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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

MARCH 30, 1998: 

FIRE. This wonderful movie deals with such a touchy subject matter that the director, Deepa Mehta, was threatened by male audience members after it was screened in India. Indian women have received it much more enthusiastically. The film tells the tale of two unhappy wives living in an extended middle-class family in New Delhi. One is newly wed to a philandering boor; the other is stuck in a sexless, arranged marriage. They're suffocated by the weight of their traditional roles and by the nagging concept of purity, until they find liberation through their erotic affair with one another. --Richter

MR. NICE GUY. In a stunning departure from his previous films, Jackie Chan plays a martial artist who must fight vicious criminals. He is aided in this pursuit by Gabrielle Fitzpatrick, who mysteriously drops out of the film about halfway through and is never seen again. But Mr. Nice Guy isn't about consistency of plot, character and setting, but rather about Chan doing things that could get him seriously injured. As usual, after the story ends the audience is treated to the outtakes wherein Chan actually is injured. There's nothing funnier than seeing a guy get his butt stuck in a garbage can--and then not be able to get it out!!! I think this is the first time that Chan has had to speak in English throughout a film, and he does an admirable job of acting like he knows what he's saying. Maybe he could give Ethan Hawke a lesson. --DiGiovanna

OSCAR & LUCINDA. I used to think movies like this were over my head, but now I realize they're just ineptly conceived and flatly directed. Unless you've read the Peter Carey novel, you'll have no idea what Oscar & Lucinda is supposed to mean or why you should care--picturesque cinematography and Oscar-nominated costumes notwithstanding. Made in Australia and set in the late 19th century, this loooong drama follows the lives of Ralph Fiennes, a timid, sickly religious student with a bad gambling habit; and Cate Blanchett, an eccentric heiress who's obsessed with glass and also gambles. They're too repressed or otherwise quirky to act on their love for each other, so Fiennes runs off to the jungle so he can deliver a glass church to a man Blanchett used to like. The whole experience is very PBS; Fiennes, with blowzy orange hair and a red-cheeked, womanly face, is even the spitting image of Lady Elaine Fairchild from Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. At any moment I thought some twirpy volunteer might break in and ask for a pledge, and let me tell you, it would have been a welcome relief. --Woodruff

TWILIGHT. This film noir project seems to have been started in 1955, when characters had names like Gloria Lamar and L.A. was full of dangerous broads who would kill to keep their reputations clean. Suddenly, the cast and crew fell asleep à la Rip Van Winkle, and woke up 40 years later, skin sagging and hair graying, but knowing that they must finish what they started. The only modification made to the script in response to this time warp is the scene where Paul Newman and James Garner discuss their prostate glands. Reese Witherspoon, sporting newly enhanced breasts, and Liev Schrieber, also with new breasts, are brought in as fresh blood to nourish the aging cast and crew. Schrieber bleeds real good, too. Real good. --DiGiovanna

U.S. MARSHALS. In Hollywood, if a sequel only brings back half of the original's stars, it's called a "spin off." If it brings back half the original's stars and none of its suspense, it's called U.S. Marshals. Tommy Lee Jones stars as the same squinty, no-bullshit character he played in The Fugitive. But because Harrison Ford was busy working on a movie about a president armed only with a bullwhip who commandeers a spacecraft in order to save an Amish community from IRA assassins, now Wesley Snipes is the dude on the run. As for poor Jones, he tries hard, but needs more to work with than the jumble of suitcase trades, gun switches and likable- good- guys- who- look- like- Judge- Reinhold- so- you- know- they're- dead- meat that the film supplies. As a result, U.S. Marshals maintains the peculiar distinction of being impossible to follow yet completely predictable. --Woodruff

WILD THINGS. Denise Richards makes her sophomore appearance here, and she is a marvel of modern science. Luckily, she didn't have the star power to demand a "no nude scenes" clause in her contract like box-office draw/no-talent Neve Campbell, so you can really get a good look at all the scalpel marks on her surgically enhanced body. There's also some plain-old lesbian sex between Richards and Campbell, shots of Theresa Russell's butt, and, I think, a plot. It has something to do with a teacher being framed for rape so that he can sue someone and split the proceeds with everyone who's in on the scam, which turns out to be just about everyone in southern Florida. Since there's no suspense or tension, the task of keeping the audience interested is handed over to the barely-legal sex and Bill Murray's comic-relief role as a sleazy lawyer in a phony neck-brace. Murray steals the show, but he's only in a few scenes; and unless you think Kevin Bacon's (admittedly impressive) penis is worth the $7.50 admission, this might not be your best movie value. --DiGiovanna

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