Film Clips

EVITA. It is not a musical, okay? It's an opera. It's an opera about a Fascist dictator of Argentina and his influential, wildly popular wife, Eva Perón. Madonna is quite charming as Eva, singing and dancing her way through pretty much every single scene of this movie with her doe-colored contacts and perpetual costume changes. The first half has the best numbers, but after about an hour everything loses steam. Madonna has long since gone blond, all of the best songs have been sung, and for the last hour we're treated to reprise after reprise. The adaptation from stage to screen seems to have gone a little less smoothly than we would have hoped, too. The film falls prey to visual repetition as well: In scene after scene, we see mobs of angry Argentineans, or happy Argentineans, take to the street, carrying placards. Over and over and over. Placard after placard. --Richter

FIERCE CREATURES. John Cleese and Michael Palin, refugees from the Monty Python comedy troupe, try to reprise the success of A Fish Called Wanda with mediocre results. Boob displays, bedroom farces and jokes that are visible from miles away dominate this fanciful plot about a zoo that must become profitable or else be closed. Too much of this movie seems to have been transported from old Benny Hill re-runs--Jamie Lee Curtis does nothing but stand around, looking stacked, while Kevin Kline seems to be in another movie, one where everyone yells. The animals are cute and there are some funny moments, but we expect more from the people who once brought us the Confuse-a-Cat sketch. --Richter

THE FUNERAL. Schlock-master Abel Ferrara does his best once again to blur the line between high art and kitsch in this reprise of the classic mobster movie. Christopher Walken plays a bad guy (or is he a good guy?) seeking vengeance for his brother Johnny's violent death. Through a whole bunch of flashbacks, we learn Johnny was a good kid (or was he really bad?) who cared for loose women and the working man. Ferrara and his writer, Nicholas St. John, are fascinated by the kind of moral and philosophical questions that plague most of us during adolescence, but without the conviction of youth. The characters like to muse about the nature of morality, then shoot holes in one another's chests. Still, there's something sickly fascinating about this very bad movie: The sex is weird and the production values are slightly off. It's as if it were made by space aliens. --Richter

JACKIE CHAN'S FIRST STRIKE. The newest Jackie Chan vehicle takes our Hong Kong hero from the frozen tundra of Russia to the sandy beaches of the Australian coast on a quest to recapture a nuclear warhead and kick ass. This time around, Chan does less of the ballet-inspired, choreographed fight scenes and more traditional stunt work: high-speed crashes on snowboards, hand-to-hand combat in shark-infested aquariums, and crashing expensive cars through solid objects. It's a little more James Bond and a little less Kung-fu theatre, but the result is, as always, thoroughly entertaining. --Wadsworth

MARVIN'S ROOM. This blatant tear-jerker features the highest number of sick and dying characters for your movie dollar. Marvin (Hume Cronyn), the father of two daughters, has been incapacitated for 20 years after suffering a stroke. The good daughter who cares for him, Bessie (Diane Keaton) comes down with leukemia and must bring her long-lost sister's family down to Florida to determine if any of them are suitable bone marrow donors. (Why they don't have the test done by their family doctor at home remains a mystery.) Meryl Streep, accent and all, plays the hard-nosed sister with a problem son, Hank (Leonardo DiCaprio). The illness proves to be redemptive, the family grows closer together, Streep and Keaton act their hearts out; the only ray of originality and light comes from DiCaprio, who gives a flawless, natural rendition of a bad boy with a heart that could hold a candle to any performance by James Dean. --Richter

MOTHER. Albert Brook's latest film about a second-rate writer suffering a midlife crisis leaves the impression of being...well...sadly autobiographical. Following his second divorce, John (Brooks) leaves L.A. to move back in with his hypercritical mother in order to figure out why his relationships with women always end in disaster. Equal parts amusing and excruciating to watch, this self-indulgent sojourn in suburbia is certainly no Defending Your Life. Although he strikes certain aspects of the mother-child relationship with hilarious accuracy, the movie's attempts to take itself seriously invariably end with dramatic scenes that are at best sophomoric and at worst--like the last 10 minutes--flat-out embarrassing. Debbie Reynolds is wonderful as Mother (Laura Weeks? Who the hell is Laura Weeks?); but brothers Brooks and Rob Morrow, and their annoying characters, should seek professional help. Mother is an odd movie. My companion summed it up best: You'll spend the better part of two hours laughing, then leave the theater saying, "That sucked." --Wadsworth

THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT. Milos Forman brings the infamous publisher of Hustler magazine to the big screen in this stylish, revisionist look at the life and times of the famously offensive man. Woody Harrelson makes an impish, likable Flynt, blending backwoods crudeness and little-boy charm with a crusader's lust for adult entertainment; and Courtney Love is even better as his overdressed, junkie wife. Together they take on Jerry Falwell, the Supreme Court, and the good taste of millions of Americans in this very funny, entertaining movie. --Richter

SHINE. A wonderful, uplifting movie about a child prodigy who is damaged, then saved, by his art. Based on the true life of pianist David Helfgott, Shine weaves together scenes from his extremely lousy childhood and his very eccentric adulthood. Geoffrey Rush is terrific as Helfgott, a man who's a mass of neurotic habits and annoying tics, but who can create beautiful music as well. Occasionally director Scott Hicks is a little too direct in his method--you can see certain events coming miles off, and he occasionally veers into the forbidden realm of sentimentality--but on the whole Shine is visually unusual and fresh. --Richter

TURBULENCE. This movie does for scheming-serial-killer-on-airplane flicks what Jaws IV did for scheming-shark-in-the-Bahamas flicks, with at least as much panache. A tiresome Ray Liotta and Lauren Holly showpiece, it gives its audience about a smidgen more than they might have expected: glitzy special effects, perky Holly in her skimpy airline-regulation negligée, suave and cunning Liotta throwing out feeble one-liners, and many, many plot holes. (For example, the flight is for about a dozen people, yet the airline utilizes a 747; at a loss of, say, about 600 seats, it's no wonder so many of them are filing for Chapter 11). There are many wincing moments during the course of the film, including Liotta's touching explanation of his craft: "First I started with squirrels and birds, then I moved on to cats and women." If you're still jonesing for the genre after Turbulence, you still have the soon-to-be-released Con Air to look forward to. We lead a charmed life. --Marchant

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