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Really Important Films Magazine


Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the theatre!
We don't have to see a film to write a review.


Oscar and Lucinda
TITANIC UNSINKABLE? Yes, indeed!And so big it needs a page of it's own!
The English Patient...Is there a doctor in the house?
Hamlet Kenny B style! Question is, is he as *bad as he wanna be* And can he stand the action figure test?
Looking For Richard ...Al seeks him here. Al seeks him there!
Angel Baby, it ain't Shine!
Evita Don't Cry for Andrew Lloyd Webber. He's still got his money
Some Mother's SonSave your tears for this one
Love Jones Hark! Another love story! No blood, no violence and NO SPAM! Not to mention very few people you've ever heard of! That's okay, because they still loved it at Sundance!
CONTACT It's a bird! It's a plane! It's much ado about nothing!


"The English Patient"




The English Patient's heated passion is like a pot of tea left under a tea cozy for just the right amount of time on a Saturday afternoon in Sussex. Fiennes as the Hungarian Count Almasy reminds one of a Hungry Man Swanson dinner, big, inviting and filled with meat. Juliette Binoche gives us a Hana so ethereal as to remind one of cotton candy at a circus where the bigtop has tragically burned to the ground. Willem DeFoe, thumbless as a pre-evolutionary creature that has just crawled from the muck, startles, yet reassures. Kristin Scott Thomas, a woman of three names, plays Katherine like a cool corpse on a hot summers day.

All in all, The English Patient is like a plane with a full tank of gas flying over the desert by moonlight.

As we know, the devil is in the details and the details of The English Patient are as finely crafted as a bone china teacup. In what will undoubtedly become known as THE bathtub scene with Fiennes and Scott-Thomas, we can see the shimmering surface of the water ripple, just like the shimmering lives of these two characters as they come togther in a volcanic eruption of passion. You will swear that you can see the lava flow. The relationship of Hana and Kip, is more subdued. Where Katherine and Almasy are like a volcanic eruption, Hana and Kip are a bicycle ride through a summer field of wildflowers, fresh and beautiful, though in the end you might sneeze from the scent. Of course there still is the brooding image of the thumbless Caravaggio, who stands like a butcher with bad aim. A man who has missed the chop, only to dethumb himself, left alone to watch the action, knowing the tragic end that awaits the two pairs of lovers.

In the end you will laugh, you will weep, you will decry the injustice of the world and thrill to the sights of doomed lovers in The English Patient.

And now for the moment you've been waiting for. The Really Important Films rating of The English Patient. Now that the review has been written I went to see the film, twice and after the second viewing have decided to give it:

Four out of Four Camels and I actually saw this film more than once! The English Patient is a movie that will satisfy for the long haul. Go see it.


Looking For Richard


Why does Al Pacino go looking for Richard? Like Branagh's struggle with Hamlet, Pacino battles his Richard III! Maybe this search is to help Pacino find out why he faired so poorly in the Broadway version of Richard III.
Was he intimidated by Shakespeare or did he buy into the rumour that Americans just can't do Shakespeare?

Pacino maintains a "homeboy" charm as he hits the streets of New York and London. Donning his baseball cap(worn fashionably backwards) to find out what the everyday person thinks of Shakespeare and why we find it so complicated to read and understand Shakespeare.

"Looking for Richard" serves to disspel the nasty and nagging rumour that American actors just can't do Shakespeare! (Well, maybe not all American actors, anyway). He interviews accomplished American and British actors who have wrestled with Shakespeare. Kenneth Branagh, Kevin Kline, and Vanessa Redgrave admitted to having a bit of rowl with Shakespeare! Then of course, there's Sir John Gielgud who would have us believe he never broke a sweat over Shakespeare! According to Sir John, Americans struggle with Shakespeare, because we don't read enough! I may have to give him a brownie point on that one!

On Pacino's journey to find Richard he gets around to talking to *the experts* on both sides of the Atlantic. Some argue that it's not all that important that you understand the *language*, but you should at least have an idea of what's going on in the plays. Hello! Call me a spoiler, but I'd still like to have an idea when Richard is telling whomever to *bugger-off* at a precise moment. It would certainly set the tone for the scene! What some of us might need is a translator and we'll set to go! Of course there are the pesty little historians who give explainations as complicated as some of the Bard's works! Blah, blah, blah. Why even Pacino had to scratch his head a couple of times!

The production crew take a trip to Shakespeare's place of birth (the actual birthing chamber) for inspiration. Pacino and his co-producer proceed to set off the smoke detectors in the room and are asked to leave! It whole scene is quite funny! We see rehearsals back in the States for what will be the *stage* version of Richard III. The rehearsal scenes between the actors are wonderful. Castmembers discuss their respective characters and their interactions and reactions with and to other characters. Sometimes the discussion get quite heated. The rehearsals and street interviews scenes are interestingly woven in with footage of the play.

The documentary does manage cut to the chase, Richard! *His story*; his motivation; his sometimes bloody use and malnipulation of events and people around him. Many would believe that because of Richard's physical malady he should by all rights be a self-loathing man, he is not. At least if he is, he's not letting anyone know it. Where he may be twisted in body, he makes up for in twisted but shrewd intellect, timing, and loathing of those around him. I never quite pity Richard until the very end, when he finds himself alone on the battle mornfully uttering the famous words "A horse. A horse. My kingdom for a horse". Does he value his life over his hard fought for kingdom? By the time the play is done with him, we know if he had gotten that horse, he would been back for the his kingdom, another horse, and the whole shabang! Face it, Richard would have made a killing in the corporate and political world of the 1990's!

One lesson learned is that Richard III is the most performed of all Shakespeare plays! More than *Hamlet* you ask? Yep! I never knew that myself and I took Shakespearian literature in college. What *Looking for Richard* proves that one can never know too much about Shakespeare. Or can one? This is always something to be learned. God knows, I got more out of this film, then I got out of that lit class!

Does Al ever find Richard? My guess is that he doesn't really, not in the professional sense anyway, but he does battle quite well against his demon! Pacino does a great job at this self-directed and produced documentary film on Richard III. The street interviews are fun to watch and the editing is superb!

Would I run out to see Pacino in Shakespeare? Nay! Of course, if he's wearing his baseball cap (worn fashionably backwards) and allowed to do it in his Bronx accent, I might be persuaded! Otherwise, in the words of a friend he's *too contemporary* for traditional Shakespeare!

"The English Patient's" Caravaggio would give "Looking For Richard"
two thumbs up, but he's already given them up for the cause!
I, on both hands, have thumbs.
Two thumbs up and a *Woooo Aaah*! It's absolutely engaging!


Hamlet



Kenneth Branagh is Hamlet the Action Figure

His hair bleached blond and looking more like a Nazi storm trooper than a Danish Prince or a melancholy Dane, Kenneth Branagh puts his entire ego on the line and up on the wide screen in 70 millimeter format. I admit to never being a Branagh fan. I didn't like his other adaptations of Shakespeare's plays, but this time he's boring me to tears and heck, this is RIP film magazine which means I've only seen the trailer!
In the trailer Ken B. milks "To be or not to be" for all it's worth while admiring his blondness in the mirror. No one will ever believe that this narcissistic Hamlet would ever choose not to be.
But there is more. Julie Christie as Gertrude looking aghast! Derek Jacobi is Claudius with a brush cut! Robin Williams looking, well, like Robin Williams. His is just one of the many cameos by famous Hollywood stars. Even Moses, yes, Moses, Charleton Heston shows up as the Player King. There's Billy Cyrstal, so I guess Ken B. is hoping Billy hosts this years Oscars and puts in the fix for this overlong, over bloated version of Shakespeare's classic. and now, what else is left to do, but sing! Take it away Gilbert and Sullivan!!

"My name is Hamlet and I am a Prince
I'm in a new movie that will make you wince
I have some scenes not in the play
Where they call me Dirty Hamlet and "I say make my day."

Chorus sings: He has some scenes not in the play
Where they call him dirty Hamlet and he says "Make my day"

Kenneth Branagh directed and he stars too
The cast is a Hollywood who's who
He eats up the scenery until he's full
Then turns a great play into a lot of bull

Chorus: He eats up the scenery until he's full
Then turns a great play into a lot of bull

Hamlet has a nude scene with Ophelia
At least there is no necrophelia
I wish Kenny B. would leave well enough alone
And not hang on like a dog with a bone

Chorus: We wish Kenny B. would leave well enough alone
And not hang on like a dog with a bone

So, if you ignore RIP mags advice, please beware
There is a scene where bodkins are bare
You won't mind cause you'll be asleep
But spending your money on the tickets will make you weep

Chorus: You won't mind cause you'll be asleep
But spending money on the tickets will make you weep


EVITA


Don't cry for Andrew Lloyd Webber
He gets paid even though the film's bad
He's still beyond rich and so it won't make him too sad
Madonna kept her promise and is really bad

So what of Madonna who has so much fame?
Will she recover from being a bad actress?
Or will she'll keep acting until she drives us insane?
She lives under the delusion that she has any talent at all
But millions buy that delusion at the record store in the mall

Don't cry for Andrew Lloyd Webber
The truth is I never liked him
A musical about Evita
The wife of a dictator
Why not one about Mrs.Stalin?
Well, maybe later

And what of Kenneth Branagh who's not in this film?
Did Madonna turn down the role of Ophelia
To play the role she was born to portray?
Would she be better as a singing Ophelia?
That's a question whose answer I never need know.

So, don't cry for Andrew Lloyd Webber
The truth is he'll always master
Making money from his music
Even if Madonna stars in Sunset Boulevard
You think the Titanic was a disaster?


Some Mother's Son


(And some mother's son who kicked my theatre seat)

What is it about engrossing films and folks who sit behind you bent on annoying you constantly during a film? Is it the suspense, the superb performances of the film cast that make people squirm, kick, and bump the seats in front of them. Or is it in actually, too much caffeine in that cola or the sugar rush from oversized, overpriced candy bar?
I don't know, but I was hoping it was due to the reasonably fine script and the enormous talents of Helen Mirren and Fionnula Flanagan in their roles of (respectively) Kathleen Quigley and Annie Higgins in Some Mothers Sons These women from totally opposites ends of the spectrum happen to be mothers of convicted IRA terrorist and/or prisoners of war during the 1981 Belfast prison hunger strikes.

Suspecting which *side* I would attach myself going into this film, I found it wasn't as simple as all that! It's the area between black and white at tends to muddy things a bit! To see these women, their convictions to the lives of their sons and other mother's sons is astonishing. Though they don’t always agree on methodology, they share a common thread. Kathleen believes in the non-violent approach to a settlement in Northern Ireland and Annie Higgins is pro-IRA which we learn is the result of having already lost one son at the hands of British soldiers (we assume). Kathleen finds out what is to deal government officials and power-plays on both sides and Annie reveals "I don't hate them all, you know!" after having British soldiers come to their rescue during a driving mishap.

The real question for them both arises both their sons decide after the death of Bobby Sands to carry on the hunger strike. Whether to support their sons at the cost of their young lives or intervene. When to respect their son’s ultimate goals and when to say enough. When all of the other key players have seem to lost sight of reality and humanity, do you choose a chance to save the lives of others down the road or that one life that stands before you. Quigley and Higgins find in the final analysis, they, themselves might really hold the key to the fates of their sons and that they are truely on their own
What will Kathleen do when her son pleads to her “Don’t let us die” The performances are too moving to be forgotten.

BTW, the scene of Bobby Sands' (John Lynch) emaciated body on his prison hospital deathbed is almost Christlike in appearance. It is heartrending and frightening as well! Whether one agrees with all Sands stood for or not, he is certainly the martyr in this film. I don’t know if this physical likeness is intentional. Whether it is or not, leaves it's mark.

I don’t understand why Some Mother’s Sons didn’t manage to garner a couple of Golden Globe nominations for Mirren and Flanagan and it’s director (whose name escapes me). Madonna and Courtney Love were nominated! Go figure!

Getting back to folks kicking, squirming, sugar rushes, etc. I can understand the excitement of watching a well-acted film, but could you have some mercy on the seats please! After looking at the guy who kicked the back of my seat during this film, I recommend a small unbuttered popcorn and a sugar-free, caffeine-free soda! That other stuff will kill you (or me.) And if you must squirm could you do it in moderation?

Hmmm, 'wonder if they'll be kicking seats at "Evita?




Angel Baby

John Lynch and Jacqueline McKenzie star in this winner of 7 Australian Film Institute Awards, which include Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress.

While big Hollywood studios find themselves in a quandary of what direction to take after taking a beating by independent films at this years Academy Awards, the Indies seem to continue to give us quality films with extraordinary performances by relatively unknown actors. "Angel Baby" is no exception. This Australian film is another character study in the mentally challenged. Grant it, Angel Baby was released before in the internationally acclaimed and Oscar winner 'Shine'. However, Angel Baby is no ‘Shine’!

I confess to having somewhat of a passion for character study films. I find human beings to be so fascinating. Even when we are at our best and worst, we are still poetry in motion.

"Angel Baby" is a quiet but intense film. Unlike "Shine", the characters are in a sense everyday. They are people who ride public transportation and have no special sights or struggles for greatness; they just want to live out their lives like everyone else with a purpose. The film neither shocks nor does it leave the audience with a feeling of awe. It blames no one. The characters are even.

John Lynch is absolutely superb in the role of the gentle Harry. His Harry tugs at your heart. There is a sad beauty to Lynch’s Harry. In Harry’s gentleness, he is a slave to his heavy medication. Even still, he yearns for a normal life. Jacqueline McKenzie's Kate reminds you of a sassy young woman you’d bump into on a Saturday afternoon. However, not without her problems. She is a free spirit. Kate gets guidance from her guardian angel through messages sent via the Australian version of ‘Wheel of Fortune', through the solved puzzles of each day's shows. (So what's so wrong with this you ask? Millions of Americans find guidance and solace in psychic hotlines, astrology, and numbers!)

Harry and Kate meet during a therapy session at The Clubhouse. Harry is instantly attracted to Kate (his *special angel*) Love blossoms for Harry and Kate. Eventually they move in together and lead somewhat normal lives. That is, until it is discovered that Kate is pregnant. In Harry's concern for the health and well-being of the baby, it is decided they both will discontinue their daily medication. Not the best decision for either! It's only downhill from there! We slowly watch them crumble.

One of the most moving scenes happens in a shopping mall. This where it is apparent that Kate begins to slip away. We see Harry and Kate at their most vulnerable. We discover that Kate is every bit Harry’s heart and soul. There is nothing he wouldn't do for her! He is her knight in shining armor. Kate, his savior in all their desperation.

As I said "Angel Baby" is no "Shine". However, unlike many films that deals with the issue of mental illness, the performances are not over-wrought, never over the edge! The subject matter is dealt with great compassion, not a freak show. There is no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for Kate and Harry. While many of us sometime (if just for a split second) hope for a fantasy out of our misery, Harry knows there is none. I could feel for the characters, not simply because of their *illnesses*, but because they are so fragile. As we all can be.

Since there is no major ad campaign, this could be an uphill battle for "Angel Baby". It can only survive in theatres by way of mouth. I was lucky to have found it playing at a local art house theatre with a very limited engagement, one week. I pray, it goes into general release.

If you appreciate character studies, then I recommend "Angel Baby" For those not familiar with the work of John Lynch, there is no better film to start with!

If you are interested in getting more information on
John Lynch or the film "Angel Baby" visit these sites:

The Lynch Mob
The Angel Baby Website



Love Jones


Director/writer Theodore Witcher (Boyz In the Hood) offers a welcome change of pace in films dealing with African American life and the "L" word! Witcher's LOVE JONES picked up the Audience Award at this years Sundance Film Festival! No small feat!

Now before we go on, there are some things we need to get straight. First off for those not the least bit familiar with LOVE JONES, it is NOT the name of a female action hero in a cheesy "B" Hollywood film! Secondly, (for the benefit of those really out of the loop) "love jones" is an African American slang term for one truly, madly, deeply in love (if I may borrow shamelessly from Anthony Minghella's film namesake)! Now that we've gotten that out of the way. Oh, alright, I'll get on with it!

What IS so special about LOVE JONES you ask? Plenty! The cast of characters are attractive, well educated, employed, and caring twenty something African Americans grappling with complex and perplexing questions and thoughts on love and relationships. It's not a new concept... people grappling with the idea of love and relationships but how often does the movie going public get to see people of colour deal with them?

The films main characters Nia Long and Laurenz Tate are wonderful and believeable in the roles of Nina Mosley a struggling photographer and Darius Lovehall a writer (with a last name like Lovehall, how could he not be?) Nia and Darius first set eyes on each other at a local Chicago hang out for the literate and artsy, The Sanctuary. On the first meeting Darius is totally taken by Nia (I kid you not) and dedicates a poem he reads on stage to Nia (surprised yet?) Nina, though flattered, is not impressed with Darius' poem since it makes very sexual overtones. (Uh, huh) Nothing like great first impressions!

Darius pursues Nina. You know the story, boy meets girl, girl despises boy, boy pursues girl, girl gives in, boy loses girl, boy despires girl, lack of trust gets in the way, and girl loses boy, etc. …As the relationship progresses, or doesn't, neither Nia or Darius will admit to their friends, each other, or themselves that they have gone beyond "just kicking it'! (such a romantic term)

What makes LOVE JONES unique, aside from the fact it reflects African Americans in an intelligence light, is the dialogue between the characters. The dialogue between the sexes in the scene at The Sanctuary, it's hilarious!

One of favorite characters is Darius married' friend Savon played by Isaiah Washington. Savon, whose marriage is in big trouble, tries to offer some advice and opinions on marriage, love, etc. He finds himself lost, but he does know how and what he feels. Savon is very open with Darius. LOVE JONES is rather romantic in it's own way. I have one confession to make about LOVES JONES and that is if you didn't know that Mr. Witcher was the writer of the film, it is very obvious LOVE JONES is written from a male point of view. There's nothing wrong with that! Witcher does treat his female characters with love and respect. It's just that the male characters got the better dialogue!

Why did Sundance audiences respond so favorably to LOVE JONES? Probably because it offers up something we all can relate to regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation. LOVE JONES may not a great film by Hollywood standards but it's got heart, it's fun, and it's well made!

Visit NewLine's Love Jones website for more details


CONTACT


Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No! It's Jodi Foster in CONTACT! CONTACT is the eagerly awaited film adaptation of the late Carl Sagan's sci-fi novel that asked the question: "Who is out there and do we care?"

Well, to be honest, I have always cared. I own a telescope and have been known to lug it outside to watch lunar eclipses, comets that show up once in a life time, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and the moon. So, heck, I want to know if there is life beyond this planet.

Enough of that! What you want to know is if there is life in CONTACT! Well, yes and no. There is certainly life in Jodi Foster's portrayal of Ellie, the reaearcher who against all odds makes contact with some sort of life on Vega. As for the film, directed by Robert "Gump" Zemeckis, that is another story. Zemeckis just had to show off his Gumpian super powers by putting President Clinton in the film. It doesn't work, is distracting and frankly Clinton may end up competing for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar against all those CNN anchors who also appear in the film.

So what about the performance of last year's flavor of the week, Matthew McConaughey? If you had asked I'd tell you not to because the poor man has a part that hasn't been written. He has no character to portray. Palmer Joss, spiritual advisor in the story to President Clinton, is a cipher. He is there to represent the religion line. He is God's standin, so to speak, there to challenge Foster's scientific non-believer. And of course to provide a love interest for Foster. It is a part of the story line that never works.

But, even though he has no character to play, why does McConaughey look like he's contracted stage fright? He is stiff, awkward and frankly, just bad in this thankless part.

Okay, so you're saying to yourself "I guess you didn't like CONTACT." And you'd be right, though I did like the opening scene that goes under the credits which gets you thinking you're in for something special. But really, CONTACT is a letdown, a disappointment. It is like apple pie with no apples, fried chicken with no grease, a trip to Vega with no Vegans.

CONTACT is rated PG and I'm sure there are a number of websites to visit which this reviewer will make contact with and put up some links.



The Classics Decomposed

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