Daily News from New York, New York on November 18, 1987 · 377
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Daily News from New York, New York · 377

New York, New York
Issue Date:
Wednesday, November 18, 1987
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Wednesday.. November. 1 8 1 987- GnonGHDinig aini' a 'CScnGanDnintg Mie, EM Fiiem A KN WITH THE SHOW: "GET " me the Justice Department Entertainment Division!" So demands an angry Richard Dawson, who, in a bit of high-concept typecasting, portrays the repulsive host of a futuristic police-state America's most popular TV show, the titular Running Man, a sort of "Beat the Clock Meets the Most Dangerous Game." Arnie Schwarzenegger is the unlucky contestant, a framed ex-flyer forced to flee a lethal lineup of professional "stalkers" (Jesse Ventura, Jim Brown, Prof. Toru Tanaka and an opera-singing Erland Van Lidth) in a bid to claim the game's grand prize: trial by jury(!). Based on a Richard Bachman (Stephen King) novel depicting the ultimate merger of government and show biz, and borrowing liberally from Blade Runner, Rollerball and The Tenth Victim, The Running Man is an often sophomoric but generally fun dystopian slaughterfest: The flick succeeds in sending up game shows, pro wrestling and official duplicity while still filling the screen with enough chainsaws, shootouts and exploding heads to hold hard-core action fans' attention. Schwarzenegger delivers his by-now formulaic one-liners more stiffly than ever and meets his thespic match' in Maria Conchita Alonso for sustained, unintelligibility, their exchanges rival Sly and Brigitte Nielsen's in Cobra (though Sly, to his credit, managed without an accent). The Running Man is no Terminator, but . it's better than Commando or Raw Deal and at least the equal of Predator. Wierd-Wolves: In Philippe Mora's Howling III, Imogen Annesley stars as a fetchingly feral wolfwench named Jerboa part of an endagered species of "human marsupials" who runs away from her backward Aussie tribe to try her luck in the big city (Sydney, Australia). There, she meets ' . j. iii - FUTURISTIC FANTASY: Yaphet Kotto, Arnold Schwarzenegger in "Running Man." PHANTOM H imnic f: . Mi handsome assistant director Donnie Martin (Leigh Biolos), who lands her a victim role in the horror pic Shape Shifters: Part 8. Jerboa eventually hooks up with her equally hirsute So-' viet counterpart, a defecting ballerina (?), and both cross paths with scientist Barry Otto. Mora's deadpan spoof of self-serious celluloid lore is a consistently twisty affair replete with some neat original setpieces, including a grisly ballet rehearsal and a movie "wrap party" invaded by a trio of werewolf nuns (!). Performances are uniformly fine, with Frank (Mad Max 3) Thring contributing to an especially funny bit as a low-budget Hitchcock clone. The last two reels could do with some trimming, but this one's a vast improvement over Howling II and well worth a bijou visit Mea Culpa Department: While on the subject, we regret our error in City Light's Phantom Phocus on Nov. 1, in which we heedlessly referred to The Wolf Man as the "world's first werewolf movie." We also thank the legions of alert fans, among them Sun-nyside's Sam Wolf (who ought to know!). Wolf wrote to remind us that Werewolf of London (1935) preceded -The Wolf Man by six years. Now put those silver bullets away! PHAN MAIL Dear Phantom: Did the horror movie Dolls ever come out? Was it released in this area? Tom Brinkman, Islip, N.Y. In what amounted to a well-kept secret, Stuart Gordon's, "Dolls" opened, without a single newspaper ad, on a 42d St double bill back on Nov. 6. While it doesn't rate with the same director's "Reanimator" or "From Beyond," the flick deserved a far better fate than that Incidentally, a bout of ill health forced Stu to interrupt the filming of his current pic, "The Teenie-Weenies," but he's reportedly recuperating on schedule, which is good news for fans of high-grade horror. Wish I'd Said That: Zeloko Ivanek to police in the TV movie Echoes in the Darkness: "I don't want to be killed I just want to teach English!" An official Phantom T-shirt goes to Danny Bello of Manhattan. REVIEW Chilling Look At Hitler's Final Solution By KATHLEEN CARROLL Daily News Movie Critic THE WANNSEE CONFERENCE. Robert Artzhom. Gerd Bockmann. Directed by Heinz Schirk. At the Festival., thfc nunning time: i nour, jo minutes, no Kating. witn English titles. Ill II jf'- j J ft. vn' -"j "THE WANNSEE CONFERENCE" recreates an actual meeting of Nazi higher-ups. "V N HISTORIC meeting is about Aj to take place in a secluded man-lrWtsion in Wannsee, an exclusive Berlin suburb. Adolph Eichmann, the Gestapo's "Jewish expert," stands in the entrance hall, cordially greeting each of the invited representatives of the SS.'the Nazi Party and the government bureaucracy. The atmosphere is surprisingly relaxed as waiters offer cognac to the arriving guests. One Gestapo officer amuses himself by playing with a German shepherd in the garden. Finally, Reinhard Heydrich, the much-feared head of the Security Police and the Secret Service, calls the meeting to order. The cognac has apparently loosened everyone up, for the discussion is punctuated by loud chortles and fist-pounding. Heydrich even .flirts with the pretty secretary who dutifully takes down every word. Only one delegate betrays any sign of human compassion. The others are so relieved to learn that the matter under discussion will be handled "quickly" that the entire meeting lasts only 85 minutes. The delegates then happily devour a buffet luncheon. Their cheerful gemutlich mood is especially chilling in "The Wannsee Conference," because this compelling German movie is a dramatic re-enactment of the actual meeting in which Nazi middle-management types gave Heydrich the go-head to proceed with what was called "The Final Solution." The script is, in fact, largely based on the secretary's minutes of that fateful meeting at which Hitler's plan to exterminate -,11 million. Jews was put. into motion. The actors were mainly chosen for their resemblance to the participants. When they speak, one recoils in horror, as when a smiling S.S. officer promises a solution to "the Jewish problem" by spring. "We'll have something else something elegant," he tells Eastern European party officials who complain of having to cope with the overcrowded ghettos. "Eichmmann is our shipping agent, so to speak," jokes Heydrich. The movie, which was directed with sobering precision by Heinz Schirk, has a biting ironic tone and a haunting authenticity. You feel as if you were there, witnessing the power lunch of Nazi bureaucrats whose casual acceptance of Heydrich's authority led to the Holocaust REVIEW Rollicking Romp From Zaire By CHRIS CHASE LA VIE EST BELLE. Papa Wemba, Knjbwa Bibi. Directed by Benort Lamy & Ngangura Mweze. At Film Forum 1. In French with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes. r MAN FROM BELGIUM Aj and a man from Zaire co-fv directed this movie, and it is as cheerful and good-tempered as a movie can be. (Apparently, so are the people of Zaire. A recent piece in the International Herald Tribune says that although most Zairian workers make very little and eat only one meal a day, they smile and dance the nights away.) . The story here is of a young musician named Kouru (played by Papa Wemba, Zaire's most popular singing star) who travels from the countryside to the big city hoping to make his fortune. He tries to get a job in a music club, but the other musicians laugh at him, and he winds up in the club owner's house, washing clothes and helping out in the kitchen. The club owner, Nvouandou (Kanku Kasongo) i i KRUBWA BIBI of "La Vie Est Belle." has his own problems. He's been married for 20 years to Mamou (Landu Nzunzimbu) and they have no children and his father is threatening to disinherit him if he doesn't produce an heir. Nvouandou goes to see a witch doctor, and the upshot of the visit is that he takes a second wife, the pretty young girl, Kabibi (Krubwa Bibi), whose mother exchanges her for cash and a microwave oven. This causes much grief and consternation. Wife No. 1 doesn't see the need for Wife No. 2. Kouru, in love with Kabibi, is equally heart-broken. But in Zaire, broken hearts don't seem to interfere with the singing and dancing. Will Mamou, who belongs to an organization of liberated women who go out drinking together, find a way to outwit her husband and Wife No. 2? Will Kourou get out of the kitchen, put a band together, and win Kahibi? I'm not violating a sacred trust when I tell you it all comes out okay. Papa Wemba's music is hypnotic, and the script is charming and funny, as it touches on the strange results infertility spells juxtaposed with Armani trousers of cross-culturization.

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