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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

FEBRUARY 2, 1998: 

PHANTOMS. For a relatively low-budget horror movie with no ideas of its own, Phantoms is mildly entertaining for a while. Director Joe Chappelle fills as much of the film as he can with basic scenes wherein characters hear strange sounds and go looking to see what caused them. When this spookiness wears thin, he brings in Peter O'Toole as a wizened archaeologist-turned-tabloid writer. But much more than charisma is needed, so the film gruesomely kills off deputy Liev Schreiber just to bring him back as an evil, mutilated being who sings "I Fall To Pieces" at every opportunity. When that gets old, the Dean Koontz story veers from Satanic to scientific and a bogus last-minute plot emerges, leading to several cheesy special-effects scenes reminiscent of The Thing and The Blob mixed together in a blender with some sludge. The boring Ben Affleck, Joanna Going and Rose McGowan (Scream's doggie-door girl) also star. Unfortunately, they survive. --Woodruff


SPIKE AND MIKE'S SICK AND TWISTED FESTIVAL. Suggested alternate titles for this collection of perverse 'toons: Spike and Mike's Festival of Animation for People with Serious Ass Fetishes; or We Think Cartoons Involving Fart Noises Are Funny, How 'Bout You? Animated Things That Bleed, Curse, Have Sex, Commit Violent Acts, and Randomly Spout Insults. Spoofs of Japanese Animation Can Be Witty and Fun, Particularly When They Include Nudity and Car Crashes. This Ain't No Feminist Animation Festival! The We-Know-You're-Here-For-Two-Hours-of-Animation, But-We-Don't-Actually-Have-That-Much-Material Festival (intermission and moronic introductions included, free of charge). Some Cynical and Funny Animation, Some Mildly Amusing Animation, and Some Truly Disgusting Animation. And finally, The South-Park-Is-Hip-So-We-Can-Get-Away-With-Charging-Seven-Bucks Animation Festival. --McKay


TAXI DRIVER. Robert DeNiro has some bad ideas in his head in this Martin Scorcese masterpiece. Its script, by Paul Schrader, is poetic enough to commit to memory; the acting, by DeNiro and Peter Boyle, is seamless; and the story moves insistently without succumbing to the Hollywood desire for meaningless action. The subtle Bernard Herrmann score eschews the conceit of producing tension with intrusive music and provides an eerie counterpoint to the sociopathic world of a New York taxi driver who moves inexorably towards an explosive expression of anomie. It's also a good chance to see Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepherd and Harvey Keitel before they became insufferable. Without a doubt one of the best American films ever made. --DiGiovanna


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