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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

JULY 6, 1998: 

GONE WITH THE WIND. While it may seem confusing at first why a film that doesn't star John Travolta is in re-release, it all makes perfect sense when you consider the long-movie madness that's afflicted Hollywood in recent years. (Anybody wish they had the three-and-a-half hours they wasted at Titanic back?) So it was only a matter of time until the four-hour, 1939 Gone with the Wind was recycled. It's a brand-new Technicolor print, but you can thank Ted Turner for less-than-spectacular results. Just in case you're very young or have been living with Nell your whole life, this epic film follows the Civil War-era adventures of feisty southern belle Scarlett O'Hara (Vivien Leigh) and the fall of her family's aristocratic empire. But, not to worry: Bourgeois bliss is restored as Scarlett discovers the economic advantages of a well-researched marriage. The man who tries hardest to tame this unruly entrepreneur is the fabulously dressed Rhett Butler (Clark Gable) and his arsenal of pomade--though he's more successful at trimming his mustache and killing children. A note to parents: The film's "G" rating is not reflective of its horrendously stereotyped black characters; narrative support of drunken marital rape (which sure puts a skip back into Miss Scarlett's step); and Gable's creepy capped teeth. At the very least, we can take comfort in the fact that Hollywood is ecologically minded. My only hope is that a director's cut of Travolta's full-length exercise video, Perfect, is similarly pulled out of the recycling bin sometime soon. --Polly Higgins

HAV PLENTY. Christopher Scott Cherot wrote, directed, and stars in this exceedingly inconsequential romantic comedy. Based on a "true story," the film follows Lee Plenty (Cherot) during a New Year's Eve weekend he spent in Washington, D.C., with a high-society female friend named Havilland (Hav Plenty--get it?). We watch as Plenty, a struggling book writer, resists the advances of Hav's friend and sister, all the while holding out for Hav, who's too self-absorbed to realize she loves him back. The picture has the dry staginess and spotty performances of a low-budget first feature, with absolutely nothing resembling good comic rhythm; but the characters slowly grow on you, and their specific situation becomes amusing--if not actually romantic--for its smartly detailed observation. Great movie-within-a-movie ending. --Woodruff

HIGH ART. "High melodrama" would be a more apt description of this ambitious but annoying soap opera by first-time director Lisa Cholodenko. Radha Mitchell plays Syd, a twenty-something Manhattanite stuck in a boring heterosexual relationship. When her ceiling starts to leak she goes to meet the Bohemian upstairs neighbor, Lucy Berliner (Ally Sheedy), a heroine-snorting lesbian. Syd seems to have no choice but to fall for Lucy, given the boringness of her job and the one-dimensionality of her boyfriend. It's a walk on the wild side, but a predictable one. Cholodenko has a good eye and the cinematography is appropriately lush, but rather than being beautiful, it just makes it all seem pretentious. --Richter

JUNK MAIL. The postman subgenre is back yet again with this Norwegian film about a voyeuristic mail carrier named Roy. The protagonist's life is a simple one structured by a daily routine of committing mail-related felonies, such as hoarding junk mail and reading other people's letters, until he becomes obsessed with a Frosted Flakes fetishist named Line. Line seems like a quiet, perfectly objectifiable woman until Roy discovers, after sneaking into her apartment to eat soggy leftovers of the aforementioned sugared cereal, that her felony of choice is robbery. This is okay by Peeping Roy, though, because he gets to prove he has the strength of Tony the Tiger by saving her from a suicide attempt and from her temperamental cohort Georg. The film's blues and grays create an appropriately dull backdrop for its protagonist; and the cramped spaces and off-balance minor characters contribute to an understanding of his mental state. Though the story seems aimless at times, it does provide one possible answer to what your mail carrier is smiling about. --Polly Higgins

OUT OF SIGHT. In the hierarchy of adaptations based on Elmore Leonard books, this one ranks up there with Get Shorty. The direction (by Steven Soderbergh, of Sex, Lies and Videotape fame) expresses the Leonard style perfectly, nudging humor out of naturalistic dialogue and displaying a whimsically carefree attitude about matters of life and death without letting all the steam out of the story. George Clooney, as a bank robber, and Jennifer Lopez, as his police pursuer, make an extremely good-looking couple; and their two verbal tennis matches (one in a car's trunk, the other in a hotel) are the film's sexual-spark-filled highlights. The smoothly developing romantic mood begins in sunny Miami and ends in snowy nighttime Detroit, so even if you see Out of Sight during the middle of the day you might walk out expecting a cool, dark sky. A standout supporting cast includes Albert Brooks, Catherine Keener, Ving Rhames, Get Shorty alumnus Dennis Farina and a couple of uncredited surprises. --Woodruff

THE X-FILES. Help! I can't get that whistling theme music out of my head! That's just one of many reasons to avoid the movie version of The X-Files. On TV, the X-Files successfully exploited the conspiratorial secrets and creepy things lurking in the dark shadows, but the bright light of big-movie translation reveals them as rather cheap. Although the film delivers more special effects and a broader geographic scope, all the promised Big Answers turn out to be big nonsense, and the relationship between agents Mulder and Scully remains teasingly chaste (not to mention stiff). Plus, the plot takes too many asinine steps, from Mulder's easy discovery of a bomb in a building tastelessly similar to the one destroyed in Oklahoma, to his quick recovery from a point-blank gunshot wound to the head. The truth may be out there, but these aren't the sorts of truths about which The X-Files is supposed to leave you wondering. --Woodruff

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