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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

JUNE 1, 1999: 

THE LOVE LETTER. Releasing a film the same weekend as Star Wars might at first seem insane, but the folks at DreamWorks are smart enough to realize that older viewers and women are two huge audiences not targeted by the Lucas blockbuster. Hence, The Love Letter: a romance with 40-plus-aged characters and lots of women. Kate Capshaw plays Helen, a bookstore owner whose faith in love is restored when she receives an anonymous letter she believes is meant for her. The letter is then found by several other characters, who all interpret it according to their own emotional needs. This premise gets tiring quickly, the main character is unlikeable and the slow pace may make you wish you'd stopped for coffee before hitting the theater. At the same time, there are a number of elements that are just wacky or unexpected enough to be enjoyable: Ellen DeGeneres, playing an overly determined heterosexual, dispenses blunt sarcasm and practical one-liners; there's the all-too-rare H-wood circumstance of a woman (Helen) bedding someone half her age; a strange All-That-Heaven-Allows-inspired feminist character (Jennifer, played by Julianne Nicholson) spouts academic rhetoric; Tom Selleck tests his powers without his mustache; and an older lesbian couple anchors much of the story. --Polly Higgins

TREKKIES. Fans, especially those of the Star Trek television and film series, are often portrayed as freaks. Director/editor Roger Nygard, however, leaves any conclusion to individual viewers by offering a variety of footage from interviews, conventions and ST-based social gatherings. While stars such as Leonard Nimoy and Denise Crosby talk about their interactions with trekkies, we get a glimpse into the lives of fans such as a self-declared Spiner Femme (follower of Brent Spiner, a.k.a. Data); a couple that owns and operates Star Trek Dental (an office where employees dress in official garb amidst numerous toys and murals); and a high-school boy who writes scripts based on the characters, and collects paraphernalia. The overall theme stresses the multifaceted relationships that have developed around this phenomenon, as ST conventions, club meetings and fan-generated literature become unifying sites where people of all races, nationalities, ages and sexual persuasions partake in a unique cultural exchange. Since Paramount Pictures both owns the Star Trek franchise and released this film, you might expect a biased portrayal. Instead, this well-organized and often hilarious documentary offers substantial evidence as to the marketing genius behind supporting a phenomenon that not only reaches uncountable subcultures, but encourages fans to approach their passion with open wallets. --Polly Higgins

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