Weekly Wire
Tucson Weekly Film Clips

MAY 24, 1999: 

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

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

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