Ivansxtc (2000)

Shot at 60i fps on the Sony HDW-700A HD video format digital camera, which proved problematic for theatrical distribution, this film was originally intended to be a Dogma 95 movie.

It’s a rough satire on Hollywood, filled with booze and excess, and comes from director Bernard Rose, who you may know from Candyman and Paperhouse. It’s also based on Leo Tolstoy’s novella The Death of Ivan Ilyich, so if you have a low tolerance for art films, you may not enjoy this. We sure did.

Danny Huston (half-brother of Anjelica Huston) plays Ivan Beckman, a doped up and driven agent who starts the film by dying. We go back to see just how he got to the grave — thanks to an early cancer diagnosis — and the lives he’s touched along the way, including Peter Weller as his sleazy client, SLC Punk director James Merendino as a director (typecasting?) and numerous hangers-on. Writer and producer Lisa Enos acted is in this as well and look for an appearance by Tiffani Amber-Thiessen.

Huston is the main reason to show up for this, as he makes you care despite the grainy looking footage and grabs you directly by the collar and forces you to watch.

Like most Arrow releases, this is packed with extras, like extended party sequence outtakes, a new documentary on the movie called Charlotte’s Story,  interviews, trailers, and two cuts — the preferred director’s version and the producer’s version — with brand new commentary for the Extended Cut with co-writer/producer/ actor Lisa Enos and filmmaker Richard Wolstencroft.

You can get this from Arrow, who were kind enough to send us a copy.

The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle (1980) and The Filth and the Fury (2000)

“The gospel according to the Ayatollah Malcolm.”
— Johnny Rotten

So agent provocateur and clandestine entrepreneur Malcolm McLaren owns a London fashion shop called Sex . . . eh, we don’t need to go that far back. . . . So co-founder/bassist/chief songwriter Glen Matlock is kicked out the Sex Pistols for “liking the Beatles. . . .” No, we don’t need to go that far back. . . .

When it came to the Sex Pistols, it was all about the marketing manipulation and McLaren the Machiavellian squeezed out every last drop of the group’s nihilistic sociopolitical ejaculate from their fourteen-month existence (November 1976 to January 1978). Regardless of their extensive discography that, by 1990, swelled to 20-plus albums, the group recorded only one actual studio album: the high-expectation and commercially-disappointing Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols (1977). (The “flop” in the U.K. and Euro-markets was result of the album’s composition from the band’s already released 45-rpms and a “legal” 1977 bootleg album, Spunk.) And part of McLaren’s high-profile manipulations was to create a punk version of Richard Lester’s A Hard Day’s Night—with Johnny Rotten refusing to have anything to do with the project. The “project” was initially developed by—of all peoples—Russ Meyer, with snobby film critic Roger Ebert as the screenwriter, in tow—both who had a little experience in the rock ‘n’ roll genre with their “epic” about the rise and fall of the Carrie Nations, 1970’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls . . . but Meyer also had lots of experience with large-breasted women (1965’s Motor Psycho and 1966’s Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!).

Yeah, this is going to work just fine. . . .

Well, it didn’t.

So, two-plus years later of false starts and stops with an array of people and footage shot here and there—which produced the Meyer-unfinished Who Killed Bambi?, British music video-artist, filmmaker, and ‘Pistols running mate Julien Temple (1989’s Earth Girls are Easy) got the Alan Sacks job of “doin’ a duBeat-eo” with the hours upon hours of narrative footage and concert clips of the Pistols during their heyday, along with surreal Kentucky Fried Movie-esque skits (that go beyond the funny into the silly . . . and the outright stupid).

Now, for those of you wondering: “What da frack does ‘Doin’ a duBeat-eo’ mean . . . and who is Alan Sacks . . . and what does this all have to do with the friggin’ Sex Pistols?” Well, impatient one, here’s your answer:

Alan Sacks came to fame as the creator of ’70 TV’s Welcome Back, Kotter; you know, that’s the show with the “Ooo! Ooo! Mr. Kotter!” pop culture catch phrase . . . the show that gave John Travolta his start. (He was most recently in the one-two punch bombs The Fanatic and Gotti.) And Alan Sacks got the job of taking the analogously dead pet-project of America’s Malcolm McLaren-doppelganger, record producer-songwriter Svengali Kim Fowley who, ironically ripping off McLaren’s idea, wanted to put his own “female” version of the ‘Pistols, the Runaways, into a “Beatlesesque” movie. (Remember: the ‘Pistols had “Anarchy in the U.K.” while the Runaways had “Cherry Bomb” as their signature tune.) Failed-developed as We’re All Crazy Now, Sacks got the Julien Temple-job of creating coherency out of chaos—and came up with duBeat-e-o, a film that has as much to do with the Runaways as The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle has to do with the Sex Pistols.

So, what did Temple come up with?

Well, he cut Who Killed Bambi? into the film. Sid Vicious—post-Sex Pistols—cut an album, Sid Sings (1979), and cut a video for that album’s centerpiece: a cover Elvis’s and Frank Sinatra’s signature tune, “My Way”—so Temple cut that into the film. (Warning: Sid pulls a gun and shoots into the audience.) And since Johnny Rotten wanted nothing to do with the project from the get-go, Temple opens the film with the snotty lead singer burned in effigy . . . and created an animated sequence that chronicles a beating the vocalist behind “God Save the Queen” took at the hands of Queen Mum-lovin’ thugs. And guitarist Steve Jones’s Rio de Janero visit with infamous British bank robber Ronnie Biggs is cut in. (Jones, ironically, along with Paul Cook and Glen Matlock, worked with Joan Jett on her self-titled solo debut, aka Bad Reputation.) And yeah, and Kurt Cobain Sid Vicious and Courtney Love Nancy Spungen, aka the punk rock John and Yoko, go through their own little psychodrama safety-pin voguing on screen. And, instead of Sex Pistols tunes: you get disco versions of Sex Pistols tunes by a group called the Black Arabs.

You can check out the track listings for each soundtrack on Discogs: Swindle and Fury.

. . . and the ‘swindle’ continues . . .

So Temple decided to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the film with a “sequel”. . . that cut The Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle’s footage into the—admittedly—more coherent The Filth and the Fury (1990). And, if you’re keeping track . . . marks the third film chronicling punk’s most notorious band: the second was Alex Cox’s (Repo Man, Tombstone Rashomon) spunky, but not wholly historically accurate, Sid and Nancy (1986)—which Johnny Rotten also hated, natch.

With The Filth and the Fury—and without Malcolm McLaren’s marketing imperialism (. . . did you know he embarked on a “solo” career: with producer Trevor Horn, he assembled (McLaren never creates; he can’t. He thieves.) 1983’s Duck Soup)—Temple secured the full cooperation of Johnny Rotten, along with drummer Paul Cook, guitarist Steve Jones, and ex-bassist Glen Matlock, each who provide a new series of interviews, along with “new” interview footage of the late Sid Vicious not seen in Swindle. The interviews are well-executed: Temple peels Rotten-Lydon’s acidic layers and exposes his emotions over Sid’s decline and death. And there’s plenty of “new” footage, albeit, sometimes (most times) with grainy and out-of-sync sound, but kudos for Temple preserving those decrepit 16 mm and shot-on-videotape analog artifacts for the now, digital generations.

Temple was also able to circumcise McLaren’s cultural plundering of punk’s esthetics by showing us that punk rock wasn’t just about flogging the dead horse of Black Sabbath-inspired progressive rock and replenishing the wheezing lungs of rock ‘n’ roll. Punk was an artistic expression of the frustrations the British working class and unemployed (which include Rotten-Lydon’s contemporaries) against the stodgy and greedy British class system (a country where everyone’s on the dole, in poverty; meanwhile, Princess Di and Prince Charles have a huge matrimonial blowout). To that end, Temple also includes new footage of the protests, riots and unrest of the times (think of today’s Black Lives Matter movement and the upheaval in today’s Portland, Oregeon). So while Swindle was a “Swindle” to a point—which wasn’t Temple’s fault, he did a great job with whom and what he had to work with—Fury gets the facts straight and conveys the spirit of the times. So, as you watch both films as a double feature all these years later: you get Malcolm McLaren’s side . . . and the Sex Pistols side. And the twain shall never meet. Not even in the hands of Alex Cox.

The Great Rock ‘n Roll Music Trivia Swindle (you knew there was going to be a trivia sidebar): Before McLaren sunk his incisors into the Sex Pistols, he managed a down-and-out and ready-to-implode New York Dolls, which culminated with the 1975-recorded live, Euro-only album, Red Patent Leather (1984; which features new tunes not available on their two Mercury studio albums).

Also in Mal’s Svengali-stable was the burgeoning Adam and the Ants, who he subsequently “broke up” to provide musical backing for his own “Runaway” embodied in fifteen-year-old singer Annabella Lwin. Upon the eventual implosion of Bow Wow Wow (You do remember “I Want Candy,” right?)—as McLaren turned his Runaway into a singular-named solo artist, you know, like Madonna (not!)—guitarist Matthew Ashman formed Chiefs of Relief. And that band features another musician from the McLaren stables: Sex Pistols’ drummer Paul Cook (produced one eponymous debut album for Sire in 1988).

Prior to the Chiefs—and post-Sex Pistols (by the end of that band, only Steve Jones and Paul Cook were left to finish off a light smattering of tracks to close out that band’s career)—Jones and Cook formed the Professionals (with guitarist Ray McVeigh and bassist Paul Meyers). And, if you’re keeping track of your rock ‘n’ roll flicks, the “band” appeared—sans McVeigh and Meyers—with Paul Simonon of the Clash and British actor Ray Winston in their places, in Ladies and Gentleman, the Fabulous Stains.

Steve Jones’s solo career culminated with his forming a band around Iggy Pop, which recorded a couple of “comeback” albums for Detroit’s Jim Osterberg in the burgeoning years of the Year of our Lord Kurt Cobain. Johnny Rotten, as you know, reverted to his given name of Lydon and created the band Public Image, Ltd. with ex-Clash guitarist Keith Levene. Ex-Pistols’ bassist Glen Matlock formed the less-punk-more-Knacky new wave the Rich Kids with future Visage and Ultravox members Midge Ure and Rusty Egan, which scored a minor hit single with the title cut song from their lone album, 1983 Ghosts of Princes in Towers. Matlock eventually ended up in Concrete Bulletproof Invisible (an outgrowth of Doll by Doll that recorded one album for MCA Records) which released one pre-grunge album, Big Tears (1988).

Both films and their related soundtracks are easily availble as DVDs and CDs, with the films as VODs and PPVs on multiple, international online platforms.

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

Final Destination (2000)

Originally written as an episode of The X-Files, Jeffrey Reddick ended up turning his script into a movie that became five films, two comic books, and nine novels. Not bad for a guy who sent in his first script to New Line at age fourteen, which led to a phone and mail friendship with studio head Robert Shaye.

It was directed by James Wong, who also made The One and the 2006 version of Black Christmas. He would say, “One thing we were all in agreement on from the start is that we didn’t want to do a slasher movie. We didn’t want a guy in a dark cloak or some kind of monster chasing after these kids. That’s been done again and again.”

On May 13, 2000, Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) and his classmates are supposed to take a senior trip to France. Before the plane takes off, he has a vision of the plane crashing and panics until Carter Horton (Kerr Smith) fights him. This gets both of them kicked off the place, as well as Tod Waggner (Chad E. Donella), Terry Chaney (Amanda Detmer), Billy Hitchcock (Seann Willam Scott), Clear Rivers (Ali Larter) and teacher Valerie Lewton (Kristen Cloke, named for famous horror producer Val Lewton). The plane crashes and everyone dies, but Death won’t give up.

It pays them back in exaggerated set pieces — stay tuned on those, they get even crazier — as Death must take them off the board. They learn exactly what they’re in store for from William Bludworth (Tony Todd), who is pretty much the personification of life being snuffed out.

In case you wonder, “Hey, where have I seen this before?” The answer is 1983’s Sole Survivor and The Twilight Zone episode “Twenty-Two.”

Alternate titles in other countries included Destination in South Korea, The Death God Comes in China, Last Station in Turkey and it was almost called Flight 180.

Urban Legends: Final Cut (2000)

John Ottman is a man of many skills, including editing (The Usual Suspects, Bryan Singer’s X-Men movies) and composing (Bohemian RhapsodyHalloween H2O). This is the only film that he directed.

That’s a shame because while most critics hated this movie, I really enjoyed it. Then again, any movie that has shout outs to Peeping TomBlack Christmas and a killer who looks like he walked out of a giallo is going to win me over.

Reese Wilson — yes, the security guard from the first movie — tells Amy Mayfield (Jennifer Morrison, TV’s House) about the murders that happened at the last school she worked for. This inspires her to create a movie all about a serial killer inspired by urban legends, which is ironic, as one of her classmates is soon killed after her organs are harvested. She wakes up in a bathtub of ice and is chased by the killer before being decapitated by a window. And here you thought I was making up the Argento influence. To top that off, there’s a scene where everyone thinks they’re watching the film when they are all watching a real murder, a nice subversion that is classic giallo.

To top that off, at the end of the thrill ride of murder in this one, the close ties it in quite well with the first movie. Trust me. I won’t spoil it for you.

You can get this on blu ray from Shout! Factory.

Scream 3 (2000)

Writer Kevin Williamson had created a five-page outline for two sequels to Scream when selling his original script, hoping that one film could become a franchise. Ehren Kruger, who wrote the American versions of The Ring threw out most of those notes. He’d finish script pages the day they were shot, which led to Wes Craven rewriting them so that the characters would at least resemble who they were in the first two films.

This being a Wes Craven movie, it’s at this point of the write-up that I discuss that “production was troubled with script rewrites, occasions when pages were only ready on the day of filming, and scheduling difficulties.” Did Wes ever have a movie go smoothly?

Following the Columbine High School massacre and increase worry about the impact of violent media, the script kept getting toned down. Supposedly, there was even a version where Matthew Lillard would return as Stu Macher, having survived the first film and using high schoolers to attack Sidney from prison. What they ended up with was a movie within a movie about Stab, the film version of the movie we watched in 1996.

Detective Mark Kincaid (Patrick Dempsey) contacts Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) to discuss the murder of Cotton Weary (Liev Schreiber) and his girlfriend Christine (Kelly Rutherford, who while being known to many from Melrose Place also played a salesgirl in Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge when she was just starting her career). She decides to go to Hollywood to learn more about the story and visit the set of Stab 3, a film based on the Ghostface killings. It’s also where Dewey (David Arquette) is working as an adviser.

Sidney (Neve Campbell) is trying to hide out as a crisis counselor, but all the calls start again and she’s pulled back to the set where most of the cast of the movie — not Scream 3Stab 3 — get killed, like Tom Prinze (Matt Keeslar, who left acting behind to teach urology), Sarah Darling (Jenny McCarthy), Jennifer Jolie (Parker Posey)m Angelina Tyler and Tyson Fox.

I do have to say, having Posey play Cox was a genius idea and one of the few bright spots to this film (she even wore the same green dress Cox wore in the first movie), along with the conceit that someone in Hollywood pushed the original murderers over the edge. The house where this film ends is the same domicile as Halloween H20.

The film never had a test screening, with the cast and crew seeing the movie for the first time at its premiere due to worries that spoilers would ruin the movie. Craven also shot three different endings, so they didn’t know how the movie would wrap up.

Roger Ebert would call out the reason why I disliked this movie so much. For a series that started as a smart send-up of slasher tropes, things really were rote by this point. He’d write, “The characters are so thin, they’re transparent. They function primarily to scream, split up when they should stick together, go alone into basements and dark rooms, and make ironic references to horror cliches and earlier movies in the series.”

That said, Wes Craven and Roger Corman show up, as does Lance Henriksen and Jay and Silent Bob, earning this movie a mention on our list of Ten Movie Crossovers.

The Skulls (2000)

You know when a conspiracy theory — like Yale University’s Skull and Bones student society — becomes true? When Hollywood makes a movie about it. Here’s the real conspiracy. This movie is pretty much the 1970 made-for-TV movie The Brotherhood of the Bell. That said, this is where Rob Cohen met Paul Walker, so that’s how this movie has ended up in the middle of our The Fast and the Furious theme week.

Walker is Caleb Mandrake, a name that only exists in movies, and Joshua Jackson is Luke McNamara. They’re the two newest members of The Skulls, which prepares its members through war. It barely takes any time for this alignment to cause Luke’s best friend Will (Hill Harper, CSI: NY) to stop talking to him. But hey — he feels like he needs an edge to stay with his rich girlfriend Chloe (Leslie Bibb).

Speaking of CSI, William Petersen plays the leader of the inner circle and Caleb’s dad is played by Craig T. Nelson. They’re powerful because of the group and will crush anyone who gets in their way.

Another conspiracy: this movie was shot in Toronto and not Yale. Imagine being from that city and seeing your landmarks all over this movie and someone saying, “No, that’s really America.”

They made a whole bunch more of these — well, OK, two more — that went direct to video. Rob Cohen went to Harvard, so he was probably in a group just like this that allowed him to keep making films after  xXx and Stealth.

Someone on IMDB noticed this — and I thought it was funny — that every Skull gets a watch for their left hand. Which means they are all right handed. At least they don’t show them masturbating in a coffin while other members watch. Not that I know tons of Skull and Bones stories or anything.

Gone In 60 Seconds (2000)

Much like how The Fast and The Furious would take the familiar title of a past film and make something new, this movie is a loose remake of the 1974 H.B. Halicki movie. Also, much like the Paul Walker/Vin Diesel film, critics absolutely hated this movie, which cried all the way to nearly tripling its production costs at the box office.

It has something that every single The Fast and the Furious movie lacks: Nicolas Cage as Randall “Memphis” Raines.

Memphis has the job of stealing fifty luxury cars for Raymond Calitri (Christopher Eccleston, who played both Dr. Who and Destro). He wanted out of this life, but his moron brother Kip (noted film idiot Giovanni Ribisi) screwed up and will get killed if his big brother doesn’t fix things.

Along with his mentor Otto Halliwell (Robert Duvall), Memphis assembles his crew again, including Donny Astricky (Chi McBride), Sphinx (former football star Vinnie Jones) and Sara “Sway” Wayland (Angelina Jolie, probably the main reason other than Cage to watch this movie).

I love that the cop, Detective Roland Castlebeck, is played by Delroy Lindo. That guy should be in more movies. Plus you get Scott Caan, James Duval from Gregg Araki’s movies, Timothy Olyphant, Grace Zabriskie (Sarah Palmer!), Trevor Goddard (Kano!), Mater P (Hootie hoo!) and John Carroll Lynch, who should also be in more movies.

Remember up top when I said this was a success? The truth is that its high production and marketing cost lost Disney around $90 million, who used Hollywood math to write it off as a $212 million loss. I guess that explains why there was no sequel.

Director Dominick Sena made music videos for everyone from E.G. Daily (“Sat It Say It”), Peter Cetera and Amy Grant (“The Next Time I Fall In Love”) and Richard Marx (“Don’t Mean Nothing”, “Should’ve Known Better”) to Janet Jackson (“Rhythm Nation”, “If”, “Miss You Much”, “Come Back to Me” and “The Pleasure Principle”) and Pia Zadora (“Heartbeat of Love”) before making movies like KaliforniaSwordfish and Season of the Witch, which reunited him with Cage.

cage

And what in the hell is this about? “Nic Cage Bitch” is our Nicolas Cage blowout written by Paul Andolina of Wrestling with Film. It’s a must read for all fans of the Cage, so check it out and learn about some Cage films you may have missed, such as A Score to Settle, Between Worlds, Kill Chain, Outcast, Rage, and Seeking Justice.

Radical Jack (2000)

What if Billy Ray Cyrus remade Roadhouse?

What indeed?

Yes, the man once known for “Achy Breaky Heart,” a song that was released a year before as “Don’t Tell My Heart” by The Marcy Brothers, and then known more for his daughter’s music once ruled the pop culture world for a very limited time. This is the outgrowth. Or afterbirth. Or painful reminder.

Ever since his wife died on a mission, CIA agent and former Navy SEAL Jack Reynolds (Cyrus) has lost interest in life. Seriously — do you know how hard it is to do either of those jobs? Jack — Radical Jack to you and me — did both.

Now he’s in Vermont, where he’s gone undercover at a local bar, where he battles George “Buck” Flowers because, well, look I watch way too many movies. There’s a great emptiness in my heart sometimes and I try and fill it with films in the hope that I find some level of inspiration within them. Why I chose a Billy Ray Cyrus vehicle made 17 minutes into his 15 minutes of fame is beyond me. God, if He exists, they say, works in mysterious ways. Perhaps this is where I would find my moment. The dream that I’ve been searching for. The answer.

No.

Dedee Pfeiffer, the younger sister of Michelle, is the love interest. Perhaps you remember her from The Allnighter, a teen comedy that everyone went to see in case Susanna Hoffs would show some skin and then they realized that her mother directed it. I’ll forgive you if you never saw it.

I really don’t have anything else to say at this point.

The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas (2000)

Did you like the cast of The Flintsones movie? Bad news. None of them are back.

Mark Addy replaces John Goodman as Fred. Stephen Baldwin is no Rick Moranis as Barney. Kristen Johnston takes over for Elizabeth Perkins as Wilma Slaghoople. Jane Krakowski is here instead of Rosie O’Donnell as Betty.

The 2000’s were a time of prequels. So if you ever wanted to know how the Flintstones got together — and you desired to see the character that ruined the original show, The Great Gazoo (Alan Cumming, who also plays Mick Jagged, the Mick Jagger character ) — it’s all here for you.

This was directed by Brian Levant, who was also behind the first film, as well as Problem Child 2BeethovenJingle All the Way, the direct to video sequel to A Christmas Story and supposedly the reboot of Police Academy.

Look, I’ll watch any movie with Joan Collins in it. That was pretty much what kept me going in this film. Harvey Korman shows up, which is ironic, as he was the voice of Gazoo in the original cartoon. And hey, Taylor Negron roles are always appreciated.

At least they kept Mel Blanc’s voice for Dino.

Charlie’s Angels (2000)

Remember when McG was a thing?

The director of Charlie’s Angels began his show biz career by producing Sugar Ray’s first album, co-writing their earworm song “Fly” on their second and directing videos and documentaries for Smash Mouth, The Offspring and Korn. This led to ads and finally, to this remake of the 1970’s TV series, moving it a more spy-friendly direction.

After Terminator SalvationWe Are Marshall, the Chuck TV series and several abortive attempts to direct bigger studio films, he has seemed to settle into directing Netflix films like Rim of the World and The Sitter.

But man, for a while, he was the toast of the town.

This movie combines everything late 90’s into one tidy little time capsule for you. Cameron Diaz, producer Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu are the Angels for this generation, not jiggling and definitely more aware of their sex appeal. They work for Bosley — Bill Murray, who famously treated Liu like offal to the point that she physically attacked him — and the always unseen Charlie (voiced by John Forsythe, just like the series).

For that matter, McG has always claimed that Murray beat him up on the set. I’m sure he had his reasons.

The Angels’ mission? Find and rescue a software genius (Sam Rockwell) from an evil communication magnate (Tim Curry). Along the way, they encounter a hair-sniffing lunatic that continually gets the best of them in fights. As played by Crispin Glover, this movie represents the actor’s return to the mainstream while remaining a complete maniac, which is always appreciated. After all, he was supposed to have speaking parts, but Glover refused to voice them, wanting his character to be even more mysterious.

Of course, Rockwell is really evil and tries to kill the Angels and Charlie, who he blames for killing his father in Vietnam. And oh yeah — Tom Green, Matt LeBlanc and Luke Wilson all show up as boyfriends.

The real heroine of the film? Barrymore, who bought the movie rights to the show and pocketed $40 million on this movie and $80 million on the sequel. Seeing as how she had to read through thirty versions of the script, I’d say it was all worth it in the end.