Reviews ALEXANDER: THE DIRECTOR'S CUT, MAN OF THE HOUSE and More
Plus: SLEDGE HAMMER's Alan Spencer Emails The Aisle Seat
Oliver Stone’s career continues to veer wildly off-course
with last year’s mega-budget disappointment ALEXANDER
(**, 167 mins., 2004, R, Warner Home Video).
Stone’s biopic of the great leader of ancient Macedonia
into production to avoid competition from fellow flamboyant auteur Bazz
Luhrmann’s (as-of-now shelved) version, but tanked completely
United States, necessitating a healthy run in international markets
just to make up its budget and marketing costs (which it may not have
accomplished still according to some sources).
Undeserving of the “Worst Movie of 2005" tag some placed on
ALEXANDER is also far from a misunderstood epic in need of
re-assessment. Stone’s movie benefits from some emotionally
battle sequences and a majestic score by Vangelis, but shaky
performances, curious casting and a disjointed dramatic structure
prevent it from becoming much more than a missed opportunity.
Stone’s film paints Alexander (a miscast Colin Farrell) as a
child who grows into a leader dominated by an overbearing, crazy mother
with a penchant for snakes (Angelina Jolie), has sex with a wild,
untamed woman (Rosario Dawson) who becomes his wife at the same time he
has a close relationship with his trusty male companion Hephaistion
(Jared Leto), and conquers the world one battle at a time, spreading
Greek culture in the process.
Val Kilmer pops up as Alexander’s disfigured father,
Plummer and Brian Blessed offer fleeting cameos, while Anthony Hopkins
appears as Ptolemy in unintentionally humorous sequences that attempt
to bring some sense to Stone’s dramatic structure. The movie
flash-forwards, flashbacks, and generally moves through
years of existence in a fragmented, non-linear fashion that might have
made sense to Stone provided he was under the influence while
assembling it (which, given the director’s turbulent,
exploits of late, is a definite possibility).
Stone attempted to clarify his puzzling decisions to shuffle around
various elements of Alexander’s life by re-cutting ALEXANDER
Though the 175-minute original theatrical cut is available separately,
Warner Home Video has indulged Stone by enabling him to
film in a re-arranged, 167-minute Director’s Cut.
I’ve only made it
through portions of the theatrical version so I can’t give
blow-by-blow account of what’s been changed, suffice to say
though the film has been shortened -- it’s anything BUT the
packed” ride Warner’s advertising promises. The
remains a major problem, and Alexander’s bi-sexual identity
clarified particularly in this version, either.
It’s not as if ALEXANDER is a total wash: the battle
crisply edited and exciting, Rodrigo Peitro’s widescreen
is excellent, and Vangelis’ score would have been gangbusters
another movie. Jolie’s casting was a mistake (you still
can’t get over
the fact, no matter how much make-up she wears, that she’s 11
older than Farrell), but she certainly looks alluring as the fiesty
Olympias, and Dawson brings a creepy, almost animalistic energy to her
few scenes as Roxane.
Ultimately, perhaps the worst sin of Stone’s film is that
and ultimately torturous to sit through. Stone’s
character scenes -- which are supposed to show the Machiavellian
workings of Alexander’s inner-circle, his relationship with
and close associates -- are lifeless and poorly-written, serving to
drag down the rest of the film, which offers only intermittent
pleasures when all is said and done. All told, this potential spectacle
ranks as a substantial disappointment.
Warner’s Director’s Cut DVD is a double-disc set
from Stone that actually makes the process of sitting through the
film’s three hours a bit more endurable. Stone comments on
of the film and the specific changes he made in his re-cut, and at
times provides more historical information than his script (co-written
with Christopher Kyle and Laeta Kalogridis) divulges. Supplements
contain a 90-minute Making Of split into three segments and a
regrettably disappointing “Scoring ALEXANDER With
that runs a scant four minutes! The widescreen transfer is superb and
the 5.1 Dolby Digital soundtrack satisfying.
Fans should note the documentary isn’t the same as the one
most international DVD versions of the film, nor are the supplements
the same between the two domestic DVD versions of Stone’s
HOUSE (**½, 2005). 100 mins., PG-13, Sony. DVD SPECIAL
Making Of featurettes; 2.40 Widescreen, Full-screen; 5.1 Dolby Digital
you come across a strange project that makes you wonder how it ever got
Witness MAN OF THE HOUSE, an innocuous and gently entertaining comedy
with Tommy Lee Jones as a gruff Texas ranger placed in charge of five
University of Texas cheerleaders who witnessed a murder.
It’s bizarre to see Jones attached to a bubbly, colorful
escapism like this, but once you realize he also co-produced the film
and apparently was instrumental in getting the project made in his
native state of Texas, it’s easy to surmise why the
be associated with even a ridiculous slice of eye candy like
In the Robert Ramsey-Matthew Stone-John J. McLaughlin script, Jones
mixes it up with the five cute cheermeisters at the same time he
attempts to keep them all away from a crooked FBI agent (Brian Van
Holt) who wants nothing more than to take them out of the equation.
Plus, he even finds time to romance professor Anne Archer and shop for
maxi-pads at the same time.
“Man of the House” is, needless to say, a mindless
by appealing performances by Jones and the five young ladies (Monica
Keena, Paula Garces, Christina Milian, Kelli Garner, and one-time
female lead Vanessa Ferlito) who just want to cheer on their Longhorns.
The movie offers a blend of “Bring It On” mixed
with “U.S. Marshals,”
and director Stephen Herek does an excellent job capturing the
authentic Austin locales, making you feel as if you’re
Surprisingly, all the ingredients were there in “Man of the
a real sleeper hit: a few laughs, a dash of romance, and an engaging
mix of young and veteran actors. Alas, the finished film feels awfully
disjointed, with too much set-up and a cameo by Cedric the Entertainer
that not only overstays its welcome but seems like it’s out
film altogether. More over, Herek and the writers clearly tried to
develop five distinct personalities for the female leads, but much like
Jones’ wooing of Archer, that development is ultimately
limited to just
a few fragmented moments of interest.
“Man of the House,” then, is 100 minutes of
with a solid cast capable of better, but it’s certainly not
movie of the year. Despite its flaws it’s nevertheless
enough to warrant a rental if the idea of cute cheerleaders harassing
Tommy Lee Jones appeals to you (and in that regard I plead guilty as
Sony’s DVD looks outstanding with its 2.40 widescreen
full-screen version is available on the same disc). The 5.1 Dolby
Digital sound offers a decent blend of David Newman score and the
requisite explosions and gunshots. Extras are limited to a pair of
fluffy “Making Of” featurettes.
TEEN MOVIE: Unrated Director’s Cut (***, 2001). 97 mins., R,
SPECIAL FEATURES: Making Of featurettes, Audition Footage, Music Video,
“Car Ride” short film; 1.85 Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby
General consensus was that this raunchy, 2001 parody of teen movies was
simply too gross for its own good -- a charge that could have (and
should have) been leveled at any of the Farrelly Brothers' recent
efforts, or the tasteless imitations that followed in the wake of
"There's Something About Mary." Instead, many jumped on the bandwagon
and dissed NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE for its gross-out humor, when in fact
this is a keenly-observed and often uproarious spoof, recommended
heartily for anyone old enough to have lived through the teen movie
genre of the last 20 years.
The often savvy script (credited to five writers) takes aim at all the
obvious targets, from John Hughes' complete filmography (BREAKFAST
CLUB, SIXTEEN CANDLES, etc.) to recent efforts like SHE'S ALL THAT and,
yes, even AMERICAN PIE. While some of the immature gags misfire, many
of them score a direct hit, making fun of not only the movies that
initiated the contemporary teen movie cycle, but the idiotic pics that
tried to mimic them. Every cliché is pointed out and
skewered, with one
of the film's funnier sequences being the introduction to the film's
high school, where the cute girl with glasses is viewed as being more
horrifying than a ringer for Quasimodo.
Along the way, director Joel Gallen keeps the movie's energy level up,
and Theodore Shapiro's entertaining score recreates the mood and
atmosphere of the films NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE is parodying. There's
even an amusing musical number thrown in for good measure, along with
several excellent cameos.
Sony’s new “Unrated Director’s
Cut” includes 10 minutes of added
footage, some of which was included in the Deleted Scenes section on
the original DVD, while other changes are comprised of new dialogue
extensions and minor alterations. Unfortunately, the deleted scenes NOT
restored in this longer cut aren’t included here (but ARE on
original DVD!). That’s the sort of thing that can drive a
since major fans of the movie are now going to have to own both
versions of the DVD.
The other extras primarily rehash the prior DVD’s
including a couple of easter eggs, music videos, audition footage,
Gallen’s short film “Car Ride” and Making
Of featurettes. Regrettably,
none of the commentaries nor the trivia track are reprised from the
If you're not a fan of teen movies, and like your comedy clean, then
NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE isn’t really a movie for you. On the
if you ever had to take a date to any one of these films in the last
two decades and are looking for a superior spoof, this one comes highly
recommended. The longer cut of the movie is superior as well, but the
lack of all the deleted scenes and commentaries from the initial DVD
means the supplements on this version, at least, come up a bit short.
Vista Capsule Round-Up
Miramax/Dimension continues to clear out their back catalog with a
handful of new DVDs this week:
(96 mins., R, Miramax/Buena Vista):
Jeremy Northam and Lucy Liu star in this thriller from Pandora Films
and director Vincenzo Natali. Miramax’s DVD offers 1.85
5.1 Dolby Digital sound.
BILLIE BEAT BOBBY (88 mins., PG, 2001, Miramax/Buena Vista): Entertaining
cable-film from director-writer Jane Anderson spotlights the rivalry
between Bobby Riggs (Ron Silver) and Billie Jean King (Holly Hunter).
Miramax’s DVD includes a bright 1.78 widescreen transfer with
(92 mins., R, Miramax/Buena Vista):
Teri Hatcher’s billing is played up in this supernatural
starring Grayson McCouch and Lou Gossett, Jr. Miramax’s DVD
1.85 widescreen transfer and 5.1 Dolby Digital sound.
IMAGE (92 mins., R, Miramax/Buena Vista):
John “Ex-Cougar” Mellencamp plays a crime scene
photographer in this
suspenseful enough thriller from director Robert Manganelli.
DVD includes a 1.85 transfer, 5.1 Dolby Digital sound, a Making Of
featurette, Manganelli’s production notes, and a special
Seat Mail Bag
From Alan Spencer:
for that fair assessment of
"Hexed." Due to the success of "Sledge" on DVD, I'm being
doing an original work again as opposed to rewriting other people's
movies. I vowed never again to work on a small budget or
creative control, but both of those are hard to come by... so I'll just
do the best I can.
NEXT TIME: KUNG FU HUSTLE and More! Don't
to drop in
on the official Aisle Seat Message
any emails to the
we'll catch you