FilmJerk Favorites

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

||| Sergio Leone |||
Sergio Leone

Leone’s career is remarkable in its unrelenting attention to both American culture and the American genre film, exploring the mythic America he created with each successive film examining the established characters in greater depth.

Only his second feature (a remake of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo), Leone's landmark "spaghetti western" caused a revolution and features Clint Eastwood in his breakthrough role as "The Man With No Name". This classic brutal drama of feuding families wasn’t the first spaghetti Western, but it was far and away the most successful up to that time.

Plot is of minimal interest, but character is everything to Leone, who places immense meaning in the slightest flick of an eyelid, extensively using the extreme close-up on the eyes to reveal any feeling, as demonstrated by Clint, who squints his way through this slam-bang sequel to A Fistful of Dollars as a wandering gunslinger that must combine forces with his nemesis to track down a wanted killer.

The final chapter in the groundbreaking trilogy follows Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach as they form an uneasy alliance to find a stash of hidden gold. Leone focuses on his central theme as they find themselves facing greed, treachery, and murder, showing that the desire for wealth and power turns men into ruthless creatures who violate land and family and believe that a man’s death is less important than how he faces it.

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The Wedding Date

By BrianOrndorf

February 3rd, 2005

“The Wedding Date” is the type of romantic comedy drivel that makes you hate to fall in love. The film is an absolute mess, due to both complicated source material and an obvious last-minute editing frenzy that stripped the film of any sense. Detest your significant other? Take them to see this garbage.


After deciding to travel to England to attend her sister's wedding, Kat (Debra Messing, "Will & Grace") frantically hires a male escort, Nick (Dermot Mulroney), to help her look good in front of her family and her ex-fiancée. Uncomfortable with each other at first, Nick and Kat are thrust into one awkward social situation after another, sparking an attraction that goes directly against their business relationship.

"The Wedding Date" opens with The Corrs' wildly overexposed hit, "Breathless," singling that the feature film starting to unwind will be a softball, undemanding experience. However, "Date" becomes far worse. Surprisingly adapted from a novel, "Date" is saccharine, uninspired entertainment, eventual collapsing into a flat-out mess.

Because the material was presented in a relaxed, narratively luxurious literary format before, screenwriter Dana Fox has a devil of a time wrestling the tale to the ground and forming something consistent out of the many plot threads that dangle during the course of the bloated story. "Date" appears to have been the unfortunate victim of a last minute editing hatchet job, for over the course of a measly 80 minutes, not one single backstory, motivation, or performance is seen to its natural conclusion. "Date" is a nonstop series of weird jumps in time and logic, using the stars of the film to keep attention off the fact that nothing in the movie makes a lick of sense. There's an uneasy tension between Kat and her family that is never properly explored, Nick and Kat's relationship pinballs around constantly between love and hate (never really settling on either one), not to mention that the two BARELY know each other before Nick's all gooey for this stranger he's PAID to be with (shades of "Pretty Woman," and just as icky). There's also a horde of idiotic romantic comedy clichés that director Clare Kilner ("How to Deal") employs to stitch the mess together, including a deplorable British "Absolutely Fabulous" rip-off character as Kat's "worldly" best friend. This material only serves to make the film even more of an endurance test with its lack of imagination and self-esteem.

"Date" doesn't take television actress Debra Messing far away enough from the small screen, here handing her another safe, sitcom comedy role. Nevertheless, Messing isn't even up to challenging those minor requirements. She fusses about as Kat, wrinkling her nose and trying to make this material pop off the screen, but it looks like a lot of labor for little results. She isn't helped by the 180 pounds of driftwood also known as Dermont Mulroney, who doesn't hide his "I'd rather be doing an indie film" frown as he slugs his way through an embarrassing "dream guy" role, complete with gratuitous butt shot and ideal romantic philosophies. The leads stand and deliver, but I'm thinking the original screenplay once held the rounded characters they insist they're portraying.

Romantic comedy isn't the toughest genre to tackle (the wedding setting is even more of a gimme), which makes the disturbingly unlikable "Wedding Date" even more of a trainwreck. All it had to do was be sweet, be simple, and be gentle. Instead, the endless amount of bad film-making choices found here just makes you want to exit the theater screaming.

My rating: D-