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Lethal Weapon 4, Mask of Zorro, Guy Maddin: Waiting for Twilight

By Ray Pride, Frank Sennett

JULY 20, 1998: 

Guy Maddin: Waiting for Twilight

An invaluable 1997 documentary on the films of Guy Maddin, shot during the production of "Twilight of the Ice Nymphs." Maddin discusses his surrealist impulses while preparing to shoot his first feature in four years on twelve lavish sets inside an abandoned Winnipeg foundry. Maddin comes across as candid, self-deprecating and cheerfully morose, describing the collapse of his previous project, "The Dykemaster's Daughter" and his ongoing fear that each film will be his last. Whether in bed with the flu or getting a bad haircut, Maddin is patient with director Noam Gonick's own eccentric notions about artistic representation. Tom Waits narrates. 3/4" video. 60m. (Ray Pride)

Lethal Weapon 4

For a crew so used to doing everything "on three," it's amazing how well the "Lethal Weapon" team fares the fourth time out. This is perfect summer entertainment, eliciting laughs of joy followed by hoots of release as the "Lethal Weapon" ensemble runs, guns and funs its way through a crisply plotted, expertly executed thriller. And even though that ensemble has grown almost impossibly large - now including Chris Rock as a young cop with a secret - it works together as smoothly as a Detroit assembly line turning out hot new convertibles. Borrowing a few plot points from "To Live and Die in L.A." (with a car chase nearly as exciting as that film's centerpiece) and "Lethal Weapon 2" ("Diplomatic immunity!") - and gaining an energy boost from villain Jet Li and his bag of Hong Kong action tricks - the latest installment of "Riggs and Murtaugh's Excellent Adventures" is somehow greater than the sum of its stock parts. Danny Glover and Rene Russo bring the story's humanity to the forefront, while Mel Gibson has an onscreen mid-life crisis. And Rock, with what must be improvised lines, nearly steals the show from the stuntmen. The thrill-a-minute pace flags only when the veteran team mugs a little too hard in a dentist's office. But then, this series made its mark as the cinematic equivalent of laughing gas. (Frank Sennett)

The Mask of Zorro

It's not the eyeball-crunching, camera-swooping epic that original director Robert Rodriguez might have made, but "The Mask of Zorro" is still diverting cornball. The script is filled with monosyllabic zingers from the good guys and staccato orders from the hissworthy bad guys ("Bury the body. Bag the head."), and the cast is packed with incurable hams like Anthony Hopkins (Old Zorro), Antonio Banderas (Fortyish Zorro), Maury Chaykin and L. Q. Jones. Banderas rips around like a cartoon character and his goofy English has more of a wink to it than ever. Bond veteran Martin Campbell keeps things moving at a brisk clip, mixing slapstick (how do you say "Three Stooges" en español?) with clipped action ("Bond. Juan Bond."). The plot has something to do with nineteenth-century California not falling into the hands of the wrong bad guys, but any clamoring for the massed rabble of common people stays with the good heart of Zorro the matinee idol and not the anarchist ideals of Zorro the potential Zapatista. Banderas is charmingly clownish throughout, and co-star Catherine Zeta-Jones, in a foolish yet sexy scene, has her bodice ripped, shredded and vaporized by the swift swordsmanship of Banderas. (Ray Pride)

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