Archive for Sissy Spacek

FOUR CHRISTMASES :: COMEDY :: 029

Posted in Comedy, Drama, romance with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 12/25/2009 by joycereview

It’s Christmas Eve… Santa’s probably airborne (he usually gets an early start) and come Christmas morning, everyone should have something in their stocking.  Now, if I were one of those “snippy” critics, I would reference here that those that worked on this movie shouldn’t expect Santa’s good graces.

Let me say from the start, that I have a fondness for Vince Vaughn.  Truth-be-told, I didn’t like him in the beginning; not because he was a bad actor or anything, but because he seemed like a bit of a wise-guy.  One of those guys that always had a witty come-back and who you’d wish would just be “normal” for once.  But he’s someone that has really grown on me, and has turned into someone I look forward to seeing time and time again.  If it weren’t for him, this movie would barely make a track!  Four Christmas barely comes across with 5.

Here’s the “bear” bones-

Brad (Vince Vaugn) and Kate (Reese Witherspoon) look to be the modern version of the perfect couple; lovingly self-centered, but getting all that they want from their relationship (for now).  Under the ruse of charity work, Brad and Kate escape the family obligations and the ensuing stress of the holidays by flying to Fiji; only to discover that the flight is cancelled due to heavy fog.  To make matters worse, a tv reporter and camera shows up and exposes their failed getaway.  Four Christmases in one day can be trying for anybody, but with Brad and Kate, the secrets, humiliations and the physical abuse might more than their relationship can handle.

When watching this movie, I kinda wished I had a lower I.Q. just for the fact that it would have boosted my enjoyment of it.  While it certainly had its fun moments (which was inevitably caused by Vaughn’s comic leadership), and gave us the split family dynamic rather than just the one, crazy household, it sank on the basis of character.

Comedy works best when the laughs are allowed to well up from within the material, the situation, and/or the nature of the character.  It isn’t a 10-year old child ,with his boney fist posed at your defenseless face, asking “What’s my name bitch?” that makes the scene funny- it’s the reaction of Vince Vaughn, who undoubtedly channels his emotions from the “near rape” scene from Wedding Crashers, and who’s pitched pleads of mercy are both hilarious and real.  If it weren’t for Vaughn’s brilliance, that scene would have been completely wasted on me.  The supporting cast, however, if not saved by or made funny by Vaughn, falls silent.  Reese Witherspoon did a decent job, even though her wrestle-mania in the “jump jump cage” was a immature and needy.

Screen legends Sissy Spacek, Bobby Duvall and Jon Voight provided a bit more (name) weight to the film, but only propped up it’s status to a movie like,  Meet the Fockers. One line from Duvall (who played Brad’s biological dad), was quite side-ripping though;

Boys, I don’t want to speak ill of your mother on Christmass, but she’s nothing but a common street whore.

I long for a Christmas movie that will take the place of my beloved National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, but I’ve yet to find it.  Vaughn could be my next Chevy, if only he had his Eddie… and Jon Favreau, you’re not him.  Owen Wilson is a terrific comedic partner but we’ll just have to see what the future holds.  For me, something like that would surely make my Christmas wish list!

CARRIE (1976) :: HORROR :: 005

Posted in Horror with tags , , , , , , , , on 10/22/2009 by joycereview

6bearcarrie dvdA movie most guys would rate a “10” based on the opening sequence alone, Carrie begins with young teenage girls playing volleyball and then cuts to not only a nudity-filled locker room scene… but a slow motion one! De Palma, you’re a bona fide genius.

Carrie is the story of a timorous young girl, Carrie (Sissy Spacek), with the unique gift of telekinesis [she can move things with her mind] who is continuously taunted by classmates, overlooked by other (with the exception of hard-nosed gym teacher Miss Collins) and abused by her religiously-fanatical mother, Margaret (Piper Laurie).  Being invited to her senior prom with school stud Tommy Ross begins to give Carrie the confidence and sense of belonging that she’s always wanted.  However, when barbie-nemesis Chris (Nancy Allen) and Vinnie Barbarino, I mean, Billy (John Travolta) plays a prank on Carrie, the “last straw” is quite a doozy!

I will let this review stand as my example of how a “classic” horror film by a great director can score only 6 bear claws.  Sissy Spacek and Piper Laurie are both sensational, and produce two very intriguing and entertaining characters.  One anti-social, insecure, mouse-of-a-person on the one hand and flamboyant, irrational and madly-driven on the other.  This movie as a whole barely fits into the horror genre (in my opinion).  I’m sure it will frighten some (I don’t know necessarily how) but all of the characters (even Carrie at times) go so over-the-top that they produce a caricature.  Since our sensitivities are with Carrie, our emotions are sympathetic and concerning.  But the scripture-quoting mother who reminds her daughter that “…the first sin was intercourse” and “I can see your dirty pillows” becomes quite laughable.  The gym teacher with carte blanch enough to strike her undisciplined students gave me a “Right on sister!”-type feeling and added a nice sense of swift justice.  But then comes the principle with the incapacity to remember a simple, two-syllable name like “Carrie” and misspeak it an embarrassing 4 times in under 2 minutes.  He deserved to be strangled and then slapped multiple times with a sack of horse manure.

Don’t get me wrong…Carrie was an “good time” to the very end, but didn’t turn into veritable horror until Sissy Spacek unleashed those eyeballs on us.  But then, I ask you, does donning a gown drenched in pig blood and the ability to stare like a lemur constitute true horror?

After some contemplation – after looking at all sides – I came to a much different conclusion and opinion of the nature of the character of Carrie.  Most people will likely see the innocent girl with paranormal powers.  But what if the mom was right?  Margaret keeps saying that she was “born out of sin”, and even though she is as fragile as a lamb Carrie has in her the staggering capacity to kill, and afterwards, show little remorse for her actions.  Another detail that is overlooked is that the closet/prayer box/confessional booth has in it, not the statuette of Jesus Christ (as would be common & expected) but of St. Sebastian [notice the piercing of arrows], the saint of conversion.  Perhaps Carrie is not so innocent after all… and good ol’ mum is just trying her very best to convert her demonically-possessed daughter?  Something to think about I suppose?

All in all, Carrie was an entertaining film with only a mediocre story & script.  One could almost see this story as “Cinderella gone mental.”  I thought there were some interesting camera shots (particularly in the beginning. hehe) but were sub-par for De Palma.  There was little attention to detail regarding the final scenes with several inconstancies that are (at least for most) clear-as-day.  However, Carrie is a triumph for the two leading ladies (Spacek & Laurie) and a humorous look at the ultimate high school revenge.  And remember two things: ONE… “We will never be free until nerd persecution ends” (-Nerds movie).  [Think on this, it might just save your life!]  And TWO… eat your apple pie, “because pimples are God’s way of chastising you.”  Or don’t.