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MARCH 15, 1999: 

THE CORRUPTOR. Mark Wahlberg, sans prosthesis, and Chow Yun Fat, sans his usual charm, star in this extremely bloody buddy movie. Two officers, one white, one Chinese, must fight their way through a corrupt Chinatown that threatens to take their souls! Yawn. Lots of dead people, naked people, and dead naked people, and a car chase with the highest level of collateral damage (i.e. bullet-riddled pedestrians) make this a rather tasteless outing, but it might appeal to hardcore fans of blood, death, and Mark Wahlberg. --DiGiovanna

8MM. The premise of an investigator hired to determine the authenticity of a snuff film is intriguing and full of potential. Unfortunately, this character drama revolves around an unsympathetic, two-dimensional protagonist and is told in a strikingly conventional manner. Tom (Nicolas Cage) is in almost every scene, yet we learn very little about him as he navigates a porn underworld in order to locate the makers of the film. Mostly he death marches through his investigation, occasionally grunting to his wife (Catherine Keener) on the phone or getting tours of XXX-rated flea markets from Truman Capote-reading skin trader Max (Joaquin Phoenix). And I don't know what director Joel Schumacher (St. Elmo's Fire, The Lost Boys) did to his star, but poor Cage was so very sleepy he could barely keep his eyes open during most of 8MM. Me, too. --Higgins

THE GENERAL. Director John Boorman made his name with the extremely effective and disturbing Deliverance. He went on to direct an extremely eclectic mix of films, from the bizarre Wizard of Oz/post-apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy Zardoz to the schmaltzy-sweet environmental film Emerald Forest, to the pagan retelling of the King Arthur legend in Excalibur. What all of these films had in common were vast, colorful and wide-open shots of seemingly magical outdoor scenery. The General is a complete about-face: black and white, with lots of close up, claustrophobic cityscapes. Its engaging story is about the leader of a gang of Irish criminals whose elaborate plans for heists, hold ups and obstructions of the criminal justice system are funny until they become tragic. This would be a perfect "small" film if it were only a little shorter; as it is Boorman succumbs to the current vogue for adding 30 minutes more film than necessary. Still, The General is a strong effort that adds a new wrinkle to an interesting career. --DiGiovanna

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