Peter Samuelson

Peter Samuelson

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The Last Time Review

For the most part, the bad movies of today are bad for a common, if somewhat broad, reason. They exist merely as products. They neither entertain nor enlighten. They simply fuel the engine of commerce. (Imagine any recent Nicolas Cage or talking animal movie.) Their hackery and awfulness is conspicuous, often involving meaningless action, puerile humor, blaring pop songs, and an unconvincing story. The Last Time is a different sort of bad. It's bad on a much smaller scale. Its hackery and awfulness masquerade as intelligence and crafty storytelling. It doesn't exist to fuel the engine of commerce. It exists to pad the resume of everyone whose name appears in the credits.

Writer-director Michael Caleo clearly fancies himself a David Mamet acolyte. Like Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross, The Last Time's plot centers on the vicious and primal world of high-pressure sales, and the dialogue comes out fast and caustic. Michael Keaton plays Ted, the top seller at a high-tech company whose product is frequently referred to but never actually defined. Ted is lonely, angry, and mean and he runs roughshod over everyone in his office, including his toothless boss, John (Daniel Stern). Ted is openly pissed off when he's directed to help orient the new guy, Jamie (Brendan Fraser). Everything changes, however, when Jamie introduces Ted to his gorgeous fiancée, Belisa (Amber Valletta). Ted takes an immediate interest in Belisa -- and his feelings only strengthen when he discovers that Belisa and Jamie aren't entirely happy together.

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Revenge Of The Nerds Review

History has been good to Revenge of the Nerds. Uncommonly good, really. Impossibly good.

In many ways, it's hard to figure out exactly why. It's not, on the surface, particularly well made. It doesn't feature an exceptional amount of skin. Nor is it even really all that funny. It even has Ted McGinley in it. But it's about nerds, and for better or worse, that's a subculture that doesn't easily let go of its icons. Especially pioneering ones, like this film.

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The Gathering Review

I'm always fascinated by those movies that get shot, cut, and finished... then sit "in the can" for years and years, unreleased. Why not just throw them to the theater world and see what happens?

Well, spend a few quality minutes with The Gathering and you'll see, in short order, just how bad one of these canned atrocities can be. Despite starring Christina Ricci, this genre pic is dead from its very first frames, wholly unwatchable at any point during its running time.

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Arlington Road Review

Thrillers can be really bad. When was the last time you saw a good thriller? It takes sound acting, a creative premise and most of all, suspense. Arlington Road, the new film starring Jeff Bridges and Tim Robbins, has a paranoia factor set in. There are many moments in this movie where I felt paranoid and creepy (and this was after I saw Eyes Wide Shut).

Jeff Bridges stars as Michael Faraday, and teacher at George Washington University who teaches a course on American Terrorism. Some people think that this was convenient given the plot of the film, but I think that it's a way of already instilling a sense of fear and uncertainty. In the first scene, Faraday rescues a young boy who had lit some fireworks and forgot to throw them. The boy is coincidentally the son of their neighbors, Oliver and Cheryl Lang (Tim Robbins and Joan Cusack, both extremely creepy and frightening). After some hunches about Oliver, Michael starts to do some investigating and what he turns up is not pretty.

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Wilde Review

You would think the life of Oscar Wilde would lend itself more to film. Not so. This biopic is unfathomably boring and ultimately pointless.

Tom & Viv Review

Notable mainly because two of its stars were nominated for 1994 acting Oscars, Miranda Richardson and Rosemary Harris, Tom & Viv is 1994's biopic about the life and times of T. S. Eliot (Willem Dafoe) and his wife, Viv (Richardson). Richardson's performance as the poet's ill wife who slowly loses her mind thanks to turn-of-the-century drugs is fine: the best of the five nominees for Best Actress in my opinion. Harris plays Viv's mother, and she has about 12 dull lines. Plotwise, this self-absorbed tale goes nowhere after the first 15 minutes. Interesting is Richardson's character interpretation, but nothing more.
Peter Samuelson

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Peter Samuelson Movies

The Gathering Movie Review

The Gathering Movie Review

I'm always fascinated by those movies that get shot, cut, and finished... then sit "in...

Arlington Road Movie Review

Arlington Road Movie Review

Thrillers can be really bad. When was the last time you saw a good...

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