Take Slippery Slope. Here we have Gillian (Kelly Hutchinson), who is such a radical feminist that she made a documentary about feminism. The doc is accepted into Cannes for screening... but she still owes the film lab $50,000, and they won't release the print until she pays up. She's broke, of course, so what will she have to do to earn the money? If you said the thing she hates the most -- porn -- you're well on your way to a bustling career in Hollywood.
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More than enough, it turns out.
Continue reading: The Wire: Season Four Review
The second season is no different. It's riveting television that pulses with realism, intelligence, and harrowing drama. If by chance you've stumbled upon this review without having watched the first season, update your Netflix queue immediately, with The Wire: Season One at the top. Like nearly all of today's best hour-long dramas, its multilayered storytelling technique demands a great deal of attention to detail from the viewer. The show can't be fully appreciated without understanding each character's nuanced backstory and the history of interactions and conflicts everyone has with one another. So start at the beginning and enjoy.
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Based on the play by Joan Ackermann (and adapted by Ackermann for the screen), Off the Map recalls one summer in the life of an offbeat family living off the land in rural New Mexico. It's essentially a series of dialogue-driven scenarios that actors like Joan Allen and Sam Elliott can sink their teeth into; Scott guides them there while avoiding any unnecessary scene-chewing or melodrama that could come with the subject matter. That's an accomplishment in itself -- but the visual dreaminess and charm that Scott weaves into, and wraps around, his performances elevate the film into a poignant and thoughtful work of art.
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Unfortunately Normal Life is a dud from a story and pacing standpoint, as it attempts to combine Bonnie and Clyde with a sexed-up Skinemax movie, plus a touch of Girl, Interrupted. Judd is an emotional basketcase with a penchant for cutting herself (named, ahem, Pam Anderson), while Luke Perry (sure, you remember him!) is a cop who falls for the poor lass (first spotting her smashing a beer mug in a bar -- great sign!).
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Uber-quirky but strangely satisfying Coen escapade, skewering the world of big business (at least as it existed in the 1950s), as a company schemes to drive the price of the stock down by installing an imbecile (Tim Robbins) as president. This isn't Fargo, not by a longshot, but it's not meant to be. This is one of those fun little flicks that really, really grows on you, featuring amazing performances by Robbins, Paul Newman, and Charles Durning, and even a memorable (if rote) appearance by Jennifer Jason Leigh. But what really sticks with you is the ultra-clever dialogue... "You know, for kids!"
When in doubt, set your moody psychodrama in the frozen northeast, which will set the mood perfectly.
Affliction has plenty of mood. Too bad the story stinks. Telling the twin tales of small town Sheriff Wade Whitehouse (Nolte) -- a father/son struggle with pop (Coburn) and an investigation into a suspicious hunting accident-cum-land grab -- both turn out to be as dry as dust. Wade, like dad, is a boozehound and an overall loser. Why girlfriend Margie (Spacek) puts up with him is a mystery. How the audience is supposed to care about him is an even bigger one.
Coburn won Best Supporting Actor for his miniscule role, and that seems deserved, but if you're looking for a far better frozen thriller, check out Fargo or A Simple Plan.