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The Bottom Shelf #134


I've always wondered why the movies were so obsessed with bank robberies. I'm even more curious as to why people think that they can get away with them in this day and technologically advanced age. But even more than both of those concerns, I'd like to know how to get a large amount of scratch without getting offed. These movies didn't provide me with any new clues as to how that could be accomplished, but they were entertaining.

Directed by: Roger Avary
Starring: Eric Stoltz, Julie Delpy

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I have to bust this movie out only every few years or so. Unlike the dominator of my affections, Mr. Tarantino, and his ability to carry across a very darkly funny and violent tale, this movie is a little too upscale and frankly, a little too French for my tastes. While I have that weakness that all women possess, where an accent from a man has a panty-moistening quality, there's something to the French accent that starts to feel pretentious after I've been around it for too long. I'm not anti-French or one of those pro-American nut jobs, I've just heard too many people over the years trying to fake a French accent that the real ones start to feel like eating one too many rich desserts: sickeningly overindulgent.

But I still love the movie. At first unclear as to its motivations, showing a jet-lagged Zed (Eric Stoltz) making his way to a hotel in Paris, you are led to believe that it might be yet another American falls in love with a French chick movie. Zoe (Julie Delpy) shows up, starts pursing her full lips and stating that Stoltz is the only john she's had who has brought her to orgasm and you start to feel queasy. But then Eric (Jean-Hugues Anglade) bursts in and sets the plot line on its ear. Turns out Zed is in Paris to help knock off a bank on Bastille day, the only bank in town which happens to be open during the holiday. The robbers go out on a bender, talking about the "real" Paris and partake in an extreme level of drugs. The robbery goes bad (who woulda guessed?) and a ton of blood is spilled. Honestly, there doesn't need to be much more to a movie than that.

Pretentiousness is a major drawback and yet an intoxicating feature of the film. With all of the huffy accents and proclamations getting thrown around, you're almost ready to stab yourself in the side of the neck to get it over with sooner. But with each slow motion moment, void of the cacophony of sound, where you watch the finite muscle movements in the actors' expressions, I for one become enraptured. Anglade is particularly captivating as the narcissistic heroin addict who has lost his grip on reality if he ever really had one. He's a monster, yet a disheveled, dirty, fascinating one. This is a movie which is over the top in its approach, sprays of blood romanticized as little glistening, dancing droplets raining down on the characters who all meet their intended and earned fates.

Favorite Scene:

The telling of the eating pussy joke.

Favorite Line:

"You will feel like the world is a bubble of glass and you are rubbing up against it like a bad windshield wiper."

Trivia Tidbit:

The idea behind making the film actually came about when Roger Avary was scouting locations for Quentin Tarantino on Reservoir Dogs. Avary found a great bank set in Los Angeles and informed Tarantino, who said that although the location was no good for Dogs, it would be good for a film set in a bank.

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BEST MEN (1997)
Directed by: Tamra Davis
Starring: Sean Patrick Flanery, Luke Wilson

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There are movies that I watch, not completely invested in them but unable to turn away. Sometimes that inability is a bad thing. A watching a car wreck, disgusted to the core feeling. Other times it's one of wonderment, where I can't figure out if the movie that I'm watching is a good one or a bad one. Where I sit and wait, just allowing the movie to go where it's going and then sit back and try to determine what my feelings on it were. This is one of those movies. It took some time to sink in and my emotions towards it varied erratically the longer that I watched it. Every time that I thought I was going to start hating the movie it would do something to redeem itself.

The story is one of a guy about to get married. His wedding day also happens to be the day that he gets out of prison after doing a three year stint for robbery. His friends meet him at the prison, all of them having grown up in the same little backwoods Americana type town. One is an aspiring actor, one a Green Beret, one a lawyer and the other is the annoying hen-pecked f*cker that always seems to sneak his way into movies. (I LOATHE Andy Dick, so his casting just made that character worse for me.) On the way to the church, the actor pops out of the car to stop by the bank. Unbeknownst to the other friends, he's an infamous bank robber who quotes from Shakespeare's Hamlet and then donates his take to local orphanages. So when something goes wrong with the robbery and all of the friends end up in on it, they then have to plan on how to get out of it.

I think that's my problem with the movie. The set-up is a good one and they never really do anything interesting with it. The movie could have gone in a comical direction and instead chooses stereotypical and cliche. Some tight-assed FBI agent shows up and irritates everyone, polarizing himself from those watching the movie who are supposed to then sympathize with the criminals. Yawn. However, there are some strong performances, mainly by Brad Dourif as a Vietnam vet who was also casing the bank and just got beat to the front door by Flanery. While I understand that Flanery has a strong following of those people who can't get over the supposed mind-blowing greatness that is BOONDOCK SAINTS (and yet I get mocked for being a Tarantinophile... pfft... whatever) and he is interesting here, I actually had more understanding for Dean Cain. Yeah, the former television Superman (not that I ever watched it) is strong here. Hard to imagine a pretty face being capable of depth. But then again, hard to imagine this film going anything other than askew. Which I came to the conclusion that I liked.

Favorite Scene:

Seeing as how I'm a big "Let's Kill Andy Dick!" fan, I'd have to go with the scene in which he's shot multiple times. It's a pity that he doesn't die but the consolation is that he isn't seen or heard from for the remainder of the movie.

Favorite Line:

"I'd rather be tried by twelve than carried by six!"

Trivia Tidbit:

Tamra Davis has such a diverse directing resume, from this to BILLY MADISON to CB4 to the Britney Spears' CROSSROADS to HALF BAKED. She's also married to and has two sons with Mike D, one of the members of The Beastie Boys.

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I'd do Drew Barrymore. No... seriously.



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3:54PM on 11/16/2007

looks good

Looks like a couple of movies that I'll have to add to the NetFlix queue. And what kind of mood were you in when you wrote these reviews?? : )
Looks like a couple of movies that I'll have to add to the NetFlix queue. And what kind of mood were you in when you wrote these reviews?? : )
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