Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Film Review: MILLIONS (1991, Carlo Vanzina)

Stars: 2 of 5.
Running Time: 105 minutes.
Tag-line: "Some people have it all... but they still want more."
Notable Cast or Crew: Billy Zane (THE PHANTOM, TALES FROM THE CRYPT: DEMON KNIGHT, TWIN PEAKS), Lauren Hutton (fashion model, AMERICAN GIGOLO, ONCE BITTEN), John Stockwell (MY SCIENCE PROJECT, CHRISTINE, TOP GUN), Carol Alt (fashion model, BEYOND JUSTICE), Jean Sorel (BELLE DU JOUR, THE DAY OF THE JACKAL), Alexandra Paul (CHRISTINE, 8 MILLION WAYS TO DIE), and Donald Pleasence (THE GREAT ESCAPE, HALLOWEEN, PRINCE OF DARKNESS, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK).
Best One-liner:  "You don't grasp the seriousness of the situation, Maurizio!"

The film is called MILLIONS.  It stars Billy Zane, an "Ama-Zane-ing" and much beloved actor on this site (particularly for his performance as "The Phantom" in SLAM EVIL).  It is a film largely about villas, yachts, comas, backstabbing, sports cars, and visible ass-crack; the typical preoccupations of low-rent Italo-Trash. It has perhaps the greatest quantity of "sleazy saxophone solos" ever to be confined to a 105 minute span.  Not to mention it's produced in part by corrupt, former Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi. These are just the facts, ma'am.

Yet I'm still not sure what I just experienced.  It feels like a made-for-TV movie, or maybe a few episodes of a soap opera strung together, but seems to have had a theatrical release.  It's written and directed by Italians with an all-Italian crew, but with a mostly British and American cast, many of whom are culled from John Carpenter (!) movies. So I suppose it's a "Spaghetti Soap" if we need to categorize, and an often unbearable one at that.  (Still, it's a helluva lot better than Danny Boyle's MILLIONS.)

Now allow me to take you on the experience, nay, the journey that is the "DVD of MILLIONS."  It begins with the disc art itself, which is obviously magnificent:

Pretty sure Zane doesn't wear that sweater in the movie.  Pretty sure I don't care.

Then we have the menu, which lets us know right off the bat that this movie is 95% sleazy saxophone solos and lesser-than-VHS-quality picture.


Once inside the film proper, the saxophone only intensifies, as does the "lifestyles of the rich and yuppie" imagery:






SEE!  Billy Zane acting in a variety of scenarios where his scene partner is a bottle of champagne!



BEHOLD!  The "Billy Zane Slow Simmer" turn into the "Billy Zane Full-On Smolder" as he cruises his cousin on the dancefloor while listening to knockoff Madonna and ersatz C+C Music Factory!



GAZE UPON!  Lauren Hutton, tricked into believing this is a Real Movie that requires Real Acting!


CONTEMPLATE! The mysteries of the ages––for instance, what's the most obnoxious yuppified item in this tableau: the pretentious modern art, the designer trench, or the oversized mobile phone?

Trick question––it's the unused gym-grade exercise equipment!

BEAR WITNESS! As Billy Zane's eyebrows steal the movie, like they did in TITANIC:


OBSERVE! A possibly kidnapped (or at least under duress) Donald Pleasence as he appears in a random scene.  Does John Carpenter know about this? 


You know, I'd hate to see the THEY LIVE sunglasses used on this movie:

AIEEE!  Figures it'd be something like this!

Whew.  And though the film is over, the journey continues.  On to the cast bios!

This is clearly one of the best DVD bios in the history of the genre.  Birth Date?  Under control.  Birth Place?  Got it.  Where he randomly attended high school for one out of his four years?  Check.  Er... what?  For those of you who can't read the small print, the full Zane biography is as follows:
"Billy Zane attended the American School in Switzerland for his sophomore year of high school.  Was originally cast as Johnny Castle in "DIRTY DANCING" (1987) but lost the role due to his lack of dancing skills."
There's no page two... that's it!  A high school attendance factoid that no one would care to know (unless you were unsuccessfully trying to guess Billy Zane's email password and were on the "security questions" page), and an anecdote about one time Billy Zane was not hired for something because he wasn't talented enough.  Thanks, DVD!

Finally, we come to the coup de grâce: the "Photo Gallery."

Set to music I would describe as "similar to the ALF or perhaps the FAMILY TIES closing credits," we are treated to a series of wholly unspectacular freeze frames in a slideshow format, projected upon the pixelated image of a hundred dollar bill.  It's the entire movie, without dialogue, condensed to a minute and a half of rockin' sax/house music, and bookended by images of Billy Zane in Full-On Smolder mode.  Needless to say, I approve.

You know what, I'm feeling generous: two stars.

–Sean Gill

4 comments:

J.D. Lafrance said...

Nice!

For full-on Zane-iness have you seen I Woke Up Early The Day I Died? I daresay it is Billy Zane at his most Zane-ist.

Okay, I'll stop now.

Sean Gill said...

J.D.,

I have not––but upon looking up its IMDb page and seeing all the glorious details for myself (Bud Cort? an unproduced Ed Wood script? Ron Perlman? No dialogue?), I clearly have to see how Ama-Zane-ing it is!

J.D. Lafrance said...

Just in case you hadn't checked, here it is: https://youtu.be/N07ZeiE9-O8

Sean Gill said...

J.D.,

Awesome––looking forward to seeing this!