"The Sweet Hereafter"

The Sweet Hereafter (1997) was an early project, one of my first detailed reviews, and remains one of my favorite films. My images were in need of a rework, and I dusted off and touched up the old review as well.

Director Atom Egoyan adapted Russell Banks' novel, The Sweet Hereafter, for the screen. He believes directing begins with writing the screen play, and only directs films that he writes. This is not the only unusual thing about his work. While he doesn't mind people who use a linear time sequence in films, he prefers to think of a film as an on-screen dream, where people slip effortlessly from past to future to present. Partially because of this, and because he avoids narrative voice-over (he sees that as the easy way out to convey the plot) you have to think to interpret his cinematic dreams. This has caused some to criticize him for being "too cerebral." Based on this film, and Exotica, he is one of my favorite directors.

A common theme in Egoyan's recent films is dealing with loss of a loved one. He says he is fascinated by the grieving process, and is hoping to understand it by making films about it. He also believes that the image is everything, and sees dialogue as much less important, so creates visually moving films, and employs actors who have the ability to covey information with body language and facial expressions. Anyone can shout "I hate you," but it takes talent to do this without speaking. Since he delivers his message in these ways, he provides time to think with a slower pace than those who employ linear time line, a standard curve of excitement, and plenty of dialogue. Egoyan added an element not in the book. To the twin stories of the layer and his daughter, and the town and its loss, he added a recitation of the Pied Piper of Hamlin. This was a perfect allegory of what happened in both of the other stories. Author Banks remarked that, if he had thought of it, he would have put it in the novel.

The Sweet Hereafter was critically acclaimed, was nominated for numerous awards, and won many of them. This particular film also won public acceptance, and is ranked #233 in the top 250 films of all time by IMDB, with a rating of 7.9 of 10. It is the story of an attorney who goes to a small town that has suffered a nearly unimaginable tragedy hoping to recruit enough residents to win a huge award in a class action suit. The school bus for this rural town crashed, and nearly all of the town's children were killed. Only two survived -- the bus driver, and a teenager who had babysat for most of the kids who were killed. As the attorney attempts to get the grieving parents to retain him, we learn of many skeletons in the closets of the town people. The attorney is also dealing with a similar loss in his own life -- his daughter is a drug addict and essentially lost to him. He believes he can find a guilty person or entity to punish for the bus crash, much as he would like to find out why he lost his own daughter. Sure, he is an "ambulance chaser," but he is a dedicated one who honestly thinks he can help the parents channel their anger and grief.

Any more would be a spoiler, and I hope you will see this film. The nudity is provided by the talented Alberta Watson, who is probably best known as Madeline in the TV series La Femme Nikita. She is seen in a sex scene, first undressing, and then dressing at the end, and leaves no part of her body unseen. While this film could be called a little cerebral, and may be too depressing for some, it has very wide appeal for what is really an art house film. The proper score is B+.

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  • Alberta Watson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17)

    "Maximum Risk"

    Maximum Risk (1996) was directed by Ringo Lam in his US debut. Unfortunately, it didn't live up to his reputation or his previous work in Hong Kong. It is, rather, a typical Jean-Claude Van Damme actioner. To make matters worse, it starts with an auto chase in the South of France, then the introduction and death of the unknown evil twin. It was Van Damme's unknown brother, who was mixed up in the Russian Mafia in New York, and policeman Van Damme goes to Fun City to impersonate his brother and investigate the death.

    Once there, he deals with badass Russian Mafia types, evil FBI agents, and his brother's girlfriend, Nastasha Henstridge. She shows breasts twice, first in a mirror while she is changing clothes, and then in a bathroom sex scene with Van Damme. IMDB readers have it at 4.9 of 10, which might be a little harsh. Van Damme and Henstridge have no chemistry, the plot can be a little hard to follow, and Van Damme is not exactly a great actor, but he chases and fights good. Rotten Tomatoes awards 22%, and Berardinelli says 1 1/2 stars. If you are a Van Damme fan, this isn't much worse than his other films, and some of the photography is rather nice. The proper score is C-. It is only for genre addicts.

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  • Nastasha Henstridge (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14)

  • Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy)

    leftovers from yesterday's two-day projects:

    I regret to say that Frida is a big, superficial Hollywood biopic, one of those films which tries to cram every important detail of a hectic life chronologically  into a short running time. In essence, it's a really good-looking, sexy, episode of Biography. Of course, I still enjoyed it, because (a) it looks and sounds magnificent (2) Salma is naked. I suppose it's headed for sudden death. Here in Austin it is only playing on three screens, and only in neighborhoods with a majority concentration of Spanish speakers or college students. The nearest theater is about 15 miles away from me in the UT campus area. The other two are south of the river, where I have been about twice in my life. Picture yourself living in St Paul while the film is only playing in Minneapolis, and you'll get the idea.
    • Salma. Find the rest of them in yesterday's edition.
    • other

    Femme Fatale is the new Brian de Palma pic. This is the film I mentioned last week. Ebert gave it four stars (highest score), Gleiberman gave it an F (lowest score). It is filled with razzle-dazzle, but includes one of the oldest (and corniest) writing gimmicks in the world. Don't read my review page if you object to spoilers, because I spoil everything. Quite a bit of nudity. Find it in yesterday's edition.

    Punch-Drunk Love is the new PTA film with Adam Sandler. It isn't just "with" Adam. The script was actually inspired by him, as was the script for Rosemary's Baby. (Oh, sorry Sandler, just kidding about the antichrist thing, dude! I know you can't be the antichrist, because Ethan Hawke obviously is). Punch-Drunk was generally liked by critics. I reacted to this film as I did to Femme Fatale - I saw immeasurable filmmaking talent on display, but I felt it wasn't worth my time to watch it. At least Femme Fatale had naked chicks, while this film does not. On the other hand, Hollywood is filled with pablum and cookie-cutter movies, while Punch-Drunk is truly a strange and imaginative film, and is more than half "loco", the kind of film you will love or hate deeply. Sandler was extremely good at playing the darker aspects of the infantile douchebag character that he usually plays. I didn't like this film, but maybe I'll like his next one, so I applaud PTA for his eccentric and personal filmmaking.



    Here are the latest movie reviews available at scoopy.com.

    • The yellow asterisks indicate that I wrote the review, and am deluded into thinking it includes humor.
    • If there is a white asterisk, it means that there isn't any significant humor, but I inexplicably determined there might be something else of interest.
    • A blue asterisk indicates the review is written by Tuna (or Lawdog or Junior or C2000 or Realist or ICMS or Mick Locke, or somebody else besides me)
    • If there is no asterisk, I wrote it, but am too ashamed to admit it.

    Graphic Response
    • Karen Young, topless in "Criminal Law", starring Gary Oldman, Kevin Bacon and Fun House hero...Joe Don Baker.

    Be sure to pay Graphic Response a visit at his website. www.graphic-barry.com.

    'Caps and comments by Brainscan:

    'Caps from two movies today.

    Continuing with the Model Solution babes, today there is a brunette beauty who called herself Sascha Rochelle in this movie but went by the name of Sascha Peralto when she posed for one of the bunnymag's college girls' specials. She is the first nekkid babe of the movie and right away you know this not a hooters-only flic.

    • Sascha Rochelle. Gynocam in 1, full-frontal in 2 and 7, boobs and bum in 8, 3-6 boobs only. (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8)

    Our second babe is a one-shot wonder, Rachel Dyer, who appeared topless and showed a right nice bum in Almost Hollywood (1994). This a movie within a movie that knows not whether it should be a dark comedy or a whodunit.

    Rachel plays a young actress who plays a murdering villainess who plays a murder victim who plays... Oops, one too many who plays. A mixture of boobs and bum; collage is an amalgam of the best frames.

    • Rachel Dyer (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

    'Caps and comments by Hankster:

    Today a look back to 1993 and Pamela Anderson in "Snapdragon", Pamela was probably in her prime at that time and shows some boob in lovemaking scenes with Stephen Bauer.

    • Pam Anderson (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7)

    Amélie Gonin Brief breast exposure in scenes from the French movie "Femmes de personne" aka "Nobody's Women" (1984).

    Guilhaine Dubos Single breast sighting in "L'Amour en herbe" (1976).

    Julie Delarme
    (1, 2)

    Very nice toplessness and far off rear nudity in "Madamoiselle Else" (2002).

    Laurence Kertekian Wearing nothing but undies in scenes from "L'Amour" (1990).

    Nozha Khouadra Full frontal and rear nudity in "À mort la mort (1999).

    Lori Heuring
    (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13)

    The young actress in undies, bikini, several tight shirts, and almost revealing a breast as she removes her bra. Vidcaps by C2000 from the mediocre thriller, "True Blue".

    Monique Parent The B-movie regular bares breasts and bum in some sport humpin' scenes from the late night cable series "Love Street".

    Elena Maddalo
    (1, 2)

    Wearing some kind of snake-like top that barely covers her breasts at the LA premiere of "Femme Fatale".

    Julie Michaels

    Kathryn Atwood

    Michelle Clunie

    Dann takes a look at the uncut DVD version of "Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday" (1993). All three ladies bare their breasts, Michaels shows a bit of bum.

    Pat Reeder www.comedy-wire.com
    Pat's comments in yellow...

    Except Elvis Could Sing - Eminem's screen debut "8 Mile" made a whopping $54.4 million over the weekend. By comparison, Britney Spears' "Crossroads" had a $14.5 million debut, and fellow white rapper Vanilla Ice's "Cool As Ice" made just $1,193,000 in its entire run. Eminem's movie scored mostly positive reviews, with critics comparing it to "Rocky" with rappers instead of boxers. Industry analysts said Eminem has turned from a scary, foul-mouthed parental nightmare into the new Elvis.

  • A scary, foul-mouthed Elvis...
  • He can't be the new Elvis, his movie got GOOD reviews.
  • It's like "Rocky," only with rappers instead of boxers, so it's much more violent.
  • Now that Eminem has been embraced by mainstream Hollywood and accepted by parents, his career is over.

    Fugue For Tin-Ears - Vin Diesel says he's talking to Nicole Kidman about starring with him in a remake of "Guys & Dolls," which would be "the antithesis of 'Triple-X,' to say the least." He said he grew up loving musicals, and he thinks he can carry a tune, but he added, "I don't want to torture my fans by attempting a singing career. I think one musical would be just enough."

  • Just enough NOT to make his fans think he's gay.
  • It's too much to expect that such a brilliant actor would be able to sing, too.
  • As a singer, I don't know if he's good enough to replace Marlon Brando.

    This Year's Model - In an interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer, Jennifer Lopez finally confirmed that she is engaged to Ben Affleck, but they can't be married until after January because her last divorce won't be finalized until then.

  • To save time, couldn't she just marry him now and do BOTH divorces in January?
  • J-Lo spends more time waiting for her divorces to be finalized than she does being married.

    LIZA AND HUBBY SNAP BACK AT VH1 Gest Was A Terrible Host - Liza Minnelli's husband David Gest issued an angry statement blasting VH1 for killing their planned reality show. He accused the VH1 crews of mistreating them and wrecking their apartment and scoffed, "Obviously, VH1's idea of reality is not ours."

  • That's because he and Liza have NO idea what reality is.
  • Nice to hear that he can still pay them a compliment.
  • Giving David and Liza a reality show is like giving Marcel Marceau a talk show.

    Other music stuff
    Best songs of the past 50 years? They include both "Hey Jude" and Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head," so somebody must REALLY like the musical phrase, "Na-na-na, na-na-na-na"...

    'Bohemian Rhapsody' Voted Best Song Of Past 50 Years Beatles Claim 14 Of Top 100 Slots

    LONDON -- The Brits love their Queen.
    The group's "Bohemian Rhapsody" topped a British poll of the greatest songs of the last 50 years. John Lennon's "Imagine," and the Beatles' "Hey Jude," took second and third places respectively. The Beatles claimed 14 of the top 100 slots, far ahead of any other act. Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge over Troubled Water" took fourth place. George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" claimed the fifth spot. The poll was conducted by the Official U.K. Charts Co. Meantime, only four tracks from the past decade made it into the top 100 -- Kylie Minogue's "Can't Get You Out Of My Head," Elvis Presley's revamped "A Little Less Conversation," Oasis' "Don't Look Back In Anger" and U2's "Beautiful Day."