THE BIG HIT. Hong Kong director Che-Kirk Wong directed
this slam-bang action/comedy/parody slush, providing yet another
reason for ending our love affair with tongue-in-cheek violence.
Mark Wahlberg plays that new breed of comic hero, the Funny Hit-Man.
Hopelessly insecure and yet super-competent when it comes to killing,
Wahlberg's character is about as funny as a whimpering Doberman
that occasionally mauls babies. One minute he's cute and soft-spoken,
the next minute he's chopping off somebody's leg. --Woodruff
CITY OF ANGELS. Meg Ryan plays a doctor who operates on
human hearts, but is--oh so ironically--unsure of the nature of
her own. Nicolas Cage plays Seth, a creepy angel of God who falls
in love with her. Though reportedly inspired by Wim Wenders' wonderful
Wings of Desire, City of Angels has none of the
intelligence or charm of its predecessor. Instead, Cage follows
Ryan around Los Angeles in a late-eighties trench coat, striking
poses as though in an Aramis commercial. Who wants a guardian
angel if all he does is stare at you, and touch you all the time?
Not surprisingly, annoying drone/chant music is featured throughout.
HE GOT GAME. Spike Lee can't help himself--he's always
taking on the grand themes, with varying levels of success. Here,
he takes on The Game, i.e. Life, i.e. Basketball--and he scores!
We Got Game is a long, ambitious movie about the country's
best high-school basketball player negotiating the difficult terrain
of success. Somehow Lee pulls it all off with aplomb. His filmmaking
style is as fresh and wonderfully visual as ever, and the story
has some of the heart-stabbing tension of Hoop Dreams.
The score is by Aaron Copeland and Public Enemy--which gives some
indication of Lee's territorial range. --Richter
SLIDING DOORS. Suppose that at a crucial moment, your life
branched in two directions: In one, you become Gwyneth Paltrow
with a bad haircut, and have to support your cheating, lay-about
husband by working two jobs in the food service industry. In another,
you become Paltrow with a great haircut, and fall in love with
that cute guy who played "Matthew" in four weddings
and a funeral. Now imagine that every line of dialogue you and
everyone else utters sounds exactly like the way people really
talk, which is to say largely without wit or charm. Now imagine
that for 99 minutes. An eerie, disturbing experience, to say the
THE WINTER GUEST. This slow moving film follows four couples
through a largely uneventful day in an English coastal town. A
mother and her adult daughter walk the icy beaches arguing about
everything; two schoolboys smoke cigarettes and play with fire,
two elderly women attend a funeral, and a teenage girl taunts
and then falls in love with a teenage boy. Lensman Seamus McGarvey
has a sense of composition that could only be compared to John
Toland's. Each shot has the balance and sensitivity of an Ansel
Adams photograph, with objects interacting by virtue of shape
and position to produce pleasing geometries. Unfortunately, the
interactions of the characters are often much less interesting,
though the story of the teenagers finding love is compelling--if
frustratingly limited and interrupted by the other three scenarios.