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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

OCTOBER 11, 1999: 

DRIVE ME CRAZY. I'm a big fan of teen comedies, and being a dirty old man is only a small part of the reason why. It's primarily due to the film' constant preoccupation with the two things that really matter in this world: having a good time and getting laid -- concerns a lot more relevant to most of us than the plight of P.O.W.s or spouses dying of rare diseases (and the characters don't have to worry about pesky things like rent or fighting off super-smart sharks). Watching the hero of The Last American Virgin lose the girl to a handsome creep touched me way more deeply than any 10 Meryl Streep films, because I've been there (conversely, I've never had a child that was eaten by dingos). You're probably thinking, "When is he going to talk about Drive Me Crazy, the new teen comedy starring TV's Sabrina and that guy with really big lips?" Well, all I can say about this movie is that it's very, very bad, but since I've been having a hard time coming up with new and interesting ways of saying "it's very, very bad" every week, I figured I'd ramble on for a paragraph or two. Sue me. -- Petix

JAKOB THE LIAR. Set in an occupied Polish ghetto in 1944, Jakob is the story of an unremarkable Jewish man (with his self-avowed "greatest achievement in life [being] an apricot latke") who becomes an unwitting, and mostly unwilling, hero to the desperate and increasingly hopeless people of his neighborhood. Under the Nazis, Jews were forbidden access to news, and owning a radio was an offense -- like most offenses -- punishable by death. So when Jakob (Robin Williams) reveals a scrap of news overheard on a Nazi radio -- that the Russians are only 400 km away (humanely neglecting to mention they were reportedly defeated by the German army -- his story is repeated and exaggerated until he himself is rumored to have direct access to the BBC, and to be fomenting a resistance. The more he tells the truth (that he has no radio), the more his friends and neighbors (and eventually the Germans) think he is lying; until making up increasingly intricate lies becomes the only salvation in a reality gone unbelievably wrong. Jakob is a well-acted and bittersweet tale of human tragedy, and its message of the devastating consequences of racism is clear: as these stories come to light, we ought also to consider that for more than 50 years now, the only image of the German people perpetuated on American television and film continues to be that of the Nazi. -- Wadsworth

MYSTERY, ALASKA. If you go into Mystery expecting any outdoor Alaskan adventure other than small-town hockey, you'll be very disappointed. This isn't about Alaska (in fact, those lovely frozen rivers at the bases of mountains were shot in Alberta, Canada). But even though skating on a black-ice pond is about as foreign to local audiences as the NHL itself, this feel-good movie about a close-knit community that takes long-odds against the New York Rangers and (gulp) big-box chain stores may yet strike a chord with those who go to the movies to see honor and courage prevail. Or, barring that, an alternate universe in which it's semi-legal to shoot at Price World sales representatives. Starring Russel Crowe, Hank Azaria and Burt Reynolds. -- Wadsworth

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