ROOM 101
by Mark Ashley

directed by Quentin Tarantino.

This is one muthafuckin repugnant film. I mean it's so muthafuckin slow and dull it makes you want to puke your guts out just for something interesting to do. This guy Tarantino's supposed to be the MAN, but like this is film is so full of muthafuckin shit that I recon the guy's lost it. The music is just so incredibly sleep inducing that I swear I fell asleep, I aint shittin'. It's like the guy's living his life backwards, he makes these great muthafuckin movies then comes up with this muthafuckin infantile shit that's no fuckin use to anyone, I mean where does he get off. That Reservoir Dogs had these damn cool muthafuckers and that real sharp dialogue, you know, all that Madonna shit and stuff. Jackie Brown has just got all this cliched gun talk.

Tracking shots! Muthafuckin tracking shots! You know the great thing about Europe? It's the little differences, NOT so many fuckin dull endless boring FUCKIN TRACKING SHOTS!

The whole thing is like someone else has tried to copy Tarantino and missed the point, like with a oldies soundtrack, muthafuckin gangster talk, a mixed bag of characters, and that touch of violence. But the man has lost it, like he's left it lying in a warehouse bleeding to death. And there aint no muthafuckin way on this earth he's ever gonna get it back.

CONTACT (PG) [**...]
directed by Robert Zemeckis.

A very promising story badly marred by bad pacing and endless cliches. It starts with a young girl clearly searching the airwaves for the voice of her dead mother, i.e. heaven. We then get a strong indication that she also does not believe in God. So, we have a film about science verses faith, with a clear indication of the punchline - she will accept the true nature of her search and the necessity of faith, i.e. God makes girl, God loses girl, girl goes out with science for a bit, God gets girl - a good old-fashioned love story. The whole thing seems to be an attempt to treat the subject of alien contact seriously and examine the global and spiritual consequences of proof of the existence or alien life, i.e. the EXACT opposite of Independence Day. It is a shame that it isn't even close to opposite, and in many cases falls into exactly the same traps, stock characters, poor dialog, and blinkered environment.

We have the blind man with super-human hearing and smell, the man-in-controls who is sceptical, corrupt and nasty - no redeeming features at all, the government official who is obsessed with alien invasion, and the eccentric millionaire who controls EVERYTHING, and what about the evangelist terrorist - I couldn't tell that THAT was going to happen.

We have the constantly repeated phrase "... But if it's just us, it would be an awful waste of space," the terrible dialog with the aliens, half her father half avuncular entity, and her passionate "what if man had been too afraid to build the aeroplane" speech.

We have a nice jungle scene to indicate the nutty/hippie scientists, a BIG office were she goes to get the money, also the dark, close room in the plane with all the surveillance cameras, and everything centres on the good old U.S.A. Oh, and did you notice the "British" news reporter wearing a tweed suit and a bow tie?

Almost all of the film is made up of things you've seen before, the business meeting with the boss secretly looking in (Working Girl), the use of a real President (Forrest Gump), the blind man who "discovers" the hidden secret (Sneakers), the military obsession with invasion (Independence Day etc.), the little girl at the funeral (Silence of the Lambs) and from the same film the whole business of men versus women. Of course I still haven't mentioned the obvious glaring CRIME that has been committed by Zemeckis, the THEFT of the 2001 transportation experience, admittedly it was nicely done, but if Kubrik had made it today it would probably be better (did you notice the brief hint of "Also Sprach" during the sequence - he couldn't even be bothered to get new music).

It was too long, had too many slow moments with no clear pay off, although the slow beginning could have been to represent the hours spent listening to static before they finally get THE signal. But, if that was the case then the rest of the film should have been better.

Like Forrest Gump, this film has too many loose threads dangling around looking for a needle. He never really gets down and makes his point, he always seems to be adding another idea until we are swamped with bit and pieces all over the place. Why was the priest lapsed, the only reason that I can see is so that he could sleep with Jodie Foster - which added NOTHING to the story. What was Rob Lowe doing, I am still trying to think of ONE good reason for his character (unless it's just to get work for Rob Lowe).

And Bill Clinton was a BIG mistake, it simply dates the film.

I read something on the internet that suggests it was taken from an award winning novel, in which case it's a shame it wasn't given to a good director, the kind that can take a story and TELL it, not turn it into an excuse for more special effects. I know I always say this, but I think Rob Reiner would have done a much better job.

Lastly I think the PG certificate was a bad idea, not because of the content, but because it is impossible to watch with bored children shuffling around behind you (and I speak from experience).

directed by Kenneth Branagh.

The problems that I have with this film start with the original script. One night I picked up The Complete Shakespeare just to read a few pages, I turned to this play and couple of hours later put it down finished, and though to myself "is that it?" I still find it hard to believe that the same person wrote King Lear. Much Ado was predictable, formula, without challenge or originality, and the "comedy" scenes were some of the worst.

The film didn't start out too well with a comical gratuitous nude scene with the women desperately washing, ready for the men coming home from ... something ... ? And then Emma Thompson sang the nauseating "Hey Nonny Nonny." The highlights of this composition include the "amusing" deck-chair scene, Kenneth Branagh's "comedy" Spanish accent, The Good Life's own Dicky Briers (who isn't too bad really, but it was impossible to banish the phantom of Jerry and Margot hovering round with a gin and tonic) and Ben Elton playing Pythonesque airhorse to Michael Keaton's Benny Hill impression, I still wonder which film he thought he was in.

The only two performances which were OK were by Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves, Denzel was a fairly standard princely type ... er ... Prince, and Keanu survived mainly by trying to play it as straight and moody as possible (although I could not suppress the occasional visions of Bill and Ted).

The real problem lies with Kenneth Branagh's reputation as a gifted Shakespearean actor. I am not a fan of Shakespeare, and I am not an English scholar, but it seems blindingly obvious to me that the two central characters start by hating each other, then, through their friends' psychology games, begin to like each other, then FINALLY to love each other. When each first mistakenly discovers that the other is in love with them they simply question their own feeling, they do NOT immediately fall head over heels in love in return (literally in Branagh's case - the fountain scene).

Frankly I found the whole thing an embarrassment. If you want to see this play done well watch the BBC version starring Jenny Agutter.

CineScene 1999