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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

NOVEMBER 1, 1999: 

BATS. Walking out of the theater, I overheard the guy behind me comment, "Watching this made me appreciate every movie I've ever seen." How true. Indefensibly mediocre (out-sucking such cinematic tripe as The Haunting), Bats failed to be even charmingly terrible. Atrocious acting (the chick from Starship Troopers was an early warning) and horror-movie clichés outnumbered the bats themselves. To wit: potentially lascivious teenagers get killed in the opening scene! Created as the ultimate killing machine, the bats become too smart and therefore uncontrollable! A "wacky" sidekick spouts witticisms like "Damn! You stink from bat shit"! A small band of heroes races against the clock to save the town! As a favor, I'll spoil the ending for you -- the town is saved, the evil characters die, and the bats are wiped out. Or are they? -- Vaughn

CRAZY IN ALABAMA. A rural town named Industry, an evil sheriff played by Meat Loaf; Melanie Griffith as a Marilyn Monroe look-alike who murders her abusive husband and carries his head to San Francisco in a hatbox (call it Thelma and Louise meets Barton Fink); and a character named Peejoe (Lucas Black II) who single-handedly launches the civil rights movement in Industry, and then must wear an eyepatch until the day on which the public pool is filled with cement. Many questions remain, but foremost among them is: What is a Meemaw? That Alabama sho' is one crazy place. -- Mari Wadsworth

FIGHT CLUB. Brad Pitt plays id to Edward Norton's ego in this vaguely experimental film about men who come together to beat the snot out of each other. Forming their "Fight Clubs" in every major city of the U.S., they get out male aggression and find manly role models while plotting the downfall of society and encouraging convenience store clerks to go to veterinary school. Kind of like if Ingmar Bergman made a film adaptation of Nikolai Gogol's The Nose, but died in the middle, so the studio gave it to Spike Lee to finish, provided he channel the spirit of Sam Peckinpah. You know, like that. -- James DiGiovanna

MUSIC OF THE HEART. If you don't like feel-good movies, Music of the Heart will be your worst nightmare (a new twist for horror king Wes Craven, who channels his unrestrained directorial style into the realm of family entertainment). Meryl Streep plays Roberta Guaspari, a grown-up small-town girl whose life as a music teacher gets a rude awakening when her husband leaves her with two young boys to support. Her résumé is so spotty, even the East Harlem public schools won't take her. But she perseveres against unruly inner-city kids, burned-out teachers, drive-by shootings and unbelieving parents (including her own mother, played by Cloris Leachman) to prove that life, and music, will take you as far as your imagination allows. There is nothing subtle about Music of the Heart, but there is much to move, inspire and entertain the willing participant. (Based on the documentary Small Wonders, about the real Roberta Guaspari, who still teaches violin in East Harlem.) Supporting roles include Aidan Quinn, Angela Bassett, Gloria Estefan and Frasier's Jane Leeves. -- Mari Wadsworth

THE OMEGA CODE. If you don't land on the Christian cable channel every now and then, you probably missed the marketing for this incredibly expensive "independent" film about the coming of the antichrist, who, you might be interested to know, is Michael York. Goofy Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers) plays an atheistic personal power guru troubled by visions of the Apocalypse. When he learns the end of creation might be near, he says, "All I care about is clearing my name!" Exposition, almost exclusively by broadcast journalists, drives this 110-minute plot onward. Comic-book dialogue, Star Trek pseudo-science, and special effects knock-offs from Raiders of the Lost Ark make this a laughably bad "millennium thriller." One Stigmata down, one Omega Code broken, and one Battlefield Earth (the Scientologists' forthcoming contribution to the Hollywood-Apocalypse canon) to go. Thank God these millennia only happen once every thousand years. -- Mari Wadsworth

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