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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

NOVEMBER 17, 1997: 

BEAN. We pull their butts out of World War II, and this is how the British repay us? The most tragic thing about this picture is that star Rowan Atkinson is actually tremendously funny as his character "Blackadder," seen in a BBC television series. However, while Blackadder relies on cerebral, verbal humor, Bean is a near-mute who stumbles through vomit jokes and some unsavory nose-blowing bits. If your idea of a good time is to watch a dumbed-down version of a Jim Carrey movie with the sound off, and you've recently lost 30-percent of your brain capacity to carbon monoxide poisoning, and you're completely drunk on wood alcohol, then Bean will only be way too stupid for you. Anyone else would get more laughs out of watching an eight-ounce glass of water evaporate. --DiGiovanna

BOOGIE NIGHTS. This film about porno actors in the 1970s is nice 'n' sleazy, but in a good way. Boogie Nights tracks the career of Eddie Adams (porno name: Dirk Diggler), a sweet kid from The Valley who's not really all that bright. But, as he says, "everyone is blessed with one special thing," and his is located in his pants. The best and worst of '70s cultural detritus forms the perfect backdrop for the story of Dirk, who believes fervently, despite all evidence to the contrary, that adult movies are a force for good. There's dissolution, loss of innocence, and a strange, fragile sense of triumph in this movie that is, at the core, about a bunch of untalented people struggling to make art. --Richter

EVE'S BAYOU. A movie that begins with the line, "The summer I killed my father, I was 10 years old," Eve's Bayou is a sluggishly paced family drama that, at the least, always gives you something to look forward to. But this isn't primarily a murder story, and Eve's not really a murderess. Instead, the confused, curious title character is the starting point for several threads relating to women's feelings about men. When Eve (played by the thoroughly watchable Jurnee Smollett) isn't competing against big sis for the affections of her charismatic father (Samuel L. Jackson), she's watching her mother's emotions wither away due to daddy's small-town philandering. Then there's daddy's psychic sister, a three-time widow who's convinced she's cursed. Add a pinch of witchcraft here, a dollop of female bonding there, lace in some strong performances by an all-black cast, serve it up with lovely images from a mossy Louisiana backwater--and oh yeah, don't forget that murder--and you've got a Southern gothic that'd probably be affecting if the direction were sharper. Unfortunately, it isn't, and Eve's Bayou gets stuck in a murky quagmire somewhere between compelling and boring. --Woodruff

LA PROMESSE. See the 15-year-old Igor help his slumlord dad exploit illegal immigrants. See Igor promise to take care of a poor tenant's wife and child as the man lay there dying from an accident. See Igor's dad hide the body and continue to exploit the man's wife and child instead of telling them what happened. See Igor slowly realize his dad is scum. See Igor develop a moral conscience and, though disoriented, come into his own as a human being. See the Belgian filmmakers Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne use a stark hand-held camera technique until you're dizzy. See this movie anyway, because it has a detailed documentary feel with verisimilitude and subtlety that more than make up for what it lacks in conventional dramatic satisfactions. --Woodruff

MAD CITY. Who says a homicidal maniac can't be lovable? Who among us, given the right circumstances (a gun, a bag of dynamite, a snooty museum director who just won't listen) wouldn't take a bunch of schoolchildren hostage? Yes, this really is the premise of Mad City, an annoying, bombastic little frolic starring Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta as a pair of unlikely allies. Travolta plays a regular, not-so-bright working guy who sort of accidentally, without really intending to, holds a bunch of museum visitors hostage. But all he wants is his job back! And this mean lady won't give it to him! Hoffman plays a washed-up news reporter who just happens to find himself in the museum when the action goes down. A media circus of expected proportions ensues. Young innocents are corrupted. Lessons about exploitation are learned. Audiences feel ripped off. --Richter

STARSHIP TROOPERS. Johnny and Carmen are sweethearts, but Carmen loves Zander, because he looks so good in uniform. So she joins the army to be near him. So Johnny joins to be near Carmen. So Dizzy, who loves Johnny, joins to be near him. Oddly, even though they're from Buenos Aires, they all speak English with perfect Southern California accents, and are the most white-bread people in the armed forces. Anyway, Carmen sends a "Dear Johnny" letter, and Johnny has a night of passion with Dizzy, so giant space insects kill Dizzy. If the giant space insects kill Zander, then perhaps Johnny and Carmen can finally be together. Meanwhile, Doogie Howser MD has psychic congress with the bugs, even though he really loved Dizzy all along. An unprecedented number of things, people, and insects get blown up or chewed up, and some brains are eaten, but this provides the hope for salvation. Sadly, we have to wait for the sequel to see if the bugs are defeated, Johnny gets to have love with Carmen, and Doogie Howser learns how to say his lines without making the audience guffaw. Rated "R" for completely gratuitous nudity and lots of little pieces of human bodies flying all over the place. --DiGiovanna

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