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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

DECEMBER 22, 1997: 

AMISTAD. Sure, the story is important, but the movie's not. Though Steven Spielberg capably navigates the complex 19th-century politics that were preventing abolition, he fails to shape them into an effective drama. The tale's catalyst--a black mutiny aboard a slave ship on its way across the Atlantic--is powerfully, artfully rendered in scattered, flashback sequences. The rest of the movie, however, turns into a long, talky yawner full of courtroom scenes and endless exposition. And unlike Schindler's List, there's no central character to care about: Matthew McConaughy's quickly becomes irrelevant, Morgan Freeman's has little to do, and even Cinque (Djimon Hounsou), the African who led the revolt, is reduced to a banal noble-savage role. (Anthony Hopkins, playing John Quincy Adams, shows up just long enough to give a terrific speech--which John Williams manages to ruin with his intrusive, uninspired score.) Amistad vividly re-imagines history, but there's no heart; it's just a big-budget history lesson. --Woodruff


HOME ALONE 3. Sometimes, when awakened in the middle of the night, as if by an unpleasant dream, even though no dream is remembered, we will stare upwards, unable to move or to reach for the light or to make a sound, in spite of the darkness and the sense that something which is not frightening has in some way scared us. If the bed is otherwise empty, the house devoid of company, then there's no one to turn to for solace, no one to whom we can say, "I don't know what it is; nor could I explain it if I did know. I only know that what I am was felt to be in jeopardy, or perhaps beyond that, unredeemable, irretrievable, even undone and never made." On nights such as these, when even our souls threaten to abandon us, we can truly, and with deepest sensibility, say that we are Home Alone. So take the kids because this is a slam-bang adventure where a single, scrappy lad with Rube Goldberg's inventiveness and Errol Flynn's panache manages to repeatedly thwart, humiliate, and thrash the kookiest gang of international criminals this side of the IRA!!! --DiGiovanna


FOR RICHER OR POORER. A complete lack of effort marks this "film." The plot, about an obnoxious land developer and his stereotypical rich-bitch shopaholic wife, each redeemed by spending a couple of weeks with an Amish family, is almost too embarrassing to recount. Every element of this entertainment alternative is so trite that I can only imagine it was written by some kind of scriptwriting computer program which analyzed all of the mediocre comedies of the last 10 years and reduced them to their most banal moments. The only thing that stands out is Kirstie Alley's incredibly grating performance, which almost makes Tim Allen look good by comparison. Almost. While I was watching this, two audience members actually fell asleep, and a third left to rent a Pauly Shore film. --DiGiovanna


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