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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

AUGUST 31, 1998: 

COUSIN BETTE. Pre-20th-century period pieces can be frightening propositions: boring, slow-paced films about weak aristocratic women who faint at the mention of Heathcliff. Don't let that too-often-true generalization keep you from Cousin Bette, though. It's kind of like Terminator set in mid-19th-century France, as Bette (Jessica Lange) methodically plans the demise of those around her. Her family degrades her and consistently contributes to her rather skewed sense of self, but rather than throwing herself into a river she devises a plan of revenge that would make Alexis Colby proud. Bette's especially refreshing in that she doesn't need to use sex to get what she wants; she uses other people and their desires to achieve her goals instead. Elisabeth Shue and her bare ass co-star as her confidants and key elements in her schemes and provide moments of cheeky (sorry) humor. Really, the only offense in the whole film is a multitude of bad hair. So set your VCR to tape Melrose Place this week, and go to the Loft for two hours of backstabbing melodrama and sweet sisterly justice. --Higgins


DEAD MAN ON CAMPUS. Did you ever hear that thing that if your college roommate committed suicide, you'd get straight A's? And did you ever think it would make a good premise for a movie? And do you think Mark-Paul Gosselaar can overcome the stigma of having played "Zak" on Saved by The Bell if he dyes his hair black and plays a party-crazed pot-head? Me neither. Still, there's some decent comic sequences here thanks to Lochlyn Munro's performance as an adrenaline-charged psychotic who's too horny and drunk to be allowed to live in a frat house...as if that were possible. --DiGiovanna


UNDER THE SKIN. This mediocre drama is a working-class English take on Waiting for Mr. Goodbar. Samantha Morton does a credible job as Iris, a young woman who tries a turn at sluttiness after the death of her mother, though she probably doesn't have quite the acting skills to pull off a role that has to make up for a rather thin storyline. The plot is mostly an excuse to string together a series of sex scenes and close-ups of Morton's face while she has "feelings." All of the close-ups are hand-held shots, which makes them a little hard to watch, though there are some nicely photographed sequences when the camera is allowed to pull back and expose the cramped quarters in which Iris takes her sexual odyssey. Certainly more engaging than most summer blockbusters, but it never rises to great heights. --DiGiovanna


WHY DO FOOLS FALL IN LOVE. This bio-pic about Frankie Lymon, doo-wop heartthrob of 1950's pop group "Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers," is so oddly intriguing that it overcomes many of its faults, including a penchant for melodrama and some goof-ball acting by Lela Rochon and Vivica Fox. The story of a teen idol's fall from fame and his marriages to three different women is framed by a courtroom sequence wherein the three wives fight over his estate. Told in flashbacks that start from the witness stand, Lymon's life is a compelling oddity, charting what happens to someone who must outlive his brief flirtation with celebrity. Larenz Tate's performance as Frankie has a get-under-your-skin quality that's perfect for both his overly-optimistic early years and nostalgic, junkie decline; and Paul Mazursky does his usual stand-up job as the paradigmatically sleazy record executive. Worth a look, though perhaps not the two hours that it asks for.
--DiGiovanna


WRONGFULLY ACCUSED. Wrongfully written, wrongfully released, and wrongfully attended by me. Leslie Neilsen sleepwalks through the lead role, reiterating the lame jokes he's become known for in films like Dracula: Dead and Loving It and Spy Hard. Whether or not a spoof of The Fugitive was necessary, here it is, complete with a cultural critique via toilet jokes. If you're really into this kind of humor, save your money and go stare at a pile of dog shit instead. Absolutely hilarious! --Higgins


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