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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

MARCH 9, 1998: 

CAUGHT UP. A wonderful surprise. I expected just another black gangster flick, but Caught Up turned out to be an exceedingly well-spun yarn that had far more in common with film noir and twisty mysteries than Menace II Society. Bokeem Woodbine stars as a tough, youngish ex-con who's determined to go straight and build himself a respectable life. That proves near impossible as the film keeps throwing strange, shady characters in his path, including criminals, mean cops and a sultry psychic played by the sexy Cynda Williams. The nothing-is-what-it-seems plot convolutes continuously from there, but it's well-sustained by a palpably surreal nighttime L.A. atmosphere, Bokeem's compelling intelligence and director Darin Scott's terse screenplay. Scott, who also wrote Tales From the Hood and Sprung, displays great skill at lacing standard genres (including the African-American morality tale) into a fresh-feeling whole; and though at times Caught Up heads way over the top, the storytelling remains solid. --Woodruff

DARK CITY. It's always dark in Dark City. So dark that the working titles for this film were Dark Empire and Dark World, so we can be assured of darkness. There are villains who wear outfits left over from Hellraiser, with make-up borrowed from Nosferatu, as they roam the back lot vacated after the shooting of City of Lost Children. Interiors from The Crow are peopled with characters out of Naked City, and an evil doctor who seems to have borrowed everything he owns from Terry Gilliam's prop closet. The story, dark as it is, moves along at a decent clip, except towards the end when the main characters get in the Boat of Expository Dialogue in order to discover the secret of the Dark City, and just why it's so damn dark there. A decent level of entertainment, though completely devoid of the originality that would've given it punch, there are still a few visual delights in this derivative sci-fi thriller. And it's so dark. So very, very dark. --DiGiovanna

KISSING A FOOL. This low-budget comedy with cute-guy substitutes David Schwimmer and Jason Lee is reasonably entertaining, reasonably funny, and reasonably moving. Basically, sleaze-ball sportscaster and cocksman Schwimmer finds love with the one woman (Mili Avital) who his sensitive and loving best friend Jason Lee could truly love, and she loves Schwimmer, but then realizes, no, she loves Lee, but then there's trouble, because even though Lee set her up with Schwimmer he did it because he loves her and couldn't express his love but then Schwimmer convinces Lee to try and bed Avital in order to test her love for Schwimmer but, quelle surprise, the plan backfires and Avital and Lee fall in love but then she finds out about the test and the love thing takes a downturn but the whole thing is told in flashback from a wedding so we know it all worked out for somebody but we don't know who. But we guess really quickly. Still, not an entirely unfunny film, if that's your romantic comedy bag. --DiGiovanna

KRIPPENDORF'S TRIBE. In Mr. Holland's Opus, Richard Dreyfuss reaffirmed the heroism of teaching and won himself a best-actor Oscar nomination in the process. Perhaps the good karma was just too much for the guy, because in Krippendorf's Tribe Dreyfuss plays a disorganized anthropologist who squanders his grant money and then pretends he's discovered a unique new culture in hopes of maintaining the cash flow. When colleagues demand evidence, Dreyfuss and his three kids dress up in the Papua New Guinea equivalent of blackface and film each other performing crude (in more ways than one) rituals in their back yard. Wouldn't you know it, further kooky comic hijinks ensue. There's a hint of social satire here on the level of "See? We're the really primitive ones," and Dreyfuss is somewhat sympathetic because, sniff, he's a single parent. But the movie's one offensive joke and sitcom-style wackiness get mighty painful mighty fast. That Dreyfuss, Lily Tomlin (as a skeptical academic) and Jenna Elfman (as an aggressively peppy love interest) try to reduce the agony via self-mocking exuberance didn't stop me from praying for their characters' swift and merciless demise. If there's one thing Krippendorf's Tribe teaches us, it's that when all else fails, you can always pick on the minorities who don't have access to movie theaters. --Woodruff

MA VIE EN ROSE. Ma Vie en Rose (My Life in Pink) is an original little movie from Belgium about a 7-year-old boy who's thoroughly convinced that he would rather be a girl. Ludovic's (Georges Du Fresne) cross-dressing antics are received with tolerance at first; but with time, parents school mates and neighbors learn to hate the tyke for being different. Filmed in bright, splashy colors, with a lot of ultra-femme dream sequences on the pink planet of a Barbie-esque character named Pam, Ma Vie en Rose has the sweet, harmless look of a store-bought birthday cake. This stands in stark contrast to the gritty disintegration of Ludovic's family, who find themselves buckling to peer pressure in the community. Though adults in the family get to change and grow, poor little Ludovic basically gets booted around through the whole thing, which is kind of hard to watch. --Richter

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