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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

MARCH 8, 1999: 

JAWBREAKER. An 87-minute rock video, replete with teenage girls in skin-tight clothes, hot cars, cute boys and a prom scene. Or maybe it's a parable for the image-over-substance, ends-justify-the-means, murder-with-a-smile Reagan administration and the society of shallowness and hypocrisy that it fed upon and encouraged. Or maybe it's just a collection of scenes from Heathers and Carrie strung together over a throbbing rock soundtrack. Or maybe not. --DiGiovanna

OFFICE SPACE. Mike Judge's first non-animated feature makes an ideal, male-populated companion piece to the female-centered Clockwatchers. Like its prececessor, many of Office Space's laughs come from the thrill of seeing the banal frustrations of work life amplified larger than life--there's a hearty sense of release. Our hero, Ron Livingston (a cool young actor we'll likely be seeing a lot more of), is yet another desk drone workin' for the man at a cubicled company called Initech, which has an environment just real enough to believe and just cartoony enough to be hilarious. "The man" turns out to be Gary Cole (last seen as Mike Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie), easily the most hideous incarnation of a "polite" boss ever conceived. Office Space has a story similar to that episode of Seinfeld in which George Costanza decides to do everything the opposite of how he would normally do it--a darned funny episode, so we can forgive Mike Judge his easy plot. Not to mention that the smaller characters, like the computer programmer with a perpetual paper jam, generate enough interest to keep the movie alive even without a plot. Surprisingly, after twisted office logic has been successfully manipulated and anarchy satisfyingly reigns, Judge gets a pang of conscience and horseshoes the story back onto itself. Because it avoids condescending to its characters (something Clockwatchers could have learned from), Office Space's extra dose of reality works, leaving it far better than anyone could have expected from the creator of Beavis and Butthead. --Woodruff

THE OTHER SISTER. A mentally retarded woman (Juliette Lewis) tries to liberate herself from her emotionally retarded, overprotective WASP of a rich mother (Diane Keaton). Well, that's what it's supposed to be about; but in spite of having legitimate concerns, Keaton's character is just too bitchy to be sympathetic. Casting Tom Skerritt as her nobly whipped husband, and giving Keaton a lesbian daughter whom she refuses to accept, pretty well stacks the deck against her. The Other Sister is really only about laughing and "awww"-ing at the sweet, childlike antics of the mentally retarded. Lewis plays the cutest, most well-adjusted and capable retarded person in the world, and she falls in wuv with Giovanni Ribisi, who is apparently the only other 'tard in San Francisco, and also a cutie. The movie turns surreal as these two fit, attractive, intelligent actors take turns grunting at each other for two hours. (As a reviewer on NPR said, The Other Sister makes retarded people seem like really fun pets.) Technically, Lewis' performance is amazing, but you can only take so much accomplished fakery before the twinkly eyes and bad enunciation send your senses into space. This may be the role Lewis was born to play, but that's not necessarily a compliment. After inhabiting semi-retarded characters in previous films (Cape Fear, Kalifornia), the arc of her career suggests that a Broadway production called Retard! The Musical is just around the corner. --Woodruff

VELVET GOLDMINE. Most teenagers, whether they recognize it or not, are sexually empowered by the rock stars they're into. Todd Haynes (Superstar, Poison, Safe) offers an incredibly fun and thought-provoking look at the seemingly superficial era of glitter rock from just such a personal perspective by examining the careers of the Iggy Pop-ish Curt Wild (Ewan McGregor) and David Bowie-like Brian Slade (Jonathan Rhys-Meyers) via gay-curious Arthur (Christian Bale). As usual, the director uses a number of stylistic devices, such as voice-overs, fantasy sequences and amazing costumes, to create an otherworldly realm that is nonetheless incredibly tangible. Haynes calls this film a "valentine" to glam rock, and it certainly looks tenderly at a time when androgyny, high heels and all things pretty led to questions about sexual identity and a lot of great music. Put on your platforms and vinyl and go see Velvet Goldmine before you lose the chance to see it on a big screen; it's definitely one of the year's best. --Higgins


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