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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

APRIL 5, 1999: 

THE BRANDON TEENA STORY. Everyone should see this documentary, as it's not only an engaging story, but an enlightening look at the middle of America. The titular Brandon Teena was a young woman who lived as a man. Her Midwestern friends and neighbors didn't take kindly to this deceit, and when they found out that he was a she, two of them beat and raped her on Christmas Eve, then murdered her on New Year's eve. What's most horrifying and eye-opening in this film are the similarities in attitude between the police officer who first investigated the case and the murderers. Both have yokel-like incomprehension of Brandon's life, and both blame her for the violence that was directed against her. The documentary is mostly a series of interviews and images from the arid Nebraska plains where Teena was murdered, presenting the story in a detailed and cinematic style. --DiGiovanna


ED TV. A 34-year-old loser accepts an offer from a failing cable company to have his life broadcast 24-7. Though there are some good jabs at the loss of privacy occasioned by modern media, the plot gets muddied in a trite and sexist romance story. Bonus: Director Richie Cunningham casts his old pal Ralph Malph in a throw-away charity role! Sadly, Potsie and the Fonz couldn't make it. --DiGiovanna


FORCES OF NATURE. The Hollywood star system often inspires bizarre experiments by studio executives determined to test our strength as consumers of popular culture. Actors are shuffled around in the hope that an uber-couple will be found, a pairing so strong that viewers will not be able to keep away. We are unwilling witnesses to this search, one so desperate that here it brought Sandra Bullock and Ben Affleck together for 90 minutes of chemical imbalance and charisma deficiency. Bullock works within her usual star persona as Sarah, the plucky, irresistible gal pal who's out for fun and maybe just a little bit more. Affleck works within his nonexistent star persona as Ben, that very bland guy next door who's best quality is good dental hygiene. These two are kept together by tumultuous weather and a mutual love of 24-hour shopping, and this causes Ben to question his love for fiancée Bridget (Maura Tierney). Since the truly happy conclusion would involve Sarah and Ben dying in a horrible natural disaster, the actual ending, with all its coupling, kissing and mugging, is bittersweet at best.--Higgins


MOD SQUAD. Claire Danes has the coolest nose. Like, she has this sculpted, fashion-model face, but her nose has this wildly bulbous ending. I pray to God she never gets a nose job, as watching her enrapturing proboscis is what made this movie bearable. It's a remake of the '70s TV series about three teenagers who work as undercover cops. In this version, their mentor is killed and they must avenge his death. Things are enlivened by some really trite dialogue and surprisingly good performances by Danes, Giovanni Ribisi and Omar Epps as fellow Squad members, and a groan-inducingly bad performance by Dennis Farina as their chief.
--DiGiovanna


NEVER BEEN KISSED. What an unexpected Beverly Hills, 90210 reunion! David Arquette (remember Diesel, the girlfriend-beating keyboard player?), Cress Williams (a.k.a. D'Shawn Hardell, token minority/basketball player/fan of Donna Martin), and Jeremy Jordan (teen Vanilla Ice, on the 90210 soundtrack album) team up for Never Been Kissed, 60610: the Chicago years! In the midst of all this fun is the woman once rumored to be Shannen Doherty's replacement, Drew Barrymore. This week's topic has to do with self-love. Poor awkward Josi (Barrymore), a mid-20s copy editor for the Chicago Tribune, gets a writing assignment to go undercover as a high-school senior and find the real scoop on teens. Josi is unable to approach the story objectively because she was tormented throughout her secondary education as the class geek, and she has frequent flashbacks that make her vomit. She confronts her demons with the help of her brother Rob (Arquette), and finally finds self-confidence through the acceptance of the popular kids, including the dreamy Guy (Jordan)--Higgins


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