Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: Me, Myself & Irene

[Written for Film.com]

Of course the Farrelly brothers would make a split personality movie. It’s autobiographical: these filmmaking provocateurs are divided between sweet and sour, between the romance of classic screwball comedy and Mad magazine on acid.

So we get Me, Myself & Irene, a comedy about a Rhode Island cop who suffers from split personality disorder. In the gratifyingly wacky opening minutes of the film we meet Charlie (Jim Carrey), a nice guy stretched thin over thirty years of being a doormat. In a sequence that deliberately tramples taboos, Charlie melts down (in a line in a supermarket—perfect) and mutates into Hank, a belligerent jerk with no social boundaries.

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Posted in: 2000 Eyes, by Robert Horton, Film Reviews

2000 Eyes: The Patriot

[Written for Film.com]

How can a filmmaker with this much bad taste be blessed with such a dazzling gift for making images? That’s the puzzle posed by The Patriot, directed by Roland Emmerich, the German-born creator of Independence Day and Godzilla. Emmerich is like a database of classic compositions and camera angles, spewing out gorgeous tableaux with a punch of his visual keyboard. When South Carolina plantation owner Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson) goes to his front door, and opens it to see a night battle waged in the trees on his farm, it’s an image out of a dream: musket-fire lighting up the darkness with white flashes, powder rising, the ghostly sound of voices.

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Posted in: Film Reviews

Review: The Horse Whisperer

[Originally written for Film.com, 1998]

Set the wayback machine to 1998. Parallax View presents reviews of films released 20 years ago, written by our contributors for various papers and websites. Most of these have not been available for years.

Except for a final helicopter shot, our last glimpse of Robert Redford in The Horse Whisperer finds the star enjoying a pensive moment of mixed emotions. It’s the kind of wordless, ambiguous grace note that real movie stars are so good at evoking, a look in the eyes that conveys a dozen different feelings tugging at the same brain pan.

There are other such moments in The Horse Whisperer, but they all belong to Kristin Scott Thomas; Redford, directing himself for the first time, retreats into a mythic Marlboro Man stance until that intriguing climactic shot. For most of his performance, he’s either perched loftily at the edge of a valley or the foot of a mountain peak, and as often as not the sun is catching the still-golden tones in his ageless hair. This approach turns the movie into a handsome still life, bloodless and schematic. It’s particularly odd because so much of the film is given over to an Ordinary People-style psychological excavation, which doesn’t jibe especially well with the old-fashioned stoicism of the traditional cowboy.

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