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JUNE 28, 1999: 

GET REAL. The story of this British coming-of-age-and-out-of-the-closet film is a familiar one. Steven (Ben Silverstone) is a middle-class, geeky teenager who falls in love with a rich, popular athlete named John (Brad Gorton). Steven is comfortable with his gayness, but John fights it in order to maintain his image and the perks that accompany it. The unoriginal story is somewhat balanced by Silverstone's excellent performance and crisp cinematography that utilizes closeups of the actors to visually draw them together. The characters are underdeveloped, however, and the worst is Steven's friend Linda. She embodies the all-too-familiar stereotype of the lonely, overweight woman who lives vicariously through her gay friend. Exploration of Steven also remains largely superficial as he's reduced to a sexual category. He meets John while cruising public restrooms and falls in love merely because of his gayness, not because he's attracted to John as a person. It's unfortunate that even in low-budget films gay characters are rarely allowed few identifiers beyond who they sleep with. --Polly Higgins

TARZAN. Disney redeems itself after a slump of animation disasters with the fast-paced and fairly enticing Tarzan. This version proves a story about a lord of the jungle works best as an animated feature. (Apologies to Johnny Weissmuller and Brendan Fraser.) With impressive animation and a surprisingly strong script, the film deals with an identity crisis and gun control at a level a child can comprehend. The Charlton Heston-like villain may be a weak point in the movie, but the absence of musical numbers is a plus. Children and adults alike will enjoy this simple but enjoyable movie (as opposed to being tortured by that Star Wars: Episode One mess that refuses to remain a phantom). --Michael Peel

THREE SEASONS. Extremely beautiful cinematography doesn't quite make up for the trite stories in this Saigon-slice-of-life piece. A young woman who begins work at a lotus-blossom farm, a bicycle-taxi driver and a 10-year-old street urchin all encounter compelling others in the streets of modern Vietnam. Harvey Keitel does a long vanity bit about a former Marine searching for his daughter, and there's a hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold piece, but the show stealer is the story of the flower girl. Serene shots of lakes filled with blossoms and the women who row out to pick them make this a relaxing, if not entirely engaging, effort. --James DiGiovanna


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