August 15th, 2009

LADY CHATTERLEY’S LOVER (1982) ** ½

Sexpot screen siren Sylvia Kristel teams up with her Emmanuelle director Just Jaeckin for another Skinamax adaptation of a novel commonly found in dirty book shops.  I had high hopes for this movie considering that it was produced by Cannon Films.  Unfortunately, Jaeckin films things as if he was making a movie for Merchant-Ivory and not Golan-Globus.

 

Kristel plays Lady Chatterley, a hot tamale who is married to a patriotic aristocrat.  When her husband returns home from World War I paralyzed from the waist down, he grants Lady permission to take a lover because, after all a girl’s got needs.  It doesn’t take Lady Chatterley long to start flirting with a chicken coop attendant and takes even less time for her to hop in the sack with him.  Her romantic tryst eventually makes her husband extremely jealous, which predictably puts a damper on the situation.

 

You know there are two different kinds of Skinamax movies.  The first kind is the teen movie that usually takes place on or around the beach and features lots of women in and out of bikinis.  The second kind is basically Masterpiece Theater with tits.  Lady Chatterley’s Lover is a case of the latter.  While I don’t necessarily dislike these kinds of films, I do at least ask for them not to be boring.  The first half of this flick was so dull that I fell asleep on it last night.  I just got done watching the second half this afternoon and I have to say that the last half of the movie is pretty damn hot.  And by pretty damn hot I mean that it features wall-to-wall softcore fucking. 

 

If the pacing wasn’t all out of whack, Lady Chatterley’s Lover might have been a classic.  Too bad it takes Kristel nearly a half an hour to finally get nekkid.  I know you have to take time to build up the premise but come on.  What’s worse is that we actually see the Lover naked (complete with gratuitous flopping cock shot) a good five minutes before we see the Lady in the nude!  On the plus side, Kristel gets naked an even half dozen times after the halfway point and looks ultra yummy throughout. 

 

* ½ for the sluggish first half.  *** ½ for the sexy second half.  That works out to be a solid ** ½ average.

 

(Note:  Is it just me, or is Just Jaeckin the coolest name for a softcore Skinamax movie director?  His name pretty much implies what you should be doing while watching the movie:  Just Jacking.  Of course, he’s French so he spells it a bit different, but the meaning is easily translated.)

SECRET WINDOW (2004) ** ½

I worked in a video store during the time Secret Window was first released on DVD.  I had every intention of watching it because I’m a rabid Stephen King fan, loved director David Koepp’s previous film Stir of Echoes, and really dig Johnny Depp, but somehow I just never got around to it.  One day a customer came in and complained that their DVD froze up right at the end of the movie and asked me if I could check it in the store player.  I put the movie in and fast forwarded to where the problem area was and (of course) the movie played fine.  The customer then asked me if he could just watch the last five minutes since he didn’t get a chance to see it at home.  I felt bad (and didn’t feel like crediting his account) so I said sure.  I inevitably saw how the flick ended and it kinda pissed me off because I wanted to watch it from the beginning. 

 

Flash forward five years to me remembering that I had never saw the first 85 minutes of Secret Window.  Even though I already knew how it ended, I decided to put it on my Netflix Queue and give it a whirl.  Now that I’ve seen the whole dang thing I have to say that it really wasn’t worth the wait.

 

Secret Window is all about a writer (Depp) who is going through a divorce so he goes up to his cabin in the woods to get away from it all.  His peace and quiet is disturbed when a creepy stalker that dresses like an Amish buggy driver (John Turturro) shows up claiming that Depp stole one of his stories.  He brushes him off but after Turturro kills his dog and burns down his ex’s house, Depp decides he’s dealing with one crazy SOB.  As the movie goes on Turturro begins murdering people close to Depp until…  Well I won’t ruin the ending for you like it was ruined for me. 

 

I can’t say the ending really worked for me personally because I already knew what was going to happen.  Even though I knew the ending going in, I still think I might’ve been able to guess it.  You might be surprised though.

 

Everything before the ending is competently done and the movie is slick looking and briskly paced yet Secret Window never really grabbed a hold of me like it should’ve.  Most of this is due to the fact that the story is just too one-note and insignificant to really warrant the big screen treatment.  Like many films taken from King novellas, the flick is rife with useless padding to get it up to feature length.  (The back-and-forth between Depp and his estranged wife was particularly gratuitous.)  It was especially disappointing coming off the heels of Koepp’s excellent Stir of Echoes.

 

Although Depp does a fine job in the lead, he’s woefully miscast.  His usual quirky character touches just seem out of place in a horror movie protagonist.  Likewise, Turturro is adequate as the creepo but I never quite bought him as a credible menace.  Now if Depp and Turturro had traded roles, we might have had a winner. 

 

I still have to say that I liked seeing Timothy Hutton popping up in a supporting role.  Granted, he’s not as good here as he was in Turk 182 but I’ll give him a break because his role is really underdeveloped.  If anything, Secret Window would be worth watching again alongside of The Dark Half as part of a Stephen King Movies About Deadly Imaginary Authors Starring Timothy Hutton double feature.