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The Children Of Huang Shi Review


Bad
Roger Spottiswoode's limp The Children of Huang Shi sounds, looks, and feels like a chapter torn from a dusty history textbook that was relevant somewhere in the mid-1960s. Every revelation feels like a lesson being thrust upon the viewer, every character a simple metaphor for their nationality's opinion toward (and hand in) the Japanese occupation of China that culminated in the Rape of Nanking in the winter of 1937. Here, the Chinese were honorable soldiers from a conflicted country, the Japanese were buffoonish barbarians who still took their shirt off before they decapitated people, the British were naive and in way over their heads, and the Americans just wanted to get married.

As the film's pre-script enlightens us, Children follows the life of George Hogg (Jonathan Rhys Davies), a British journalist who steals the identity of a Red Cross worker to sneak into Nanking and get the story and the pictures of the massacres. After being captured, he almost meets the business-end of Tokyo steel before Hansheng (Chow Yun-Fat, not having fun with a mostly-American dialect), a resistance fighter, saves him from the blade. Hansheng sends Hogg off to the titular village, which serves as a sort of city for lost children, held in check by Dr. Pearson (Radha Mitchell), an actual Red Cross medic.

Continue reading: The Children Of Huang Shi Review

Mesmer Review


Weak
Fantastic! The best movie I've ever seen! This portrayal of 1800s hypnotist Franz Anton Mesmer is killer! Alan Rickman is fantastic, whispering those lines with self-assured grace. He wasn't a wacko -- his strange energy experiments were legit! He got a bum rap! Costumes! Drama! It's... it's... it's incredible!

Continue reading: Mesmer Review

Twister (1990) Review


Weak
Quirky comedy as only Vestron Pictures can create. Twister, no not that Twister, chronicles the misadventures of an eccentric family caught in their midwest mansion during a tornado outbreak. There doesn't seem to be much rhyme or reason to the relationships among the kooky cast -- including Harry Dean Stanton and Crispin Glover -- except that they're all crazy and hate each other, pretty much. When the tornado hits, they're too busy fighting to pay much attention.

The film is largely a platform for odd soliloquies from its odd cast members, and even the strangest among them seem to have trouble spouting off their improbable lines. Suzy Amis is particularly awful in one of her first starring roles. You might amuse yourself instead by watching for appearances from Tim Robbins, William S. Burroughs, and a few other notables. Director Michael Almereyda is clearly working on a budget of pennies here, and though he makes the most of it, the movie can't help but look pretty cheap. Characters come and go willy-nilly, the camera doesn't seem to move much, and the film's lame synth-driven music feels more like 1980 instead of 1990.

Continue reading: Twister (1990) Review

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