Films Review March


There is a good idea for a movie here (See “The Curve”), but the filmmakers behind “Dead Man on Campus” didn’t understand its potential. It’s a college comedy that is almost complete devoid of laughs. vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Tom Everett Scott and Mark-Paul Gosselaar (whatever happened to actors with two names?) stars as college roommates who conspire to secure a roommate and then have him commit suicide so they can cash in on an old college tradition that states if your roommate commits suicide you automatically get straight A’s to compensate you for your grief. The roommates think they have found the perfect candidate in Cliff (Lochlyn Munro), a loutish bore who doesn’t mind taking extreme chances. Unfortunately, Cliff keeps rebounding from his death defying stunts, forcing the roommates into something more desperate. It’s all done for laughs, which is a big mistake. “The Curve” proved how well this material can work if used as a thriller. There’s just not enough here to make fun of, and the cast seems trapped by the lame material and situations. They’re just paying the rent. (Paramount)


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Not even the gorgeous costumes and location footage can outshine star Drew Barrymore, who is positively luminous in this “Cinderella” for the ages. Set in the 16th Century, “Ever After” has a modern sensibility to it. It’s smart and funny, and as a romantic drama, it fills your heart and soul. Barrymore stars as Danielle, a lovely young lady who is the apple of her father’s (Jeroen Krabbe) eye. When he marries Rodmilla (Anjelica Huston, very restrained), Danielle’s life changes. Rodmilla brings with her two daughters, Jacqueline (Melanie Lynskey), whom is being groomed for marriage, and Marguerite (Megan Dodds). When her father dies, Danielle is forced to become the family maid. She escapes her dreary life by hanging out in the forest, where she meets the handsome Prince Henry (Dougray Scott), and actually saves his life on one occasion. How Danielle manages to win the heart of the Prince and escape her prison at home makes for engaging viewing. Barrymore is so precious as Danielle. She breathes new life into a familiar character. Director Andy Tennant does a splendid job of making all of this look magical. It’s not really a fairytale, but it’s a great fable. (Fox)


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Claire Danes and Lena Olin are the ones to watch in this winsome family drama about a nice Polish-American girl named Chala who ends up pregnant without the benefit of being married or even having a husband. Her situation unlocks deep, dark family secrets that help her understand that she is not alone in the world. While director Theresa Connelly attempts to take us into a world we seldom see, she doesn’t have the flair to make all of this matter. There are whimsical touches that suggest a lighter note, but the dramatics sink any chance the film has to say what is on its mind without being preachy. (Fox)


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Glenn Close delivers a powerful performance as Colonel Margarethe Cammermeyer, an Army Nurse with more than 24 years of service. Don’t forget the bronze star she earned in Vietnam. Trusting her superiors, Cammermeyer admits during an top secret security clearance interview that she is a lesbian. Bad move. Her admission leads to a review of her service, and dismissal from the armed forces. Once a shy and reserved woman, Cammermeyer finds herself in the media spotlight as she fights for her right to remain in the Army. Unfortunately, her personal battle takes its toll on her family and friends, who find all of the attention unwanted. Judy Davis co-stars as Cammermeyer’s lover in this made-for-television docu-drama that is as good as they get, thanks to strong performances, an intelligent screenplay by Alsion Cross, and sensitive direction by Jeff Bleckner that never sensationalizes the material. (Columbia-TriStar)


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)A fine cast and an interesting twist make this modest little effort a must see. Harvey Keitel and Andie McDowell star as Vernon and Trixie Dabney, whose run-down Virginia farm was once one of the area’s finest plantations. Tough times have forced the Dabney’s to move out of the main house and into the sharecropper’s cabin. Even though they’re stuck in the middle of the Great Depression, the Dabney’s do what ever it takes to make it through. The obligations of their ancestors comes back to haunt them when a 101-year-old former slave named Shadrach (John Franklin Sawyer in a winning debut) and requests to be buried on the grounds where he formerly worked. Director/co-writer Susanna Tyron makes a notable debut with this uneven yet engaging drama. Martin Sheen lends his voice as the film’s narrator. (Columbia-TriStar)


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)This Cannes and Sundance Film festival favorite is a powerful character study about how one troubled youth rises above his station in life through his poetry. Saul Williams is outstanding as Ray Joshua, a Washington D.C. drug dealer who winds up in prison. He uses his rapping and rhyming skills to save his ass behind bars, which attract the attention of a prison writing teacher (Sonja Sohn), who sees potential in the young man. So much so that she takes him under her wing when he’s released, and drags him along to a poetry “slam” so he can discover his self worth. Director Marc Levin does an excellent job of creating a dark and scary world for his lead character to inhabit. By doing so, he makes Ray’s evolution more dramatic. Even though the film is a little heavy handed, it still hits the target more often than not. The cast in uniformly good, especially Williams, who conveys the spirit of a young man trapped by his desperation. (Trimark)


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Martin Donovan wrote and directed this involving story about a youth named Leon (Johnny Whitworth) who tries to crawl out from underneath the shadow of his abusive father. Leon Ellis is the apple of his mother’s eye, a model son dedicated to his mother and four siblings. Father Roger (Gabriel Byrne) is the exact opposite of mother Charlotte (Nastassja Kinski). Whereas she is kind and good, Roger is a cruel man and a vicious drunk. Luckily, Roger has taken a walk, leaving Leon to help raise the family. When circumstances force Leon out of the house, his mother agrees to help him get on his feet by setting up a bank account for him. Unfortunately, she’s killed when the bank is robbed, and Leon is left in a coma for two weeks. When he awakens, he finds his father at his side, desperate to give family life another try. Absorbing drama flounders occasionally, but the performances are vivid and the story and circumstances involving. (Columbia-TriStar)


vidcass1.gif (2845 bytes)Even before he dies, Chris Nielsen (Robin Williams) has literally gone through hell. First he loses his two children in a car wreck. Then his wife Annie (Annabella Sciorra) tries to kill herself and ends up in an institution. Adding insult to injury, Chris stops one night to help the victims of a nasty auto accident and ends up a victim himself. Gee, and I complain each morning when I can’t get my hair to stay down. Lucky Chris. He winds up in a better place. So do his kids and dog. Not Annie. Blaming herself for not being there for her kids and husband, she kills herself. Bad move. Now Annie is in a very dark place. When Chris gets the news, he vows to go through Heaven and Hell to be with his “soul mate.” That’s the premise of director Vincent Ward’s stunning new film “What Dreams May Come,” about true ever after, or is that hereafter? Ward, a visually exciting director (“The Navigator”), creates visions of Heaven and Hell (thanks to his outstanding production design team) that stay with you long after the movie ends. I just wish I could say the same for the story. Click for full review. (Polygram)


101 DALMATIANS (G/Walt Disney)


ERUPTION! (R/New Horizons)


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