"Transcendence" is a serious science fiction movie filled with big ideas and powerful images, but it never quite coheres, and the end is a copout.
Q. Is it ethical to use material in a film's trailer that is not part of the film itself? For example, in "Dangerous Minds," the trailer showed a scene at a pool hall that was nowhere to be found in the otherwise dubious film. Also, in the trailer for "Something To Talk About," in the scene where Julia Roberts stands up at her women's club and asks who else has been sleeping with her husband--in the preview, but not in the movie, someone responds by asking if kissing counts. I think this is a form of false advertising and I'm surprised the studios are allowed to do it. (William A. Cirignan, Chicago)
Q. Your review of "To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar" made it sound interesting enough to see, but you made no mention of the fact that it seems to be an American version of "Priscilla, Queen of the Desert." I enjoyed the Australian version, and it seems the story lines are exactly the same: (1) An adventure from home through the rural heartlands; (2) Stranded by vehicle in a town that doesn't get many 'queens'; (3) Chaos ensues as they take the town in sequins and high-heels; (4) No sex between the men, etc., etc. Isn't this just a rip off? (Scott Matichuk, Edmonton, Alberta)
A. So it would seem, but Jeffrey Graebner of the CompuServe ShowBiz Forum replies: "Neither is really a ripoff of the other. In fact, they were in production at about the same time. 'To Wong Foo' sat on the shelf for nearly a year before Universal finally released it. The delay probably was to keep it from coming out too close to 'Priscilla'."
Q. I enjoy watching movies funded by credit cards and experimental drugs. The people who make these movies tend to have the most compelling stories to tell. Perhaps they have had these conversations and images pent up, waiting for the medium through which to express themselves. Can you please recommend some of your favorite inexpensively made films? (Douglas N. Stotland, Chicago)
A. I don't know about the experimental drugs, but some movies have been funded by credit cards, notably Matty Rich's "Straight Out of Brooklyn," with a budget of $24,000 and much help from his grandmother's MasterCard. Other recent movies made for under $30,000 include "Clerks," "The Brothers McMullen," and, the champ at about $8,000, "El Mariachi." The spiritual godfather of all of these films is John Cassavetes, who made his films with little money and a lot of help from his friends.
Q. The marketing whizzes for "Showgirls" must be desperate for quotes in their ads--they quote you on Elizabeth Berkley's "fierce energy," which isn't too surprising, but they also include, and I quote, "Sometimes it's hilarious." The way they present your quote leads one to believe that the film was meant to be funny, as opposed to its hilarity being unintentional. (Michael Dequina, Los Angeles)
A. Funny how they overlooked the word "sleazefest" in my first sentence. But I did write "Sometimes it's hilarious," so I can't complain. I wonder, though, if the filmmakers are pleased to have their film described that way. While I'm at it: Their "Basic Instinct" was hilarious, too.
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