Tag Archives: Scarlett Johannsson

Arne Glimcher’s Just Cause

Just Cause, a sweaty 90’s Sean Connery potboiler, is one of those films that could have had its ducks in a line to be somewhat believable and entertaining but the script is a weird one and the execution of said script.. well to say it goes off the rails would be putting it mildly. Connery plays a hotshot professor who was once a legendary lawyer, lured back into the muck of the legal system by an elderly woman (the great Ruby Dee) whose son (Blair Underwood) has been sitting on death row for eight years for the rape and murder of a little girl. She’s convinced he’s innocent, and begs him to investigate the case, and so he journeys to the sweaty Florida Everglades to nose around. Laurence Fishburne plays the dodgy local sheriff who put the boy away on a brutally coerced confession and doesn’t take kindly to anyone trying to dig old secrets up or overturn convictions. Soon information turns up related to another inmate on the row, a serial murderer played by Ed Harris in such a try-hard, faux intense, maniacally cartoonish performance you have to feel for the guy. Here’s the thing: this film doesn’t work for two glaring reasons. Firstly, there’s nothing wrong with a humdinger of a twist ending, but you have to be honest with your audience and play at their level, not deliberately hide shit, manipulate and mislead us into thinking one thing, then just do a fucking unabashed 180 degree turn and expect us to accept it. The twist is ludicrous, especially when you look back at the editing, composition and overall thrust of the first half of the film. Secondly, the film builds a careful series of events to mount tension and at the last minute decides it wants to be an action movie, throws all story and credibility to the dogs and blares rudely on for an obnoxious, balls out, car chase ridden finale it it doesn’t earn, need or warrant in any way. Connery is kind of bland here, just a stalwart archetype following the breadcrumb trail dutifully. A supporting cast of very talented folks like Chris Sarandon, Kate Capshaw, Ned Beatty, Chris Murray, Kevin McCarthy, Hope Lange and an unrecognizable Scarlett Johannsson are all squandered in underwritten bit parts. Fishburne is the only one who makes a valid and lasting impression, doing his best with the writing as he always does and putting menace, mirth and actual gravitas into his work. Don’t know what else to say, this thing just sucked.

-Nate Hill

Home Alone 3

Home Alone 3 takes everything that was overblown and cartoonish about the first two and triples the excess in every area. The criminals are arch-villains instead of low rent cat burglars, the booby traps are next level, over elaborate funhouse nightmares instead of the blunt simplicity of paint cans on ropes, and generally the vibe strives for bigger, crazier, more more more. It actually works on its own outlandish terms, with a healthy helping disbelief suspension. The film seems to take place either in some parallel offshoot dimension where the Macaulay Culkin stuff never existed, because let’s be real, how many time could such events happen in one country. Either that or they just expect us to believe that this could keep happening to the same family again and again like some hilarious purgatorial curse, which is actually an amazing concept now that I’ve spelled it out. Anywho, the kid this time is young Alex Linz, whose family has routinely left him home alone, and he has unwittingly come into the possession of a super top secret weapons grade microchip hidden in a toy car. The quartet of criminals searching for it are led to his neighbourhood, and wouldn’t you know it, an endless tirade of ultra-violent, slapstick, severely booby trapped shenanigans ensue. The pranks and pratfalls here are seriously convoluted and freakishly well timed, not to mention brutal enough to be borderline horror movie material and so over the top you’d need a team of stuntmen just to get em’ on paper. The silly kid even uses a John Deere tractor to set up a giant trampoline/swimming pool snare. Sequels always feel the need to ramp up everything past eleven on the dial though, and this one cranks it til the speakers blow. Surprisingly, the villains are played by a distinctive and competent bunch of character actors, namely Olek Krupa, John Thornton, Lenny Von Dohlen and Rya Kihlstedt, interesting folks who can usually be found in obscure indie fare and off the wall projects. They get pummelled nearly to death here, by everything from electricity, nail guns, turpentine, murderous rogue lawn mowers, firecrackers and one psychotic parrot with attitude to spare. It’s one entertaining blitzkrieg though, like the first two Home Alone flicks on crack. Oh, and Scarlett Johansson has an early career role as the kid’s sassy sister too.

-Nate Hill