Luke Wilson’s Hands Across America

By Adam Lippe

During the audio commentary for The Goonies, there’s a moment when the actor who played Chunk , Jeff Cohen (who is now an attorney), points out that a certain shot of his hands are “not my hands.” That’s about the way it should be, where the only person who notices that an insert shot, like the shot of a hand, is the actor playing the part who knows specifically that he’s not in the shot.

But what happens when a production is so slapped together that these very basic elements are poorly done and stick out?

The Luke Wilson-Samuel L. Jackson moralistic horror vehicle Meeting Evil was recently released to DVD by Magnolia Pictures with all the acclaim and enthusiasm it deserved. Since that means you’ve probably never heard of it, let me explain that it’s about a guy suffering through the recession, no longer able to afford his dream home, nor the needs of his wife and children. He wonders if his family would be better without him, which is the very moment the Angel of Heavyhanded Moralizing and Unsubtle Biblical References (Samuel L. Jackson) shows up at his door to take him on a violent crime spree so Wilson will realize that zzzzzzzzzzzz………..

Anyway, director Chris Fisher’s film (he also directed the DTV sequel to Donnie Darko, S.Darko) was clearly pieced together from spare parts [and the Thomas Berger story it is based on], which is a giveaway in the opening credits based on the production companies involved.

When you see the credit “Motion Picture Corporation of America,” it doesn’t exactly suggest that you’re about to view some sort of original, creative masterpiece. When that credit is followed by “Louisiana Entertainment Screen Services,” which has the very deliberate acronym of “L.E.S.S.”, the movie you’re about to see is unlikely to be, say, revolutionary. But, at the minimum, you’d think that having those production companies behind you would guarantee that your movie is finished. That’s because those company names sound like they belong to a completion bond company who would insure that a movie is finished, even if it has to be literally edited by the completion bond company.

Whether or not this was the case with Meeting Evil is not clear; uninspiring names of production companies are not a death knell. But what’s obvious is how little care there was in the final edit. The opening sequence is clearly not finished and the seams are quite visible. Perhaps the cast couldn’t be brought back in for re-shoots because of scheduling, but more likely for budgetary reasons. Below you’ll find a video I’ve put together taken from the first few minutes of Meeting Evil. What stuck out to me about the movie was just how haphazardly the insert shots were done, so it’s obvious that all of the shots of Luke Wilson’s hands are not of Luke Wilson. And we’re not talking about a standard body double or stand-in. No, based on the wrinkles, this is clearly someone much, much older. And I can’t even say that it’s the same person every time either. I’ve added my own audio commentary to help with the frequent examples, so you’ll need to turn on speakers of some sort.

 

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Roadracers

By Adam Lippe

Whenever there’s a genre parody or ode to a specific era of films, such as Black Dynamite’s mocking of Blaxploitation films or Quentin Tarantino’s Death Proof, the second half of Grindhouse, the danger is that the film might fall into the trap of either being condescending without any particular insight, or so faithful that it becomes the very flawed thing it is emulating.

Black Dynamite has nothing new to say about Blaxploitation films, it just does a decent job of copying what an inept [...]


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Featured Quote (written by me)

On Cold Fish:

Though the 16 year old me described the 1994 weepie Angie, starring Geena Davis as a Brooklyn mother raising her new baby alone, as “maudlin and melodramatic,” Roger Ebert, during his TV review, referring to the multitude of soap-operaish problems piling up on the titular character, suggested that it was only in Hollywood where Angie would get a happy ending. “If they made this movie in France, Angie would have shot herself.”

Well Cold Fish was made in Japan, where Angie would have shot herself and that would have been the happy ending.