Film Clips

ANALYZE THIS. It's the impossibly tough-willed dramatic actor versus the fast-talking, lightweight comedian in this tale of a New York mobster who hires an unwilling therapist. In the former role, Robert DeNiro both makes fun of and pays homage to some of his most famous roles, including those in The Godfather, Part II and Goodfellas. What's great about DeNiro is that he is never merely winking at the audience; he's still seriously acting, even while being funny. This keeps the tension taut, creating an environment in which Billy Crystal's sometimes annoying brand of squirmy humor can thrive. They're a terrific comic mismatch, and director-writer Harold Ramis (a favorite from the days of SCTV) smartly allows them to play off each other as frequently as possible. When Analyze This does lag, it's because Ramis actually seems to be taking the therapeutic scenes seriously--a predisposition he no doubt picked up from his direction of the strangely good Stuart Saves His Family. The film also benefits from the supporting efforts of Joe Viterelli, a fat, bad-skinned henchman who's tough enough to be menacing but not too tough to say the word "poop." --Woodruff

Film Clips 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

CENTRAL STATION. Rarely will you see an actress in her late 60s star opposite a young boy, but that's exactly the odd couple that drives this thought-provoking Brazilian film. Dora, a retired schoolteacher, teams up with Josué, a recent orphan, to try to find the boy's natural father. Their journey takes place largely on a bus ride, where they lose all of their money chasing after Josué's ideal of his parent. The ordinariness of these characters and how they handle their crises is compelling and well told through visual details such as drab clothing and bleak surroundings, and narratively via slow pacing and an overall lack of drama. If you're up for a chuckle, save Central Station for another day; it's a slice-of-life tale that's best enjoyed when you have the patience and energy to sympathize with imperfect yet resonant characters who struggle within modest destinies.--Higgins

THE CORRUPTOR. Mark Wahlberg, sans prosthesis, and Chow Yun Fat, sans his usual charm, star in this extremely bloody buddy movie. Two officers, one white, one Chinese, must fight their way through a corrupt Chinatown that threatens to take their souls! Yawn. Lots of dead people, and naked people, and dead naked people, and a car chase with the highest level of collateral damage (i.e. bullet-riddled pedestrians) in any film make this a rather tasteless outing, but it might appeal to hardcore fans of blood, death, and Mark Wahlberg. --DiGiovanna

CRUEL INTENTIONS. Studio executives, worried that Keanu Reeves is getting a little long in the tooth, have been searching for an extremely wooden cute-guy actor-type to replace him in the hearts and loins of American youth. With Cruel Intentions, robotic sex-toy Ryan Phillippe has shown he's got the stuff. He plays the comically evil Valmont in this modern day, prep-school remake of Dangerous Liasons. Not to be missed are Sarah Michelle Gellar's Joan Collins impression as Valmont's evil and licentious sister, and Selma Blair (of TV's Zoe, Duncan, Jack and Jane) as the coming-of-age kiddie seduced and abused by the evil siblings. Cruel Intentions has surpassed Showgirls as the best sleazefest on film, with more than enough pretentiously funny dialogue, scenes of teens in bed, and over-the-top ham acting to keep you entertained for its zippy 90-minute run.--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.

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

THE RAGE: CARRIE 2. A very '90s version of the Stephen King/Brian DePalma horror classic. This time, instead of a mousy Christian girl, the outcast with the super-powers is a hot little Goth chick who takes no guff. Oddly, she still seems excited to be dating the star football player. Other than its use of standard teen film clichés, and the rapidly-becoming-cliché image of the Girl Power lead character, The Rage: Carrie 2 is a pretty decent B-movie, in the Boy-Meet-Girl, Boy-Loses-Girl, Girl-Uses-Her-Psychic-Powers-To-Mutilate-And-Dismember-Her-High-School-Classmates mode. --DiGiovanna

RUSHMORE. A very sophisticated comedy with the trappings of a teen film, Rushmore is the strange story of a love triangle involving Max, a 15-year-old boy (newcomer Jason Schwartzman), Rosemary, a 30-year-old woman (Olivia Williams) and Herman, a 50-year-old man (Bill Murray). Murray is fabulous as the sleazy, irritable and pathetic millionaire Herman Blume, but Schwartzman's performance as Max is every bit as good. Max is editor of the school newspaper and yearbook; president of the French club, German club, chess club, and astronomy club; captain of the fencing and debate teams; founder of the Double-Team Dodgeball Society; and director of the Max Fischer Players, and Schwartzman gives him the compelling air of an immature underachiever. Rushmore is easily the best comedy of the last year, so show your disdain for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (who failed to give Rushmore even a single Oscar nomination) by going to see it three or four times, and then write them a letter reminding them that they've given the best picture Oscar to Platoon, Forrest Gump, Braveheart and Titanic, so where do they get off? --DiGiovanna

TRUE CRIME. Dear Mr. Clint Eastwood: You do not look sexy lounging around half-naked while making bedroom eyes at women young enough to be your granddaughters. Please, please stop it this instant. And this story you directed, where a reporter takes one day to solve a crime that legions of lawyers and police officers have been working on for 20 years, is not only trite but unbelievable. And your turn as the drunken, womanizing reporter whose heart is in the right place has been done before, and better, by William Holden, Kirk Douglas, and about a dozen other actors from the '50s. Only they weren't so cocky as to think that audiences would believe that they were getting in bed with 20-year-olds when they were in their 70s. So just stop before anyone has to see your flabby nipples again. --DiGiovanna

WING COMMANDER. In a tremendous waste of talent, Tchéky Karyo, David Suchet and David Warner, who all have the good fortune to have been born in countries where spending millions on a movie adapted from a video game would be considered a bit gauche, are tossed into outer space for this multi-million dollar movie that's based on a video game. Like a video game, there's lots of explosions, you don't have any interest in the characters, and dialogue is not exactly the most important element. Unfortunately, even as a shoot-'em-up Wing Commander fails, as the outer space scenes are poorly lit, and it's always difficult to tell who's shooting at who. The scary space aliens are also rather lame, looking like burly guys with immobile, rubber, kitten faces. I guess the big draw for Wing Commander was supposed to be teen heartthrob Freddie Prinze Jr., who's claim to fame is that he's a bit cuter than his father and doesn't have an insatiable appetite for cocaine. There's also a surprisingly decent (i.e. not horrifyingly bad) performance by Mathew Lillard, who was annoying in Scream, Scream 2, She's All That and, I'm guessing, in person. But Wing Commander's biggest sin is that it's dull. If the future is going to be this boring, I'm canceling my membership at the Cryogenic Institute of Greater Metropolitan Tucson. --DiGiovanna

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