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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

APRIL 3, 2000: 

ALL ABOUT MY MOTHER. Spain's most famous filmmaker, writer/director Pedro Almodovar, returns to the screen with his least surreal and most humane attempt to capture the complex absurdities of the female universe. Actress Cecilia Roth is a bereaved mother who returns to Barcelona to discover the identity of her son's father, only to initiate an unforeseen and uniquely interrelated series of events. Rich character development, masterful dialog (even with English subtitles) and an intelligently skewed visual and narrative perspective make this one of the year's most interestingly un-American films--a trait recognized in last week's Academy Awards, where it took honors for Best Foreign Language Flick. While today's Oscar is often damnable praise, save your scorn for the cult of American Beauty: What glitters in Almodovar is indeed gold. -- Wadsworth

THE CUP. This joint Bhutanese/Australian premiere is a cinematic gem. A comedy set in a Tibetan monastery-in-exile in India, 1998, its focal point is young student Orygen (played with charismatic swagger by Jamyang Lodro), a lightning rod for the monks' clandestine obsession with professional soccer. Writer/director Kyentese Norbu (acknowledged in Buddhist circles as the reincarnation of 19th-century Tibetan saint Jamyang Khentse Wangpo) offers a colorful insider's perspective on the sacred and profane aspects of monastic life, including a humorously Zen view of national politics and World Cup soccer. Within the anecdotal attempts of Orygen and co-conspirators to catch the World Cup finals on television, The Cup captures with disarming and simple detail the bittersweet existence of refugees safe from physical harm but nonetheless struggling in a cultural and historic limbo. Based on true events and filmed on location in a Buddhist monastery, it's a sweet, philosophical tale that's as funny as it is profound. -- Wadsworth

ERIN BROCKOVICH. Steven Soderbergh directs this based-on-a-true-story about a personal injury lawyer and fallen beauty queen, the unlikely legal team to stumble across the most lucrative toxic tort case in U.S. history. Julia Roberts and Albert Finney star as Brockovich and attorney Ed Masry, who represent the small, desert town of Hinkley, California, against monolithic utility Pacific Gas and Electric. Exactly 10 years after her Pretty Woman debut, Roberts returns to the screen with the same makeup and wardrobe, augmented by three small children, a Hell's Angel boyfriend with a heart of gold, and a finely honed sense of outrage for all powers-that-be. "She brought a small town to its feet, and a huge corporation to its knees," the poster reads. This romantic fight for truth and justice may be a box-office hit nationally, but it's sure to flop down the Cali coast in Avila Beach, where a post-Hinkley Brockovich and Masry blew in like ambulance chasers in 1996 after the disastrous Unocal oil spill, conflating fears and charming hundreds of clients with Brockovich's trademark cleavage. Their trumped-up charges were trounced in court, leaving Masry to a hasty retreat with 50-percent of his clients' property damage settlements. Oops. Motto for the sequel: "Hero today, pawn tomorrow"? -- Wadsworth

FINAL DESTINATION. The premise of this thriller is that high-school French student Alex Browning (Devon Sawa) wakes up one day clairvoyant and cursed with a reverse death wish that starts killing off his friends one by one. After sparing his classmates from a Paris-bound plane that explodes minutes after take off, his efforts to thwart fate land him in a high-octane web of paranoid psychosis, spurred on by grim-faced FBI agents. Which just goes to show you, kids: take Spanish. -- Wadsworth

HERE ON EARTH. The birch trees of Minnesota stand in for the Berkshires in this first-love drama starring American Pie's Chris Klein, alliterative teen beaut Leelee Sobieski (Never Been Kissed, Eyes Wide Shut), and Josh Hartnett (star of Sofia Coppola's The Virgin Suicides, which opened with critical acclaim at Cannes and Sundance). After a fateful drag race leaves a local diner in ruins, rival bad boys Klein and Hartnett are sentenced to a summer of community service and competitive courting in small-town America. We haven't seen how it ends, so follow your instincts: if you bet by names, the producers are "Friendly" and "Downer." -- Wadsworth

WHATEVER IT TAKES. The suggestive tagline of this teen romantic comedy is, "How low will they go to get the girls of their dreams?" True to its high-school subjects, the answer is "all the wrong places." With just four weeks until "graduation," social outsider Ryan (Shane West) and dumb jock Chris (James Franco) enter into a double-Cyrano scheme of romantic deception to woo the objects, and we do mean objects, of their desire (played by Jodi Lyn O'Keefe and Marla Sokoloff). Disaster ensues, and life lessons are learned. Well, some. Others, ostensibly, await the "higher" education of college life. -- Wadsworth

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