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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

JUNE 15, 1998: 

FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS. Hunter S. Thompson's semi-journalistic novel of panic, drugs, and despair makes the leap to the big screen in this good-intentioned adaptation by director Terry Gilliam. Gilliam struggles to translate Thompson's stream-of-consciousness, hallucinogen-addled prose into a series of coherent scenes with some success. Special effects are nicely used to simulate acid trips, and a loopy sense of time sends Duke (Johnny Depp) and Dr. Gonzo (Benecio Del Toro) sliding along the already surreal streets and casinos of old-time Vegas. Depp is pretty annoying as the cigarette chomping Raoul Duke, and Benecio Del Toro steals the show with his dark, menacing portrayal of a drug-crazed hippie fiend. A rampant, insider's sense of nostalgia for the sixties makes the story a little hard to "get" for those of us who don't share in the longing for the Summer of Love, but Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is still an entertaining ride that serves to remind us all that it's fun to watch people on drugs. --Richter

THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO. With genuine nostalgia edged with spite, filmmaker Whit Stillman (Barcelona, Metropolitan) chronicles the night life and loves of a group of budding Yuppies in the early 1980s. Chloe Sevigny plays Alice, a straight-talking innocent looking for fun. Kate Beckinsale is Charlotte, her conniving roommate. Together they charm half a dozen young men at a Studio 54-like nightclub in New York, without ever actually having a very good time. Whit Stillman's characters are funny, non-stop talkers who recite clever dialogue and seem to be interchangeable. They're entertaining, but they don't seem very authentic. They all keep saying how much "fun" the nightclub is, but it doesn't actually look like very much fun. The most notable thing about it is that characters can sit around talking all night, and they never have to shout over the music, and no one ever says what? Perhaps the amazing thing about The Last Days of Disco is that it does manage to evoke the spirit of the time, and to portray a group dynamic among friends, despite all the talking. --Richter

SIX DAYS, SEVEN NIGHTS. For our summer enjoyment, Six Days, Seven Nights allows us to relive the dimmer aspects of African Queen, and with pirates. Anne Heche plays a fashionable magazine editor stranded on an island with a daddy-esque Harrison Ford. She's a feisty talker; he's a tough man of action. They hate each other, then they love each other, and it's all shot in a lush vacation-porno setting. Anne Heche is adorable, and you can see through most of her shirts. Harrison Ford is a charming piece of aging beefcake, though if you remember what he looked like in the Star Wars era, it's hard not to feel like we're missing something. This is puréed entertainment, easily digestible.

WILD MAN BLUES. It's little surprise that Woody Allen, who uses his films to confess every sordid aspect of his personality (see Deconstructing Harry if you haven't figured this out yet), would be happy to let a famous documentary filmmaker (Barbara Kopple) into his private world--provided he had the right to OK the final cut, of course. And it's little surprise that Kopple's footage of Allen and his companion Soon-Yi Previn reveals a functional, if sorely isolated by fame and notoriety, relationship. So why bother to see this document of Woody's progress as his old-style New Orleans jazz band tours Europe? Good question. Despite occasional nuggets of amusement--like Woody's trademark kvetching or Soon-Yi's blithe admission that she hasn't seen Annie Hall, thought Interiors was "tedious," and best loves Manhattan (the one in which Woody dates a teenage Mariel Hemingway)--there's little to recommend this glorified home movie. Call it a portrait of an artist if you wish, but at this point Woody's well past his artistic prime, and his clarinet dilettantism, while sweetly impressive, hardly merits a full-length motion picture. --Woodruff

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