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 BABY GENIUSES. It's kind of like that 1970s diaper commercial where the babies talk about diaper rash. Except this time, it's two hours long and the babies aren't cute. That's right--the babies aren't cute, an unforgivable failure in a movie full of babies. The premise: Scientists have discovered that baby talk is actually a higher form of intelligence, which then dissipates after they learn to speak like adults. What this means is that all the babies seem like arrogant jerks and demon spawn. Can't root for that. Nor can you root for their adult adversaries, played by a who's-who of washed-up actors, including Kim Cattrall, Dom DeLuise, Christopher Lloyd and Kathleen Turner. (Remember her? Wasn't she great in Body Heat and Crimes of Passion? Wasn't that a long time ago?) Baby Geniuses was directed by Bob Clark, whose other credits include the timeless A Christmas Story and one of the top-10 worst movies ever made, Turk 182. Don't expect to see Baby Geniuses on TV during future holiday seasons. Whatever humor might have been found in the film's weird (and I do mean weird) storyline is suffocated by a tendency toward lame, lowbrow slapstick and overt references to the Baby Guess? line of babywear. I almost went to sleep on the stadium seats where I saw this turkey (gotta love them folding armrests); then I left early and snuck into the 100-percent talking-baby-free 8MM. It was just what the pediatrician ordered. --Woodruff

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

THE DEEP END OF THE OCEAN. Michelle Pfeiffer has a lot of veins in her head, and they're out in full force, bulging and pulsating to the violin on the musical score. She's in middle-class-mom mode as Beth, a woman who looks stunning in pastels and loses her 3-year-old son in a hotel. This affects her entire life and family, but more importantly, allows for the introduction of the inexplicable character of Candy Bliss (Whoopi Goldberg). The only black woman in an otherwise white world, Candy pops in and out as a cop who happens to be a lesbian. She's not just different from Beth and her husband Pat (Treat Williams), she's really different. She probably got high marks from the PC ratings board, but she still doesn't make any more sense than the enigmatic title. Anyway, people are sad, the boy is found, he eats some pizza and the family is restored. I can't wait for Deep End of the Ocean 2, where Beth, Pat and Candy go shopping at Wal-Mart.

8MM. The premise of an investigator hired to determine the authenticity of a snuff film is intriguing and full of potential. Unfortunately, this character drama revolves around an unsympathetic, two-dimensional protagonist and is told in a strikingly conventional manner. Tom (Nicolas Cage) is in almost every scene, yet we learn very little about him as he navigates a porn underworld in order to locate the makers of the film. Mostly he death marches through his investigation, occasionally grunting to his wife (Catherine Keener) on the phone or getting tours of XXX-rated flea markets from Truman Capote-reading skin trader Max (Joaquin Phoenix). And I don't know what director Joel Schumacher (St. Elmo's Fire, The Lost Boys) did to his star, but poor Cage was so very sleepy he could barely keep his eyes open during most of 8MM. Me, too. --Higgins

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

THE GENERAL. Director John Boorman made his name with the extremely effective and disturbing Deliverance. He went on to direct an extremely eclectic mix of films, from the bizarre Wizard of Oz/post-apocalyptic sci-fi fantasy Zardoz to the schmaltzy-sweet environmental film Emerald Forest, to the pagan retelling of the King Arthur legend in Excalibur. What all of these films had in common were vast, colorful and wide-open shots of seemingly magical outdoor scenery. The General is a complete about-face: black and white, with lots of closeup, claustrophobic cityscapes. Its engaging story is about the leader of a gang of Irish criminals whose elaborate plans for heists, holdups and obstructions of the criminal justice system are funny until they become tragic. This would be a perfect "small" film if it were only a little shorter; as it is Boorman succumbs to the current vogue for adding 30 minutes more film than necessary. Still, The General is a strong effort that adds a new wrinkle to an interesting career. --DiGiovanna

OCTOBER SKY. Here's a film about teens that doesn't have aliens, a serial killer, or even a prom queen election. (I know, I found it hard to relate to, too.) It tells the true story of Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his high school friends who strive to avert their coal-mining destinies. By experimenting with rocketry, they hope to win a science fair and solicit college scholarships. Most of the adults don't understand their struggle to leave the small town, especially Homer's black-lunged father (Chris Cooper). The maudlin music is obtrusive and the pacing uneven, but the story is generally engaging. It's set in the late 1950s, which in the film and television industries means an excuse to offer the female characters little development beyond cheerleader status. For some balance, follow October Sky by the tasty girl-centered Jawbreaker. --Higgins

OFFICE SPACE. Mike Judge's first non-animated feature makes an ideal, male-populated companion piece to the female-centered Clockwatchers. Like its prececessor, many of Office Space's laughs come from the thrill of seeing the banal frustrations of work life amplified larger than life--there's a hearty sense of release. Our hero, Ron Livingston (a cool young actor we'll likely be seeing a lot more of), is yet another desk drone workin' for the man at a cubicled company called Initech, which has an environment just real enough to believe and just cartoony enough to be hilarious. "The man" turns out to be Gary Cole (last seen as Mike Brady in The Brady Bunch Movie), easily the most hideous incarnation of a "polite" boss ever conceived. Office Space has a story similar to that episode of Seinfeld in which George Costanza decides to do everything the opposite of how he would normally do it--a darned funny episode, so we can forgive Mike Judge his easy plot. Not to mention that the smaller characters, like the computer programmer with a perpetual paper jam, generate enough interest to keep the movie alive even without a plot. Surprisingly, after twisted office logic has been successfully manipulated and anarchy satisfyingly reigns, Judge gets a pang of conscience and horseshoes the story back onto itself. Because it avoids condescending to its characters (something Clockwatchers could have learned from), Office Space's extra dose of reality works, leaving it far better than anyone could have expected from the creator of Beavis and Butthead. --Woodruff

200 CIGARETTES. Other than a strong performance by Courtney Love, there's nothing to recommend this calculated attempt to cash in on retro-'80s chic. Six stories of romance intertwine on New Year's Eve, 1981, in New York's trendy East Village. Oddly enough, all of the stories involve hot young stars, hip music, and MTV-inspired fashion. If only there were plots and dialogue to go with the clothing and faces, this would be a movie. As it is, it's a collection of publicity stills waiting for a script. --DiGiovanna

Special Screenings

WOMENVIEW. This series of films by and about women closes this weekend at The Screening Room, featuring The Righteous Babes and Honeymoon Moccasin. The Righteous Babes, from acclaimed filmmaker Pratibha Parmar, is a documentary offering a feminist exploration of the intersection of popular music, female recording artists in the '90s and modern women. Honeymoon Moccasin, an all-Native production, combines elements of melodrama, "whodunit," cable access and performance art in order to question conventions of ethnic and sexual identity. Show times are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 3 p.m. Sunday. The Screening Room is located at 127 E. Congress St. Call 622-2262 for more information.

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