Weekly Wire
Tucson Weekly Film Clips

MAY 10, 1999: 

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. -- James DiGiovanna

FOOLISH. Sometimes I think it would be fun to go to a movie without knowing anything about it. Sometimes I think it would be fun to slide down banisters made of razor blades. Unfortunately, I opted for the former and was subjected to a form of entertainment that has the potential to cause staggering amounts of pain: standup comedy. I'm still a little hazy after this cinematic ass-kicking, but here's what I remember: an updated JJ Walker, bad acting, underexposed shots and pussy humor. Since this was a fairly low-budget endeavor, it's easy enough to forgive lighting problems. It's more difficult to ignore the stereotypical character of Foolish (Eddie Griffin), a comedian with a weakness for wine and women who's just short of screaming "DYN-O-MITE!" every time he does his act. Foolish is about to hit the bottom of his bottle when his brother Fifty (Master P) organizes a comedy showcase for him to headline. There are odd but interesting moments, such as the scenes in which Foolish gets inspiration from talking feet in bathroom stalls, but these are overshadowed by standup routines centered around lame generalizations about gender difference and race. --Polly Higgins

THE HARMONISTS. In the 1920s, six Germans formed The Comedian Harmonists, one of the most successful pop groups in the history of music. Unfortunately, in the 1930s 6 million Germans formed the Nazi party, one of the most successful hate groups in the history of bigotry. The Harmonists tells the story of the confluence of these two historical forces, as the three Jewish members of the singing group try to surf their crest of fame over the coming tidal wave of ignorance and murder. Extremely well acted, shot and written, The Harmonists is an interesting look at how the rise of National Socialism affected life on all levels of German society. --James DiGiovanna

IDLE HANDS. The studio decided not to advertise this film's opening in Colorado this week. I guess that after mercilessly teasing two mentally unstable boys and then supplying them with enough firearms to win the presidency of Uganda, the state of Colorado had been through enough and couldn't face another crappy teen slasher film. Idle Hands is the story of a pot-head teenager who finds that his demonically possessed hand is forcing him to kill his parents and get it on with the beautiful girl across the street. Lots of bong jokes, dismembered teens and cruelty to animals enliven this sad commentary on the cultural wasteland that is inland California. --James 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. --Zachary Woodruff

SCHOOL OF FLESH. Contrary to the stereotypes held by certain ignorant Americans, the French are a polite, sweet-smelling and attractive people. On the other hand, they make the most consistently mediocre movies on earth. School of Flesh is no exception; it's a perverted Harold and Maude, with the omnipresent Isabelle Huppert playing sugar momma to a skeevy street hustler. Of course, they fall in love, but their love, she is so powerful, she, how you say?...destroys them. Mais ben oui, eh? --James DiGiovanna

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