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THE VIDEO STORE GRAB 'N' RUN: Oh, I got your variety right here...

The rules of the Grab'n'Run? Chuck runs into the video store, grabs the first five random movies he sees, then runs home to watch.
by Charles Tatum

The five films I picked this time out have one thing in common- ain't never seen 'em before. I hit the Classics section before heading over to the Action category, so here are this week's picks: from Classics- the original "Cat People" and "The Picture of Dorian Gray," from Action- "Deathcheaters" and "The Retrievers," and from Music- "Running Out of Luck." Which one has Rae Dawn Chong nekkid? Oh, yeah...

Jim Broadbent won the Oscar for "Iris," and he also has a bit part in "Running Out of Luck," a bizarre long form music video from Mick Jagger and Julien Temple. The film is a chain of over half a dozen videos from Jagger's "She's the Boss" solo album, all held together with a dumb story about Jagger being kidnapped and stranded in backwoods Brazil during a video shoot. In addition to Broadbent, Rae Dawn Chong is the often naked love interest, Dennis Hopper is the video director, and Jerry Hall tries to act as Mick's wife, a role she did not keep in real life, either. This is just a vanity project with mediocre songs and pretty Brazilian scenery, but by the time Hall murders a senator she had been dating, and Chong breaks Jagger out of prison by rubbing poison on her nipple, I was fascinated with the sheer badness of the thing.

Jim Broadbent is nowhere to be seen in "Cat People," the original black and white suspenser that was remade with Natassia Kinski. The original has lovely Simone Simon not consummating her new relationship for fear of turning into a big cat and devouring her new lover, something the women I date suffer from as well. The cinematography and direction are gorgeous, I sometimes paused the film just to look at an individual frame, but this suffers from a talky script that takes forever. The swimming pool stalking is here, too, a super scene that was copied in the remake. Plus, the first of this week's films to have no nudity except for the bare shoulder of Simon as she sits in a tub. Great, I've got boobs on the brain...

Uh, no bare breasts in "The Picture of Dorian Gray," but this is the best film of the bunch so far. Hurd Hatfield stiffly plays a man who wishes a newly painted portrait would absorb his aging so he could look young forever. The portrait also seems to replace his conscience, growing more and more hideous as Gray mistreats those around him, eventually resorting to murder. This is a wonderful movie, full of great performances and Oscar Wilde's urbane lines. The director keeps the film in black and white, except for two insert Technicolor shots of the portrait. Simply wonderful...except for Hatfield, who is too bland and stilted in the main role. He disappears altogether whenever George Sanders comes onscreen and deftly steals the film.

Here's a great pitch! Two ordinary stuntmen are recruited by a government agency to be secret agents! We could get some unknowns in the lead, throw in a cute dog, and do a few seasons of this! Call the network! Is John Larroquette available? Actually, "Deathcheaters" is mild enough to be a pilot on a television network, and little else. The stunts are good, but routine, the actors likable enough, the Australian locations are pretty, and I knew where the entire ninety-six minute film was headed from the opening seconds. This is not technically bad film making, but lazy film making that seems to have forgotten an audience might want to be entertained and not bored stupid.

I'm woozy after being violated by "The Retrievers," a stupid actioner from the 1980's that sucks on more levels than I can count. Big dumb Max Thayer decides to help perky Shawn Hoskins find her missing brother and helps get his tell-all about the CIA published. When the most exciting scene involves the loading of cases of books into a truck by a morbidly obese man, you know you are in trouble. This is an ugly film that deserves to remain unseen and unheard of.

Of the five, only one or two would be considered really worthy of a repeat viewing, unless you are in the mood for Mick Jagger's bony bare ass.

Best to worst:
1. The Picture of Dorian Gray
2. Cat People
3. Running Out of Luck
4. Deathcheaters
5. The Retrievers

That's it for this week. Next week, I will return like the warm potato salad you ate for lunch. What's that growling noise coming from your pants?


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=976
originally posted: 02/04/04 05:55:03
last updated: 10/08/04 00:33:07
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