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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

SEPTEMBER 8, 1997: 

COP LAND. A posse of famous Hollywood actors populate this predictable tale of a small town sheriff fighting corruption in the New York City police force. Sylvester Stallone does a decent job playing Sheriff Freddy Heflin, a beer-gutted, not-so-bright lawman with a heart of gold, but it's certainly not a performance to get hot and bothered about. Ray Liotta, Harvey Keitel and Robert DeNiro all make appearances as either good guys or bad guys--there aren't many shades of gray in Cop Land, and as a consequence, somewhere in the middle all this good cop/bad cop stuff loses momentum. Writer/director James Mangold has a fascination with heroes who are total losers, but alas, he reigns it in and goes with the easy outcome. --Richter

EVENT HORIZON. Whose idea was it to set a haunted-house flick aboard a spaceship at the far reaches of the solar system? It's not a bad concept, really, but the filmmakers don't have a clue where to take it. Despite some of the best futuristic special effects and set design of the year, director Paul Anderson keeps dipping into a tired old bag of horror-movie tricks including gushing blood, scary sequences that turn out to be dreams, and vague discussions of "pure evil" that sound like even more of a cop-out when couched in science-fiction terms. The cast--which includes Laurence Fishburne, Sam Neill, and Kathleen Quinlan--couldn't be better, but you end up wishing the script gave them more to do than run around tortured by their own worst memories. It's like a bad acid-trip combination of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Hellraiser and Flatliners. Some have applauded Event Horizon as an antidote to Contact's corny feel-good view of space, but they can keep their cure--the disease was a lot less depressing. --Woodruff

G.I. JANE. In this calculated women-in-the-military story, Demi Moore pulls out all the stops (not to mention all her hair) to make a career comeback, while Ridley Scott pulls out all his telephoto lenses to score another feminist hit like he did with Thelma & Louise. The results are powerful yet trite: Scenes of intense Navy SEALs training provoke an almost S&M fascination but very little direct meaning; and Moore's aggressive, muscled performance, while gutsy, only exacerbates the script's lack of nuance. According to G.I. Jane, it's somehow a "victory" when a woman proves she can endure torture and kill Arabs as good as any man. This moral has far less to do with society evolving its perspective than it does with women simply emulating men in order to inhabit the man's world. Moore's triumphant line, "Suck my dick," says it all--since she has symbolically become male, sexual politics no longer matter. Gee, wouldn't it be great if all women could be just like Demi? --Woodruff

KULL THE CONQUERER. Kull is essentially a porno film without the hardcore: hyper-muscular guys, and women in bad Frederick's of Hollywood outfits mouth inane dialogue that they seem to have just memorized, all in the name of getting to the sex scenes. Kevin Sorbo, TV's Hercules, plays Kull, who goes from barbarian peasant to King in the first five minutes of the film. He then moves swiftly to marry evil goddess Akivasha, played by Tia Carrera's leather-uphostelered breasts. This is obviously a big mistake, and leads to a number of swordfights choreographed to heavy metal music. In fact, with all the men in long hair, bangs and codpieces, Kull sometimes seems to be a collection of MTV videos from the late '80s. In spite of all this, Kull is campy in a way that's not overly cute and moves at a swift enough pace to keep adults from falling asleep while junior thrills to the manly fight scenes and makes faces at the yucky parts where Kull kisses girls. --DiGiovanna

MIMIC. Mira Sorvino stars in this dim-witted, dimly lit monster flick about gigantic cockroaches living in the New York subway system. Directed by Guillermo Del Toro (Chronos) and co-penned by John Sayles and Stephen Soderbergh, you'd expect the film to be a triumph of independent invention and spirit, but no luck. Despite intriguing Kafka-esque possibilities in which las cucarachas take on the appearance of humans in order to walk the streets undetected, the picture soon devolves into Alien-style cat-and-mouse games full of shadowy corridors and dripping bug goo. Tons of dripping bug goo. Though always attractive and likable, Sorvino is rather embarrassing as an action hero, and the huge cockroaches never prove as creepy as the real-life little ones. Get out of my sight, you steenking cockroach movie. --Woodruff

PICTURE PERFECT. Jennifer Aniston plays a Madison Avenue copywriter whose boss, ludicrously, won't promote her unless he senses she's headed for the stability of marriage. When her friend solves the problem by inventing a fiancee based on a snapshot of a stranger (Jay Mohr), everything works out great--until that stranger becomes famous for saving a kid from a fire. Romantic-comedy situations ensue: Aniston hires Mohr to pretend they're a couple, Mohr falls for her, and the rest of the movie flips by like pages in a photo album full of people you don't really want to know. Despite an endless barrage of cleavage, Aniston just doesn't have enough charm to recover sympathy after her character makes some ugly manipulative moves; and though likable at first, Mohr loses our respect by repeatedly reacting to Aniston's callousness with nothing but sappy adoration. In the end, Picture Perfect is a textbook example of the soullessness that results when filmmakers place contrivance above characterization. Only Kevin Bacon, as a womanizing coworker who can't find Aniston attractive unless he thinks she's being "bad," emerges with any comic dignity. --Woodruff

SHE'S SO LOVELY. This movie, starring Sean Penn, Robin Wright Penn and John Travolta, was made from a screenplay written by John Cassavetes, founding father of independent film. Armed with little more than a 16mm camera and friends who were very good actors, Cassavetes made intense, intimate films about lost, boozy characters who lived their lives in perpetual crisis. His son Nick directed She's So Lovely from a script that's vintage Cassavetes--full of confused, screaming, warm-hearted barflies overflowing with a voracious, destructive form of love. Robin Wright Penn and Sean Penn play Mo and Eddie, a husband and wife team of two broken pieces that fit together perfectly. But when Eddie ends up in the loony bin, Mo divorces him and marries another man. Ten years later, Eddie is released and Mo must decide if she will stay with her family or go with her true love. Cassavetes screenplay, though wonderful in many ways, doesn't make the jump to the '90s very gracefully--it was written at a time when cocktails were anything but a retro fad and drunks were considered "funny" guys who chased pink elephants. Now She's So Lovely looks like a cautionary tale about the damage alcohol can do, though surely it was never intended to be moralistic in this way. Also, though Robin Wright Penn gives a respectable performance, it just doesn't carry the film. Cassavetes probably meant the part for his wife, Gena Rowlands, who always brought an amazing warmth and charisma to Cassavetes' off-kilter, emotionally driven characters. When she appears briefly as Eddie's psychologist, it becomes all too apparent that this movie is lacking its central element. --Richter


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