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Charlie Sheen (#110 of 10)

Summer of ‘90: Men at Work: Grasping at the Last Strands of ‘80s Nostalgia

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Summer of ’90: Men at Work: Grasping at the Last Strands of ’80s Nostalgia

Triumph Releasing Corporation

Summer of ’90: Men at Work: Grasping at the Last Strands of ’80s Nostalgia

Men at Work is patient zero for the plague of Charlie Sheen movies that infected the 1990s. One tends to forget that Sheen had steady work in that decade, turning out cocky fare like The Chase and Terminal Velocity. And while Men at Work isn’t the first film to use the actor in his then-typical role of a wiseass hot-shot lothario, the casual laziness that would infect his ’90s output has its origins in writer-director Emilio Estevez’s crime comedy. As Carl Taylor, Sheen can’t be bothered to do anything but exist on screen as he wades through his brother’s mercilessly overstuffed plot.

Estevez’s second feature is a major step down from his 1986 debut, Wisdom. For that film, Estevez was flanked by a massively talented crew: It was edited by Michael Kahn, scored by Danny Elfman, and produced by legendary Oscar-winning director Robert Wise, whom Estevez sought out for advice and guidance. Despite all that firepower, Wisdom is shocking in its ineptitude, a crime thriller saddled with far too many useless details and tangents. The more problematic Men at Work suffers from the same screenplay overcompensations, to the point where one wishes Estevez sought out Wise’s contemporary, Billy Wilder, for advice instead. Wilder would have burned the script for Men at Work.

Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2011: Tabloid

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Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2011: <em>Tabloid</em>
Full Frame Documentary Film Festival 2011: <em>Tabloid</em>

Errol Morris’s latest film, Tabloid, doesn’t tackle the major themes of war and torture that his previous efforts, The Fog of War and Standard Operating Procedure, investigated. Instead, he turns his eye toward the cult of celebrity through the story of Joyce McKinney, a former beauty queen who in 1977 followed her Mormon boyfriend Kirk Anderson to England, where he was doing missionary work, in order to rescue him from what she believed to be his religious “cult.” Depending on who is telling the story (McKinney, her associates, tabloid reporters) what happened next is either a beautiful, tragic love story or a lurid tale of kidnapping and sex. Essentially, McKinney appears to have taken Kirk (perhaps forcibly) to the English countryside for a weekend and attempted to “save” him by tying him to a bed and having sex with him for several days. When they returned to London, McKinney was arrested and eventually fled back to America.

Oliver Stone: Natural Born Filmmaker, Part 1

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Oliver Stone: Natural Born Filmmaker, Part 1
Oliver Stone: Natural Born Filmmaker, Part 1

Veteran. Agitator. Provocateur. Bully. Conspiracy nut. Patriot. These are just some of the labels used over the years to describe Oliver Stone. (Subtle isn’t one of them.) He has spent his filmmaking career charting the currents that propelled America in the post-war era: war, greed, sensationalism, sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Like Jean-Luc Godard, Stone embraces myth then cuts it up to reveal a truth at its heart. Whether it’s the dark side of the counterculture (The Doors), the moment America entered the media age of paranoia and punditry (JFK), the ambition—and folly—that comes with being the leader of the most powerful country in the world (Nixon), or the corporatization of America (Wall Street, Any Given Sunday), Stone has used film to chronicle the dreams, fears, and disillusionments that marked the last half of the 20th century as the most creative—and destructive—in U.S. history. (Is it really a surprise that Stone’s latest movie is about the defining moment of the 21st century?)