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Volume 1, Number 10

This Week's Reviews:  The Mummy, S.L.C. Punk!, Election.



The Mummy

(Dir: Stephen Sommers, Starring Brenden Fraser, Rachel Weisz, John Hannah, Jonathan Hyde, Arnold Vosloo, Stephen Dunham, Kevin J. Connor, Corey Johnson, and Tuc Watkins)

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BY: DAVID PERRY

Of course, what should I have expected from the director of Deep Rising? Not only does Stephen Sommers make another poor special effects action film, but he also brings one of the weakest links from Deep Rising: actor Kevin J. Connor. I would like to give my apology to Owen Wilson for mistaking him for Connor upon seeing Armageddon (Wilson redeemed himself for acting in Armageddon by co-writing Rushmore). Connor is easily one of the worst actors I have ever seen and this only further pushes my comparison of him to Ed Wood directing Rod Steiger in a film version of Antigone.

The Mummy is a complete rehash of the far superior 1932 Universal Studios Boris Karloff version of The Mummy. It takes an adventure into a mummy's tomb where the undead waits for someone to mistakenly read the ancient book to open him to the world. For this task, the film turns to the official ditziest actress ever, Swept by the Sea star Weisz. She has come with her brother (Hannah) and a young soldier (Fraser) who says he has been to the Lost City of Hamanatra (if it is misspelled, oh well). They happen to find some other troupe of explorers that are heading there under the lead of Bennie (Connor) for the monetary endowment that would come with the city's finding. This other group really just serves as a place to point the fury of the mummy (Vosloo) at for the ever so enlightening special effects.

The script is some of the worst dreck I've heard all year and the direction is almost as bad. Even the usually kudos-worthy Fraser gives a sub-par performance with about as much appeal as yet another The 7th Voyage of Sinbad skeleton sequence rip-off. I expected a little more from Fraser considering that the last time I doubted him, I was given a nice treat in Blast from the Past. If you must see a mummy movie, do yourself a favor and rent the original from 1932 (or even 1940's The Mummy's Hand).


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S.L.C. Punk!

(Dir: James Merendino, Starring Matthew Lillard, Michael A. Goorjian, Annabeth Gish, Jennifer Lien, Christopher McDonald, Devon Sawa, Jason Segel, Summer Pheonix, James Duval, Til Schweiger, and Adam Pascal)

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BY: DAVID PERRY

In the 1970s a new wave of anarchy began in New York and Los Angeles. It was not until the 1980s and the emergence of anti-Reagan sentiment for the "punk" movement to get into the rest of American society. Not suprisingly, one of the last metropoli for the movement to get to was Salt Lake City, Utah. That is where S.L.C. Punk! tries to get its point. Through the story of the fictional first two punks, the film tries to show the downfall of these two anarchists against assimilation into Mormon society.

One of my biggest problems with the film is that, like the British import from earlier this year Lock Stock & Two Smoking Barrels, it tries too hard to be catchy. It seems to want to be Trainspotting so much that it turns out paling to it simply because comparison is the first thing that comes to mind. The two protagonists (or would they be antagonists?) are almost complete carbon copies of the Renton and Tommy characters from Trainspotting. Even the ending evokes fond memories of the great Scottish film. The direction seems pushed at times as edginess does not come very subtly.

But in the end, S.L.C. Punk! works more than it fails. The script works well, though its few delves into drama fail miserably. I thought Matthew Lillard gave a great performance as the narrator. Goorjian is also quite good as Heroin Bob (though his unbelievable resemblance to mohawked Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver was a little off setting). One of the biggest suprises about the film was in the small performance from Devon Sawa. You may recall that last week I gave him slight praise for a good performance in Idle Hands, but when I saw his name in the opening credits of S.L.C. Punk! I was still quite weary of him just guessing that Idle Hands was a bit of a fluke for him. But his performance in S.L.C. Punk! is scene-stealing. I'm guessing that he is somewhat like Christina Ricci: forced to do poor PG movies until maturing to great R rated performances.

S.L.C. Punk! is lackluster, but still worth seeing if nothing else is attainable.


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Election

(Dir: Alexander Payne, Starring Matthew Broderick, Reese Witherspoon, Chris Klein, Jessica Campbell, Mark Harelik, Phil Reeves, Molly Hagan, Delaney Driscoll, Colleen Camp, Frankie Ingrassia, Matt Malloy, Jeanine Jackson, and Holmes Osborne)

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BY: DAVID PERRY

Earlier this year I found a terrific little treat in Rushmore, which turned out getting the seventh spot on my 1998 top ten list. It was a high-school set film that had heart and deserved a great viewing audience. But it was too smart for its own good. It got an R rating and everything went down hill from there. Adults shunned it as a teen film, and teenagers thought it seemed too adult. Instead Message in a Bottle and She's All That became hits. I have a feeling that this may very well be the future for Election. It too is smart, eccentric, interesting, and set in an unappreciative age group, assets that could prove to be debits.

Election is a narrative piece surrounding four characters. The first is Tracy Flick (Witherspoon) who is running on her own for the Senior Class President. Like Rushmore's Max Fischer, her many interests and achievements in school have kept her from making an achievement in friends (for Fischer, it was grades). Everything is fine in her campaign until the only teacher that cannot stand her, Jim McAllister (Broderick), schemes to stop her from winning. So enters Paul Metzler (Klien), the dim-witted football player shot down by a skiing accident. Then in retaliation of his new relationship with her ex-lover, his sister Tracey (Campbell) enters the race as an anti-school government advocate. The war has now set stage and only one person can fall: Jim McAllister.

The cast is terrific, but most thanks to this film can go to its biting screenplay. I was suprised how frank it was with many adult themes. I also liked the freedom from cliche that it goes for. The jock character is much more three dimensional in this film, not the normal Hollywood carbon copy athlete seen in films like Varsity Blues (another MTV Production). The director also gets points for not simply taking a straight forward direction as most comedy directors do. Payne, who's previous work includes the overrated Citizen Ruth, is in the same vein as Rushmore director Wes Anderson.

I've been racking my brain for the past two days on whether this is the best film so far this year, edging out The Matrix. In the end, I decided that Election is the best comedy and the best of the summer so far, but The Matrix will retain its current title.

  

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Blatant Opinion:
This week in blatant opinion, I'm looking at the near future: what movies will be on my must-see list this summer. I'm sure that just about everybody who reads this already knows that Eyes Wide Shut is the most important movie for me this year, but there are other that I can't wait for...and not a single one of them is directed by George Lucas. I'll take a look at each of the four months that make up the Summer movie season and what films I can't wait for (keep in mind that the month is based on NY & LA release and may not even come near me).

__May__

The Mummy: Yes, I was hyped, and now I shall repent for ever thinking anything from Deep Rising's director

A Midsummer Night's Dream: the trailer looks nice and whimsical, and who can't respect a film that acts like Christian Bale isn't even in it

Arlington Road: The trailer is nothing special but word around says that this film has a terrific ending

Tea with Mussolini: If it's directed by Franco Zeffirelli, I'm in

Beseiged: If it's directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, I'm in

The Loss of Sexual Innocence: If it's directed by Mike Figgis, I'm in

Eternity and a Day: Ever since it won the first prize at last year's Cannes Film Festival, I've been looking forward to this film

The Third Man: A rerelease of one of my all-time favorite films with extra footage...where do I sign up!

__June__

Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me: Two words... Heather Graham

An Ideal Husband: After Elizabeth, Cate Blanchett is poised for another costume drama success

The Thomas Crown Affair: Might be fun to see while waiting for the next Bond film

Instinct: I'll see anything with Anthony Hopkins

Run Lola Run: Everyone who saw it at festivals have given this much praise

__July__

The Haunting: Something about this film's trailer makes me want to see the latest from Jan De Bant

Wild Wild West: It was not until the trailer came with The Matrix, did I start to see potential in this film (though I'm poised for a let down)

American Pie: I hear good things, but I'm still a little weary

Bowfinger: Two words...Heather Graham

Summer of Sam: Spike Lee seems to be on a role and I doubt this will be his let down film

The Blair Witch Project: Even if they are sending me a screener of this film, I'm going to wait to see this film in the theatre for the full effect (plus it opens the same day as Eyes Wide Shut making probably the greatest double feature known to man)

50 Violins: A drama from Wes Craven. I have to see this

Outside Providence: Even if they only wrote it, I'm sure that the Farrelly Brothers have placed some of the There's Something About Mary charm in this comedy

The Fight Club: The week before Eyes Wide Shut is almost as big as Se7en director David Fincher and star Brad Pitt are finally reteamed

Eyes Wide Shut: I don't think I even have to remark on why I'm hyped about this one.

__August__

Mystery Men: It stars Ben Stiller, Hank Azaria, William H. Macy, Janeane Garofalo, Greg Kinnear, Claire Forlani, and Geoffrey Rush for heaven's sake

The Muse: Even if I don't care for Sharon Stone, at least it has the Albert Brooks appeal.

Killing...ahem...Teaching Mrs. Tingle: I know that I did not like The Faculty, but I still have some paper thin respect left for Kevin Williamson

Dudley Do-Right: I happened to like Blast from the Past and this is a reteaming of its star and director

Caligula: At one time called the worst film ever by Roger Ebert, I have to see this


Reviews by:
David Perry
1999, Cinema-Scene.com

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