FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Norman Jewison |||
Norman Jewison

Yes, he directed “Moonstruck” and two unforgettable musicals, but Jewison is also responsible for a trilogy of films focusing on racial-injustice, a whacky Cold War comedy and a signature film of Steve McQueen’s showing that he is one of the most versatile directors since Robert Wise.

This blueprint for good investigation dramas tells the story of a black Philadelphia detective investigating a murder in Mississippi who matches wits with a redneck sheriff. Groundbreaking for it’s time, this Oscar winning film is still relevant today and offers a gripping mystery with terrific dramatic performances by a complete cast of fully realized characters.

This is an amazingly funny and entertaining irreverent "Cold War" comedy about a Russian submarine stranded outside an isolated New England town, which throws the locals into a panic. Jewison does a delightful job of utilizing his all-star cast to their fullest, deftly mixing Capra-esq characters with Mel Brooks’s type situations (and vise-versa).

A bored millionaire (Steve McQueen in his prime) masterminds a flawless bank job as Faye Dunaway (an insurance investigator out to get him) identifies him as the mastermind and falls in love along the way. This is the original and the best, with all the arch stylized movie techniques of the ‘60s (including split-screen and fuzzy shallow focus) and the most erotic chess game ever captured on screen.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Redline

By BrianOrndorf

April 14th, 2007

"Redline" is based on a fantasy of filthy rich producer Daniel Sadek. His wildest dream? To see his entire luxury automobile collection used in a racing film. He even paid for the making of "Redline" out of his own pocket. So what does 26 million dollars buy you in today's film market? Apparently a smorgasbord of awful.

Redline

For kicks, a group of millionaires (Eddie Griffin, Angus Macfayden, and Tim Matheson) gather together to bet on illegal races using their collection of exotic cars. Natasha (Nadia Bjorlin) is a singer with a racing past who unexpectedly gets caught up in this pastime and she wants out. With the help of Iraq vet Carlos (Nathan Phillips, “Wolf Creek”), Natasha attempts to tamper with the race results to best exact revenge on one of the tycoons who has threatened her family.

“Redline” is perhaps the most obvious vanity film of the last decade. Even the worst projects from Hollywood’s A-list couldn’t compare with the ballooned ego of this movie. It’s a motion picture literally built around the display of fancy cars, with minimal attention to plot or performance. Sure, the same could be said of its forefather, 2001’s “Fast and the Furious,” but even that piece of junk had some production value. “Redline” is a direct-to-knucklehead release that refuses to bow out gracefully.

Clearly, the target demo for the film is teenage boys and Sadek wouldn’t dare leave his bread and butter hanging for long. “Redline” is “directed” by an Asian stuntman named Andy Cheng, but I wouldn’t call flash editing, an endless parade of down-blouse shots, and a music score comprised of outtakes from the “Three Dollar Bill Y’all” sessions to be direction. Cheng is clueless here, uproariously trying to goose the adrenaline with everything he’s got, and when that fails, he throws more depressing cleavage than a Playboy Bunny funeral on the screen to try and zero in on the primal motivation one has for seeing a film like this.

As an action film, “Redline” is as goofy as they come, staging hand-to-hand combat with Seagal-like indifference and lukewarm timing. The races themselves are lost in a whirlwind assault of visuals; Cheng more closely involved with the editing than trying to at least come up with one single “wow” shot to make the pain worthwhile. Many punches are thrown, cars flip through the air, and it adds up to nothing. “Redline” is actually worse and far more melodramatic than nothing, making one wish for the magic of Mike, Crow, and Tom Servo to swoop in and properly deal with a film this tacky.

If the stunts fail to catch fire, you can imagine how a cast lead by Eddie Griffin fares. The big “names” of the film, including Griffin, Tim Matheson, and the always dreadful Angus Macfayden (who, at one point, performs a shirtless tribal dance while throwing counterfeit money into a fire) were obviously sucked into “Redline” by the lure of a summer vacation on a millionaire’s dime. The younger part of the troupe, led by the impossibly crafted Bjorlin and dense Phillips, look stunned by the whole ordeal, with the leading lady more interested in pimping her singing career and maintaining her dynamite tan than giving an authentic reaction to the stupidity surrounding her.

“Redline” is garbage, but I refuse to accept it had to be this bad. Especially coming from a producer without any obligations to please a studio, “Redline” should’ve been far more than just rusted spare parts from the action film junkyard. It squanders a rich opportunity to do something memorable. Instead, it just reeks like all its nitro-fueled siblings.

My rating: F