Double Feature

March 2020 - As you may recall, I came clean about my failure to see most of the films up for Best Picture at last month's Academy Awards. But, take heart, and know that I'll catch up. Eventually. For now, though, you'll have to settle for reviews of two films from 1999.

First, we have The Bone Collector, which recently re-surfaced as a TV series on NBC. The 1999 R-rated movie version has Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie teaming up to catch a serial killer who takes his inspiration from the past. The film also features Queen Latifah, Leland Orser, and Ed O'Neill. Jeffrey Deaver, who wrote the book, helped to write the screenplay.

Washington plays former NYPD detective Lincoln Rhyme. He's a renowned forensics expert. He's also a quadriplegic because a tunnel collapsed on him. Now, all he wants to do is die with some help from his doctor. But, before that can happen, the NYPD needs Rhyme's help to catch a cabbie who is doing unspeakable things to his fares.

Angelina Jolie is a young cop named Amelia Donaghy. When a body turns up near some train tracks, Donaghy does all the right things to preserve the evidence. Soon, she becomes Rhyme's eyes and legs, and maybe more, as he guides her from crime scene to crime scene as they track a killer with a thing for the Victorian era.

Overall review: Liked it. Holds up well for a technology-infused movie made some 20 years ago. But, there are issues with believability. For example, Donaghy knows just what bookstore to go to find a Victorian-era book and determine where the killer might strike next. I get that Victorian books are a rarity, but you'd think that NYC might have more than one bookstore worth checking out. Just sayin'.

Shortly before the Victorian era began, American author Washington Irving penned a short story titled "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." In 1999, director Tim Burton bloodied up Irving's classic tale of the headless horseman. In the R-rated Sleepy Hollow, Johnny Depp plays the intrepid Ichabod Crane. Christina Ricci, Michael Gambon, Miranda Richardson and Christopher Walken round out the cast.

The story is set in 1799. Ichabod is a policeman in New York City who believes in the power of forensics and reasoning to solve crimes. For his newfangled beliefs, he gets sent to creepy little Sleepy Hollow, where a headless horseman is running amok, cutting off the heads of the townsfolk.

Ichabod is sent to investigate the murders of three people. But, once he arrives, the headless horseman picks up the pace. (pause while I count) By the end of the film, some 17 people have been killed directly or indirectly as a result of the horseman's rampage. Of Sleepy Hollow's two most prominent families, only Christina Ricci survives the slaughter.

Overall review: Liked it. Even for director Tim Burton, who never lets a little blood get in the way of a good story, 17 bodies is a lot. There's even more blood as Ichabod emerges from an autopsy. The red blood stands in stark contrast to a set that is generally washed out and devoid of color. Add the usual terrific score from Danny Elfman, and Burton delivers a film that is interesting to hear and to see.