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Cruel IntentionsThe ThingEl Mariachi / Desperado

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CRUEL INTENTIONS
Rated: 15
  What's love got to do with it?

The Movie

Sebastian Valmont (Phillippe): a rich little shit who seduces innocent girls for pleasure. Kathryn Merteuil (Gellar): his bitchy manipulative step-sister. Two bored and beautiful Manhattan teenagers, who enter into a bet. Sebastian claims he can deflower the virginal Annette Hargrove (Witherspoon); if he loses, he must relinquish his prized car. If he wins, he can bed his step-sister…

‘Suggested by’ Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Cruel Intentions is a racy, sizzling, erotic and exotic treat that seduces the audience as easily as Sebastian entices his débutantes. With a line-up of characters who seem to have no redeeming features whatsoever, this is a wonderfully cathartic experience and the shining young cast seemingly revel in its viciousness. A marvellous reminder of just how good 4 starsa teen movie can be.

The Extras

The champagne is uncorked, there’s lots of laughing and cries of “Cheers!” as director Roger Kumble, producer Neal H Moritz, director of photography Theo Van de Sande and production designer Jon Gary Steele (and friends!) create a party atmosphere for the commentary track. And it’s a good one.

Kumble admits his inexperience (before Cruel Intentions he hadn’t even directed a home video), explaining that he just dealt with the actors and wisely left everyone else to their jobs.

“Oooh, look at that little bit of saliva!” the revellers cry during Gellar’s snog with Blair, while Van de Sande admits an error in the swimming pool scene (“Between Reese’s feet there’s a [positioning] mark”). Kumble points out a horrible glitch in the final shots (Witherspoon driving through Manhattan in long shot, and through Californian mountains in close up!) and explains how the original confrontation ending was re-written to be more dramatic. His inspiration? Listening to The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony on the radio…

 

Extras continued: The behind the scenes featurette (screen ratio 1.33:1, six minutes) is an MTV-style mix of fast cut soundbytes and footage, plus there’s the US trailer (1.33:1) and cast filmographies. Finally, turn up the volume for two clip-tastic pop videos: the superb Every You, Every Me (1.85:1) by Placebo and Coming Up from Behind (1.33:1) by Marcy Playground.

Best of all, the feature itself has a glorious anamorphic transfer, complemented by 5 starsresplendent Dolby 5.1 sound.

Credits
Cast • Ryan Phillippe
Sarah Michelle Gellar
Reese Witherspoon
Selma Blair
Director • Roger Kumble
Duration • 94 mins
Screen Ratio • 1.85:1
Anamorphic • Yes
Audio • Dolby 5.1
Chapters • 28
Languages • English, French
Subtitles • English, French, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Hindi, Hebrew, Turkish, Arabic, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Icelandic, Dutch, Norwegian, Portuguese, Greek
Release Date • December 13
Distributor • Columbia Tristar
Price • £19.99

Cruel Intentions

Cut sequences detailed, and Sarah Michelle Gellar on her relentless career - in the issue!

Highlight

Chapter 24 – – Just a Lie
A great performance from Phillippe as the “completely f***ed up” Sebastian.

David Richardson

THE THING
Rated: 18
  Beware of the dog...

The Movie

Carpenter’s remake of 1951’s The Thing from Another World is an exercise in burgeoning paranoia. It’s a simple story: a small group of people in a remote base are terrorized by a shape shifting alien, which could be hiding within any one of them. Supported by top-class animatronics and stunning design, the director creates a powerful atmosphere and the distinctive soundtrack 4 starskeeps a stranglehold on the viewer.

The Extras

The Thing comes loaded with so many additional features you’ll have to clear the best part of a day out of your schedule to watch them. Approaching the film’s production stage by stage, we kick off with the Production Background Archive, which details how this re-make came to be commissioned and includes snippets from the draft script, while Cast Production Photos focuses on Carpenter’s choice of performers.

The amazing creature effects are the subject of Production Art and Storyboards, which includes the initial design sketches (by Dale Kuipers) and the work of his replacement Rob Bottin. Some of these, however, look like kid-friendly rejects from A Bug’s Life.

Get ready to hit the fast forward button for the Location Design segment, which follows designer John Lloyd’s recce of British Columbia and shows the construction of the research base. The scenery is spectacular, but there are only so many photos of wooden walls being erected that this reviewer can take.

Production Archives is an album of on-set pictures, showing the refrigerated sets and the creature sequences. Considering the director instructed staff to keep still photography to a minimum to maintain secrecy, this is a dazzling collection.

Most movie buffs will probably head straight for the Out-takes option, which incorporates a few unused segments (mainly dialogue exchanges, but there is a creepy sequence of Bennings searching the corridors). The deleted scenes at the Norwegian base have been lost, but these are represented by photographs of mutilated corpses.

Post Production takes up the story after the completion of filming, following the work of composer Ennio Morricone, and includes images of The Thing’s LA premiere (hosted by Elvira!).

If, after all that, you still want to know more, then Terror Takes Shape (screen

 

Extras continued:
ratio 1.33:1, 8 chapters) is an 80-minute documentary that includes talking head interviews with the cast and crew. After viewing the other extras, some of this material may seem a little familiar, but there is plenty here worth watching. The highlights: model maker Susan Turner taking us through the construction of the alien craft stage by stage, and optical effects supervisor Peter Kuran reveals how the title sequence was created using a fish tank, smoke, a cut out logo and a plastic bag (I kid you not).

Carpenter and Kurt Russell team up for the Commentary track, chatting like old pals and recalling the mammoth challenge of shooting in the frozen Canadian winter. Carpenter points out the nods to the original movie, reveals that filming in a remote location with an all-male crew inspired an incredible camaraderie and indicates areas of the movie which should have been better.

The pictures for the main feature are good but non-anamorphic, while the Dolby 5.1 soundtrack is as crisp as snow. Throw in the production notes, bios and filmographies and the trailer (screen ratio 1.33:1) and you have a supremely 5 starsimpressive collection.

Credits
Cast • Kurt Russell
Director • John Carpenter
Duration • 104 mins
Screen Ratio • 2.35:1
Audio • Dolby 5.1
Chapters • 17
Languages • English, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish
Subtitles • English, French, Dutch, Portuguese, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish, Czech
Release Date • November 15
Distributor • Columbia Tristar
Price • £19.99

The Thing

Highlights

Chapter 27: The Deadly Defibrillation
A fun title for one very scary scene. One of the team suffers a heart attack, which requires an emergency medical proceedure. The grisly results are more spectacular than you could ever imagine…

David Richardson

EL MARIACHI / DESPERADO
Rated: 18
  Two movies. One disc.
A major bargain

The Movies

The low, low budget of El Mariachi is legendary – $7,000, or a fifth of a Blair Witch (the shrivelled head, perhaps). What’s made it so talked about is not just that it’s incredibly cheap, but that it’s fantastic too. It’s a hugely energetic tale of mistaken identity and extreme violence as a wandering musician (or ‘mariachi’) outwits a gang of nasty crime lords. This cartoony classic is cooler and more creative than most multi-million-dollar 4 starsHollywood efforts.

Flip the disc for Desperado, Robert Rodriguez’ super-shiny ‘remake’ of El Mariachi, boasting a ‘whopping’ $7m budget this time. Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek are the sexiest screen couple of the decade, and Rodriguez orchestrates incredibly over-the-top action scenes that are pitched somewhere between John Woo and Sergio Leone. Not exactly a film to engage the mind, but all other 4 starsareas are well catered for.

The Extras

Rodriguez’s El Mariachi commentary is a shot-by-shot guide on “how to make a movie for less than $10,000”. The director-writer-cinematographer-editor explains that only $600 of his budget actually appeared onscreen (the rest was spent on film) and goes on to describe all the little tricks he used to make it look like a longer and more expensive shoot. Rodriguez talks so quickly that he makes Quentin Tarantino sound positively laid back, but it’s an invaluable guide for budding film-makers.

In his Ten Minute Film School (actually 14 minutes!), Rodriguez dissects the film’s most celebrated action scene and explains how time constraints meant that he only took a couple of takes for each set-up and then cleverly edited it all together to look like he’d spent several days filming it. He also illustrates plenty of other hard-to-credit cheats.

On top of all that, there’s a filmography, trailer and – best of all – the director’s brilliant early nine-minute black-and-white short Bedhead, the story of a deranged feud between two kids which displays the flair and imagination of a director destined for greatness. Count the number of times Rodriguez and his family appear on the credits.

Rodriguez’s input to the Desperado extras is along similar lines, although there’s a lot more to discuss as he explains “how to make $7m look like $30m”. In his commentary, he chats about how continuity was sacrificed in the pursuit of more shots, how the movie’s enormous bar gun-fight was shot in three days and identifies his two stuntmen’s activities in every scene (“That’s Hank again!”). It’s a little technically minded and self-congratulatory, but good listening if you’re at all interested in behind-the-scenes stuff.

 

10 More Minutes – Anatomy of a Shoot Out illustrates how the director planned the big shoot-out, storyboarding and rehearsing with Banderas using a video camera. You’ll be amazed how similar to the storyboards the filmed shots look. There’s also the expertly edited trailer, but the two pop videos – Morena De Mi Corazon (Los Lobos and Antonio Banderas) and Back to the House That Love Built (Tito and Tarantula) – 3 starsaren’t much cop

Credits
El Mariachi
Cast • Carlos Gallardo
Peter Marquardt
Consuelo Gomez
Director • Robert Rodriguez
Duration • 82 mins
Screen Ratio • 1.77:1
Anamorphic • Yes
Audio • Dolby Digital
Chapters • 28
Languages • Latin American Spanish, German
Subtitles • English, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Icelandic, Hindi, Hewbrew, German, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Greek, Norwegian
Desperado
Cast • Antonio Banderas
Joaquim De Almeida
Salma Hayek
Director • Robert Rodriguez
Duration • 100 mins
Screen Ratio • 1.85:1
Anamorphic • Yes
Audio • Dolby 5.1
Chapters • 28
Languages • English, German
Subtitles • English, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Icelandic, Hindi, Hewbrew, German, Turkish, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Greek, Norwegian, Spanish

Release Date • November 1
Distributor • Columbia Tristar
Price • £19.99

El Mariachi / Desperado

Highlight

El Mariachi: Chapter 8
Eluding Moco’s Boys

A frantic, funny, exciting chase that’s the film’s most celebrated sequence.

Desperado: Chapter 7
– Bar Fight Massacre

Banderas leaps around the bar like Rudolf Nureyev with a semi-automatic

Jason Caro

Reviews © Visual Imagination Ltd 2000. Not for reproduction

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