I've never seen Felicity
, and what I've seen of Alias
I think is pretty fuckin' lame, but now J.J. Abrams is on my good side. I've just watched Joy Ride
, one of the most satisfying rentals I've seen in a while. I didn't realize how much I'd missed watching a solid suspense film. How often are we in suspense anymore these days? We can get scared in something like The Others
, we can be excited by the action in Minority Report
, but it's rare to really be on the edge of your seat in that good old-fashioned white-knuckle suspense -- leavened with good laughs and smart characters.
is a return to form for Mr. John Dahl, and it's probably his best film along with The Last Seduction
. I have problems with Paul Walker, but he's not as bad as he was in F&F. I also think the genre itself has limitations on how much it can do with story and theme -- but for a straight forward genre piece, I think this is the kind of filmmaking Christoph and Tim have been hailing for so many months... taking a formula and elevating it to artistry. Steve Zahn is predictably great and the photography is crisp and cool, but my favorite things about the film were the beautiful
editing and the clever script by Abrams and somebody else whom I can't remember. We're told just what we need to know and no more, and the film wastes little time saying anything twice. It gets moving, it establishes character quickly and efficiently, it sets a tone from which it seldom deviates, and its ending doesn't disappoint (although it took several re-shoots to get there). Joy Ride
is no Cadillac, so to speak, but I still highly recommend it. I skipped reading previous posts and reviews about it so I don't know what anyone else thought. I remember Scott recommending it; but that's all. Nice little B-flick. Doesn't have much to say, but says it with an acuity usually reserved for technical craftsmanship on the level of David Fincher. I don't even think Joy Ride
is any less impressive than Duel
, though they're different films, and it's better than Breakdown
, another tight thriller people seem to like but which I think kinda sucks.
By the way, I also suffered through a very UNsatisfying rental, the rather lame Orange County
. Aside from some big laughs courtesy of the always-dependable Jack Black and some good cameos from Ben Stiller and Kevin Kline, as well as a decent ending with some nice moments here and there between Catherine O'Hara and John Lithgow, the movie creaks along with a thuddingly slow pace -- it's about 82 minutes long but has the substance of a sitcom. Seriously. Boy gets rejected from college; pulls some pranks, gets in, but then doesn't want to go anyway. The big learning lesson at the end. Jesus. Couldn't we have seen 22 minutes of Jack Black jumping around in his underwear with Jane Adams instead of hearing Colin Hanks whine like a constipated pussy? The direction is flat by Jake Kasdan, whose Zero Effect
also had some funny lines but suffered from a serious lack of tone or structure. So much of these 82 minutes were rote, dull, predictable, and unfunny that I was trying hard not to just turn it off after every scene. If I ever see another movie that thinks it's original or funny to have two characters living in a California beach town who are surfers, say "dude" a lot, smoke weed, act stupid, and high-five each other between moments of sucking up to the protagonist, I'm going to chew my own ballsack off. How many more cliches did Kasdan think he could get away with? Luckily the minor performances keep it from flat-out sucking. Thank heavens for Jack Black.