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Moonlight and Valentino

"The Leading Man" opened to acclaim at the Toronto Film Festival in September 1996. It's appeal was lost on whoever was there shopping for films to buy for distribution. A year later it showed up in a few cinemas in the UK. In March of this year, it had a limited release in America, a year and a half after it premiere in Toronto. 

I'm sorry that whoever financed it lost a bundle, because it's a really neat little film. I think people didn't get the fact that it's a comedy because its wit is so dry. Because of this, I suspect no one knew how to market it. The people I've met in marketing departments are surprisingly unoriginal. 

I found it to be utterly delightful. I would not have thought much about it when it went to video, if I hadn't been intrigued by the fact that Bon Jovi was listed as its star.

"The Leading Man" is so obscure in origin that, even though it is obviously set in London, much of it may have been shot in Australia. That country's film commission is given credit at the end of the movie, and its director has done almost all his films there. 

Don't be put off by the fact you never heard of it either. It's well crafted, acted and photographed It's also a lot of fun. 

Lambert Wilson plays a hugely successful British playwright. The film opens with his eleventh play going into rehearsals. He truly loves his wife, played by Anna Galiena, but is having an affair with a young actress played by Thandie Newton. It's safe to say this man is having a major mid-life crisis. Of course, he casts the young actress in the new play to assure that he will be near her all day. A cliche is avoided here because the actress happens to be first rate. She's no bimbo!

Enter Jon Bon Jovi, playing a young star who's last film was a smash hit. He is the costar of the new play. He is self assured, to say the least. His talent on screen and on stage extends to the bedroom. While he'll be the first to tell you how wonderful he is, Bon Jovi plays him not as a man who runs around bragging about himself, but as one who is unafraid to speak the truth. In Bon Jovi's capable hands, the character comes off as rather lovable. 

At first the actor comes off as someone who has a scary dark side. As the film progresses, it turns out that it's more a matter of acting things so that those around him get what they really need in life. For example, Galiena [Elana] dwells on how Wilson [Felix] is ruining her life because he can't keep his zipper up. Bon Jovi [Robin] suggests to the philandering husband that the best way to get her to see reason is for him to seduce her. 

What ensues is a delightful - and often funny - look at how people deal with relationships. Robin is also attracted to the young actress, while she seems infatuated with him. It also shows in a humorous way how things are not always what they appear to be. 

I am delighted to have discovered this little gem, and I hope that you will check it out. 


Live From London


John Bon Jovi and his bandmates Richie Sambora, ico Torres, and others became one of the biggest rock stars of the '80s with the release of their hit-filled album Slippery When Wet. They maintained their following, if not their superstar status, even after public tastes changed. Bon Jovi: The Inside Story is an unauthorized biopic featuring many interviews with the bandmembers during which they relate stories about their formative years, their rise to celebrity status, and their ability to handle the white-hot spotlight of fame. The DVD release of the film includes a trivia quiz about the band. ~ Perry Seibert, All Movie Guide 



The Leading Man

Reviewer: Clare la Grange ( from South Africa 
Even if you are not a fan of Jon Bon Jovi this film is very good. It centers around an American movie star, played by Bon Jovi who wants to get artistic recognition by starring in a London play. Thandie Newton plays the playwrights mistress and Anna Galiena his unhappy wife. The playwright is played by Lambert Wilson as Felix Web. The desperate playwrite asks the American star, Robin Grange to seduce his wife so she can leave the marriage with her self-esteem intact. The plot thickens from there with a surprise ending. Well worth taking a look at the slick European film. 


Destination Anywhere

Reviewer: Brian Lenk (see more about me) from Crystal Lake, IL USA 
Destination Anywhere, which as a matter of fact is also a full-length LP by the artist Jon Bon Jovi. Get's transfered from the concept of the album to the big screen. The idea behind this film, which works like a long music video is the fact that Jon and his wife, are in mourning over their child who was killed in an accident. As a result, both characters lives are full of confusion, despair and heartache. Jon seems like a lost soul in this film, he still hasn't gotten over the death of his child. As a result he enters a world of depression. His wife, played by Demi Moore is equally as frustrated and confused as Jon. The movie shows their pain and how they are still trying to cope with the loss. I was surprised at just how touching this film was, I was a little teary eyed when it was over. I felt for all the characters, all the characters seemed real to me. Not bad I say for a small little film like this. This film shows the world that Jon Bon Jovi is indeed a great actor, and a multi-talented entertainer. Demi Moore almost steals the show, when on screen she sucks you in with her beauty and her emotions. This is a must see for fans of both actors, especially Bon Jovi fans. I find that this film gives new meaning to Jon's solo LP, Destination Anywhere. I now appreciate it more and understand it better thanks to this film. While a little on the depressing side, Destination Anywhere still manages to be engaging and worthwhile on the strengths of it's focused stars. Also stars Kevin Bacon, Annabella Sciorria, Whoopie Goldberg. 



Row Your Boat

Editorial Reviews
Taking its title from a children's song and its story of crime and redemption from countless American indie dramas, Row Your Boat is a sweet and not altogether predictable tale of recently released convict Jamey Meadows (Jon Bon Jovi) trying to get it right the second time around. Refusing help from his brother and former partner in crime (William Forsythe), he gets a job as a census taker to save enough cash for an apartment. On his rounds he meets pretty Chinese immigrant Chun Hua (Bai Ling), the unhappy trophy wife of a 60-year-old businessman, and spends his off hours teaching her English just for her company. True love? Maybe not, but she could be Jamey's second chance if he can stay clear of his brother, whose debts to a local loan shark push him to ever more desperate schemes. Writer-director Sollace Mitchell never quite avoids the clichés of the smalltime urban crime drama, but his refreshingly matter-of-fact direction balances the dangerous with the mundane. There's nothing glamorous in these minor heists or in Jamey's efforts to keep his self-respect and hope alive while living out of homeless shelters and killing time on the streets. Perhaps that's why this modest film got lost in the shuffle: it avoids the easy drama of violent showdowns to explore the real struggle of surviving the streets. --Sean Axmaker 



No Looking Back

Editorial Reviews
The third film in writer-director-actor Edward Burns's "Long Island Trilogy" is in some ways the slightest of the three, and that's a blessing and a curse. By keeping things spare, Burns is able to focus on the simple, honest humanity of his story, which centers on the emotional dilemma of Claudia (Lauren Holly), a small-town waitress whose engagement to blue-collar Michael (Jon Bon Jovi) is challenged when old flame Charlie (Burns) returns after an extended absence. Their shared history includes an abortion that left Claudia feeling abandoned and resentful, and for good reason, given Charlie's reputation for self-involved aloofness.
As in his previous films, Burns demonstrates a subtle hand with actors and a keen awareness of life's authentic rhythm; this movie will strongly affect anyone who can relate to Claudia's need to find herself, independent of her tenuous relationships. The performances are uniformly superb: Holly expresses the confusion and seeking quality of her character; Burns makes Charlie both charming and bluntly self-serving; and Bon Jovi shows strong potential beyond his rock-star handsomeness. Indeed, the film's only weakness is that it's stretched too thin to be truly substantial, and Burns relies far too heavily on a soundtrack (with heavy doses of Bruce Springsteen and Sheryl Crow) that too often substitutes for dialogue. It's as if Burns didn't trust his own material; he needn't have been so insecure. --Jeff Shannon --This text refers to the DVD edition. 



Little City

Editorial Reviews
Kevin (Jon Bon Jovi) is sleeping with Nina (Annabella Sciorra), who's already dating Kevin's best friend Adam (Josh Charles), who still hasn't gotten over Kate (Joanna Going), who still hasn't gotten over Ann (JoBeth Williams), who has her eye on Rebecca (Penelope Ann Miller), who just moved to town... and things just get more complicated from there. Writer-director Roberto Benabib wants to be for San Francisco what Woody Allen is for Manhattan, and Little City is full of gorgeous shots of the city. Though his dialogue doesn't quite have the same polish, he does have Allen's knack for sterling ensemble casts; even when the banter doesn't bounce, the actors are completely engaging. Even Miller, who's been so annoying in her earlier movies, is sweet and sympathetic. Charles in particular is superb, but everyone contributes to making this an enjoyable romantic comedy. --Bret Fetzer 


Home Grown

Editorial Reviews
Released to only a handful of theaters in the spring and summer of 1998, Homegrown was neglected by nervous distributors who couldn't figure out how to market a movie about marijuana farmers. As a result, hardly anyone saw this cleverly plotted comedy-thriller about three experienced pot growers in northern California (Billy Bob Thornton, Hank Azaria, and Ryan Phillippe) who guard their valuable outdoor crop against raids by the cops and unwanted competitors. When their mysterious leader is apparently murdered, Thornton assumes the dead man's identity to arrange one last, lucrative bumper-crop deal, but pulling off the scam proves to be a lot harder than they'd anticipated. While the three potheads seek refuge with an old colleague (Kelly Lynch) and routinely sample their goods (which explains the film's theatrical obscurity), Homegrown turns into a taut thriller fueled by equal parts comedy and paranoid tension--an update of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre with marijuana instead of gold! Featuring cameo roles for Jamie Lee Curtis, Ted Danson, and John Lithgow, this entertaining film fell victim to the misguided fear that it promotes drugs and illegal activity. If anything, it promotes interesting characters, catchy dialogue, and a welcomed alternative to mainstream Hollywood comedies. --Jeff Shannon 


Sex In The City



It's Only Rock & Roll




Editorial Reviews
Taut and gripping, U-571 follows the exploits of a fictional team of World War II U.S. submariners who undertake a secret mission to capture a German Enigma machine to decode German documents. Writer-director Jonathan Mostow (Breakdown) tells an intense, economical tale, reminiscent of the best classic war films, while infusing it with modern sentiments. 
Spring 1942: A crew of young submarine sailors are on a much-needed 48-hour liberty when they're suddenly called together and engaged in an expedition. At the helm are Lieutenant Commander Mike Dahlgren (Bill Paxton), Lieutenant Andrew Tyler (Matthew McConaughey), and Chief Klough (Harvey Keitel). Other pivotal crew members include Tyler's Annapolis pal Lieutenant Pete Emmett (Jon Bon Jovi, proving his acting mettle) and Lieutenant Hirsch (Jake Weber), who, along with Marine Major Coonan (David Keith), organizes the mission. As much of the movie takes place in a submarine during WWII, there are inevitable comparisons with the technical masterpiece Das Boot, but Mostow's masterfully shot tale can hold its own. 

McConaughey's Tyler is believably earnest as he comes to grips with the reality, tragedy, and consequence of being in command. While this explosion-filled film consistently maintains its tense pace (as did the underrated Breakdown), it also presents with surprising restraint a genuine human story--and the remarkable journey of an unexpected hero. --N.F. Mendoza --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. 


Pay it Forward

Editorial Reviews
Pay It Forward is a multi-level marketing scheme of the heart. Beginning as a seventh-grade class assignment to put into action an idea that could change the world, young Trevor McKinney (Haley Joel Osment) comes up with a plan to do good deeds for three people who then by way of payment each must do good turns for three other people. These nine people also must pay it forward and so on, ad infinitum. If successful, the resulting network of do-gooders ought to comprise the entire world. Trevor's attempts to get the ball rolling include befriending a junkie (James Caviezel) and trying to set up his recovering-alcoholic mother (Helen Hunt) with his burn-victim teacher (Kevin Spacey), who posed the assignment.
While this could have turned into unmitigated schmaltz, the acting elevates this film to mitigated schmaltz. By turns powerful and measured, the performances of Spacey, Hunt, and Osment can't make up for the many missteps in a screenplay that sanitizes the look of the lower-middle class and expects us to believe that homeless alcoholics and junkies speak in the elevated manner of grad students. (Can that really be Angie Dickinson as Hunt's dispossessed mother? Yes, it is!) The germ of the story is a good one, though, and one may wonder how it would have been handled by the likes of Frank Capra, who could balance sentiment with humor. But clearly Capra would never have let the ending of his version to take the nosedive into cliché and pathos that director Mimi Leder has allowed in this film. More than a few viewers will also recognize that Leder has blatantly borrowed her final image from Field of Dreams, where its intended effect was more keenly and honestly felt. --Jim Gay --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. 


Crush Tour


After a brief rest from recording and touring, one of the great rock bands of the '90s, Bon Jovi, returned to the stage in the year 2000. Their performance is captured live on The Crush Tour. Outstanding excerpts from shows in a number of locations show the band at its highest energy. They perform their fans' favorites, as well as some new material. A highlight is a slow and melodious version of the tune that made them famous: "Runaway." ~ Rose of Sharon Winter, All Movie Guide 


Vampires of Los Muertos

Editorial Reviews
Jon Bon Jovi stars in this trashy but pretty entertaining horror flick. Vampires: Los Muertos centers on vampire hunter-for-hire Derek Bliss (Bon Jovi), who gets bounties from the likes of the "Van Helsing Group" for every bloodsucker he destroys. When a new client hires him to hunt down a particularly powerful vampire queen in Mexico, he reluctantly starts to form a team--only to discover that all his potential posse members have just been killed. But soon he gathers a haphazard crew (including Diego Luna from Y Tu Mama Tambien and Natasha Wagner from Lost Highway) and sets off across the hot Mexican landscape. Vampires: Los Muertos has some gaps in logic, but it's pretty lean and spry--in the first 10 minutes, the vampire queen has already bitten off someone's tongue--and it has enough cheap eye candy to be a satisfying low-budget flick. --Bret Fetzer 


This Left Feels Right


Toward the end of 2003, New Jersey-based rockers Bon Jovi released This Left Feels Right: Greatest Hits With a Twist, an album of newly recorded, reimagined versions of 12 of the band's best-loved songs. This concert film is a companion to the record and features the group performing stripped-down acoustic renditions of a total of 20 tunes before an intimate live audience. Along with fan favorites like "You Give Love a Bad Name," "It's My Life," and "Wanted Dead or Alive," Bon Jovi performs three never-before-heard songs: "Last Man Standing," "Sylvia's Mother," and "Thief of Hearts." ~ Matthew Tobey, All Movie Guide 




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