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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

MARCH 16, 1998: 

THE BIG LEBOWSKI. The latest comedy from the Coen brothers never really comes together as a whole; but the texture of it, as it spills across the screen, is funny, strange and wonderful. Jeff Bridges plays a type-B personality called the Dude, a chronically unemployed pot smoker dedicated to nothing except his bowling buddies, and bowling itself. A case of mistaken identity leads the Dude into some uncool, high-stress situations: kidnapping, gunplay, robbery, and the like. All this seems like an excuse to introduce a palette of oddball characters from the California spectrum. The Coen brothers have a great time concocting visual subplots and dream sequences that reference everything from Busby Berkeley musicals to spaghetti westerns to detective films, but they give their most loving attention to the bowling sequences. Who knew bowling was such a photogenic sport? --Richter

THE BORROWERS. One thing The Borrowers don't need to "borrow" is good old-fashioned fun! That's because in this movie, they "borrow" their way right into your heart! In fact, The Borrowers "borrowed" my attention for the full one-and-a-half hours of their delightful film! No doubt they'll need to "borrow" a cart to bring home their Oscar! Now I know what you're thinking: neither a borrower nor a lender be. But forget about that, 'cause here's one set of "borrowers" who promptly return what they've borrowed -- in the form of entertainment! So beg, steal, or "borrow" a ticket to The Borrowers as soon as you can! You won't regret it! --Rex Siegel

DANGEROUS BEAUTY. This is why we love Hollywood! Dangerous Beauty mixes the crass and melodramatic with the lofty and noble, extruding trashy entertainment that's wildly enjoyable, even if it does leave you feeling used and guilty. Catherine McCormack plays Veronica Franco, a courtesan plying her wares in a strange version of 16th century Venice where everybody speaks English and appears in soft focus. Oh well, whatever--she's a plucky one, and her plain speaking, bawdy intelligence eventually charms most of the Venetian ruling class, including hunky Marco Venier (Rufus Sewell), who risks it all to be her boyfriend. Dangerous Beauty transplants progressive '90s sexual politics to the repressive 16th century, where uneducated wives were kept safely inside but courtesans read whatever they liked and had the run of the place. Veronica's pleas for independence, sexual equality, and erotic freedom resonate across the centuries, making her far more spicy than any 20th century spice girl. --Richter

HUSH. Jessica Lange does an over-the-top crazy lady in the most predictable film since The Ten Commandments. In what is one of the oddest decisions a director has ever made, most of the action in this film occurred 20 years prior to its start, and instead of showing it in flashbacks, it's all told in dialogue. It's as close to radio as a movie can get. On top of that, instead of following the normal thriller formula of tossing in plot twists, maguffins and false scares, everything is precisely what it seems to be and the story--what little there is of it--just heads straight to its obvious conclusion. After what would normally have been the scene right before the murdering mother goes psycho, I turned to my movie companion and said, "Wouldn't it be funny if it ended right here?" And then it did. It ended right there. And nobody got hurt. --DiGiovanna

TWILIGHT. This film noir project seems to have been started in 1955, when characters had names like Gloria Lamar and L.A. was full of dangerous broads who would kill to keep their reputations clean. Suddenly, the cast and crew fell asleep à la Rip Van Winkle, and woke up 40 years later, skin sagging and hair graying, but knowing that they must finish what they started. The only modification made to the script in response to this time warp is the scene where Paul Newman and James Garner discuss their prostate glands. Reese Witherspoon, sporting newly enhanced breasts, and Liev Schrieber, also with new breasts, are brought in as fresh blood to nourish the aging cast and crew. Schrieber bleeds real good, too. Real good. --DiGiovanna

U.S. MARSHALS. In Hollywood, if a sequel only brings back half of the original's stars, it's called a "spin off." If it brings back half the original's stars and none of its suspense, it's called U.S. Marshals. Tommy Lee Jones stars as the same squinty, no-bullshit character he played in The Fugitive. But because Harrison Ford was busy working on a movie about a president armed only with a bullwhip who commandeers a spacecraft in order to save an Amish community from IRA assassins, now Wesley Snipes is the dude on the run. After a big, noisy plane crash, Snipes escapes and soon enters the Phonebooth of Expository Dialogue, where we learn: (1) He's innocent; (2) he has top-secret info and is wanted dead; and (3) he's not nearly as fun to root for as Ford. Then Robert Downey, Jr. shows up as a federal agent with no sense of humor, and you know what that means--he's the dreaded two-armed man! As for poor Jones, he tries hard, but needs more to work with than the jumble of suitcase trades, gun switches and likable- good- guys- who- look- like- Judge- Reinhold- so- you- know- they're- dead- meat that the film supplies. As a result, U.S. Marshals maintains the peculiar distinction of being impossible to follow yet completely predictable. --Woodruff

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