GRAY AREAS MOVIE REVIEWS - MAY 1997
REVIEWS BY NETTA GILBOA
101 DALMATIONS (Walt Disney Home Video, 103 minutes) While I originally could not fathom the motivation behind rereleasing the popular animated film as a live-action one, this title is certainly a winner. Glenn Close stars as Cruell a De Vil who seeks the dalmation puppies of Jeff Daniels and his wife and will stop at nothing to steal them. One of those rare films that will appeal to all ages, this is not to missed by fans of the animated version, animal lovers or environmentalists. Well done.
THE ASSOCIATE (Hollywood Pictures Home Video, 114 minutes) If you loved Tootsie, be sure not to miss this similar film which stars Whoopi Goldberg as a female executive who is not taken seriously until she dresses us like a man. This superb film shows how prevalent sexism still is in the workplace and has you cheering for Whoopi from beginning to end. Definitely one of the best films of the year, this is not to be missed by fans of comedy films, feminists of both sexes and anyone who enjoys Whoo pi as well.
BASQUIAT (Miramax Home Entertainment, 110 minutes) David Bowie, Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, and Jeffrey Wright star in this superb film about a rising black artist. A must see film for Bowie fans, this features Bowie portraying Andy Warhol. It will als o be appreciated by art lovers of all ages, minority groups and anyone who appreciates bucking the system. Well done.
BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD DO AMERICA (Paramount Home Video, 82 minutes) The popular animated MTV show about two teenage delinquent misfits becomes a full-length movie, with a plot involving their travels across the USA while in search of sex. They end up unk nowingly being hired as hitmen and arousing the attention of governmental agencies. I loved the plot and found the extended running time really helped give the characters more to do than the TV show usually allows for. Aimed at kids but perhaps more enjoy able for an adult audience.
CHUNGKING EXPRESS (Miramax Home Entertainment, 102 minutes) Itís rare for me to be willing to sit through a subtitled film, but I was curious to see what Quentin Tarantino selected as the first film to be released in his new series.
Tarantino has contracted to release choice films by other filmmakers who would presumably have a much harder time getting distribution without having his name united with theirs. This title is Chinese and focuses on a girl who works at a fast food coun ter and one of her regular customers. The film was superb and I had no problem sitting through it despite the Chinese conversation and yellow subtitles. This will be a great interest to fans of Tarantino, fans of Chinese culture and those who enjoy romant ic comedies.
COMPASSIONATE USE (Tara Entertainment, 20 minutes) This documentary explores medical marijuana and focuses on the work of the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club. Included are interviews with club employees and patrons who discuss how smoking marijuana helps them cope with chronic illnesses, being raided by the DEA and why they feel the club should be left alone to operate. Highly recommended for those wishing to start similar clubs, people who are undecided about their opinions on the medical marijuana issue and for classroom use to stimulate discussion and educate people about the controversy.
D3: THE MIGHTY DUCKS (Walt Disney Home Video, 104 minutes) Fans of this popular film series about a childrens hockey team will not be disappointed by this latest sequel. Emilio Estevez and the other original characters return to expand on their roles. This time Estevez is no longer the coach but has to step in after the Ducks have problems being motivated by and taking direction from a new coach. Worth seeing if you have seen the previous films, have ever played on a sports team or are a parent who wou ld like your child to be exposed to a good discussion of teamwork.
DEADLY HEROES (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 104 minutes) Michael Pare and Jan-Michael Vincent star in this action film involving a kidnapping, the CIA and the Navy Seals. The film focuses on the terrorists and the rescue and keeps you oh the edge of yo ur seat throughout. While this is generally not my favorite genre of film, this particular title is far better than average.
DEAR GOD (Paramount Home Video, 112 minutes) A convicted felon is ordered by the court to get and hold a job and so he goes to work at the post office. Stuck in the dead letter office he quickly realizes that the post office received thousands of unans wered letters sent to God. He takes it upon himself to answer them and to involve his colleagues in doing so too and then finds that what they have done is illegal and he is in trouble once again. Extremely well done, this is highly recommended viewing fo r all ages no matter what your religious preferences.
THE EVENING STAR (Paramount Home Video, 129 minutes) This is the sequel to the wildly successful film Terms Of Endearment. It reunites the old cast, including Shirley MacLaine and Jack Nicholson. Other stars include Juliette Lewis, China Kantner and Bill Paxton. Certain to appeal to women, this is a film about the meaning of friends and family in the scheme of life. Worth seeing, but not as good as the original.
THE FIRST WIVES CLUB (Paramount Home Video, 104 minutes) Rarely does Hollywood release a film aimed at women and when they do itís generally aimed at the teenage market. Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton star in this comedy about three divorce d women who team up. While definitely a "chicks" movie this will appeal to men as well, is an excellent adaptation of the popular novel and gives three great actresses a chance to shine. Superb!
FLIRTING WITH DISASTER (Miramax Home Entertainment, 92 minutes) This hilarious comedy stars Ben Stiller, Patricia Arquette and Tia Leoni and features cameos by Mary Tyler Moore, Lily Tomlin and Alan Alda. The film involves relationships and a guys sear ch for his real parents. They turn out to be quite hard to find to say the least. Worth seeing if you like the actors, are interested in adoption, or are a fan of the 1960ís (you have to see the movie to find out why!).
FOXFIRE (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 102 minutes) Female friendship and rebellion is the theme of this film based on a controversial novel by Joyce Carol Oates. The plot involves four high school girls who meet a stranger and are inspired to challenge a sexually abusive teacher. They encounter problems with the school, their families and with the local jocks. Well done.
GANG IN BLUE (Evergreen Entertainment, 99 minutes) Mario Van Peebles stars as a Black police officer in a precinct full of racism which is encouraged by the supervisors. He witnesses brutal acts of hate, discrimination, intimidation and murder. This fi lm offers a superb look at dirty police work, the realities of gang life and a terrific exploration of racism.
THE GLIMMERMAN (Warner Brothers Home Video) Steven Seagal and Keenan Ivory Wayans play two police officers trying to find a serial killer in this action film. Seagal is terrific as always but I thought the plot was slightly lacking. It involves religio us killings and neither the victims or the killer aroused my sympathy. With weaker actors this movie would have been awful but they managed to (barely) keep your interest up.
HARRIET THE SPY (Paramount Home Video, 102 minutes) Rosie OíDonnell stars as the nanny of a sensitive 11-year-old girl who dreams of being a writer and a spy. Based on the childrens book classic, this is a delightful film which will appeal to both chil dren and those adults who remember reading the book.
HIGH SCHOOL HIGH (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 85 minutes) While I generally hate satire films, this one was remarkable. Jon Lovitz and Tia Carrere star in this urban comedy about a high school teacher which spoofs many films including Dangerous Min ds, Stand And Deliver, True Lies and The Deer Hunter. From the makers of The Naked Gun, this is well worth seeing if you like the Airplane series and similar films.
JERRY MCGUIRE (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 98 minutes) Tom Cruise stars in this superb romantic comedy about an agent who learns how loyal his clients are when he is forced to go out on his own and leave the company he helped to build. Directed by Cam eron Crowe, whose films seem to all be winners, this shows a great deal of the work involved in managing and promoting celebrities as well as exploring a single man and his attempts at dating and balancing work and social time. Highly recommended.
JIMI HENDRIX LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT 1970 (Rhino Home Video, 56 minutes) Although it took 26 years for this concert to hit home video, it is certainly worth the wait. Filmed only days before Hendrixís death, this contains an 11 song performance from the legendary festival. There are several cover tunes included such as "Sgt. Peppers," "All Along The Watchtower" and "God Save The Queen" as well as numerous Hendrix classics such as "Voodoo Chile" and "Red House." Donít miss picking up a copy if you enj oy Hendrixís music at all. Itís bound to go out of print eventually as his other movies have and itís worth having even if you have all of those already.
LEPRECHAUN 4 IN SPACE (Vidmark Entertainment, 98 minutes) I thought the third movie in this series was one of the best horror movies Iíd ever seen, and so I was excited about seeing this latest installment. Words cannot describe how bad this movie was and how disappointed I came away from it. Avoid at all costs and check out the third one instead.
MANNY & LOWE (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 89 minutes) Two teenage sisters need someone to help them deal with the fact one of them is pregnant and about to give birth. They select Mary Kay Place because she works at a baby shop, break into an aban doned home and hold her hostage there until the homeowner returns. This oddball comedy should appeal to women of all ages and has a truly unique plot.
MAXIMUM RISK (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 110 minutes) Jean-Claude Van Damme and Natasha Hensteridge star in this action film about a man who discovers he has an identical twin brother after he sees a corpse. He travels to New York from the south of F rance to research his brothers identity and life. He hooks up with his brothers girlfriend and the two are pursued by Russian mobsters and FBI agents as they try to solve the murder and expose an FBI conspiracy. One of Van Dammeís better movies, this is a must see for his many fans.
THE MIRROR HAS TWO FACES (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 126 minutes) Barbra Streisand and Jeff Bridges star in this romantic comedy about two friends and colleagues who get married for perhaps all the wrong reasons. The film works because itís not about a happily-ever-after relationship and because it honestly explores issues of settling for less than you truly want as well as what partnership means between married spouses. This superb plot is a fresh change from a sea of films about ideal people in ide al circumstances. Donít miss it if you like Streisand or comedies with more drama than slapstick skits.
THE PEOPLE VS. LARRY FLYNT (Columbia Tristar Home Video, 129 minutes) This superb and very gray film deals with the publishing career of Hustler publisher Larry Flynt. It stars Woody Harrelson and Courtney Love, both of whom should have won Acad emy Awards for their performances in it. The film is not without its faults, such as ignoring the often disgusting portayals of women in the magazineís pages as well as some of the stupendous serious articles that Hustler has published over the yea rs. No mention is made of the "Chester The Molester" cartoon series, or Flyntís short-lived Slam magazine which told readers to have sex with retarded girls as "no one will believe them anyway." Still, the film is eye-opening in its arguments that in order for other free speech to exist Flynt too deserves the right to print whatever he wishes. This is a must to see whether or not you like pornography and whether or not you have ever looked through Hustler magazine.
SCREAM (Dimension Home Video, 111 minutes) Surely one of the scariest horror films every made, this is one of the few in recent years to rely on plot instead of special effects. Drew Barrymore, Neve Campbell and Courtney Cox star in this film about a g roup of high school students who are being murdered for no apparent reason. Donít miss this if you like the horror genre even slightly.
SECONDS (Paramount Home Video, 107 minutes) Long absent from home video release, this Rock Hudson movie has finally been released. Originally released in the 1960s, this John Frankenheimer film involves a man who hears from a friend he though was decea sed. He is then offered the opportunity to be reborn, complete with plastic surgery and a new identity. The only catch is he must give up his old life including his wife, career, residence, etc. The plot gets better and better as it unfolds and this is a must to see even though it doesnít stand out among todayís latest releases with special effects, big name actors and gimmicks. This is one of those rare films that makes you think and that you dwell on after itís over.
SLEEPERS (Warner Brothers Home Video) Kevin Bacon, Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Jason Patric and Brad Pitt star in this powerful film about four childhood friends who get sent away for committing a crime, get abused, become adults and get revenge. O ne of the few films to ever deal with the problem with male sexual abuse, this does not minimize the pain, the humiliation or the inability of the victims to open up to other people about what they have suffered. Highly recommended for its superb plot and great cast as well as for its groundbreaking portrayal of male rape.
SMALL FACES (Evergreen Entertainment, 109 minutes) This British Film is about a 13-year-old boy in the process of becoming a man who lives in a neighborhood where he is not sure whether he will make it home safely due to local gang harassment. Hailed b y critics as a superb film, I was unfortunately not as impressed. Iím unsure whether I found it boring because it involved British life or because the characters simply didnít interest me.
STAR TREK: FIRST CONTACT (Paramount Home Video, 111 minutes) This big-budget film stars Patrick Stewart, who along with his Next Generation crew battle a half-human and half-machine race called the Borg. If you like Star Trek you probably caught this o ne at the theatre, but the video version is so well done it even features a special box design with a hologram cover. Highly recommended for science fiction fans of all ages as well as for those already familiar with the TV show.
TIGHT SPOT (Western Visuals) This superb adult film offers exotic locations, beautiful cinematography, a well-written plot and above average acting for the genre. Itís about a man who gets told a dangerous secret by a dying man and then goes to confron t the person the secret was about in an attempt to profit from it. Highly recommended for couples as well as fans of adult films who like some plot instead of just wall-to-wall sex acts.
TREES LOUNGE (Live Entertainment, 94 minutes) This slice-of-life film focuses on a tavern in Long Island and a loser who sits on the bar stool there. The cast includes Steve Buscemi, Mimi Rogers, Carol Kane, Debi Mazar and Samuel L. Jackson. Itís about the search for a job, a girl, and a good time. Well done and sure to strike a chord with anyone who had ever been unemployed or spent too much time in bars.
WHAT HAPPENED WASÖ (Evergreen Entertainment, 90 minutes) Two office workers experience a first date with each other which becomes progressively more intense as the evening unfolds. Winner of the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, this romantic fi lm is worth seeing by anyone who enjoys movies about couples or who has ever contemplated dated someone they work with.