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DECEMBER 1, 1997: 

ALIEN RESURRECTION

For someone who claims their English on the first day of shooting was limited to "Zhut de fokk upp!" Jean-Pierre Jeunet does more-than-capable work in reviving the "Alien" franchise. "Alien Resurrection" suffers from uninspiredly gruff obscenity, so-so one-liners, a buoyant-yet-dull approach to much of the icky-goo and the gore, yet Jeunet, co-director of "Delicatessen" and "City of Lost Children," brings along both his rich, dark palette and his gifted cameraman Darius Khondji, to great effect. The movie's 103-minute running time is mostly chase, with a few privileged moments of glare from the reincarnated, muscular mutant Ripley of Sigourney Weaver. Khondji loves Weaver's face and limbs, and loves Winona Ryder's even more. Ryder seems chirpy at some moments, but when her face floods with worry or regret, Khondji floods her face and liquid eyes with sweetest luminescence, while also retaining the layers of gloom, steel, muck and damp in the corridors or passageways behind her. The movie moves like the wind, then pauses for a close-up, then moves on, again and again. (Ray Pride)


FLUBBER

In a relatively climactic scene in "Flubber," absent-minded Medfield College professor Phillip Brainard (Robin Williams) applies a spray-coat of the eponymous green goo to the soles of a Medfield player's basketball shoes, giving the untalented scrub an added boost toward scoring the game-winning basket. Too bad no one sprayed Flubber on "Flubber." Sagging from beginning to end as if marching in muck, this remake of the 1961 Disney film "The Absent-Minded Professor" offers too few laughs and too many schmaltzy subplots. Professor Brainard accidentally invents the hyperkinetic flying rubber; he christens it "Flubber," then hopes the profits from its discovery will save financially unstable Medfield, run by Brainard's fiancee, Dr. Sara Reynolds. Professor Brainard's supposedly endearing forgetfulness annoys Dr. Reynolds, especially since their wedding keeps slipping Brainard's mind, and the bad-memory gags get old fast for the audience as well. Brainard's mischievous secretary, a football-sized flying robot named WEEBO, harbors a secret crush on the professor, and, well, let's just say the best moment of the film for me involved WEEBO and a burglar with a baseball bat. And for all the special effects, the semi-animate Flubber has about as much personality as a green Gummi Bear, at one point splitting apart into countless fragments to perform a forgettable mambo number. Steer the kids elsewhere this holiday season, or be prepared to endure, as I did, a nerve-shattering serenade from whining, not-so-long-suffering toddlers. 95m. (Sam Jemielity)


LISBON STORY

Wim Wenders' 1994 bagatelle opens with one of the richest five minutes of recent movies -- a montage of shots seen through a windshield while driving across Europe, from Germany to Lisbon, accompanied by bursts of music on the radio. The rest of the movie is gorgeous, but likely to appeal to an even smaller circle of Wenders aficionados than even his recent "End of Violence." "Lisbon Story" is a small film among many made to commemorate the first century of cinema and its inertia dulls even the marvelous interior and exterior architecture traversed by the camera. Wenders recycles his Philip Winter character from "Until the End of the World," with Rudiger Vogler as a sound man who travels to Lisbon to await instructions from filmmaker Friedrich Monroe (Patrick Bachau, repeating from "The State of Things"). There's much strained comedy amid the waiting, evoking some of the mood of his "Kings of the Road," but there are also a couple of scenes where the camera is content to rest, watch and listen, like Winter, as the Portuguese fado singers Madredeus rehearse several magical songs. Nonagenarian filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira is also on hand to philosophize. (Ray Pride)


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