Forever Mine (1999) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)
watched it all the way through, it had been something of a mystery to
me. Why was this film was never released theatrically, I wondered. It
was directed by long-time Hollywood insider Paul Shrader. It stars
Joseph Fiennes, backed by Ray Liotta and Gretchen Mol. It was shown in
Toronto and Telluride. It looks great. The first half takes place in
Miami in 1973. I lived in Miami in the early 70's, and this film
caught the feel of it so beautifully that I could smell the Cafe Cubano,
hear the Jai-Alai cheers, and feel the sea breezes. The pastels,
the faded glory of the hotels, the neon lights, the whole
palette. And when was the last time you saw a straight-to-cable film
in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio?
Lots of plusses. What went wrong?
|I now see why nobody took
a chance on this film. Yes, there was a problem involving the
bankruptcy of the company that owned the film, but that wasn't the
only reason why it wasn't picked up theatrically. The film itself has some real problems.
It has some audio problems, with both the clarity and the volume variations, but that wasn't the Big Chestnut.
More entertainingly, let's have film cliché class. Test your own knowledge.
| 1. Ray Liotta plays
2. Shakespeare plays
3. When Liotta finds out that Shakespeare is making nice-nice with his wife, he:
4. When Shakespeare gets shot in the face and buried alive, he
5. Shakespeare then
6. When Liotta later gets in trouble with the law, Shakespeare
7. When Liotta figures out that the drug lord and the cabana boy are both Shakespeare, and that his wife still loves the guy, he
8. When Shakespeare gets shot in the neck and thigh, and appears to be whacked a second time, he
|So there you have it. Their love
endures despite the fact that they didn't see each other for 14 years, and the
even more important fact that Shakespeare died
twice. I guess I wouldn't have minded all the unrealistic clichés so
much, but the story also moves with a very slow pace, which
makes it difficult to watch, and the film has some sound problems.
Despite all that, I recommend it. Why? here's my logic
|Second thoughts, also from
I just watched the film again, two years after I wrote the words above. I need to say something to balance off the ledger and make my appraisal more balanced. I did praise the look of this film when it first came out, but I need to be much clearer.
Cinematographer John Bailey did a magnificent job on this film!
Sometimes it is important to give credit where credit is due. Cinematographers often have to sit back and watch their best work ignored because the script just isn't much good. A perfect example is The Patriot, from a couple of years back. That movie is photographed about as well as a movie can be, and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel was recognized by his fellow cinematographers as the king of the hill that year in their association awards. The Oscar, however, went to another film. Has there ever been a case where the Oscars overlooked a crap script and gave the cinematographer his just due? I suppose not. I can't think of one, but that would happen in a fairer world. After all, it wasn't Caleb's fault that the script wasn't that good.
The poor cinematographer for Forever Mine is the protagonist of a similar story, except the results were far more depressing. Nobody ever saw Bailey's work on a theater screen at all. This film had all kinds of financial and legal difficulties. As noted in my earlier comments, the script is in the fast lane to Cliche City, despite having been written by one of Hollywood's best screenwriters, Paul Shrader, who wrote three Martin Scorsese masterpieces, including Taxi Driver and Raging Bull. The combination of script problems and legal problems kept Forever Mine from ever being released in the theaters.
It's really a shame that this work never got seen. This film was meant to be projected in a 2.35 aspect ratio which simply can't be appreciated anywhere except a big screen. Of course, Bailey didn't know it would go straight-to-cable when he filmed it in that super widescreen ratio. As bad as the movie is, I would pay to see it on a big screen, for two reasons (1) Bailey's photography is luscious (2) Gretchen Mol is naked at about every possible opportunity, with a master photographer runnin' the ol' camera.
By the way, this work was no isolated fluke for Mr. Bailey, as you might guess. He has never won an Oscar, or even a nomination, but he's shot some very fine films in his career, (He probably should have been nominated for an Oscar for his work on The Big Chill, and he has shot some terrific offbeat stuff, like Cat People and Groundhog Day.)
So, a strong "well done" for Mr Bailey, for work that few people will ever see.
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