March 9, 2001
Some forgettable and forgotten films - THE COMMENTARY
By Joseph Planta
A bit of housekeeping before the main Commentary: Arnold Schwarzenegger has made public his intention to not challenge Gray Davis for the governorship of California. Davis, who was elected in 1998 is up for re-election and word had it that Arnold, was to seek elected office. For the unknowing Schwarzenegger is a devout Republican, who happens to be married to Kennedy cousin Maria Shriver. In this monthís Premiere magazine thereís a scathing indictment on Schwarzeneggerís marital infidelities and robust sexual drive for other women. Hollywood pals have stood unwavering amidst the innuendo implied by the article. Stay tuned as lawsuits are being threatened.
The Prime Ministerís office announced yesterday morning that three new appointments are to be named to the Senate. Those summoned by Her Excellency, the Governor General are Dr. Yves Morin, M.D., O.C., Elizabeth Hubley and James Tunney. The ages of those so honoured to grace the Red Chamber are: 71, 58 and 73. The Senateís mandatory retirement age is 75. Blatant patronage and nothing else.
Bob Newhart, late of the Bob Newhart Show, Newhart, Bob and George and Leo (all for CBS,) has been tapped to co-star with Sisqů in a new NBC sitcom.
VANCOUVER -- Lately, Iíve rediscovered the use of my Blockbuster card and the local movie channel. I guess with Oscar season upon us, Iíve tried, ever the quasi-journalist, to see everything. Well, almost everything. In this space today, let me tell you about a few movies Iíve seen as of late, both old and new, good, bad and indifferent.
Ben Stiller is a terrific actor. Heís a terrific comedian, and it stems from the pedigree of his parents Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara. The senior Stiller, youíll remember as Frank Costanza on the lamented Seinfeld. I rather enjoyed Thereís Something About Mary . His co-starrer with Edward Norton, another terrific actor, Keeping The Faith is a pretty good film. Stiller is a rabbi and Norton a priest. Theyíre best buds and the former searches for love. They both find love in their old pal from youth, Jenna Elfman. Dharma actually is quite convincing and the film relies on the high-jinx of religious humour. While it isnít a riotously funny as Mary, itís a decent film with minor laughs and a terrific look at religion and how love may or may not mix with it.
The Mighty is the Sharon Stone starrer from about two years ago. She plays the mom of a severely disabled kid that is enamoured of things of the genre that brung the knights of the roundtable and stuff of the like -- swords named excalibur. Anyways he befriends the neighbour, a slow kid whose grandma is the remarkable Gena Rowlands. Suffice to say the two become friends, fighting the conditions that are their lives and a bunch of unruly kids. Itís a heart-warming story that didnít fail to touch even curmudgeon me.
I have never read Valley of The Dolls, but the story of author Jacqueline Susann was a picture not to pass up. The trashy novel author is portrayed in the comedy Isnít She Great? by Bette Midler. Nathan Lane, Stockard Channing, John Cleese and David Hyde Pierce have parts and although itís a hokey picture, I was glued to it. Itís an interesting life story and the film tries to portray that. Going the comedy route however make it all the more campy.
Erin Brockovich, recently landed Julia Roberts an Oscar nomination. Itís actually a good movie. Directed by current darling Steven Soderbergh, who did Traffic too, Julia Roberts is great as, you guessed it, Erin Brockovich, who is some clerk at a law firm who discovers some inequities done by Pacific Gas and Electric. Albert Finney who plays Ed Masur, a mentor to Brockovich, is remarkable. Itís worth a look and Julia Roberts becomes a full-fledged actress. Dare I say, Oscar winner?
I recently rented Terms of Endearment and its sequel The Evening Star. Terms was done up in 1983 winning the best picture statuette and Shirley MacLaine (not to mention Jack Nicholson) an Oscar. Itís a story of a mother, Shirley, and the dealings with her daughter, the terminally dying Debra Winger. The movie actually focuses on Winger and her deadbeat husband, Jeff Daniels and a suitor in John Lithgow. Itís okay and a two Kleenex chick flick. The Evening Star however tries the same elements, but in the process it gets muddled and becomes a standard chick flick without the okay decency that made Terms remarkable. Evening Star however is a good look into what happened to those characters from the first movie.
The recent Judy Garland biopic, Life With Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows was a tour de force for Judy Davis who played Judy Garland. It was remarkably done and when Emmy season is upon, Iím sure Judy Davis will be given a nod.
About a month ago, I took in the Kevin Costner starrer, Thirteen Days. It was a terrific drama on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Vancouverite Bruce Greenwood was gripping as John F. Kennedy. Itís worth a look for history buffs, as this film brings the events in a well acted form.
And yesterday, I took in Chocolat, a best picture nominee this year. Good picture, but a rather weak nominee. Iíd have thunk Billy Elliot a more reasonable choice. Juliette Binoche, was enchanting and Judi Dench commanded the screen remarkably well. Lasse HallstrŲm has directed his second best picture nominee in as many years. He helmed last yearís The Cider House Rules.
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