to LAFILM.NET, if that is not too obvious.
Please distribute this URL as you see fit. By Ted Baldwin
Title
(I may link to the film's website here also)
Reviewed:
3/29/00




Next Best ThingArlington RoadAmerican BeautyMissionary Position To MarsSleepy Hollow
Picto-Rate: 5/5  (5 is tops) I use a five point system to illustrate subjective opinions about films. I also "look" at television, websites, radio, and print. (Pics are usually linked to other sites of interest I discover researching the review)
INTRODUCTION

     My opinion comes from my experience, and is not law. My evaluation of a film is based on the supposed merit of the work, trueness to its form and objectives, and quality of entertainment. A film made for 60 thousand dollars might be terrible, but it might not be as bad for what it is as a 70 million dollar box office bomb, given the time, talent and money involved. I can watch an unknown suffer through a part, but I cannot tolerate quality actors wasting away on screen (Ishtar anyone?).

     I like films to be honest with their messages, and not try to sneak things in as accepted fact. Cider House Rules advertised everything except the fact it was about abortion. American Beauty seems to really hate America, but it pretends to be a message about finding beauty and happiness. I despise that, but it was well produced, and downright interesting at times.

     This is why I may be hard on a film like American Beauty for its message, yet still give it four stars. Good picture? Yes. Best Picture. Compared to Ripley and Sixth Sense? No way. It was lauded for its anti-SuburbiaAmericanDream stand.

I like wickedly funny films, too, and anything that makes me think. But I don't like having my moral position taken for granted (like in Shakespeare in Love or The Cider House Rules.) I really, really like Eyes Wide Shut despite its possible flaws, and South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut was uproariously on-point and should be required viewing for film students.

More about my style:

     I play with names - like Watch-out-ski for Wachowski - it is only word play. Full, unadulterated names and positions can be found elsewhere on the Internet, and it is a waste of time to recount the credits here. You may think something is misspelled or a typo, but it could be me making a pun or sly observation. You just never know.

     I really like slam-bang films, but to see the wider range of my experience and likes, look at my woefully incomplete "Educational Features" .


      I pay particular attention to "message" films, and offer my de-filtered re-filtered views.

     And I elucidate message from the way films are treated by the other media. Did you like Roland Emmerich's and Dean Devlin's Godzilla? Almost universally and immediately panned as a bomb, I thought it was a good film. Not great, like 2001, or A Clockwork Orange, or Unforgiven. Godzilla was funny, well made, and with a different approach to a classic monster. (And smart advertising: Here lizard, lizard, lizard.) It did suffer from a lack of a strong hero and villainy.

     I asked people exiting the theater what they thought: They liked it. I also asked people who told me it was a bomb, and many of them admitted they liked it too. Apparently people don't know a bomb when they see one... *

The point is, many forces reflect on the way a film is reviewed, so pick and choose reviewers and reviews carefully. At any rate, I will try to remain honestly objective, and if I have any prejudices affecting my perception of a film I will try to make them known to you in a thoughtful way. Feel free to take me to task for anything. E-mail below.


See you down in front!
Ted



PS I think the anti-nuke freaks at LSU are still mad at me for pointing out the propaganda espoused by Helen Caldicott in 1985.



AMUSING SIDE-BAR
Who is Ted Baldwin?     Ted is an expert photographer, AVID editor, 3-D animator (esp. in LightWave), writer, narrator and producer. He is currently CEO of 3rd Coast Digital Films, which is developing films for international distribution, as well as highly effective digital sales media for large corporations, pioneering specific uses of CD-ROM sales media, and Internet business applications.

     Most recently, Ted gave a talk on using the "Hero Myth Cycle" in story telling. This is available for purchase on video from 3rd Coast Digital Films (225) 292-6040.

And he did this webpage.
Background      Ted has been producing media for thirty years. He had his own radio news show in 1967, and was involved in Higher Education for twenty years. He has a Masters Degree in Theoretical Physical Organic Chemistry from Louisiana State University. His thesis (1982) has 100 pages of 3-D stereo view molecular pictures in it.
     As a faculty member at LSU, Ted was in charge of television production for all of the Science and Engineering departments. He has produced more than a thousand documentaries and educational programs, most notably, a series of sixty video programs for W.H. Freeman/Scientific American Books in use around the world.

FILM     Ted shot his first experimental film as a Sophomore in High School in 1969. At Eastern Illinois University, Ted took cinematography classes and completed three film shorts, winning a film festival with his animated film Naps. (He continued his media career as News director, Program Director and then Manager for the campus radio station). Ted also studied propaganda in speech communications while at EIU.
     As a faculty member At LSU, Ted wrote film reviews for the Daily Reveille for five years. His articles were routinely read to film and English classes as examples of good writing. In 1996, Ted was on the staff of Shot in LA Magazine, and wrote reviews and analysis of films and effects. He started this column in April of 1999.
     In 1987, Ted won the River City Film Festival with a short video about LSU's College of Basic Sciences. He also won second place in the Southern Lantern tri-state competition with a video about LSU-Alexandria. Ted was considered to be the video artist at LSU. Ted left LSU in 1990 to start his own Film and TV production company.

     In 1989, Ted helped write and produce "Razor in the Box" for Sly Turk Productions. In 1996, Ted and a partner produced, shot and edited a 90 minute documentary about homeless teenagers finding hope in hopelessness. "Gutter Punks" went to the Hamptons International Film Festival as one of ten documentaries selected from around the world for the prestigious competition. It was the first digital film at the festival. Since that time, Gutter Punks has been shown in Sweden and Denmark, and is being distributed by Monarch Films.

     As a 3-D expert animator and object modeler, Ted has created more than a thousand animations in the last ten years, including 3-D storyboards for his film projects.

     Ted is currently developing several screenplays, including a sci-fi epic, comedies, horror and drama. He writes film reviews instead of having a life, and takes it out on the films.
      * Meanwhile the comics (a la Leno) were enthralled with what a huge bomb Godzilla was on the film's opening night. Considering the Friday Tonight show is taped Thursday afternoon Pacific Time, it does not seem likely that the true Friday box office figures could arrive in time for an objective view.
     The only film I recall being "bombed" like that before - opening day - was Schwarzenneger's "Last Action Hero". It too was a funny film, with interesting twists. Had its flaws, but not a bomb. Critics actually unleashed their barrage the day before its release - and many of the critics again were the stand-up types. Maybe they didn't like the fact Arnie was promoting Pres. Bush's campaign.
     Considering the last big film Emmerich and Devlin put forth was the "kick the alien's ass" pro-US pro-individual effort pro-air-force Independence Day smash, some people could have been looking for Godzilla to fail. It made more than 140 million dollars at the box office, as much as Deep Impact, which was hailed as a thoughtful, successful film. No one called Deep Impact a bomb, even though it kind of cratered artistically...
     And recently, in an amazing coincidence that amazes even the coincidence makers, Kevin Spacey - whose adequate to good non-stretch performance in American Beauty won the Academy Award for Best Actor - just happens to be the point man on Dick Gephardt's (D-Missouri) 2000 media campaign to recapture the House of Representatives for the Democrats. He certainly will be more effective as a speaker with that Oscar stastandingding on the podium next to him. I guess I just have Wag the Dog on the mind.

Also FYI- I review with a clear conscience. I only review (pass judgement on) what I have seen, and/or up to the point I walk out or throw it in the trash.
Don't say I didn't warn you.
Amusing, isn't it?