In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_5kljgdiaf9qbg0wqbxhfsoemmrz

Time Is Illmatic

An excellent documentary that focuses more on why the Illmatic album came to be than how successful it became. Prepare to be schooled in many…

Thumb_men_women_and_children

Men, Women & Children

A potentially interesting premise is handled so badly that what might have been a provocative drama quickly and irrevocably devolves into the technological equivalent of…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Reviews

Trenchcoat

  |  

"Trenchcoat" is one of the most aggressively boring movies I've seen in a long time. It's boring not only because it's bad -- which it certainly is -- but also because it's dead inside. There is not one spark of life or imagination or fun in all the dreary length of this dismal experience. The people who made it must be either incompetent or cynical. Probably a little of both.

When a movie is so obviously made up out of parts and ingredients ripped off from countless other movies and TV shows, you have to ask yourself how it got made -- how any executive, in these days of high-powered movie entertainment thought that such a pale and sickly retread could possibly work.

In this case, I have a feeling the most influential people associated with "Trenchcoat" were the agents. It has the look and feel of a Package, an assembly of "commercial" elements that was sold in preference to, or in lieu of, an interesting story.

The package this time includes stars from successful recent movies: Margot Kidder, from the Superman films, and Robert Hays, from "Airplane." Perhaps their agents thought a caper movie would provide a change of pace. That would have required a movie with pace. This is one of the most tired, predictable, uninteresting movies in a long time. All that prevented me from giving it "no stars," instead of one star, is that I saw "From Ten to Midnight" soon afterwards. That movie is evil. "Trenchcoat" is merely a no-brainer.

The story involves Kidder as a would-be mystery writer who goes to Malta for her vacation, writing a novel as she goes. (The sound track has Kidder reading selections from her novel as ironic narration -- an ancient idea that never works very well, and especially not when the movie itself violates the fiction that it is being "told" by Kidder.) On Malta, she accidentally gets caught up in a terrorist conspiracy to transfer some plutonium.

Robert Hays, posing as a fellow tourist, is on the trail of the same plutonium. And then, let's see, there's a dead body and a broken-hearted transvestite and a weasel-faced crook and a mysterious countess and a sweet little old Irish couple who keep urging the young folks to go out and have a good time. Veteran moviegoers will immediately know that the most dangerous criminals in the movie are the old Irish couple. That's because of two wheezy old laws of thrillers:

1. Never introduce a character simply for atmosphere; anyone who turns up in the second reel has to be somebody important in the last reel; and

2. Never allow an obvious suspect to be the villain.

Anyway, Kidder plays amateur gumshoe, plodding around the island trying to unravel the case that she only halfway, understands. She might have brought a little humor to the case if she'd livened up a little. If we are very patient, the movie eventually explains everything to us. But so what?

This is one of those movies that cheats right and left. I get angry when things like this happen: The heroine is about to be killed by somebody, and there's no way out, and then the villain is shot by a third party that we didn't even know was there. In a movie where anything can happen, what difference does it make what happens?

Popular Blog Posts

The Unloved, Part Ten: "The Village"

Part ten in Scout Tafoya's The Unloved series tackles "The Village."

Why my video essay about "All that Jazz" is not on the Criterion blu-ray

Bob Fosse's masterpiece "All That Jazz" jumps back and forth through the past and the present, and through memory and...

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

Tonight is What It Means To Be Young: "Streets of Fire" at 30

An appreciation of "Streets of Fire" on its 30th anniversary.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus