Film Clips

BLACK MASK. None of our reviewers had a chance to see this Hong Kong action flick, so we pulled this review off an internet fan site. It's by Ralf Herzel of Moormerland, Germany:

Film Clips "Summary: One of the greatest HK-Action Movies! The story deals about his old friends. But there is one problem, the friends are superfighters! The film is filled with blood, super action and the best stunts forever. And Lau Ching-Wan is a great Co-actor. Of course the movie has the typical HK-Fun. But I love it! In Germany, Black Mask is uncut!" --Thanks, Ralf!

CHILDREN OF HEAVEN. In spite of the fact that the U.S. sponsored a bloody coup in their country in the 1960s, Iran still sends us much better films than we deserve to watch. This latest from director Majid Majidi is a quintessentially Iranian film, focusing on the small tensions in daily life and giving them a sense of urgency and universality. Young Ali loses his sister Zahra's shoes, and must engage in a difficult series of trade-offs that bring the siblings closer together. Sparse use of music, unnaturally apt acting by the child-stars, and a strong sense of rhythm make this a deeply engaging film. --DiGiovanna

ELECTION. I've never really agreed with universal participatory democracy, because so much of the electorate is ill-informed and their votes are easily manipulated by demagogues and heartlessly ambitious power-mongers. (That's why I just let Tucson Weekly editor Jim Nintzel pick my votes for me...he's well informed and has no ambition. I call it Nintzelocracy.) Commenting on this, Election takes all the worst traits of American politics and squeezes them into a high school full of immature teens, which is pretty much what American politics looks like to the rest of the world anyway. Director Alexander Payne's sharp eye for satire makes Election the funniest, and one of the smartest, films so far this year. --DiGiovanna

EXISTENZ. This may be Cronenberg's best film, and makes up for his misfire on Crash. The story involves a virtual-reality video game, wherein the players play a virtual-reality video game, wherein the players play a virtual-reality video game. Take that, Will Shakespeare, with your little play-within-a-play motif! All the technology in this surreal sci-fi is fleshy, like the video game consoles that are made of organic parts from mutated amphibians, and the anus-like "ports" in the player's spines through which they jack into the games, and a gun made of frog parts that shoots human teeth. Then there's the most disgusting lunch buffet ever filmed. And some bizarre and compelling dialogue, with weird and chilling performances that mesh neatly with the story's inherent lost reality. eXistenZ is sexy, slimy and so refreshingly creative that it's ultimately like nothing you've ever seen. Its 97 minutes zip by so fast you'll want to see it again just to make sure it was real. --DiGiovanna

GOODBYE LOVER. For a couple of weeks, various strange people have been asking me if I'm married. No, I'm not married, but only because Patricia Arquette's personal secretary won't give her my letters and phone messages. In Goodbye Lover, Arquette cements her reputation as one of the finest actors of the American theatre by engaging in Nazi leather sex with Don Johnson and a jar of pitted olives. This film about murder, double indemnity and double crosses works as well as any film noir--if you're willing to swallow the few far-fetched plot twists it gives back with lots of sleazy action. A big bonus is Ellen Degeneres, who's hilarious as the cynical police detective investigating a murder and occasionally putting Arquette into a series of aesthetically pleasing bondage poses. And any movie that includes the line "fuck me like a little Republican" deserves our national gratitude. --DiGiovanna

LIFE. The Shawshank Redemption meets Stir Crazy in this decades-spanning prison comedy. Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence play a couple of buffoons who get framed for murder in the Deep South. Their incarceration carries them from the Prohibition Era into modern times, and director Ted Demme takes the opportunity to mix social observation (it'd be a stretch to call it "commentary") into the story. This includes surprisingly well-shaded views of racism. Mostly, though, Life provides Murphy and Lawrence with scattered opportunities for comic riffing. Murphy does his funniest, most free-spirited work in years, and Lawrence makes a likable straight man. It's a shame the movie is so aimless, but a sloppy Life is worth a dozen tight Dr. Dolittles. --Woodruff

LOST AND FOUND. This David Spade comedy is a mixed bag. On the plus side is David Spade, who delivers a series of cruel and yet self-deprecating one-liners that are almost always funny. On the other is the over-worked story of the guy who engages in stalker-like behavior in order to win a woman whose only appealing characteristic is her extreme beauty. The role of Extreme Beauty is played by Sophie Marceau, who's extremely good at looking beautiful. She won the Cesar Award (the French Oscar) for "Most Looking-Beautiful Woman-Type Creature" (that's a roughly literal translation). She plays the romantic comedy version of the ideal girlfriend: she's hot, she speaks French, and she's willing to date assholes. If the movie was just Sophie Marceau being painfully fly and David Spade being painfully funny it'd be a four-star knock-out, but unfortunately there's also a plot about a missing diamond ring, a pile of dog poop, a struggling businessman who's willing to act zany to get a loan, and, of course, the romantic pleasures of lying, stalking, and felony breaking and entering. --DiGiovanna

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM. Local punk rock star Greg Petix told me that there's always one woman whom you cannot openly admire without pissing off every other woman in the country. Currently, that woman is Calista Flockhart, who I must say, turns in a fabulous performance in A Midsummer Night's Dream. She has a clear mastery of the language, and is the only actor in the production who emphasizes the iambic pentameter without sounding artificial. Kevin Kline is also outstanding, as are Stanley Tucci as Puck and Rupert Evert as Oberon. Unfortunately, Michelle Pfeiffer as Titania sounds like a non-native speaker attempting to phonetically sound-out the script; but there are enough strong performances here to make her insignificant. This is good stuff for Shakespeare lovers, but the difficult dialogue may be off-putting to those who prefer Shakespeare in Love to the real material. --DiGiovanna

THE MUMMY. When the female lead spouts dialogue like "we've lost everything...our tools, our horses, and all of my clothes!" you know you're watching a classy film. The Mummy is the story of Imhotep, an ancient Egyptian priest who gives his life for love. Three thousand years later, he's accidentally resurrected by capitalist/colonialist grave robbers Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. In spite of the fact that Imhotep is the only character in the film who stands for anything besides plundering the treasures of other cultures, he's supposed to be the villain. Me, I just wanted him to kill Weisz, Fraser and their entire posse of white-ass imperialist war criminals. Bonus: this movie contains the most stupid and offensive stereotypes of Arabs that I've seen in a Hollywood film in the last 25 years, which can be considered quite an accomplishment given Tinsel Town's insensitivity on this subject. I'd rather you threw your $7.50 in the sewer than spent it on this racist and predictable pabulum. --DiGiovanna

TRIPPIN'. This is without a doubt the most original film I've ever encountered: see, there's this high school boy, and he's something of an "outsider." Oddly enough, he falls in love with the most beautiful and popular girl in the school! Of course, the viewer assumes that he'll never get with her...but wait, he develops a plan, a scheme, a "plot," if you will, which wins her heart! So okay, he has the girl, so the movie is over, right? Wrong! It turns out that his "plot" involved some deception...and in a completely unexpected "plot twist," the girl finds out about this deception...right before the prom!!! Thus, he must attend the prom alone. I won't tell you if he makes a heartfelt speech about what a terrible mistake he made, and if that speech (shockingly and most unexpectedly!) wins back his beloved, but let's just say that that's just the kind of storytelling that you can expect from the wildly titled Trippin' ! --DiGiovanna

STAR WARS: EPISODE 1--THE PHANTOM MENACE. This movie is just like real life for a museum tour guide: the dialogue sucks and there's no plot, but it's full of pretty things to look at. --DiGiovanna

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