FilmJerk Favorites

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

||| Francis Ford Coppola |||
Francis Ford Coppola

Coppola is an amazing talent whose inspiration and influence spans many generations. Virtually the link between the studio system of yesteryear and the independent minded filmmaker of the modern age, Coppola became the first major film director to emerge from a university degree program in filmmaking, thus legitimizing a now common route for many future filmmakers.

This Academy Award winner continues to enjoy an enormous critical and popular success due in large part to Coppola’s ability to break down an epic saga of crime and the struggle for power into the basic story of a father and his sons, punctuating the prevalent theme throughout Coppola’s oeuvre: the importance of family in today’s world. His personal portrait mixed tender moments with harsh brutality and redefined the genre of gangster films.

This intense, yet unassuming thriller has an impact that touches the viewer on a personal level and raises the question of privacy and security in a world of technology – thirty years ago! Coppola’s then virtually unknown cast is a roster of inevitable superstars, including Gene Hackman, Harrison Ford, and Robert Duvall. This Academy Award nominee for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Sound lost out to Coppola’s other great effort of the year, The Godfather: Part II.

Coppola's masterful Vietnam War-updating of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" was the first major motion picture about the infamous “conflict”. This colossal epic was shot on location in the Philippines over the course of more than a year and contains some of the most extraordinary combat footage ever filmed. Unforgettable battle sequences and sterling performances from every cast member (including Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, Scott Glenn, and Martin Sheen) mark this Academy Award-winning drama as a must-see for any true film fanatic.

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Just My Luck

By BrianOrndorf

May 12th, 2006

“Just My Luck” is such a tedious romantic comedy, it can only come from the poisoned touch of director Donald Petrie. I’m all for Lindsay Lohan trying to act silly, but this picture is such a hollow, charisma-free endeavor that whatever effort she’s putting into the film is wasted on material that should have never seen the light of day in the first place.


Ashley (Lindsay Lohan) is a PR worker bee with an amazing gift of good luck. Finding everything goes her way, Ashley manages to score a big record company account with the promise of a lavish party. At this party, she meets Jake (Chris Pine, “Princess Diaries 2”), a wannabe band manager with a wicked case of bad luck. Drawn together by fate, the two kiss, exchanging their luck in the process. Now cursed, Ashley’s life falls quickly to pieces, and she embarks on a hunt across New York City to find Jake again and forcibly take her good luck back.

Lindsay Lohan wants to grow up. Perhaps tired of the grind and responsibility of making films for tweens, “Just My Luck” entrusts her with a role in which she can play a bona fide adult. Whether or not Lohan is ready for such a leap is the larger question that plagues this laborious and mind-numbing romantic comedy.

There’s little doubt that Lohan is a charmer; she’s single-handedly propped up crud like “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” and “Mean Girls,” and her raspy quirks were put to good use in last smmer’s “Herbie” reprise. “Luck” pushes Lohan to the next stage of comedienne, organizing slapstick sequences for her that should be lightweight fun, however each one seems worse than the last. “Luck” goes for a Lucille Ball feel, putting Lohan in situations that require comedic chaos to get her into trouble, and a blinding smile that acts as her personal “get out of jail free” card. I have no problem with Lohan desiring to be Lucy, but she’s got to find a better director than the torturous Donald Petrie to help get her to that level.

Petrie is a notorious studio hack, churning out such unimaginative fare as “Welcome to Mooseport” and “Miss Congeniality.” He’s a filmmaker without an inch of personality in anything he makes. “Luck” furthers his creative headlock as Petrie aims for the lowest entertainment level possible for every scene in the film. The director encourages his talent to mug for the camera, fills the supporting cast with actors free of inspiration or charisma, and when the multitude of wacky set-pieces with Lohan and Pine fail to bond due to Petrie’s sledgehammer touch with humor, he has a wealth of animal feces jokes to back him up.

What Petrie ignores in his pursuit of inconsistency is the bridge between Ashley and Jake. “Luck” is a film heavily controlled by a screenplay that Petrie fully believes contains all the cinematic ingredients for easy direction. Watching “Luck,” there’s not a moment where the two leads ignite their spark. Pine plays his role with boy scout naiveté, while Lohan keeps her attention on pratfalls and “did I do that?” faces. It’s the script that brings the characters together, not actor chemistry or meticulous directorial attention, and it cheats the film of the one thing it needs the most: a sweet and engaging romance.

Strangely, “Luck” is also a 100 minute commercial for an English power pop/emo band called McFly, who play the struggling group Jake is managing. Playing a rather large and unexpected role in the film, the band is described a “cross between the Beatles and Blink 182.” That loosely translates into “bottomlessly awful.” Come to think of it, I guess they do fit in with everything else going on in “Just My Luck.”

My rating: D-