Sunday, January 1 1995
When he places an ad in the local paper to sell a used lethal injection machine, Fred Leuchter seems genuinely surprised to learn the ad has been pulled and banned from publication. To say the least, Leuchter appears out of touch with reality.
...a sprawling affair, filled with bad accents (Cate Blanchett's tortured 'Russian'), tired cliches about studly horsemen and young girls' sexual awakenings, and really bad lip-syncing to Italian opera.
On its good-looking surface (being well-composed and carefully lit), 'The Mexican' is a love story.
Imagine that, like Leonard (Guy Pearce), you find yourself in mid-run, with a scary-looking guy with a gun running nearby, and you have to figure out who's chasing whom. In practical terms, it only takes a second to realize that he's chasing you, because he fires his gun at you and heads your way.
On Mansfield Park's official Miramax website, the book upon which the film is loosely based is heralded as Jane Austen's third and most controversial novel. This claim, directed at Mansfield Park the novel, seems an attempt to re-invigorate interest in a text oftentimes considered Austen's blandest.
If Nair's romance of India is a bit too 'exotic' for you, there are always the worn out cliches about flowers, and beauty and love.
While Ed confides his dissatisfaction, you also get a glimpse of how he sees the world, the camera peering down at scalps or neck napes, apparently always in need of trimming or cutting or buzzing.
Any director who imagines the slender acting talent of Benjamin Bratt (late of TV's 'Law & Order') can sustain the male lead, FBI agent and atavistic prig Eric Matthews (particularly opposite the gloriously charismatic Bullock) requires instant re-immersion in Casting 101.
With Loser, Heckerling faces the challenge of measuring up to past success in a decade that doesn't even have its own colloquialism. If in no other way but numerically, Loser functions as a reflection of the '00s.
In 'Lumumba', the protagonist is perpetually caught between wanting to change everything all at once, and wanting to assert his own power and to establish his right to it.
All this reminiscing might easily turn melodramatic, but for the most part, 'Last Orders' avoids tear-jerking and grand emotional revelations.
If there is a more perfect expression of life's pains and elations than Al Green's 'Love and Happiness,' I don't know it.
All this said, I'm inclined to like Loser, because it wants so badly to do well by its college-age heroes, and there are so many movies that have exactly the opposite intention.
But with asylum also comes a false identity and a new life devoted to hiding and secrecy: Rita (Bibiana Beglau) is given a new name and personal history -- a legend -- and must forever forfeit her life as a revolutionary.
It's somewhat refreshing to watch a male character exhibit an immature sexual insecurity in the face of a more experienced female lover, and even more refreshing -- if not downright liberating -- to watch that female character refuse to apologize for her sexual appetites.
These are the questions that drive Buck Williams -- who fancies himself a relentless seeker of truth -- through the rest of 'Left Behind', a Christian fundamentalist film styled as a grade-B sci-fi action thriller.