by Louis Fowler
Most weeks, I review more DVDs than the Indy can fit into print. You can look for extra write-ups here, on the IndyBlog.
I had never heard of a movie called Street Kings, but apparently it came out last year and starred Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker. Thankfully, knowledge of this is not necessary to watch Street Kings 2: Motor City, an in-name-only, straight-to-DVD sequel starring the dependable Ray Liotta. If you’ve ever seen any cop flick starring Liotta, you can probably already guess that he’s a crooked undercover cop and that the young rookie assigned to him as a partner, will be the guy who has to shoot him in the end. Liotta is such a charismatic actor — one who should be way above starring in straight-to-DVD movies, natch — delivering such a sympathetic performance, you can’t help but root for him and his crooked cop-killing ways and hope that maybe cliché won’t prevail this go-round. Could he emerge as the anti-hero that we all know he can, and should, be? Um, what do you think?
Only Bollywood could make 3 Idiots, a three-hour comedy about scheming students in an engineering university, not only watchable, but entertaining to the point that you could easily watch another three hours. That’s the charm of Indian films, something that I wish Americans would ape. They are infectious and fun, filled with song and dance and happy endings .. .it’s a sweet return to filmmaking that was meant to entertain the masses, not just the critics. Who wouldn’t want to see a three-hour version of, say, Fast Five with Vin Diesel crooning his love to some chick on the hood of a Testarossa? 3 Idiots follows the foibles of two awkward nerds and their prankster-with-a-heart-of-gold pal Rancho as they try to make it through the most prestigious college in India in one piece, all the while making life difficult for the stodgy dean. There is also a pleasantly chaste romance and a surprising anti-caste message. Try to top that, Fast Five!
In the 1970s, Germany released a series of sexploitation flicks called Schoolgirl Report. They were pseudo-educational anthologies about the supposed sexual habits of the young people of the time, all based on dubious scientific findings. They were basically fun ’n frothy soft-core skin flicks, filled with ribald double entendres and situations. The recent French movie, Student Services, is just like those, only replace fun ’n frothy with bleak ’n depressing. Over the past few years, an epidemic has broken out of French college students turning to prostitution. Here we follow Laura, a naïve, almost imbecilic freshman who enters the scummy world of sex-for-pay with repeatedly horrific consequences. Pretty soon, as the Euros start rolling in, her studies take a backseat as she spirals deeper into the world of intercourse with lonely, middle-aged men. Mostly compelling, often heavy-handed, Student Services desperately wants to be taken seriously as a hard-hitting exposé of sorts, but director Emmanuelle Bercot can’t help but make everything so lovingly exploitative that it feels like just a trashier episode of Schoolgirl Report.