemi. The others being Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994).

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