Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (1999)

While this was originally going to be a series, this is the first Disney Channel original movie to get a sequel. It has a great pedigree, as it was directed by Kenneth Johnson, who created The Bionic Woman and V*.

Stardate 2049: Zenon Kar is a 13-year-old girl who has been in so much trouble on a space station that her parents send her to Earth, where she has trouble fitting in with the kids that have no idea what pop culture is, all while discovering a conspiracy to upload a computer virus top the space station, crash it to Earth and collect the insurance money.

Hey — Stuart Pankin! Not only Bob Charles, the anchor of HBOs Not Necessarily the News and Earl Sinclair on Dinosaurs, Stuart shows up in all manner of movies, a dependable character actor that I love. He’s Commander Edward Plank, the boss of the big space station.

They made two more of these movies about the plucky space girl — and Disney+ has them — so if this is your jam, get on it.

*He also directed Short Circuit 2 and Steel, but we don’t talk of those movies.

Inspector Gadget (1999)

If you’re from Pittsburgh, you know that Dr. Claw’s intimidating glass castle is just PPG Place.

Otherwise, this is a movie with perfect cartoon to real-life casting. You have Matthew Broderick as the Gadget, Rupert Everett as Dr. Claw, Michelle Trachtenberg as Penny and Dabney Coleman — the most perfect of these casting decisions — as Chief Quimby.

It then ruins all that good will by showing us Dr. Claw’s face, a fact that never ever happened across every season of the cartoon.

Perhaps the best part of this movie is the minions anonymous scene, in which a variety of henchmen appear, including henchmen include Mr. T and “Famous Bad Guy with Silver Teeth” (Richard Kiel as Jaws), “Famous Villain with Deadly Hat” (Richard Lee-Sung as Oddjob), “Famous Identifier of Sea Planes” (Bobby Bell as Tattoo from Fantasy Island), “Famous Native American Sidekick” (Hank Barrera as Tonto), “Bane of the Bumbling, Idiotic Yet Curiously Successful French Detective’s Existence” (Jesse Yoshimura as Cato Fong from The Pink Panther), “Son Before Second Son” (John Kim as Lee Chan, number one son of Charlie Chan) and “Famous Assistant to Dr. Frankensomething” (Keith Morrison as Igor).

After disastrous test screenings, the film was cut down from 110 minutes to 78 minutes. I have no idea just what was so upsetting in those 32 minutes, nor do I understand why this movie had to be any longer than 75 minutes.

Disney still made money from this movie, despite scorched earth reviews, as there weren’t a lot of kid-friendly films out in the summer of 1999. Throw in a bunch of cheaper direct to DVD sequels and a McDonald’s promotion to make your own Inspector Gadget that had parents traveling hundreds of miles to complete and even the worst of films can be a success.

Y2K (1999) and Y2K (1999)

No. That’s not a B&S About Movies site bug: there’s two movies with the same title released in the same year jumping on the “Year 2000/Millennium Bug” bugwagon that was going to, well, descend the Earth into global chaos.

The first one, also known as Y2K: The Movie, aka Countdown to Chaos in the overseas theatrical markets, was crafted by the great Dick Lowry, the producer and/or director behind Angel Dusted, In the Line of Duty: The F.B.I Murders, and Miracle Landing (one of the TV movie airline disaster flicks we didn’t get to in our week-long tribute).

The second one is an even dopier — Canadian-made, natch — direct-to-video time waster, which is also known as Terminal Countdown in the overseas theatrical markets. Direct-to-video sausage king Richard Pepin, through his PM Entertainment Group, who ground out the likes of the sci-fi actioner and disaster romps such as Cyber Tracker, T-Force, and Epicenter across his 120-plus credits, made the other one (Steel Frontier and Skyscraper; no, the Anna Nicole one, are two others).

And neither production thought of using the no-brainer title of The Millennium Bug for their oh-so-got-it-wrong “ancient future” hysteria boondoggles.

So “controversial” was the first Y2K, it almost didn’t air on the NBC-TV network on November 21, 1999, as some of the major utility, banking, and trading institutions feared it would cause a “War of the Worlds” type panic, inadvertently caused by Orson Welles’s radio drama broadcast on Oct. 30, 1938.

Well, it did air . . . NBC executives just chuckled at the silliness of it all. People losing their nut because of a TV movie?

Imagine if the A-List disaster flicks Armageddon and Deep Impact had to run with a disclaimer to appease the chicken little and falling skies buffoonery of the energy and banking worlds. Well, this flick, did:

This program does not suggest or imply that any of these events could actually occur.”

And guess what? The critics hated it and nobody it watched anyway.

The always likable Ken Olin is an MIT-trained systems analyst employed at a nuclear power plant in Seattle. While in Washington D.C. bickering over the Y2K issue, he learns that a Swedish plant — as the clocks turned over to 2000 — suffered a catastrophic meltdown. And like all disaster flicks before and after it, our hero faces an adversity rush to home before his family goes “nuclear” — and not even the presence of the always on-the-spot Joe Morton (Terminator 2) and Ronny Cox (of the aforementioned In the Line of Duty: The F.B.I Murders), can save them . . . or this movie. For there’s no thrills. There’s no action. There’s no nothing. Yeah, we ballyhoo the “Big Three” network TV movies around the B&S About Movies cubicle farm all the time, but not this one. Ugh. When it comes to “ancient future” flicks, this one gets it wrong and is the worst of them all — both in the ancient future and TV movie categories.

As for the second one? The critics hated it and nobody rented it.

The always spot-on Louis Gossett, Jr. (Jaws 3D) is pulling a paycheck, as well as the always welcomed Malcolm McDowell (Moon 44). This time, instead of a nuclear power plant, we have a top-secret (in the deep jungles), long-range missile site — connected to Richard M. Nixon’s administration (!) — that will launch its nuclear stockpile when the clocks clicks over to January 2000. And like all disaster flicks before and after it, our hero (Gossett) needs to stop the launch. Which leaves Mal as the evil general.

Sorry, no there’s no trailer for it, but you can stream Y2K: The Movie from NBC-TV for free on You Tube. You can also stream Y2K: Terminal Countdown on the Russian version of You Tube, OK.ru — which makes it all the more of a sweeter watch, courtesy of the Russian explanation-dubbing over it.

About the Author: You can read the music and film reviews of R.D Francis on Medium and learn more about his work on Facebook.

eXistenZ (1999)

While the rest of the world was losing their mind over The Matrix, David Cronenberg quitely released this movie, a tale of alternate realities that is a way bigger idea inside a way smaller movie.

Sometime in the future, Antenna Research and Cortical Systematics are in a war with one another to make the latest and greatest games for their biotech virtual reality game consoles. These game pods are living and breathing creatures that have UmbyCords that directly connect into anus-appearing bio-ports on the users’ spines.

If you read that paragraph and don’t say, “What?” then this is the movie for you.

The cold war between these two companies is only increasing, where a religious group called the Realists fights for people to stop deforming the nature of reality.

Antenna Research’s game designer Allegra Geller (Jennifer Jason Leigh) is showing off her latest game called eXistenZ when one of those Realists tries to murder her with an organic gun. Her security guard and publicist Ted Pikul (Jude Law) rescues her and together, they go from fixing the broken pod to inserting it into Law’s body to continually going deeper and deeper into the game.

Exactly when the game starts and ends is up to the viewer, but along the way you’ll be treated to more twists, turns and red herrings than several giallo, as well as an astounding setpiece where a disgusting living Chinese appetizer is transformed into a biomechanical weapon.

Inspired by an interview he did with Salman Rushdie, Cronenberg worked with Christopher Priest — who wrote* the novel that The Prestige is based on — to come up with this story. And if you’re wondering, “Is the title just wacky 90’s spelling of things?” The answer is yes and no. The truth is that in Hungarian, the word isten means God, so it’s a play on words. This was also Cronenberg’s first original script since Videodrome, a movie that this has plenty in common with.

And yes, this is totally a cyberpunk film despite not having Ministry on the soundtrack or rock stars in the cast. That’s because the fast food that the main characters eat comes from a restaurant called Perky Pat, a direct reference to Phillip K. Dick’s The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

*Priest also wrote the novelizations for Short Circuit and Mona Lisa.

KAIJU DAY MARATHON: Godzilla 2000 (1999)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Upton is an American (non-werewolf) writer/editor in London. She currently works as a ghostwriter of personal memoirs for Story Terrace London and writes for several blogs on topics as diverse as film history, punk rock, women’s issues, and international politics. For links to her work, please visit https://www.jennuptonwriter.com or send her a Tweet @Jennxldn

Godzilla 2000 was the first attempt to re-boot the beloved film series for a new audience since 1995’s Godzilla vs. Destroyah. It abandons the storyline of all of its predecessors save for the original 1954 film. Shinoda (Takehiro Murata) and his daughter Io (Mayu Suzuki) run a “G” network of Scientists who feel it is necessary to learn all they can about Godzilla and his enormous regenerative abilities. A newspaper reporter named Yuki (Naomi Nishida) accompanies them although she is given very little to do in the story other than screaming and complaining.

Katagiri (played by a glowering Hiroshi Abe) works for the government and believes that Godzilla should be killed for the protection of humanity.

At the same time Shinoda’s group is gathering information on the big G, Katagiri’s group accidentally awakens an alien called Orga who has slumbered beneath the sea since first crash landing on earth during prehistoric times. Orga wakes up when it after being inadvertently exposed to sunlight during an exploratory undersea expedition meant to search for new energy resources for Japan.

 Once it has gained enough strength, Orga rises from the sea, first as a shiny UFO. After soaking up some power from the sun, it later emerges from its vessel taking on several interesting forms, one of which resembles a Manta Ray. Orga attempts to permanently adapt to earth’s atmosphere by sampling Godzilla’s “Regenerator G-1” healing cells called and attempting to clone him. This naturally upsets Godzilla and predictably, the flames fly.

It’s an enjoyable film on many levels. Visually, the film is uneven at best with many of the daylight shots exposing poor blue screen and ineffective CGI integration.

The night scenes in G2K are much more effective (mostly because they don’t use a lot of CGI) and the final showdown between the final form of the alien Orga and ‘Zilla utilizes both excellent miniatures and pyrotechnics. The finale is the best reason to watch the film.

The film’s kaiju designs are another of the film’s successes, with this manifestation of the big guy quickly becoming a fan favorite. He has a sleeker, more muscular torso, longer purple dorsal spines and pugnacious visage which more than adequately conveys his strength and personality. He is intelligent and tenacious. He is easily riled and loves to have the last roar, as evidenced by his gloating display following the defeat of Orga. For fans of the Big Guy, it is a very satisfying conclusion.

This was the first time a studio gave a Godzilla film wide U.S. theatrical release since Godzilla 1985 and it is probably the only case in history where the American version surpasses the Japanese version, benefiting from additional sound effects and Foley to fill in the dead air of the original’s soundtrack. It trims the sluggish plot and even handles the English language dubbing with more respect than its predecessors up to that time, despite the occasional addition of corny dialogue like, “Eeeh, Quit your bitching!” In this case, seeking out the American version is definitely the preferred choice.

Tomie: Another Face (1999)

The first sequel to Tomie was actually a three-episode TV series that was later released to video. It was originally called Tomie: Fearsome Beauty, but was renamed for the home video release.

This version of the Tomie story introduces her at different times in her life, beginning when her dead body is discovered amongst the garbage in the street. She comes back to life to break up her boyfriend and his former girlfriend, all while a mysterious man follows her, taking photos. Things end as they always do, with Tomie tossed from a roof and being taken to the woods to be buried, proving that these characters didn’t watch the first movie. As they walk to school the next day, hand in hand, our protagonists learn that Tomie cannot die.

Another photographer, who has lost his love for his art, finds Tomie and tells her that she reminds him of another girl, the one who taught him to love taking photos. However, when the photos are developed, he notices that Tomie has two faces, one beautiful and the other distorted. She tells him to in order to prove that she is not a ghost, he should kill her. He does, at which point she revives and the original girl — also Tomie — led him to his death before posing for selfies.

Finally, the eyepatch-wearing man is revealed as a cornoner who lost his job and family when Tomie left his examination table in the morgue. He attacks her, but she uses her new lover to fight him off, telling him if he loves her then he will kill the older trenchcoat-clad man. The coroner shows the boyfriend the truth, that Tomie has been responsible for so many deaths, but even when they try to burn her body, all of the ashes form in the sky in the shape of her face, with every bit of her forming new Tomies.

Nearly every review of this movie made mention of its low budget and general ineptitude. I kind of enjoyed it, but knew going in that this wasn’t going to be a perfect sequel. But for those looking for more Tomie, well, here it is.

Tomie (1999)

Manga creator Junji Ito grew up in a house where he was afraid to go to the bathroom, as it was at the end of a long underground tunnel filled with water crickets. While working as a dental technician, he was drawing at night and submitted a story to a magazine called Monthly Halloween that would become Tomie. The story was inspired by the death of a classmate, which Ito felt was odd that the boy just disappeared from the world. So he came up with the idea of a girl who died but just came back as if nothing has happened.

Director Ataru Oikawa didn’t want to make the movie version to be filled with gore, but more of a horrific youth drama. He still sought out Ito’s approval, taking parts from the original “Photograph” and “Kiss” stories and even had the creator’s approval for the casting of Miho Kanno as Tomie.

The police are looking into the murder of Tomie, a high school girl, which was followed over the next three years by the suicide or insanity of nine other students and a teacher. Soon, the detective assigned to the case learns that Tomie has been murdered and reborn in Gifu since the 1960’s, just as Japan joined the industrial era.

A classmate of Tomie, Tsukiko Izumisawa, can’t remember the three months around her friend’s murder. And oh yeah — her neighbor is nursing a strange baby that soon grows into another Tomie, which seduces Tsukiko’s boyfriend before attacking her at her therapist’s office by shoving cockroaches down her mouth. So our protagonist’s boyfriend does what any of us would do — he cuts the head off Tomie and takes Tsukiko to bury the body in the woods, which of course backfires. Tomie reappears and kisses Tsukiko full on the lips, who responds by setting her on fire.

That said, a few months later, Tsukiko begins to realize that she is becoming Tomie herself.

While not a horror movie, this certainly is a strange movie. For some reason, in the glut of Japanese horror that was badly remade in the U.S., this series never showed up. I would assume that’s because there’s no easy hook to grab on to.

Knocking on Death’s Door (1999)

If you’re an avid B&S About Movies reader, then you know Roger Corman ain’t one to pass up a hot film genre without creating a knockoff. And the paranormal was a hot property in 1999 courtesy of M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense and David Koepp’s Stir of Echoes.

And Corman, at the very least, owned a solid to Craig Nevius — the guy he contracted to script the abortive tax dodge-copyright retainer that was 1994’s The Fantastic Four. So, yeah, the least Rog could do was greenlight another Nevius script. And remember, way back in the day, when Patrick Dempsey and Helen Slater were “things” that made you go the theater (ugh, chicks and movie date nights)? Well, Craig’s introduction to Hollywood was the 1989 Brat Pack-inspired Happy Together starring the duo.

So, that’s that backstory.

But why Rog didn’t slap an Amityville* prefix on this to sell as a bogus sequel is anyone’s guess. I mean, come on, Rog. Amityville: The Vacancy. Bam! Sequel city. How could you not see it, Rog?

However . . . we’re not reviewing this because of Corman or Nevius. Or that it was a missed Amityville “sequel” opportunity. Or the fact that David Carradine (Night Rhythms) is creeping up the joint. We’re here because John Doe of X is in the support cast as Professor Paul Ballard.

Yes. John Doe. As a University Professor. Yeah, you’re damn right I am watching this one — its Corman ripoffness be damned to the pits of hell.

So, Brad and Danielle (Brian Bloom and Kimberly Row) are two newlywed paranormal psychologists who enjoy their erotic kinks (hey, it’s a Corman ghost romp, after all). And Brad carries Danni over the threshold of the Sunset House, an infamously documented New England residence (actually filmed in Ireland), with the goal of recording the spirits-in-residence. And they discover the ghost of the autistic Samuel, a murdered little boy who likes to play “London Bridge Is Falling Down” on the piano and enjoys scrawling cryptic chalk warnings on the basement floors. And that Samuel sees the memory of his mommy in Danielle. Oh, and Danni’s pregnant and Sammy wants that fetus to keep his spirit warm. And that Sammy isn’t all too fond of sex, so Brad and Danielle “stir the spirits” with frequency. Oh, and Danielle used to get her freak on with her and Brad’s boss, Professor Ballard (you go, Mr. Doe). And the ‘ol town doctor, played by Carradine, only has kinky eyes for her. And so does the local cemetery’s creepy gravedigger. And with that, the ghostly grandfather clocks, red hot fireplace pokers, and axes are tossed around in quick succession.

Uh-oh! Caveat emptor ye David Carrdine fans: this is another marquee-on-the-box cameo boondoggle of the Eric Roberts variety, as ol’ Dave is on board for less than 10 minutes, and John Doe — who I personally came for — isn’t around for much longer. But if you’re into guys with haunting blue eyes of the Meg Foster variety (who doubled as a young “Burt Reynolds” in a gaggle of syndicated, late ’90s Smokey and the Bandit** TV movies) or actresses that look a little bit like Charlize Theron (and appeared in a bunch of soft core flicks prefixed with the words “Justine” and “Emmanuelle” and suffixed with numerals) frolicking inside a Corman house of horrors, then there’s something here for you to stream on a Friday Night.

But truth be told: Nevius’s script, in conjunction with its direction by Mitch Marcus (who also knocked out the 1999 Corman rip The Haunting of Hell House starring Michael York), actually has some nice, creepy n’ chilling visuals in spite of its low-budget effects, and genuine thrilling moments.

And you can watch it courtesy of a free-with-ads-stream on Tubi TV.

* We love our Amityville flicks around here, so much so we cataloged them all with our “Exploring: Amityville” featurette.

** We love our Smokey and the Bandit knockoffs and hicksploitation movin’ piktures ’round ‘ere, Cletus. So check out our “The Top 70 Good Ol’ Boys Film List” featurette, a collection of down-home films produced from 1972 to 1986.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies and publish music reviews and short stories on Medium.

Forces of Nature (1999)

John, my friend . . . you own me a brew at the “Double Douche” . . . for I just endured a “chick flick” — for you. A chick flick with Sandra Bullock, no less. And Ben Affleck. And I just went from the rim of the bowl, and into the swirl of the bowl . . . storms and hurricane analogies of the heart be damned.

Just the way he’s leaning back, like a limp-ass noodle, is pissing me off.

If all feels a little sitcomy, that’s because you’ll notice the name of Marc Lawrence on the marquee, who broke into the industry as a staff writer and supervising producer on NBC-TV’s Family Ties. He then went on to become Sandra Bullock’s go-to writer, also penning her films Miss Congeniality (2002), Miss Congeniality 2 (2002), and Two Weeks Notice (2002).

Amazingly, and only in Hollywood-penned careers, Ben Holmes, our romantic lead (Ben Affleck), is able to make a living — and live in Manhattan, the most expensive section of real estate in the U.S. — by writing “blurbs” on the sleeves of hardcover books. Meanwhile, Sam and I kill ourselves writing movie reviews for, get this, the glory — and the occasional free screener links. And the privilege to live in a week-to-week existence in Allegheny County where the Spaghetti-O’s flow like a fine wine.

Yep, as usual: in less than five minutes, Ben Affleck has managed to pissed me off with the desire to give him, as Sam would say, “a Chris Kattan punch in the nutsack” for making a movie.

Anyway, the “force of nature” comes in the form of a self-professed, free-spirited drifter named Sarah (Sandra Bullock) who ends up next to Ben on his flight from New York City to Savannah, Georgia. Oh, and Ben is on his way to marry Bridget who, of course, he discovers he doesn’t love, thanks to wild n’ crazy Sarah.

And how is it, a free-spirit without the income of our successful blurb writer, can afford to sit next to Ben on a plane? Eh, plot piffle. Lets cue the birds — the fowl that flies into the engines and grounds the plane. So Sarah convinces Ben to rent-ride share to Savannah. But why not hop another flight? Well, Ben hated flying in the first place — and now that friggin’ bird in the engine has him completely freaked out. Hey, he’s a book blurb writer and has everything to live for: for he, like the annoyances on NBC-TV’s Friends, has a job with an income level that in no way can afford him to live next to Joey Tribbiani and Chandler Bing who, based on economics, shouldn’t be able to live in Manhattan, either. (And how in the hell did Rachel Green — a homeless and unemployed runaway bride, without a degree in the field and no experience, and who couldn’t even cut it as a coffee house waitress — climb the ladder of Ralph Lauren’s fashion empire, then be courted by Gucci? Only in the sitcom-verse where you get amazing jobs with no training and apartments beyond your meager means, and there’s never a shortage of attractive women for annoying, bald Woody Allen knockoffs like George Costanza.)

Anyway . . . back to “The Force,” as the usual car rentals, train snafus, crowded buses, love on Tilt-a-Whirls, and thunderstorms — and the eventual hurricane — ensues. But why didn’t they call this Planes, Trains, and Automobiles? Well, that title was already taken by a Steve Martin and John Candy movie, remember? And naming a film after transportational devices isn’t as romantic as giving a movie a title that implies kismet.

Hey, what about John Doe?

Well, he’s married to Sandra and she dumps him for Ben. Dumping a hungry wolf for a douchy wash cloth? Welcome to the sitcom-verse. But in Sandra’s defense: John’s a scumbag that’s cheating her out of her family home and never lets her live down life’s mistakes. In John’s defense: he slugs ‘ol Benny-boy right in the kisser. Nice. But it took an hour and a half to get to John’s scene, so that punch to Ben’s face isn’t enough to save this rom-doggle — even if it’s John Doe throwing the punch. Maybe if John also socked Ben’s whiny-nasally co-star, Steve Zahn?

Hah. Too little, too late. Time for Pat McGurn to tap us a cold one, you know, at the place where, when Ben Affleck confronts me for this review . . . they’ll be sweepin’ my eyeballs off the floor.

Yeah, I’m going to need a TBS replay of John Doe in Road House to flush this celluloid infamy from my eyes. Yeah, John. I know you were in The Good Girl (2002) with Jennifer Aniston. But sorry, my friend. No can do. I already did the Affleck flick for you, and now you’re on shaky ground with Jen. Even Sam, the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer and Mix Master of Movie Themed Drinks, scoffed at my challenge to review it. Not even a threat from your Uncle Brad will make us. Sorry, John. But we’re just not that desperate for entertainment in Allegheny County. But feel free to write the tune “R.D Hit and Run Ben,” with no publishing rights on my end required.

But Sam — being the uber Rowdy Herrington* fan that he is — is reviewing Road House for ya! (*So much so, he conducted a four-part interview with the director.)

From the Useless Movie Trivia to Amaze Your Friends at Parties Department: This is the second John Doe review this week — the other is Man Maid (2008) — that features actor Steve Hytner and John Doe in the same movie — although they’re not in any scenes together, here. They’re also in the unreleased Mila Kunis flick Tom Cool (2009). And sci-fi fans may recall Hynter and Doe in the cast of “Into the Woods” from the first season of FOX-TV’s Roswell. So, there you go. Reviewing this movie wasn’t a total waste, for you’ve been movie trivia blessed.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.

Sugar Town (1999)

Allison Anders and Kurt Voss wanted to re-team on another rock ‘n’ roll film since their 1983-begun, four-year shot Border Radio released in 1987, and the critical and box-office success of her Brill Building and Beach Boys “what if” rock flick Grace of My Heart (1996).

The film’s second genesis was their friend, bassist John Taylor, who aspired to begin an acting career; so Anders and Voss manned the typewriters to create an acting showcase for the ex-Duran Duran’er. To lend to the film’s realism, Anders and Voss opted to cast musicians in lieu of actors: the rest of the cast stars former Spandau Ballet bassist Martin Kemp (who found acclaim in the 1990 British mobster flick The Krays; however, he worked as an actor since the early ’70s, you can see him in Fleshtone), Michael Des Barres (of Silverhead, Detective, and Power Station; as an actor, you know him as Murdoc from the original ’80s MacGyver), and John Doe of X (A Matter of Degrees). Also acting in the film — and providing the film’s musical direction — is Larry Klein, the ex-husband of ’70s folkie Joni Mitchell.

The plot concerns the exploits of Clive, Jonesey, and Nick (Taylor, Kemp, and Des Barres), three washed-up L.A. rock superstars who attempt to formulate a supergroup from their career ashes. They, of course, think they’ll return to the top of the charts with the outrageously sexist tune, “Gravy Stain Girl.” Their fellow washed-up L.A. rocker cohort, Carl (John Doe), is at odds with his pregnant wife over his recent hire as a lead guitarist for an up-and-coming singer. Roseanna Arquette stars as Eva, Clive’s equally washed-up and age-out actress wife, struggling to stay on top in Hollywood. Beverly D’Angelo is an older, rich woman who will back Clive’s musical endeavors — provided he sleeps with her.

Keep your ears open for John Doe’s post-X work in The John Doe Thing with “Tragedy by Definition.” The grungy alt-rock crowd will notice the sounds of PJ Harvey, Thalia Zedek’s Come, and Seattle’s Sup Pop’ers Combustible Edison on the soundtrack. J. Mascis of Dinosaur, Jr. (he recently appeared in I’ll Be Around), who scored Gas Food Lodging for Anders, provides the film score.

Made for a measly, budget conscious quarter of a million dollars, the film barely broke $170,000 in U.S. box office. So, don’t go into this expecting a mainstream Ray or Walk the Line; however, if you enjoy seeing rockers on film and enjoyed ’90s indie flicks courtesy of the October Films and Miramax imprints, then there’s something here for you to enjoy.

And for the Allison Anders and John Doe collaboration completists and Johnny Cash fans hankering for another cinematic beyond Walk the Line: Doe stars as the father of June Carter Cash (played by Jewel Kilcher instead of Reese Witherspoon) in Ring of Fire (2013), a cable TV adaption of the book Anchored in Love: An Intimate Portrait of June Carter Cash.

You can watch Sugar Town on You Tube.

From the “Trivia to Impress Your Friends at Parties Department”: John’s daughter Elena Nommensen, who has a bit part here (and in John’s 2007 film, The Sandpiper), became a wardrobe and art director. In addition to working on the upcoming Venom: Let There Be Carnage, she also worked (didn’t realize it then) on the recently reviewed short The Devil’s Passengers (discovered on a You Tube dive), and worked alongside her dad in his upcoming, 82nd acting project, D.O.A: The Movie.

About the Author: You can learn more about the writings of R.D Francis on Facebook. He also writes for B&S About Movies.