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LA Weekly from Los Angeles, California • Page 82
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LA Weekly from Los Angeles, California • Page 82

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Los Angeles, California
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kindest possible light, as a sort of instructive, precisely directed parable about teen drug addiction (becoming the wolf doing crack or whatever), one might excuse the twin badnesses of R. Timothy Krings witless script and Christopher Leitch's aimless direction, excuse the universally wooden acting and even the werewolf makeup, which makes Bateman look like the Roddy McDowall character in Planet of the Apes. But weve seen it all before, and I warn you: This movie is a dog in wolf's clothing. (Citywide) (Jonathan Gold) THREE MEN AND A BABY If I had to choose between Tom Selleck and a grilled cheese sandwich, I'd choose the sandwich. If Ted Danson were at the gates of heaven to greet me, I'd turn right around and take the down escalator. Steve Guttenberg is real cute, providing you don't have to go to bed with him. These are the three men with a baby, and guess what? They're funny! Based on the French film hit, Three Men and a Cradle, the ultra-predictable story plays mercilessly on every awkward, undomesticated-male cliche, as three bachelors architect Selleck, cartoonist Guttenberg and actor Danson find themselves saddled with the product of Danson's union with a long-forgotten leading lady. Their lives promptly take a nose dive as they learn how to become mothers overnight. While it lacks the sinister mindlessness of the Three Stooges' variation on the same theme, the film tends to work, thanks to the strong teamwork (particularly between Guttenberg and Selleck), competently jazzy direction by Leonard Nimoy, and a real cutie pie of a baby girl. There are some dull moments, such as the dumb drug heist at the end of the plot, 85 too many pee-peepoo-poo scenes, and a gross supermarket Muzak score by Marvin Hamlisch. But these were obviously not prime considerations to the audience, whose howls drowned out most the dialogue. (Citywide) (Mary Beth Crain) surface bravura, it's extremely moral. Like a Madonna video, it offers a hip, aestheticized version of traditional ideas about men, women and love. (AMC Century 14 Theaters, Century City) (Helen Knode) SLATE, WYN AND ME Mistrust any movie that's supposed to be "relevant to most kids today." Aussie director Don McLennan makes this claim for Slate, Wyn and Me, and what he means (in practice) is that the movie is filled with lame jokes, scenes of the heroes driving around in their car, and songs with lyrics like "Freedom is just a state of mind." Slate (Martin Sacks) and Wyn (Simon Burke) are brothers who, bored with their small-town life, rob a bank, accidentally kill somebody, and flee into the wilderness with a hostage (Sigrid Thornton), the "me" of the title. Theres one great recurring gag about opening a car trunk, and one very surprising death, but the rest of Slate, Wyn and Me is wearying in its predictability: Shifting loyalties between people on the run. The debutantish heroine liberated by her kidnapping. A rock soundtrack designed to give the story exuberance. Enough shots of the landscape for a "Come Down Under" travelogue. Guys with their shirts off. Rebels without causes. Ho hum. (AMC Century 14 Theaters, Century City) (John Powers) TEEN WOLF TOO As in Teen Wolf, an adorable young misfit discovers how to turn into a werewolf and get cash, glory and the love of beautiful women. Again, the winsome wolf-lad, in this case too-cute Justin Bateman of TV's Valerie's Family, relinquishes his seductive lupine pleasures in the end, and hews to the hoariest of platitudes: Be Yourself. (Though if Michael J. Fox were somehow made available for this sequel, the filmmakers would have found a sufficiently moral reason for him to turn into a wolf again.) Were one to view Teen Wolf Too in the FILM CINDERELLA Cinderella is a vapid combination of Pollyanna and St. Francis, a child woman who converses with house pets while mounds of psychological dung are heaped upon her by her evil stepmother and stepsisters. Suffering from deep-seated feelings of worthlessness, Cindy quietly endures her torture by becoming schizoid, traveling back and forth from the anguish of her real existence into an ecstatic other life in which mice and birds sew her beautiful gowns, pumpkins become carriages, and she is constantly "rescued" by either a kindly mother-substitute with magical powers or the entire animal kingdom. The psychosis gradually reaches incurable proportions, culminating in the ultimate rescue fantasy in which a cardboard cutout of a "prince" (asexual and non-threatening) marries her, whisking her off into a carefree world of automatic washers, TV dinners and Tupperware. This was the movie Carl Jung referred to as the "animated it is no less potent today in a world still struggling to reconcile the opposing forces of masculine and feminine, good and evil, El Salvador and MTV in one last gasp of collective unconsciousness. ICitywide) (Mary Beth Crain) DATE WITH AN ANGEL An incredibly idiotic concept, poorly written, stuffed with cliches and bad jokes, overacted, and directed in a cloying pseudo-Spielberg style that can only be described as loathsome. An Old Testament-type angel clips her wings on an orbiting satellite and crashes to earth into our hero's back yard. Oh dear, how is he going to explain this gorgeous blonde in his house to his bride-to-be and his gun-toting father-in-law-to-be? This dry hump of an erotic fantasy tries hopelessly to be Splash, and angel Emmanuelle Beart does exude some of Darryl Hannah's charm and innocence, but she's surrounded by such embarrassing brainlessness that it's hard to notice. Michael Knight is particularly unfunny in a lead role that I assume was turned down by Tom Hanks. This film might be fun for fundamentalist Christians to take their brainwashed kids to, but for the rest of us it's a marzipan enema. I Mann National, Mann Vogue, Hlywd.l (Michael Dare) FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC A boring, predictable and claustrophobic pseudo-haunted-house movie with no special effects or special anything. Daddy is dead, so Mommy has moved her kids into Gramma's big, bad mansion, where they're locked in a bedroom with access to the attic. They try to escape. They get caught. They try to escape. They get caught. Then guess what? They try to escape. All the acting is stilted, the direction trite and awful, and the photography makes everything look cold and blue and unattractive. Even the makeup is bad. Too bad none of the characters are the least bit likable. Too bad the kids hysterically for 90 minutes wasn't so surprising. The fact that, in the end, it made me cry, was a total shock. Watch out, Woody, John Hughes is coming to get you. (Mann Village, Mann Chinese, Hlywd.) (Michael Dare) POUVOIR INTIME (BLIND TRUST Pouvoir Intime is a fascinating portrait of the psychic disintegration that results when individuals believe that they've lost control. Yet as good as this dark heist thriller is (it earned nine nominations for the Genie award, Canada's equivalent to the Oscar), it seems that somewhere along the way director Yves Simoneau lost control, too. Relationships between characters seem unbelievable; subplots lead to obvious conclusions; and undermining its carefully built-up realism, the film ends with an unconvincing noir twist. What's most puzzling is that although Simoneau wrote this psychological thriller especially for actor Pierre Curzi The Decline of the American Empire) who even helped Simoneau finish the screenplay Curzi somehow manages to get lost amid the disturbing performances of Robert Gravel as a trapped guard and Marie Tifo as a cool criminal. Indeed, these two portrayals of a criminal and her victim alone would make any film a success. (Laemmle's Monica 4-Plex, S.M.) (Laurie Ochoa) SIESTA Ellen Barkin spends most of Siesta running running from the police and a tin-toothed taxi driver (Alexi Sayle), running to her Spanish lover (Gabriel Byrne). This athleticism is reflected both in Mary Lambert's rock-video visual sense and in Siesta's narrative, which covers two continents and jumps around in time over a period of five days. Barkin plays Claire, a female Evel Knievel, who takes off for Spain shortly before a scheduled attempt to freefall from an airplane into a volcano. Her departure is prompted by a letter from her former loverteacher, warning that she will die in the stunt. Something terminal happens on this obsessive voyage that the film reconstructs in tantalizing fragments. Barkin lies bloody on an airport runway; she meets an English painter (Julian Sands) and his prissily dressed Eurotrash lover (Jodie Foster); she leaps from a window in a wig; she's raped; and the whole time she's heading back to the scene of a crime. Siesta is appealing for the collective beauty of its cast and its slight unorthodoxies, its anti-chronology, its non-puerile treatment of adult desire. (Siesta is hardly sexy, however, or even sultry. Its screenwriter, Patricia Louisiana Knop, co-wrote 9 'A Weeks, the film that made eroticism both expensive and laughable.) But the foundation of Siesta is an intensely conventional love triangle Barkin, Byrne and his wife, played by Isabella Rossellini and the unexamined equation of sex and death. The movie doesnt possess the means to seriously tackle sex and death, and, despite its are cutesy-poo mopheads. Too bad I had to endure this. (Mann Plaza, Hollywood Pacific) (Michael Dare) IS IT EASY TO BE YOUNG? Sent here as one of the shiny new fruits of glasnost, this fascinating, bewildering Soviet documentary by Juris Podnick is like Rebel Without a Cause as made by James Dean's parole officer. The film shows a side of Soviet youth we never get to see, one that suggests American kids in both the '60s and the '80s: punks in heavy-metal gear who could have walked in straight off Hollywood Boulevard; well-off teenagers who run riot on a train after a rock concert; veterans of the war in Afghanistan who can't find a place in society. The film's attitude toward them is both perplexed and sternly moral, as if there were a double message: for adults, that they'd better start understanding their kids better; for kids, that they'd better shape up or else. And it's unnerving when the narrator, who generally speaks with sympathetic understanding, harshly confronts the teenagers from the train. Don't you know any better? he asks them, and it really sounds sinister, especially since some of them go on to receive prison terms for "crimes" that would probably get American kids suspended from school. Still, the culprits are allowed their say, and when they justify their nihilism, their words echo Hair and Less Than Zero. Is It Easy To Be Young? is entertaining and skillfully done, with more attention given to color, image and metaphor than in most American documentaries. For all its inscrutability, it provides a unique view of youth and the politics of filmmaking in the USSR today. Cofeature: The Burglar. (UCLA, Melnitz Theater; Nov. 28, 7:30 p.m.) (Ben Kallen) PLANES, TRAINS AND AUTOMOBILES Writerdirector John Hughes (The Breakfast Club, Some Kind of Wonderful grows up in this, his first attempt to tell a story about beings other than teenagers in heat. Let's hope he sticks to adulthood, because this is one of the funniest films of the year, a rollicking tour de force for Steve Martin and John Candy that doesn't let up for an instant. Martin, the world's most irritable man, is trapped in transit during the holidays with Candy, the world's most irritating man. Like The Odd Couple, they come up with astonishing new ways to get on each other's nerves, but Hughes has grown miles beyond Neil Simon, delivering yocks that always reveal character or some quirky truth about human nature. None of the laughs feel forced, and there are lots of them. Martin delivers another impeccable comic performance, and John Candy, who must hold a record as the funniest person to have appeared in the most bad movies, finally lives up to his potential as a clown with a heart of gold. The fact that Planes, Trains and Automobiles had me laughing Pouvoir Intime wrecks her career. But she learns that there are compensations like, after a leaky roof, a fainting fit and some apple sauce, that it is better to be a human being than a "tiger lady." Directed by Charles Shyer, written by Nancy Meyers Shyer, Baby Boom has a certain lightness and gaiety to it, refusing to be morbid about contemporary sexual relations. Keaton is in fine comedic form, always centered, though not always believable. Ramis is perfect as what he is, a man married to his job, and if Sam Shepard ever suited a role, its this one as the small town vet unfazed by Keaton's neurotic twitchings. (HK) BARFLY Set among the drunkards on Western mmnnnmm Reviewed by Mary Beth Crain, Michael Dare, F.X. Feeney, Jonathan Gold, Ben Kallen, Helen Knode, Laurie Ochoa, John Powers and Michael Ventura. ANNA As Anna a one-time Czech film star now struggling to survive as an Off-Off-Broadway understudy Sally Kirkland gives such a battered, brave and hard-charging star turn that it takes a while to realize that Yurek Bogayevicz' film (written by Agnieska Holland) doesn't have a lot on its mind. The story is based on the real-life experience of Polish actress Elzbieta Czyzewska, and unfolds like an emigre All About Eve: The middle-aged Anna takes in Krystyna (supermodel Paulina Porizkova), a young Czech gamine who idolizes her. Gradually, Krystyna eclipses her surrogate mother, landing plum jobs, becoming famous and even filching her benefactress' harsh past. Like most of Holland's work, Anna takes its impetus from a woman being hounded by degradation, but Bogayevicz' direction tends toward the chipper. This doesn't take the movie down it's pre-eminently watchable; Kirkland puts on a good show but the whole thing has less weight than one might hope. Its ironies muted by the desire Avenue, Barbet Schroeder's funny, affirmative love story shows off an elegant script by Charles Bukowski, the troll laureate of modern American literature. Mickey Rourke plays Henry Chinaski, who spends his days getting pickled, sleeping it off, picking quixotic fights and sometimes knocking out words about how society needs to go crazy. His life seems totally nuts until he meets Wanda (Faye Dunaway), "a distressed goddess" who hates people and loves booze as much as he does. Schroeder gives their story an easy, loping stride and a sense of squalid poetry, encouraging photographer Robby Muller to catch the sizzling grandeur of neon and tease out the epiphanies of a bar's dank illumination. Their to be popular, Anna spends less time exploring the characters' psyches (and histories) than in exploiting the most obvious possibilities of their Eastern European background. (JP) BABY BOOM The montage sequences do too much work. The camera zooms in and out a little too coyly. It pretends to documentary-style veracity then sidesteps the hard truths about single motherhood. But the film is nevertheless pretty good, fairly funny and certainly enjoyable. Diane Keaton plays J.C. Wiatt, a high-powered Manhattan executive who's willed a child by a deceased relative. It wrecks her passionless yuppie marriage-equivalent (to Harold Ramis) and A WEEKLY Huwmlvi Out emlier 3, 1W 82

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