I am not sure what exactly did it, but "The
Silent Dump" essay got more responses, advice, criticism and praise
than any other Bellview this year. So, thanks...I thought it was
pretty funny stuff, so I am glad that you did too.
One other note: I finally found an
apartment. But, naturally, Chuck and I can't move in until the 20th
of September...so, I will be homeless starting this Saturday for the
following 25 days. What does this mean for you? When you get a
call from me sometime in the next four weeks, know that I am
probably calling you not because I like you, but because in fact I
need to sleep on your couch!!
As many of you know, I am a huge Jennifer
Lopez fan (at least, of her movies; don't get me started on her
music) and I was excited to see her as the star of the new movie
"The Cell." The preview for this thing had me hyped because it had
the look of some sci-fi type stuff with a little mix of "Jacob's
Ladder" thrown into the pot for good measure. A sprinkle of former
bad ass Vince Vaughn ("Swingers", "The Lost World") couldn't hurt,
so this afternoon after work I hopped over to the multiplex for the
Now, I am a big believer of vibe. The vibe,
for me, all starts with the previews. Generally speaking, if the
previews are really good, then the movie could go either way. But,
I have NEVER seen a good movie that follows bad previews. So, when
I saw the preview for the upcoming Christopher Lambert thriller
"Highlander: Endgame," I was sweating bullets. Then, it got worse:
the Winona Ryder horror-scorer "Lost Souls"...and, then, the
upcoming Keanu Reeves thriller "The Watcher"! I was shaking my
head, hoping that it wasn't true: "The Cell" was going to suck!
No, no, NO!!!
Luckily, I was only half right. "The Cell"
ain't bad, and its twisted visions of what it would be like to be
able to visit a person's mind to see how they think are actually
kind of cool. But, it has some of the worst character development
of any film this summer, and I thought that Ms. Lopez was wasted in
her role as the lead psychologist for a California technology firm
that has come up with a way to enter the mind of a child that has
been in an eight-year coma. Not because she never got naked, mind
you--I think Lopez, like Julia Roberts and Michelle Pfeiffer and
Sandra Bullock and most other big-time actresses, has a no-nudity
clause in all of her movie contracts--but because she spends most
her time chewing on the scenery, a waste for someone that is trying
to become a better actress, not a better-looking statue.
The movie follows Lopez and her
psychologist's day job until a psychopath (Vincent D'Onofrio, "Men
in Black") is caught by the FBI following a chain of murders he
committed by kidnapping, raping and killing innocent women. His big
trick: storing them in a homemade cell that is designed to torture
the women by making them believe they are being held
prisoner...when, in fact, after 40 hours in the cell, it fills with
water and drowns the victim inside automatically, through a serious
of reasonably high-tech devices that allow the killer to go hunt
down other women in the meantime. I must admit, some seriously sick
bastard came up with the idea for the cell itself, and this is much
more disturbing than some of the messed-up images that the movie
presents us with while in the killer's mind later.
Anyway, the FBI's lead agent (Vaughn) finds
out upon the capture that the killer has fallen into some kind of
lifelong coma, and the only way to find out where his latest
kidnapping victim--and the cell itself--are located is to somehow
get into the killer's head and dig up clues as to where his hideout
might be. So, Lopez shows up again and goes into the killer's head
to get the answers.
While not a horror movie technically, this
movie has a lot of pretty sick stuff in it, especially in the early
going as the movie follows D'Onofrio's habits of keeping women in
the cell long after they have drowned or in unpasteurized milk to
keep the flesh intact. And, the scene where he is hanging from
those seal hooks he has embedded in his flesh...ugh! People in my
audience were just in shock that someone would throw a scene in
their movie where a human being is just shown hanging from
essentially his own flesh...and liking it! Disturbing...or, some of
the corpse scenes late in the movie, and even its ending--you would
think there would be another way to tell me that a man is vulnerable
than by just pulling his nipples out, but NOOOOO...I get to see
that, too! I am shivering right now as I write this!
But, it is the character development, for
me, that didn't work. Vince Vaughn's character is never really
given a chance to show the audience why he acts the way that he
does, and Lopez--while clearly possessing a soft spot for young
children--didn't really feel like a person, just the device that
Tarsem, the director (I love single-named geniuses!), used to show
off his very-pretty visual effects. Admittedly, Lopez looks good in
some of those ridiculous costumes, but I wish she had some kind of
personality, like she did in "Out of Sight", her best film so far.
And, a movie that is this tense throughout
needs to have some laughs. Unfortunately, it has zero! So, the
sheer lack of comic relief makes this one tough on that date that
hates thrillers or scary movies. Expect a lot of the "honey, could
you let go of my shoulder now?"-type of behavior.
A so-so experience, which once again is all
visual effects and no real story. When are they gonna get it right?
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard