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Tucson Weekly Film Clips

NOVEMBER 30, 1998: 

CELEBRITY. Remember Woody Allen? Well he's back...in Kenneth Branagh form! Branagh plays Woody down to the last tick and hiccup in this rehash of Stardust Memories. Consistently entertaining and occasionally funny, Celebrity is the story of a screenplay writer who leaves his wife and gets obsessed with a much younger woman, begging the question, Where does the endlessly creative Mr. Allen get the ideas for his films? Woody is at his funniest when he's drawing from his infinitely deep well of hatred, and here he gets good effect from his distaste for ordinary people, using the terms "dentist," "salesman" and "antique dealer" as though they were deeply derogatory. Luckily, he also lets fly with his hatred of artists, actors, and directors, leaving, as far as I can tell, only writers and editors amongst the chosen people. If he could just eliminate editors he'd have it perfect. Bebe Neuwirth, Judy Davis, Isaac Mizrahi, Melanie Griffith, Hank Azaria, Leonardo DiCaprio, Famke Janssen, Joe Mantegna, Winona Ryder, Charlize Theron, and even Andre Gregory show up here, just so they can say that they were in a Woody Allen film. The cinematography is by Sven Nykvist, easily one of the two or three greatest cinematographers of all time, though he never does his best work when he's shooting for Woody. (Check out his imagery in Pretty Baby, What's Eating Gilbert Grape or any Bergman film from the '60s to see why his drooling fans refer to him as "master of darkness, master of light.") --DiGiovanna

GADJO DILO. How many times have you searched in vain for a fresh, derogatory term for white people? Well, search no more, because now you can add "gadjo" to that delightful list that includes honky, haole, and ofay. "Gadjo Dilo," which is Romani for "Crazy-Ass White Motherfucker," is a meandering film about a young French man who moves in with a group of gypsies while searching for the mysterious Nora Luca. Seems Nora Luca is a gypsy singer, and, for no apparent reason, this crazy-ass white boy is obsessed with finding her. He doesn't, but he does get a taste of gypsy life, which apparently revolves around telling other people to place their mouths on your genitals...everyone from the tiniest children to the wizened elders seems to do this at least 10 times a day. Gadjo Dilo is either a moving and accurate portrait of life amongst the Romanian gypsies, or just two plotless hours with intermittent scenes of hot sex, great music and eye-catching costumes. In French, Romanian and Romani, with English subtitles, and, for no known reason, Italian credits--I kid you not. --DiGiovanna

MEET JOE BLACK. That's right, Brad Pitt plays Death in Meet Joe Black. Imagine The Seventh Seal remade as a three-hour episode of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood and you might get some idea of how pretentious, repetitive, and boring this movie is. What happens is this: Death comes to earth for a vacation, where he falls in love with a strange, wealthy, young woman (Clair Forlani), a doctor who can't stop squinting. Her father is Anthony Hopkins, and he is stinking rich, and quite understandably does not want his daughter to marry Death. All this occurs within a leisurely three-hour time frame. Somewhere in there is the least sexy sex scene from a non-porno movie ever, featuring super close-ups of the pores on Brad Pitt's nose. This reviewer recommends you stay home and clean the grout between your tiles with a toothbrush. You'll have a better time. --Richter

VERY BAD THINGS. This is a comedy, though you wouldn't know it from the first hour. Death, puddles of blood, dismemberment, and ritual burial of the dead are all treated as potential gags here--you know, as in: "Ha, ha, look, those white boys just killed that Asian hooker! What a hoot!" Very Bad Things is billed as a dark comedy, but it's probably better described as a sick comedy grafted on to a thriller. It's sort of as if Kenny were killed over and over again during a single episode of South Park, but with more lifelike blood and no jokes between deaths, plus that vague feeling of Hitchcock hovering nearby. Most of Very Bad Things is too gross to be fun, and too silly to be a real thriller. The script has the feel of something written by a snotty 22-year-old boy, though it was penned and directed by Chicago Hope star Peter Berg, who I suppose only thinks like a snotty 22-year-old boy. Cameron Diaz gets a chance to parody her usual role as the perfect girlfriend, but her appearance is too brief and too late to save this movie from its own juvenile meanness. Some young people will probably enjoy this movie, but when they grow older they'll be embarrassed by that fact. --Richter

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