September 24th, 2014

COOL AND THE CRAZY (1994) *

Jared Leto and Alicia Silverstone star as a young couple in the ‘50s. They get married and have a kid right out of high school without the benefit of sowing their wild oats first. Pretty soon, boredom sets in and Alicia is cavorting around with the town bad boy, played by Matthew Flint, while Leto busts his ass to make ends meet. When Jared finds out, he blows town to hook up with a beatnik chick. Eventually, the couple tries to get back together, which rattles Flint. He then kidnaps her and goads Jared into a final confrontation.

I haven’t seen all of the films in Showtime’s old Rebel Highway series, but this has got to be far and away the worst one. Directed by Ralph (Cool World) Bakshi, Cool and the Crazy is nothing more than an unending stream of irritating domestic scenes strung together in a shockingly sloppy narrative. There are a few scenes in particular that are pretty much undone by the clunky editing and poorly done ADR. The final scene for example, features dialogue that doesn’t even match the actor’s mouths, and it’s painfully obvious the dialogue is only there to patch up the last minute plot holes.

Bakshi also uses way too much unnecessary slow motion. The scene where Flint kidnaps Silverstone is ruined by Bakshi’s overuse of slow motion. Not only is the slow motion gratuitous and annoying, but the camerawork is also pretty bad. But look closer and you’ll see that this was done on purpose to (poorly) disguise the fact that it’s not Alicia Silverstone, but an obvious double. (There’s also a sex scene that uses an incredibly obvious body double for Silverstone too.)

Shoddy craftsmanship aside, Cool and the Crazy is just a bad movie. It’s full of unlikeable characters, contrived situations, and irritating dialogue. Leto and Silverstone do what they can with the subpar material, but they are hopelessly up the creek with such a sorry script. Maybe Bakshi should stick to animation.

REWIND THIS! (2013) ***

At one point, I had over 1,000 movies on VHS in my movie collection. Now that number is closer to 100. Because of that, I had plenty of affection for Rewind This! And while I enjoyed the flick, I have to say it is far from being the definitive documentary on the subject.

Rewind This! is a documentary about the advent of VCRs and VHS tapes. It's at its best while examining the cultural phenomenon of having such a new and exciting machine in your home. It also covers the format war with Betamax, the rise of VHS porn, and the creation of the direct-to-video market. All of this is pretty much fascinating, and I particularly loved seeing all of the old commercials advertising VCRs that could tape for “4 hours!”

The problem is that the movie’s focus shifts a bit too much, and the places where it chooses to embellish isn’t always the best. Lots of cool stuff is glossed over far too quickly (like the creation of lurid video box art), or barely touched upon. Director Josh Johnson also spends way too much time focusing on David “The Rock” Nelson, a shamelessly self-promoting Z grade horror filmmaker, who practically hijacks the movie at one point.

Then there are the hipster-y video collectors that permeate the film. They show off their video collections, pontificate about VHS’s legacy, and go to flea markets and video stores looking for campy movies. These guys aren’t annoying (for the most part), but they really could’ve been the subject of their own documentary.