the tall guy (1989, Alliance Atlantis), dir. Mel Smith w/ Jeff Goldblum, Emma Thompson. Rating: NNNN
The Tall Guy is one of Jeff Goldblum's best and funniest films. It's from the pen of Richard Curtis, who went on to write Four Weddings And A Funeral and Notting Hill.
Goldblum plays an American actor in London in his sixth year stooging for an arrogant prick comic (Rowan Atkinson). Deeply depressed, he meets Emma Thompson, an alarmingly practical nurse. This is one of the few films that uses Goldblum's gangling height and conversational arrhythmia to proper comic effect, and it gives us the first glimpse of Curtis's obsession, the romantic clash of sensibilities between England and America.
Very funny, especially when Goldblum gets cast in a musical version of The Elephant Man. Watch for director Mel Smith's cameo in the backstage party.
EXTRAS: English subtitles
Big-screen rating: N/A
iron monkey (1994, Alliance Atlantis), dir. Yuen Woo-Ping w/ Yu Rongguang, Donnie Yen. Rating: NNNN
Discovered by North American audiences through his fight choreography in The Matrix and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Yuen Woo-Ping's extensive career as a director, stunt coordinator and choreographer stretches back through three decades of Hong Kong cinema. Iron Monkey (1993) is the latest to cross the waters, in a tidied up and re-scored version from Miramax. Purists complain about the North American video treatment of HK product, but they do tend to leave the fight sequences alone, and the original score on Iron Monkey wasn't all that great to begin with.
Iron Monkey is about a Zorro-like figure, by day the kindly Dr. Yang (Yu), by night the dreaded Iron Monkey, scourge of corrupt officials and sweatshop owners. Iron Monkey pretty much has it all if you like jaw-dropping kung fu battles. Highly recommended, and this is an excellent wide-screen transfer.
EXTRAS: Interviews with Quentin Tarantino and Donnie Yen, English and Cantonese versions, English subtitles.
Big-screen rating: NNNN (JH)
star trek: the next generation season one (2002, Paramount), dir. various w/ Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes. Rating: NN
The dark secret of Star Trek: The Next Generation is here revealed: the first season was pretty bad. The last season was bad, but in a loopy, "we've totally run out of things to do with these characters" way, leading to insanity like the Worf/Troi coupling.
Season One is Trek Classic bad, boldly going to the far reaches of the galaxy to spout liberal pieties. You get visible matte paintings, Wesley Crusher subplots, Patrick Stewart and Brent Spiner competing for the title of Best Elocution This Side of the Neutral Zone.
Paramount is releasing seven deluxe Star Trek: TNG boxes this year, and nothing, I suppose, will prevent the hardcore fans from buying Season One. Given that Space is pretty much the Star Trek Channel, the non-hardcore fan can tape the best episodes from Season One -- Heart Of Glory, the big Klingon episode, and Datalore, which introduces Data's evil twin -- out of their rotation and save their pennies until the good stuff kicks in around season three, when Wesley gets shipped off to Starfleet Academy, Riker grows a beard and Q returns to introduce the Borg.
EXTRAS: Four documentary featurettes. No subtitles. No commentary track. No outtakes. Come on, it's TV, there's got to be a blooper reel somewhere.
Big-screen rating: N/A
Also this weekAlso this week
Life As A House
= Critics' Pick nnnnn = excellent, maintains big screen impact nnnn = very good nnn = worth a peek nn = Mediocre n = Bomb No rating indicates no screening copy