The Direct to Video Connoisseur

I'm a huge fan of action, horror, sci-fi, and comedy, especially of the Direct to Video variety. In this blog I review some of my favorites and not so favorites, and encourage people to comment and add to the discussion. If you click on an image, it will take you to that post's image page, which includes many more pics from the film and other goodies I couldn't fit in the actual review. For announcements and updates, don't forget to Follow us on Twitter and Like our Facebook page. If you're the director, producer, distributor, etc. of a low-budget feature length film and you'd like to send me a copy to review, you can contact me at dtvconnoisseur[at]yahoo.com. I'd love to check out what you got.

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Announcement

Hi everyone, it's been a while since I checked the page, and I wanted to make a few announcements.

First and foremost, it appears a dubious site has claimed the old url, meaning any link in any review that goes to the old mattmovieguy url is corrupt. I'm in the process of trying to remove them all, but it's a lot! It's best not to click on any link without hovering over it first to make sure it doesn't have mattmovieguy in the url.

Second, it appears since my last trip to the blog, Photobucket has decided to charge for third party hosting, meaning none of my images are appearing anymore. That's simply an aesthetic issue, but still annoying.

Thank you all for your patience, and again, hopefully this will all be fixed soon.

--Matt

Friday, October 2, 2009

Basic Instinct 2 (2006)

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This is the first in what will be a new weekly feature where I look at films that were released theatrically, and bombed big time. We'll see how it goes. I first came across the idea when I reviewed Streets of Blood, which starred Val Kilmer and Sharon Stone. I was curious to see what Basic Instinct 2 did in the box office, and found out it grossed a staggering $5 million. Still, I felt like it wasn't exactly a DTV film, because it was in quite a few theaters, and had a nationwide advertising campaign. That got me thinking about some others, like this year's Bangkok Dangerous, or 2007's In the Name of the King, that I'd really like to take a look at as well. Again, it's just a trial thing for the month of October, but if people like it, and if I like it too, we'll keep it.

Basic Instinct 2 is the follow up to the 1992 film that made Sharon Stone famous. Now she's in London, and she's in trouble with the law again, after she drives a car with a doped up soccer star off a bridge. She's taken to a psychiatrist to determine if she should receive bail, and she picks him as her new toy. The two go in circles, her trying to seduce him, him trying to to get in too deep; and all the while, people they both know are dying. He suspects her, but she keeps giving him other potential culprits. It's a collision course to wackiness, and the question is, will the psychiatrist keep his sanity, or will Stone's seductions win out.

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Okay, are you ready for this? I actually liked it. I know, what the hell am I talking about? You must be growing senile in your old age, Matt! Hear me out. First off, it's plenty goofy, plenty Skin-a-max-y, and plenty over the top. But it has this cool Film Noir quality to it, like you could almost see the movie being made in the 1940s (except for the sex). This wouldn't be your top drawer Film Noir, but I'd put it in that Dead Reckoning category of not bad. It hit all the spots of what Film Noir should be, but then it also camped it up with outlandish dialog and overtly sexual scenes.

Sharon Stone was hot, too. She was 47-48 when this was filmed, but I think she almost looked as hot as she did in 1992. You could tell she was having fun in this role, and the way she delivered her lines made me think of Bacall and Davis in some of their Film Noir roles 60 years before. Of course, her "you know how to whistle, don't you? You put your lips together and blow" was more like "I want you to make me cum, doctor." The film is a reimagined 1940s-50s Film Noir in a modern setting, so why not have spice up the dialog some too.

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One thing I loved was how everything was in a cramped space. The streets of London were cramped, the apartments people lived in were cramped-- even the large, open office the psychiatrist has, becomes cramped the moment Stone enters the room. As much as she imposes herself on everyone's space, the film has a way of doing that as well. It's one of the elements of good Film Noir that I've always liked. One of my favorite usages of this device was on the TV show Miami Vice. For all it's silliness, it was always well shot, and they had a way of taking a huge mansion and making it small and intimate. It also diverted from the classic Noir framework of dark, neutral colors, and replaced them with pastels. Basic Instinct 2 definitely held to the traditional color pallete we expect from a Film Noir, with it's use of blacks and reds. Again, one exception was the doctor's office, which was open and white.

As I'm sure you've figured out, I'm a huge fan of bad action, and as we know, bad action is always violent. Tons of gunplay, brutal beatings, stabbings, and a good death is often glorified if the hero can get creative. That being said, it blows my mind how violence and sex are treated in the film industry. Why is a vagina horrible, but a dude being shot to death is okay? This film was definitely violent, but it wasn't the violence that gave it problems with the ratings board, it was the sex. Why are we so afraid of sex in this country? I personally would much rather watch a porno than something as depraved as Last House on the Left, but one of them can be shown in a movie theater to underaged kids with parental consent, or better yet, bought in a more vicious version at a video store without parental consent; and the other is kept under lock-and-key in a shady shop with a sketchy guy behind the counter and no windows. Would there be a Saw 37 if in Saw 1, the guy made the people do each other?

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Now that I'm off my soapbox, Charlotte Rampling was in this. You may remember her from Babylon AD, the Vin Diesel hit from 2008. Okay, maybe I use the term "hit" too loosely. It did make $22 mill, just shy of a third of it's estimated $70 million budget back, which is a lot more than the $5 mill Basic Instinct 2 got back on the same budget. $70 million just doesn't buy what it used to, huh? With the economy sagging, I wonder how many more $70 million flops will be green-lit (green-lighted?). One thing I do believe is this downturn will affect what films even make it to the theater, which will only mean more movies going Direct to Video. Sounds good to me.

If you're a fan of old school Film Noir the way I am, you should definitely check this out, because it's a lot of fun. If you're not, then you'll probably want to take a flyer and see something else. I'm not sure why it had a budget of $70 mill, because I bet it could've been done just as well for a lot less and not been released in the theater. Maybe Stone's contract was for $68 million.

For more info: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0430912/

2 comments:

  1. This is completely off topic, but I was unsure of how else to get this to you.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tekken_%28film%29

    There will be a Live Action Tekken film in theaters.

    Gary Daniels will be in it.

    Felt the need to tell you.

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  2. Thank you man, good looking out. And using the comment box is actually the perfect way to get anything to me, whether it's a request, or news like that, or general feelings about the site, because I get e-mail notifications whenever someone comments. So feel free to say whatever you want, whether it has anything to do with the movie being reviewed or not.

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