The San Bernardino County Sun from San Bernardino, California on February 16, 1996 · Page 61
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The San Bernardino County Sun from San Bernardino, California · Page 61

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San Bernardino, California
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Friday, February 16, 1996
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Page 61
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r:oviES 'City Hall stands on strength of acting, not script By MARSHALL FINK Gannett News Service ity Hall" is a case of the I sum of the parts being 1 VT 6reater than the whole. And yet, it is one of the most substantial films about politics in quite a while. With a shrewd sense of who does what for whom, this film aspires to he complex and surprising but usually just is complicated. Thanks to meaty performances, "City Hall" rises above script deficiencies to offer penetrating glimpses into the psyche of the political animal. Though director Harold Becker can't keep its thriller subplot from pulling the film out of shape, he keeps the actors in focus, which buoys the otherwise predictable story line. The film focuses on Kevin Calhoun (John Cusack), a Louisiana-born political operative who is now New York's deputy mayor. As such, he's also right-hand man to the city's charismatic mayor, John Pappas (Al Pacino). Which means he's committed to what the mayor is committed to: an expensive construction project to keep a major financial institution in the city, bringing the Democratic National Convention back to New York, and helping Pappas position himself for an eventual run at the presidency. I I Al Pacino, right, is New York Mayor John Pappas and John Cusack his trusted deputy in 'City Hall,' which opens today. Then real life intrudes: An undercover cop has a shoot-out in Brooklyn with a drug dealer. Both die, as does a bystander a child. As the press digs into the story, it's up to Calhoun to stay one step ahead of them, to keep politically damaging bombshells from landing near City Hall. But Calhoun's investigation turns up unusual facts. The drug dealer was on the street as the result of a sentence of probation in a case that would normally have brought jail time. He was the nephew of a mob boss, who had ties to a county Democratic Party leader. As the skein unravels, the pattern of political influence in the case appears to stretch nixinr:r wrrHAU.. , (On a four-atar seal.) ST AM: AlPaelno.Jonn ' , Cusack, Bridget Fonda, Danny Alello RATED: (R) PLAYING LOCALLY IN: San Bernardino, Fontana, RanchoCueamonga. . . ' Upland, Ontario, Vtetorvllle, Barotow, Moreno Valley, Riverside high into ranks of City Hall itself. '. It's fairly obvious where the story is going. But it took four writers to move it there and there are a lot of detours along the way. - SU11, "City Hall" thrives because of its acting and what the actors are given to say. If the film suffers from its attempt at being a thriller, it soars whenever the characters get down to political nitty-gritty. That's particularly true of Pacino, who gets to do the politics dance with everyone from Cusack to Danny Aiel-lo (as one of his party faithful) to an angry congregation of Black churchgoers, which he wins over with a rousing sermon mourning the death of a child. It's a part that Pacino sinks his teeth into, without going over the top. It's the most intelligent film on politics in a long time. ' 1 Here are the picks and pans of wire service (Mm critics from a selection ot movies now playing in the Inland Empire. Movies are rated on a tour-star scale, four being best. "BALTO" Not revlewed.(Q) Animated action-adventure about the heroic journey of a half-wolf, half-husky trying to save residents ot Nome, Alaska. ' " "BEAUTIFUL GIRLS" ' (R) A smart, funny romantic comedy about a group of young adults coming to terms with life and ' love as their 30s approach. Starring Timothy Hutton, Michael Rapaport, Rosle O'Donnell, UmaThurman. Directed by Ted Demme. "BED OF ROSES" (PG-13) A charming if slight romance about an investment banker who discovers that she has a secret admirer. Starring Christian Slater, Mary Stuart Masterson. "BIO-DOME" (PG-13) Two waste cases wander into an environmentally controlled atmosphere and have to live there for a year with five scientists. Stars Pauly Shore and Stephen Baldwin. "BLACK SHEEP" Not reviewed (PG-13) Chris Farley and David Spade seem determined to remake "Tommy Boy" as a gubernatorial candidate's brother and the campaign worker assigned to keep him out of trouble. "BROKEN ARROW" (R) A relentlessly exciting adventure with John Travolta as a terrorist who hiacks two U.S. nuclear warheads. Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis co-star in this explosive film by the wildly Inventive action director, John Woo. "DEAD MAN WALKING" (R) Writer-director Tim Robbins' superb drama about capital punishment will tear at your heart and move your spirit. Susan Sarandon stars as the nun who eventually counsels a hardened death-row inmate, brilliantly played by Sean Penn. "DONT BE A MENACE TO SOUTH CENTRAL WHILE DRINKING YOUR JUICE IN THE HOOD" Not reviewed (R) Comedy Opening this weekend . . . "CITY HALL" (R) An Intriguing . tale of political favors and corruption In ' New York municipal government gats sidetracked by an attempt at a thriliar-subplot. But that can'tdisgulse the greet acting that holds It together. Stars Al -.. Pacino, John Cusack, Bridget Fonda, Danny Alello. Ftitt review above. "HAPPY QILMORE" Not revlewed(PQ-13) Adam Sandler stars as a short-tern- , pared working stiff whose outrageous " antica on the golf course turn him Into a , blue-collar hero. "MR. WRONG" (PG-13) Ellen De-Ganeree makes her big-screen debut in - - v a movie that suffers a serious laugh deficiency. It'a about a woman whose ideal : man turns out to be a raving lunatic. Co-stars Bill Pullman. Ftitt review page (. "aWPPTT TREASURE ISLAND" : ' (G) Kids will enjoy this reworking of Robert Louis Stevenson's story, though adults may be put off by weak songs and a story that seems to focus more on humans than Muppets. Stars Tim Curry, . , Kermlt the Frog, Miss Piggy. FuH review pegse.'- w - pokes fun at recent barrage of f I Ims about the 'hood. Stars Shawn Wayans and Marlon Wayans. I "DRACULA: DEAD AND LOVING IT' Not reviewed. (PG-13) Mel Brooks' companion piece to his 1974 comic masterpiece "Young Frankenstein." Stars Leslie Nielsen, Peter MacNicol, Steven Weber, Amy Yasbeck, Lysette Anthony, Harvey Korman, Mel Brooks. I "DUNSTON CHECKS IN" ' (PG) An ape takes on New York In this new comedy. Stars Sam the Orangutan, Paul Reubens, Jason Alexander, Faye Dunaway, Eric Lloyd. I "EYE FOR AN EYE" " (R) A mother undergoes a transformation after the man that rapes and murders her daughter Is set free. Stars Sally Field, Ed Harris and Kelfer Sutherland. I "THE FATHER OF THE BRIDE PART II" V4 (PG) A modestly entertaining but obviously contrived sequel to the 1991 hit about the relationship between a father and his grown daughter. In the first film, she was getting married. Now ahe'a having a baby. Imagine the father's surprise when he finds out his own wife is also expecting. Steve Martin, Diane Keaton, Martin Short and Kim-berly Williams co-star. i "FROM DUSK TILL DAWN" '.(R) There are bad guys and there are "bad" guys. That's the premise of this messy but surprisingly entertaining gorefest from writer Quentin Tarantino and director Robert Ro- -driguez. George Clooney and Tarantlno co-atar as a murderous hoodlum and his psychopathic brother, on the run from Texaa cops. But when they cross the border into Mexico, they encounter a horrific coven of vampires. Harvey Keltel, Juliette Lewie and Cheech Marin co-star. I "GRUMPIER OLD MEN" (PG-13) Two feisty f lahermen get more than they bargained for when a sexy newcomer wants to convert their beloved belt shop into an Italian eatery. Stars Jack Lemmon, Walter Mat-thau, Ann-Margret, Sophia Loren, Kevin Pollak, Daryl Hannah, Burgess Meredith. I "THE JUROR" . (R) Endlessly slow-moving thriller about a murder trial Juror (Demi Moore) who is threatened into a "not guilty" verdict by a seductive but slimy mob hitman (Alec Baldwin). Directed by Brian Gibson, the film reaches Its peak with the verdict at the one-hour mark. The second hour Is a jumbled, boring mess. I "JUMANJI" (PG) A jungle adventure board game comes to life in Joe Johnston's entertaining special-effects family film. Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, Bonnie Hunt, and David Alan Grler co-star. I "RESTORATION" (R) Robert Downey Jr. faces loss and spiritual redemption as a young physician who has defied a royal decree. Co-stars David Thewlls, Sam Neill, Polly Walker, Meg Ryan. I "SENSE AND SENSIBILITY" (PQ) Emma Thompson makes her screenwrlting debut In Ang Lee's adaptation of the Jane Austen novel. Stars Emma Thompson, Kate Wlnslet, Gemma Jonea, Emille Francois, Hugh Grant, Greg Wise, Alan Rickman. I "TOM AND HUCK" Not reviewed. (PG) Disney edaptation of Mark Twain's classic tale featuring Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn aa town mischief makers. . I "TOY STORY" (G) The first full-length computer animated feature Is a technical tour-de-force, but also a warm-blooded and funny adventure tale for the child In all of us. The theme Is classic: a child's toys come to life and have a wild adventure of their own. Tom Hanka, Tim Allen, Wallace Shawn and Don Rlckles contribute voices for director John Lasseter. I "12 MONKEYS" (R) Bruce Willis is sent back in time to seek the origin of a mysterious plague that forced society's survivors underground. I "WAITING TO EXHALE" (R) Based on Terry McMillan's novel, the tale of four women journeying through a modern labyrinth of husbands and lovers, jobs and makeovers. Stars Loretta Devlne, Whitney Houston, Angela Baasett and Lais Rochon. I "WHITE SQUALL" (PG-13) A robust, rite-of-passage saga about teenagers on a two-masted schooner whose semeeter at sea turned tragic when the ahip Is overturned by a freak storm. Based on a true story, it stars Jeff Bridges as the ship's captain, and co-starring Scott Wolf , Balthazar Getty, Caroline Goodall and John Savage. PAflE 4FRIDAY, February 16, 1996

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