Ratings Key

= Excellent. The best the genre has to offer.
1/2 = Very Good. Perhaps not "perfect," but undoubtedly a must-see.
★★★ = Good. Accomplishes what it sets out to do and does it well.
★★1/2 = Fair. Clearly flawed and nothing spectacular, but competently made. OK entertainment.
★★ = Mediocre. Either highly uneven or by-the-numbers and uninspired.
1/2 = Bad. Very little to recommend.
= Very Bad. An absolute chore to sit through.
NO STARS! = Abysmal. Unwatchable dreck that isn't even bad-movie amusing.
SBIG = So Bad It's Good. Technically awful movies with massive entertainment value.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Black Widow (1987)

Directed by:
Bob Rafelson

Interesting, but overall disappointingly minor psycho-thriller (with some definite horror elements), involves the suspicions of an ambitious, plucky female U.S. Justice Department investigator (appealingly played by Debra Winger), who suspects that a succession of dead, wealthy men are somehow tied together. Eventually, she's convinced that beautiful and seductive Catherine (Theresa Russell) is a cold-blooded serial killer who marries then murders men for their money... and she's right. After the mysterious deaths of a rich toy manufacturer in Texas (played by Dennis Hopper) and a likewise well-off Seattle businessman (Nicol Williamson), Winger follows Russell to Hawaii (where most of the film's best scenes take place), fueled not so much by capturing the guilty, but by a strange obsession of getting to know the rich, cold-blooded murderess. Slight parallels are drawn between the two strong but otherwise completely different women but unfortunately Ron Base's screenplay leaves too many loose ends, doesn't really flesh out the characters as much as they should have been and never seems to capitalize on the films true potential, foiling a good premise and two excellent lead performances contributed by the talented ladies. Despite being a very entertaining film, this just seems like it should have been more substantiative.
Supporting parts are filled by good character actors and familiar faces such as Terry O'Quinn (THE STEPFATHER), James Hong (PRINCE OF DARKNESS), Diane Ladd, Lois Smith, Mary Woronov (in just one scene as a scuba instructor), Rutanya Alda, Leo Rossi, filmmaker David Mamet (as a poker player) and Anne Lockhart.


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