Side Effects (2005)
This is a film about the marketing process involving pharmaceutical
reps and doctors. It was written and directed by a woman who was a
pharmaceutical rep for ten years.
"So," you are thinking, "is that a
Well, let me ask you a question. Do you think Raging Bull would have been
a better movie if it had been written and directed by Jake LaMotta?
Apply that same answer here, driven by the same logic.
It might have been a good movie if the auteur had told her story to
a professional writer, who then could have crafted it into something
worthwhile, and they had then taken the project to a professional
director, who might have been able to present both the drama and the
humor without stepping all over it. Unfortunately, while the actual
writer/director may have a vast amount of knowledge about the subject
of pharmaceutical reps, she doesn't have any knowledge about writing
and directing. To say this film is amateurish is to offend capable amateurs
everywhere. To say this is sophomoric is to insult every sophomore of
normal intelligence. Everything about it is ham-fisted. Watching it
feels like those embarrassing moments when unfunny, unsubtle people
take the stage at a comedy club on open mike night. The auteur has no sense of
storytelling, nor what to do with a camera, nor how to design or light
a set. Worst of all, she uses silly sitcom background music.
And that only scratches the surface of the
I don't know where they dug up the actors, but at least half of
them have absolutely no sense of what to do when a camera is pointed
in their direction. As the Chicago Tribune wrote, "Several scenes are
so excruciatingly awful that one is forced to wonder if there are so
few reasonably talented working actors these days that director
Kathleen Slattery-Moschkau had to resort to recruiting random people
off the streets?"
Cable Access TV has better performances.
to mention better production values.
The budget was $190,000 - and the film brags
about that fact. I would have guessed much less. All I can say is that
none of that money is on screen. The Our Gang kids used to put on more
professional-looking shows in their clubhouse.
The budget must have used about $188,000 to pay Katherine Heigl (of
Grey's Anatomy), and spent the rest leasing a digital camera from
Rent-a-Center. One must admit that Heigl was a very good sport about
the whole endeavor. She not only supplied the only credible line
readings in the film, but even removed her shirt and bra for the team,
thus assuring that at least a few people would watch.
Me, for example.
It's a shame that this
film turned out to be so bad, because
the script has good intentions and probably has some good, if
unsurprising, insights - or I least I am assuming that, based upon the
author's industry credentials - but it simply has no idea how to
present its points.
Based on this description, this
film is an H. It's the worst comedy
since Adam Sandler's Going Overboard (which may be the worst
ever), and the worst romantic comedy I've ever seen, period. And it looks
and sounds like a Cable Access show. Normally our ratings can't
go below G (which is essentially an F
with Jeff Fahey), but in this case the film defied the laws of the
universe in that it actually would have been better with Jeff Fahey in
it. Adding Jeff would make it a G, so it has to be below G now.
1900 is an ambitious five hour film from one of Italy's greatest
directors, Bernardo Bertolucci, and it was supposed to be his
masterwork, his overview of Italy's modern history. He hired the best
actors in the world. His cinematographer was Vittorio Storaro, who had
already done two great Bertolucci films and would eventually go on to
win three Oscars and be nominated for another. The music was composed
by Ennio Morricone, who was eventually nominated for five Oscars - and
those weren't even close to being his best scores! He could easily
have been nominated for ten Oscars or more. Morricone was inexplicably
not nominated for The Good the Bad and the Ugly, Cinema Paradiso, or
Once Upon a Time in America, three of the best original scores written
Lots of talent.
The film is also epic in scope. It tells
the stories of two boys born on the same estate on the same day
in 1900. One is the son of a wealthy landowner (played by Robert
DeNiro), the other (Gerard Depardieu) is the bastard son of one
of the peasants who works that land. They play together as boys,
and remain friends throughout their lives, despite two world
wars and great political differences. Their stories are used to
tell Italy's story in the 20th century: the class struggles, the
gap between rich and poor, how the rich gradually turned toward
fascism to establish order, while the poor embraced socialism.
I suppose I've made my point. Five hour
film, the best talent in the world, virtually unlimited money
and artistic freedom for one of the world's great directors. It
also included daring, arguably pornographic scenes featuring big
stars in explicit sex acts. As you might guess, 1900 was
the hottest ticket at Cannes ...
until people saw it, whereupon the guys in the business side of
the industry started to think it might be marketed as a cure for
insomnia. The first half of the movie stays almost entirely in
multi-generation family saga territory, while the second half is
political, practically a love-poem to socialism, and is greatly
oversimplified by cartoon characters. Donald Sutherland, as the
local Fascist, turns in a Snidely Whiplash performance of
moustache-twirling evil in which he sodomizes children and
tortures family pets. I'm not kidding. His performance is so
lacking in nuance that he makes Burt Lancaster (also in the
movie) seem to be a master of subtlety in comparison.
If you are a mainstream film fan, this is
not for you unless you're really into Italian politics. It's
long and boring and one-sided. If you are a major film buff,
however, 1900 is required viewing just because it is what it is,
because so many great talents collaborated on such an ambitious
project. You will probably find it deeply flawed, but you may
like it, and you may even love it. Although it received some
harsh reviews at the time (Ebert and Canby both panned it, and I
didn't care much for it either, although I love many of
Bertolucci's films), many people praise its genius, and about
70% of IMDb voters score it 8.0 or higher.
The film is now available for the first time on
DVD. It is a Region 2 PAL disk from Finland. (With English
sound, and many different languages available in sub-titles). It
can be purchased from an American importer. (Click on the image
below for details.)
Top Ten Surprises in
George W. Bush's Immigration Speech
"70,000 Beer Cans Found
in Ogden Townhouse"
Mischa Barton's 'O.C.'
- "Fox's 'The O.C.'
closed its third season Thursday with a
deadly twist. Marissa Cooper, played by
Mischa Barton, was killed in a car crash."
Based on a new
development in the case,
US investigators are
searching a farm for Jimmy Hoffa's body
Wednesday's episodes of
Lost and Alias are now available online
Colbert chastens the
Republicans for acting like something evil -
Colbert makes his case
for the Reagan Dime
The Colbert Report:
Better Know a President: Theodore Roosevelt
- In the first
installment of this 43-part series,
Stephen sits down with the 26th U.S.
president, Teddy Roosevelt
The Daily Show
discusses The DaVinci Code
The Daily Show's Lewis
Black whines and snivels about his usual
aches and pains and the kids on his lawn.
Daily Show: "Bush's tax
cuts will create jobs for the likes of
diamond-tip cane polishers and
"Not saying Lindsay
Lohan does drugs ... but damn that
girl is working the drugged out look."
If this is May, it must
be time for the annual Mustache
From 'X-Men' to X-rated
women? Brett Ratner would like to shoot
Linday Lohan naked.
- Get in line,
Brett. Of course, unlike most of us, he
wants to do it with a camera.
Melissa Theuraiu -
Topless On The Beach
(French News Anchor)
- A funny sidebar.
The site has a link which says, "Visit for
more photos of Melissa and over 60K more
celeb photos." Woo-o-o-o-o! 60 whole K! I
wonder how much they have to pay for their
Top Ten Signs The
Government Is Spying On You
The World Carrot Museum
Public Supports Bush's
Plan to Implant Monitors in People's Heads
A campaign to spay
Britney Spears has been launched
- Couldn't they
just neuter Federline instead?
Donald Trump Stars In
New Star Trek Series
The trailer from FAST
FOOD NATION - Richard Linklater's fictional
interpretation of a non-fiction book
The trailer from the
King, a new drama starring Gael Garcia
The legendary Mimi
Rogers nudefest, Full Body Massage, is now
available on an all-region DVD, PAL format.
If you play DVDs on a computer, it will play
anywhere. If you use a stand-alone DVD
player and a TV, the DVD will play, but the
picture will not render correctly unless
your system can play PAL discs.
Yellow asterisk: funny (maybe). White asterisk: expanded format.
Blue asterisk: not mine. No asterisk: it probably sucks.
Naked Killer (1992)
Naked Killer is a stylish Hong Kong thriller starring Chingmy Yau. The
version I located is a Region 2 DVD from Holland.
When her father is killed by her stepmother's lover, Chingmy takes revenge
on the killer, and is helped to escape by a mysterious woman who ends up being
the leader of a gang of female assassins. Chingmy herself progresses very fast
in the gang, becoming an accomplished assassin in her own right, but is caught
between her teacher and the young cop who loves her.
Meanwhile, the assassins are split into factions. Chingmy and her teacher
only kill scum that more or less have it coming, whereas the teacher's former
star pupil, Carrie Ng, kills anyone for a buck and, if they are female, rapes
them first. Her assistant, Madoka Sugawara, is also her sex toy. When Chingmy
and her teacher take out a Japanese crook, his gang hires Ng to kill them in
turn, setting up a battle to the death, where all weapons are fair game,
including knives, guns, poison, body parts, sex and more. The film has a
typical tragic ending.
This is very slick with high production values, and has a more capable cast
than the more typical Hong Kong category three offerings, and so holds its own
compared to thrillers from other countries. It features some full speed female
martial arts action that would probably look fast in slow motion.
This is a solid C. IMDb readers say 6.0.