Siskel & Ebert capsule summary
for the weekend of April 03/99

Return to Siskel and Ebert capsule summary index page.
Back to film page.


Guest Critic: B. Ruby Rich, author of "Chick Flicks: Theories and Memories Of The Feminist Film Movement" and host of the Sundance Channel film series in May

Life
[R-Down][E-Up] Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence, Obba Babatunde, Ned Beatty
Directed by Ted Demme
Written by Robert Ramsey & Mattew Stone

Rich: "this movie was cliche after cliche, it shovels every stereotype at us; sometimes it seems just one step short of a kind of minstrel show -- they're practically shucking and jiving there; by the time they start aging, I began to feel as though I was in GRUMPY OLD MEN GO TO PRISON; I'd like to see Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence do a movie in a 1999 prison and I have a feeling it wouldn't be a comedy" Ebert: "one big advantage over a lot of the other new movies this spring: it's original; ambitious comedy; entertaining; the performances are some of the best work Murphy and especially Lawrence have ever done, but it's a very strange film in the way it looks back almost nostalgically at sixty lost years -- a wasted lifetime in prison; you have to give them credit for aging sixty years and showing this friendship with its ups and down over all that period of time; the prison stuff is very odd -- you kind of wonder if this movie isn't really kind of painting a very rosy picture of the Mississippi prison system"


Hideous Kinky
[R-Up][E-Up] Kate Winslet, Said Taghamoui, Bella Riza, Carrie Mullan
Directed by Gilles MacKinnon
Written by Billy MacKinnon

Rich: "a lovely film; wonderfully romantic and really captures the spirit of the '70s; one of those rare movies that's about a woman's adventure and not a man's; Winslet's performance as the hippy mother in search of higher meaning is terrific -- I think probably her best since JUDE; apart from her, the film's greatest asset is its cinematography -- it's just gorgeous: there's supersaturated colour, magical panoramas, dramatic close-ups -- cameraman John de Borman has definitely gone all out; I suspect Kate Winslet being in that role has everything to do with why it works -- with someone else, I don't know if would've; the past three films Kate Winslet has made, she seems to have a knack, these characters she plays, to get men to make sacrifices for her"Ebert: "one of the things I liked about the movie is the way we get so involved in what this woman is doing: I love it when a character doesn't just move predictably through the outlines of a conventional plot but confounds us; I liked the character of her lover; this movie is kind of about not being dependable; a memory of hippy motherhood in the carefree '70s"


eXistenZ
[R-Up][E-Up] Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jude Law, Willem Dafoe, Ian Holm
Directed by David Cronenberg
Written by David Cronenberg
[ Review ]

Rich: "most peculiar; I really liked this film; definitely not for the squeamish -- the splatter effects definitely requires somebody who can take that in stride; I really appreciate the film not being just about big-budget explosive or computer-generated effects: Cronenberg is still a director who relies on your imagination and his imagination; this is a real movie; how do you define this kind of sexuality when you're not even sure that male and female is the big divide anymore -- it has to do with what species you are; Cronenberg really at the top of his form again"Ebert: "a very strange thriller; David Cronenberg is one very weird filmmaker and in eXistenZ, instead of going for big, flashy special effects like in THE MATRIX, he goes for small, intricate and slimy ones -- the line between the organic and the inorganic is easily crossed here; the movie's ending is kind of unsatisfactory but maybe that's the point; a lot of fun in a very peculiar sort of way; it's like the MPAA would look at this movie and they would know that something sexual is going on but it wasn't anything they'd ever rated before -- it would probably confuse them a lot; very intrigued"


Goodbye Lover
[R-Up][E-Down] Patricia Arquette, Dermot Mulroney, Ellen DeGeneres
Directed by Roland Joffe
Written by Ron Peer and Joel Cohen & Alec Sokolow

Rich: "you'd need a roadmap to follow the action by GOODBYE LOVER, an erotic thriller that's got a lot of fun with its genre and takes us along for the ride; a very smart and efficient piece of moviemaking -- it's almost a cross between THE GRIFTERS and BOUND; all the performances hit the mark, but I particularly liked Patricia Arquette as the sexy villainess; this movie kind of evaporates by morning -- its themes are not consequential; you need all these plot twists, not only back in noir but certainly in this kind of '90s update that's very kind of wink-wink" Ebert: "I liked Ellen DeGeneres -- in fact, I didn't dislike anyone in the film: there were just too many people in the film and too much plot by half to the point where I finally just lost all my patience with it; at the three-quarters mark, I'm thinking we don't need an additional element introduced at this point; the movie just loads it on to the point where I just wanted to cringe; too many twists; I was beginning to drift"


Friends & Lovers
[R-Down][E-Down] Stephen Baldwin, Danny Nucci, George Newbern, Claudia Schiffer
Directed by George Haas
Written by George Haas

Rich: "there's nothing like a bad movie to unite critics; this is the kind of film that gives independent film a bad name; I resent that they shot it in Park City, home to Sundance film festival, which is often about better films than this; I don't know what these people doing in this movie; Claudia, keep your day job -- being a model is very different than portraying a model; I don't know who to recommend this film to" Ebert: "shouldn't be on this show at all except that it deserves a mention as one of the most incompetent movies ever made; it assembles a cast of interesting actors who've been good in other stuff and then essentially has them make insane small talk in a plot so lame that even the actors seem bored right there on the screen; not merely one of the worst movies I've ever seen, although it is certainly that, but it is also utterly incompetent on a technical level; during the first reel I complained that I couldn't understand the dialogue and during the rest of the movie I complained that I could; I don't think there's anybody alive and intelligent who would like to see this movie; the only reason to see the movie would be in some kind of film class as some kind of horrible example of everything you should avoid including total technical ineptness too"


The Personals: Improvisations In The Golden Years
[short documentary]
Directed by Keiko Ibi

Rich: "the Academy did what it does -- it voted for sentimentality; I don't think it's any coincidence that it took a Japanese director to look at how this society treats old people, so that's of use"Ebert: "didn't seem original enough to be an Academy Award winner; it's basically just a talking-head style documentary done in the style of TV news; I did enjoy THE PERSONALS on its own level and it's interesting, but by giving it an Oscar, the Academy did not distinguish itself"


Alex Fung (aw220@freenet.carleton.ca)

Return to Siskel and Ebert capsule summary index page.
Back to film page.

1