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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

MARCH 29, 1999: 

ANALYZE THIS. It's the impossibly tough-willed dramatic actor versus the fast-talking, lightweight comedian in this tale of a New York mobster who hires an unwilling therapist. In the former role, Robert DeNiro both makes fun of and pays homage to some of his most famous roles, including those in The Godfather, Part II and Goodfellas. What's great about DeNiro is that he is never merely winking at the audience; he's still seriously acting, even while being funny. This keeps the tension taut, creating an environment in which Billy Crystal's sometimes-annoying brand of squirmy humor can thrive. They're a terrific comic mismatch, and director-writer Harold Ramis (a favorite from the days of SCTV) smartly allows them to play off each other as frequently as possible. When Analyze This does lag, it's because Ramis actually seems to be taking the therapeutic scenes seriously--a predisposition he no doubt picked up from his direction of the strangely good Stuart Saves His Family. The film also benefits from the supporting efforts of Joe Viterelli, a fat, bad-skinned henchman who's tough enough to be menacing but not too tough to say the word "poop." --Woodruff

CRUEL INTENTIONS. Studio executives, worried that Keanu Reeves is getting a little long in the tooth, have been searching for an extremely wooden cute-guy actor-type to replace him in the hearts and loins of American youth. With Cruel Intentions, robotic sex-toy Ryan Phillippe has shown he's got the stuff. He plays the comically evil Valmont in this modern day, prep-school remake of Dangerous Liasons. Not to be missed are Sarah Michelle Gellar's Joan Collins impression as Valmont's evil and licentious sister, and Selma Blair (of TV's Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane) as the coming-of-age kiddie seduced and abused by the evil siblings. Cruel Intentions has surpassed Showgirls as the best sleazefest on film, with more than enough pretentiously funny dialogue, scenes of teens in bed, and over-the-top ham acting to keep you entertained for its zippy 90-minute run. --DiGiovanna

LOCK, STOCK AND TWO SMOKING BARRELS. This is one fellowdrama where the characters thankfully don't whine about relationships gone awry. In fact, women are pretty much absent from this world, which is certainly preferable to creating female characters for scenery or to deflect attention from possible homoerotic situations. The enjoyably convoluted plot revolves around Eddie (Nick Moran) and his need to come up with 500,000 pounds to pay off a gambling debt. Various thugs start stealing money from one another, and Eddie and his three buddies attempt to be the dough's final recipients. The dialogue is the weakest link here, as this British film relies heavily upon the word fuck as a substitute for character-revealing, thought-provoking conversation. But Lock, Stock is noteworthy and satisfying largely in its privileging of style over story; saturated colors, camera technique and an obtrusive soundtrack create a fun tone that vacillates between porn and music video. Confrontations between the criminal factions offer the money shots of ejaculatory gunfire and plunging knives, and several sequences harmonize image with sound in a manner reminiscent of such soundtrack films as A Hard Day's Night.--Higgins

THE RAGE: CARRIE 2. A very '90s version of the Stephen King/Brian DePalma horror classic. This time, instead of a mousy Christian girl, the outcast with the super-powers is a hot little Goth chick who takes no guff. Oddly, she still seems excited to be dating the star football player. Other than its use of standard teen film clichés, and the rapidly-becoming-cliché image of the Girl Power lead character, The Rage: Carrie 2 is a pretty decent B-movie, in the Boy-Meet-Girl, Boy-Loses-Girl, Girl-Uses-Her-Psychic-Powers-To-Mutilate-And-Dismember-Her-High-School-Classmates mode. --DiGiovanna

RAVENOUS. An extended metaphor about Manifest Destiny, Ravenous tells the story of a survivor from the Donner Party who gains supernatural strength from eating humans. Beautiful photography and a very unusual, unpredictable story make this worth watching. However, the gore and violence are pretty extreme, so it's certainly not for the squeamish. Features an extremely well-integrated score written in collaboration by minimalist composer Michael Nyman and Blur frontman Damon Albarn. --DiGiovanna

TRUE CRIME. Dear Mr. Clint Eastwood: You do not look sexy lounging around half-naked while making bedroom eyes at women young enough to be your granddaughters. Please, please stop it this instant. And this story you directed, where a reporter takes one day to solve a crime that legions of lawyers and police officers have been working on for 20 years, is not only trite but unbelievable. And your turn as the drunken, womanizing reporter whose heart is in the right place has been done before, and better, by William Holden, Kirk Douglas, and about a dozen other actors from the '50s. Only they weren't so cocky as to think that audiences would believe that they were getting in bed with 20-year-olds when they were in their 70s. So just stop before anyone has to see your flabby nipples again. --DiGiovanna

20 DATES. This film, a fake documentary about a man going on 20 dates, reminded me of my single days. I brought my wife, Connie, with me, and as we left the theater I told her that I had experienced many of the same heady conundrums as Myles, the main character, who's search for love is interrupted by the financial realities of finishing his film with the backing of Russian gangsters. Connie looked at me funny. "You related to Myles? He was such an asshole! How could anyone stand him? He's one of those guys whose nasty humor seems funny at first, then as you get used to it, it just becomes trying! The last hour of that film was excruciating!" "Yeah," I said, "but the first half-hour was funny...." "You know," she said, "that is like being with you." Then she left me. So I guess this is one of those films that can really open your eyes to what's important in life. Oh, Connie! --DiGiovanna

WALK ON THE MOON. I just love New York Jewish culture, and nothing is more N.Y. Jewish than a summer in the Catskills, the low-rent vacation area in up-state New York that brought us "Borsht Belt" humor and tiny lakes with paddle boats for rent. I also love period pieces, if they get the clothes and hair exactly right. And I love actors Liev Shrieber, Viggo Mortensen and Diane Lane. So I couldn't help but love this story about a family whose vacation in the Catskills in the summer of 1968 brings their conservative, working-class lifestyle into contact with the Woodstock music festival. Every element is perfectly 1968, from the over-sprayed coifs to the stiff, brightly colored blouses and the free-flowing and dirty style of the neighboring hippies. And the acting is, of course, spot-on. And there's a charming and heartbreaking love story. And pretty people getting naked in the woods. And latkes and matzoh and schmaltz. Oh my. --DiGiovanna

WING COMMANDER. In a tremendous waste of talent, Tchéky Karyo, David Suchet and David Warner, who all have the good fortune to have been born in countries where spending millions on a movie adapted from a video game would be considered a bit gauche, are tossed into outer space for this multi-million dollar movie that's based on a video game. Like a video game, there're lots of explosions, you don't have any interest in the characters, and dialogue is not exactly the most important element. Unfortunately, even as a shoot-'em-up Wing Commander fails, as the outer space scenes are poorly lit, and it's always difficult to tell who's shooting at who. The scary space aliens are also rather lame, looking like burly guys with immobile, rubber, kitten faces. I guess the big draw for Wing Commander was supposed to be teen heartthrob Freddie Prinze Jr., who's claim to fame is that he's a bit cuter than his father and doesn't have an insatiable appetite for cocaine. There's also a surprisingly decent (i.e. not horrifyingly bad) performance by Matthew Lillard, who was annoying in Scream, Scream 2, She's All That and, I'm guessing, in person. But Wing Commander's biggest sin is that it's dull. If the future is going to be this boring, I'm canceling my membership at the Cryogenic Institute of Greater Metropolitan Tucson. --DiGiovanna

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