Film Clips

ABSOLUTE POWER. Clint Eastwood stars and directs this thriller about an aging, master thief hoping to pull off one last, spectacular heist before retiring for good. His plans are botched, however, when he discovers the wife of the wealthy businessman he hopes to rob is having an affair with none other than the President of the United States himself. Murder, intrigue, and conflicts of interest ensue. With Ed Harris, Melora Hardin, E.G. Marshall and Gene Hackman as The President. --Richter

BLOOD AND WINE. Bob Rafelson, the director of Five Easy Pieces, teams up with Jack Nicholson to once again probe the dark side of human existence. A cheesy and familiar action script dilutes any true sense of inquiry, and there's an insufferable, Oedipal subplot thrown in just to make sure the audience feels good and insulted. Nicholson plays Alex Gates, a greedy, aging wine merchant who's inexplicably alluring to a hot, gorgeous Cuban girl half his age (Jennifer Lopez). There's a wife, a son, a diamond necklace, a car crash, and Michael Caine, hacking up pieces of lung, overacting as usual. --Richter

DANTE'S PEAK. It's man versus nature in this disaster movie about a small town nestled beneath a rumbling volcano in the Northern Cascades. The interests of developers clash with the predictions of seismologists as the townspeople waste time, debating the dangers of the percolating peak. Liquefied rock, steam, and clouds of pumice and ash are the real stars in this inferno of special effects, though Pierce Brosnan also stars as the scientist who tries to warn the townspeople of impending doom and Linda Hamilton plays the Mayor who falls in love with him. --Richter

DONNIE BRASCO. Zesty Italian mobsters shoot, hack and smash each other to smithereens one more time in this reprise of the Mafia flick. There's nothing new here, but if you're a fan of the mobster drama, this one's entirely passable. Johnny Depp, that pretty, pretty man, is really quite good as Donnie Brasco (a.k.a. Joe Pistone), an undercover agent burrowing deep into the structure of the Brooklyn (or is it Queens?) Mafia. His special gangster friend is Al Pacino, an aging, rat-like professional killer who somehow elicits more love and loyalty from Brasco than his adorable daughters and hot-fox wife. The sweeping themes of loyalty, honor, manhood, and manly death seem to aim for some sort of marriage of the worlds of Shakespeare and John Wayne; but Brasco lacks sincerity and originality and really only succeeds in invoking other, better, gangster movies. --Marchant

LOST HIGHWAY. It's another weird David Lynch movie designed to make you feel like merely a visitor in your own body. Bill Pullman and Patricia Arquette star as a typical yet completely unfamiliar version of the film noir couple--he's depressed and suspicious, she's beautiful and furtive. They stare at each other, pacing around their '70s ranch house, waiting for something bad to happen. Eventually, it does. Things only get stranger from there. It's as if Lynch took Dostoyevsky's The Double, added a whole bunch of references to '40s films, cut it up and pasted it back together, all while drinking gallons of espresso. I like it! --Richter

MICROCOSMOS. Microcosmos, a nearly wordless film of close-up shots of insects, seems to have been conceived under the influence of Roger Dean record covers and wimpy 1970s fusion rock. Clearly, those who are most stoned will most enjoy the "hey-we-have-a-macroscopic-lens-let's-shoot-some-bugs!" randomness of this movie. Plotlessly moving from one tiny drama to another, the filmmakers hope to keep the audience's attention solely through the power of images. Unfortunately, even at its short, 80-minute run, this tactic grows wearying. Worse still is the Moody Blues-inspired monologue that Kristen Scott Thomas reads at the opening and close of the film. Go see it only under the influence of a recently rediscovered bag of dope you forgot you stashed in your Yessongs album during a toke-fest in 1978. --DiGiovanna

ROSEWOOD. In the early 1920s, a small, prosperous black-owned and -operated town was brutally wiped out by an angry mob of whites from next door. This true story, which only came to light recently when the few remaining survivors finally broke their silence, would seem a powerful statement of prejudice and mob-rule hatred against well-adjusted, self-empowered African Americans. But in the hands of director John Singleton, it instead descends disappointingly into vacuous, hokey Hollywoodism. There are moments, especially in the first half, of anxiety and outrage, and credible acting from Ving Rhames and Jon Voight, among others; but Singleton and his screenwriters veer wildly from known accounts in order to make the film "marketable," mixing in elements of westerns, after-school special sermonizing, and unlikely (however welcome) moments of good fortune on which the actual survivors almost certainly could not have counted. Care and effort have been put into this film. It's a shame Singleton was unable to trust the material to stand on its own. --Marchant

SLING BLADE. A movie that's both grim and oddly feel-good, this low-key, independent production has a terrific script and an even better cast. Billy Bob Thorton plays Karl, a man who, as a child, murdered two people with a big knife; 17 years later he's "well," according to the state institution where he's been warehoused, and is summarily ejected into the big, wide world. He meets up with kind strangers, including a little boy (Lucas Black), who adopts him like a lost puppy and takes him home to live in his mother's garage. The mother's boyfriend (Dwight Yoakam) is a prick, though, and soon Karl finds himself in the middle of a domestic drama that seems to remind him of his own twisted childhood. Sharp, understated performances from J.T. Walsh (who's really

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