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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

FEBRUARY 23, 1999: 

BLAST FROM THE PAST. It's October 1962, and the Webbers (Christopher Walken and Sissy Spacek) think a nuclear war has started. Just as they enter their bomb shelter, Mrs. Webber gives birth to a boy. Oddly enough, 35 years later that boy has become Brendan Fraser, who really doesn't even look old enough to be Brendan Fraser's age (30). So he rises to the surface world where he is mistaken for the son of God. Now, Fraser is cute, really cute, but not quite Jesus cute, so at this point the movie starts to strain its credibility. Nonetheless, he bumbles about with the help of Alicia Silverstone (remember her from those Aerosmith videos?), learning about all the zany stuff that's happened since the Kennedy administration, like cheap sex and Internet porn. Then more craziness ensues. Because it's a comedy. --DiGiovanna

CENTRAL STATION. Rarely will you see an actress in her late 60s star opposite a young boy, but that's exactly the odd couple that drives this thought-provoking Brazilian film. Dora, a retired schoolteacher, teams up with JosuÈ, a recent orphan, to try to find the boy's natural father. Their journey takes place largely on a bus ride, where they lose all of their money chasing after JosuÈ's ideal of his parent. The ordinariness of these characters and how they handle their crises is compelling and well told through visual details such as drab clothing and bleak surroundings, and narratively via slow pacing and an overall lack of drama. If you're up for a chuckle, save Central Station for another day; it's a slice-of-life tale that's best enjoyed when you have the patience and energy to sympathize with imperfect yet resonant characters who struggle within modest destinies.--Higgins

HILARY AND JACKIE. The true story (well, this is widely disputed, but at least the putatively true story) of Hilary and Jackie Du PrÈ, two sisters whose lives seem like a PBS docudrama. Both were promising musicians, but Hilary decided to settle down and raise a family while Jackie went off on a globe-hopping tour of classical music superstardom. Of course, the family-oriented sister has a quiet, happy and fulfilling life, while the famous sister is incessantly unsatisfied and must come to a tragic end. Still, a very original directorial style saves this from being a simple cautionary tale, and makes for some aesthetically appealing, if downbeat, cinema. --DiGiovanna

PAYBACK. Mel Gibson plays a man who's so bad he actually rips the nose ring out of a tatooed, dreadlocked hipster's nostril. That's the kind of thing that's so evil that even people who are just appalled by the tag-along conformism of nose rings would never have recurring fantasies about doing it to the next mindless alterna-pop fan they see, so there's no satisfaction in watching it. Then Mel beats up and/or kills lots of other people, all for a measly $70,000 (US dollars, not that worthless Canadian crap). I mean, sure, maybe you'd want to shoot William Devane and James Coburn and Kris Kristofferson for $130,000, but $70,000? You'd have to be really bad to do that. Then there's more killings and beatings and sadistic torture, broken up by Mel's mushy protestations of love for Maria Bello, who's so darn pretty I guess she's worth killing for. Okay, I have to admit I enjoyed this movie, and I don't feel bad about it, but I do feel bad about not feeling bad about it. (I told a friend that this film features Ally McBeal star Lucy Liu in a leather bikini, and he said, "Oh, you mean it's a good movie.") --DiGiovanna

RUSHMORE. A very sophisticated comedy with the trappings of a teen film, Rushmore is the strange story of a love triangle involving Max, a 15-year-old boy (newcomer Jason Schwartzman), Rosemary, a 30-year-old woman (Olivia Williams) and Herman, a 50-year-old man (Bill Murray). Murray is fabulous as the sleazy, irritable and pathetic millionaire Herman Blume, but Schwartzman's performance as Max is every bit as good, producing the best comic pairing since Meryl Streep and Al Pacino teamed up in the remake of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Max is editor of the school newspaper and yearbook; president of the French club, German club, chess club, and astronomy club; captain of the fencing and debate teams; founder of the Double-Team Dodgeball Society; and director of the Max Fischer Players, and Schwartzman gives him the compelling air of an immature underachiever. Rushmore is easily the best comedy of the last year, so show your disdain for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (who failed to give Rushmore even a single Oscar nomination) by going to see it three or four times, and then write them a letter reminding them that they've given the best picture Oscar to Platoon, Forrest Gump, Braveheart and Titanic, so where do they get off? --DiGiovanna

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