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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

AUGUST 2, 1999: 

BUENA VISTA SOCIAL CLUB. Often information withheld from a film is just as telling as what's present, and that's certainly true in Wim Wenders' documentary about a group of older, accomplished Cuban musicians assembled to cut a record. Wenders' visual talents are on display as the camerawork and editing tightly weave stories of men and one woman and their enthusiasm for their instruments. On one level, it's a feel-good movie about musicians who'd lived in relative obscurity until a London record company and guitarist Ry Cooder rediscovered them. At the same time, however, the fragmentation of the characters and the overly colorful portrayal of their public lives underscores their existence for viewers merely as performers marketable to white, Western culture. Excellent music, beautiful cinematography and subtle clues to the musicians' trying off-screen lives in Cuba combine for a thought-provoking historical document, and experimentation with audience positioning. -- Polly Higgins

DEEP BLUE SEA. An extended version of the old Saturday Night Live "Landshark" routine, Deep Blue Sea features one of the longest explosions in cinema history. It tells the story of a beautiful research scientist whose lipstick is completely waterproof. Meanwhile, sharks want to eat her. It's kind of Alien meets Jaws with lots of unintentionally funny dialogue. Definitely worth watching when it comes to the cheap theaters, but unless you must see a movie about super-intelligent homicidal sharks this very minute, I'd save my $7.50 for something else. -- James DiGiovanna

DROP DEAD GORGEOUS. As I watched this black comedy about a small town obsessed with its annual beauty pageant, I was constantly reminded of the superior 1996 movie Waiting For Guffman. Not only are both of these films "mockumentaries," but they also share a distinctly mean-spirited view of Middle America. Though Gorgeous can't pull off the effortless artifice of Guffman (the "interview" scenes with Kirstie Alley are particularly ham-fisted), it generates a few yuks through its liberal use of cruelty and crudity. If you're the kind of person that can laugh out loud at the expense of anorexics, pedophiles and retards, then I urge you to see this film. -- Petix

EYES WIDE SHUT. Rex Shallit says: "My eyes were wide open for Eyes Wide Shut! You won't be able to peel your eyes away from Eyes Wide Shut! No doubt Oscar has his eyes on Eyes Wide Shut! The "ayes" have it with Eyes Wide Shut!" I have to agree with him on this one. Eyes is a visually stunning, dream-like adventure into an unreal but cohesive sexual underworld. Ranking right up there with Kubrick's best, it forms a fitting end to one of the finest careers in film. And, of course, you can compare and contrast Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman's nipples. -- James DiGiovanna

THE HAUNTING. Wow--a horror movie without any scary parts. Could it be that millions of dollars' worth of computer-generated imagery just can't scare you as effectively as a low budget movie with a smart concept and strong performances (i.e. The Blair Witch Project)? If you're looking for a thrill, see that movie; if you merely want to experience the horror of watching Lili Taylor act, check out the corny Haunting, which is at least laughably bad. -- James DiGiovanna

INSPECTOR GADGET. Unlike the cartoon, Gadget the movie tries earnestly to create a retroactive plot for the spring-loaded crime fighter of TV fame. The result is a long wait before the villains and Gadgets get down to business. Matthew Broderick bravely fills Disney's cartoonish requirements for family entertainment in the dual role of Inspector and evil twin, pitting his bumbling innocence and lost-puppy appeal against an "evil" Gadget who seems more non-conformist than malicious. After 45 minutes of cloying cuteness and contrived dialogue usually ending in some rejection of sincerity and goodness, it's hard not to root for the "evil" robot who intimidates corrupt public officials and starts blowing things up. The kid audience seemed to get more mileage out of the precocious 12-year-old heroine, the dog, and the talking car; but adults expecting a feature-length festival of go-go-Gadget effects will likely be disappointed. -- Mari Wadsworth

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