(nl) wrote: If self-awareness can signify a movie too smart to be bad then your name would be "Scream" and you'd have to be a baby of the late-1990s, during which the word "meta" was all the rage and clichs were easy access so long as you did them right. Stand in a spot grounded in other decade and you can call yourself an original, "Re-Animator" and "The Evil Dead" being the grandaddies of them all. "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark" tries and sometimes wins as a tongue-in-cheek horror comedy, though the horror is more humorous schlock than horror and the comedy is much too reliant on the little-goes-a-long-way craft of the one-liner. We all know and love Elvira, the big-breasted 1980s screen personality (portrayed by the endlessly self-deprecating Cassandra Peterson) who made a living hosting episodes of "Elvira's Movie Macabre," a series devoted to airing exquisitely awful movies, her Valley Girl accent making smart ass comments in the background. As a guy who gets his throwback kicks from "Twin Peaks" and "The X-Files," I hardly have time to sit around and watch movies with smarmy commentary already embedded in them - sometimes, I like to do the roasting myself. But I like Elvira, with her pre-Lana Del Rey beehive 'do, her enviable ability to consistently be pleased with herself, and her heaving bosom. A screen personality such as hers would never make it in the 2010s (if we can't handle Kylie Jenner's big ass lips, could we really handle a shapely woman dressed up like a vampiress auditioning for RuPaul's drag race?), making her existence all the more precious; she is an era definer, and a charismatic one at that. So it's a shame that her first foray into cinema, 1988's "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark," is an uneven big screen comedy, unsure of whether it wants to continue on the same path as "Movie Macabre" or if it wants to develop its titular mistress as a box-office commodity rather than a small screen scene stealer. A lot of it is delectable - much of the one-liners are quotable, and the fish-out-of-water based comedy makes for some sticky situations - but frustratingly often is the feeling that everything besides Elvira is flat, her doing all the heavy lifting while running around and laughing at her own jokes like a camp Phyllis Diller. We could blame Peterson and her team of writers for forgetting to concoct at least one other funny character - but we could also wag a finger at the fizzy direction of James Signorelli or the cardboard cast. Accusations could be thrown everywhere, a major sign of a movie with a lot of potential that doesn't quite work out in the end. As the film opens, we find Elvira undergoing another taping of her popular show - and while her devoted audience laps it up, Elvira herself is miserable. Her producers take her for granted, and the studio is stricken with low-production values that hinder her work. She is on the verge of quitting, especially considering she is about to take an offer that will provide her with her own stage show in Las Vegas. A few sexual harassment incidents later, and bam! - her dreams of shredding her contract finally end. But missing is the money she needs to land a venue all the way down in Nevada, which makes the coincidental passing of a distant relative a gift from God. Inheritance is a very real possibility. So Elvira travels down to her estranged aunt's estate in her gaudy convertible, her heavy metal blasting, her red lipstick omnipresent in the glare of the sun. Trouble is, her aunt doesn't live in a community much willing to welcome unwanted (or wanted, depending on how you get your rocks off) cleavage and sexual wise-cracks, making Elvira's entrance a bombastic explosion in a land of white picket fences and Jesus freaks. The situation worsens when Elvira discovers that she has only inherited her aunt's mansion, her dog, and a mysterious cookbook that her uncle has an odd obsession with. It's all good, wily fun, but "Elvira, Mistress of the Dark"'s most pertinent issue stems from the fact that it thinks it's smarter than it is - though the one-liners are decent and Peterson always seems ready to jump onto a stand-up stage, it forgets that sappy interludes and constantly laughing at your own jokes isn't a good thing unless you do it right. It gets it right, mostly. But not quite enough.
(mx) wrote: "Cinderella" (Aschenputtel), German-French-Spanish co-producition movie, produced by Omnia Film & Eurokim, directed by Karin Brandauer and starring Petra Vigna, Krista Stadler, Roswitha Schreiner and Stephan Meyer-Kohlhoff.The movie is based on the classic fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm.CASTCinderella: PETRA VIGNAStepmother: KRISTA STADLEROlder Stepsister: ROSWITHA SCHREINERYounger Stepsister: CLAUDIA KNICHELPrince Charming: STEPHAN MEYER-KOHLHOFF 1989 (C) OMNIA Film & Toro Film, in association with ZDF and TVE. All rights reserved.
(nl) wrote: The 1990's were a decade rich with young black filmmakers making a splash with a lot of impressive and important movies, but no one spoke louder than Spike Lee well into that time period and beyond. Even his misfires were more interesting than a lot of director's successes, and "Clockers" is a little-seen but vital piece of work that delves so much deeper into the gangster lifestyle than a dozen other similar projects.Lee and screenwriter Richard Price is more interested in exploring the power struggle involved in life on the streets, exploring the story of two brothers in the same situation but each with a very different way of dealing with it. Isaiah Washington is the family man, shunning the criminal lifestyle in favor of working two menial jobs while his sibling (the exceptional Mekhi Phifer) earns the easy money working for a crime boss.There are a lot of outside sources swaying them in different directions in the form of Delroy Lindo as the drug lord and Keith David as a local cop who cares about the people he serves adding to the richness of the story. Rather than focus on the expected and gratuitous violence, the mood here is more melancholy and Lee is a master of choosing just the right music to fit the mood. It's exceptional here.Because of the combined efforts of the director, the writer and the seasoned cast, "Clockers" is so much more than just another gang picture. Like so many others Spike Lee Joints, this has something to say.