Sat, 09 Oct 1999

Frenzied emotions rule flicks around town

JAKARTA (JP): Jeff Bridges is paranoid in Washington, D.C., while Anthony Hopkins goes ape in the jungles of Rwanda. It's possible to go berserk just about anywhere in the world.

Here's the lineup of movies currently playing at the local theaters, with reviews and grades by Nan T. Achnas, Rayya Makarim and Tam Notosusanto.

Arlington Road; Thriller; starring Jeff Bridges, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack and Hope Davis. Directed by Mark Pellington.

Widowed history professor Bridges suspects that the couple who live next door (Robbins and Cusack) are not the charming suburban family they appear to be, but left-wing extremists bent on blowing up government office buildings. It's a suspenseful, captivating film that benefits from a sharp, uncompromising script, a stellar cast and the visual prowess of former music video director Pellington. Graded B+ by TN.

Big Daddy; Comedy; starring Adam Sandler, Joey Lauren Adams, Jon Stewart, Cole Sprouse, Dylan Sprouse and Steve Buscemi. Directed by Dennis Dugan.

Sandler's routine of crassness and imbecility continues; now he demonstrates how he can pollute a young child with all his boorish shenanigans. From letting the tyke urinate anywhere he likes to showing him how to injure other people, this film is Sandler's very own Misbehaving 101. And the censorship board certified it as a "movie for all ages". Graded D by TN.

The General's Daughter; Detective story; starring John Travolta, Madeleine Stowe, James Cromwell, Timothy Hutton and James Woods. Directed by Simon West.

Travolta and Stowe are army investigators delving into the case of a murdered female officer, the daughter of an influential, politically ambitious war hero. It's one of those Hollywood movies that depict the military as shady, twisted and absolutely evil, only this one probably tries too hard. One aspect that makes it worth seeing, though, is Woods' multilayered performance as a tormented army colonel. Graded B- by TN.

Instinct; Environmental campaign; starring Anthony Hopkins, Cuba Gooding Jr., Maura Tierney and Donald Sutherland. Directed by Jon Turteltaub.

Primatologist Hopkins won't speak a single word after reemerging from years of studying African gorillas closely in their natural habitat. It's up to cocky psychiatrist Gooding to unlock the mystery surrounding the famed scholar, now incarcerated for killing people who hurt gorillas. In this film, though, the gorillas are really kept in the mist, leaving the terribly miscast Gooding ruining everything with his unforgivable overacting. Somebody show him the door, please. Graded C by TN.

Pushing Tin; Comedy; starring John Cusack, Billy Bob Thornton, Angelina Jolie and Cate Blanchett. Directed by Mike Newell.

Inside the pressure cooker that is New York's Terminal Radar Approach Control center, air traffic controllers Cusack and Thornton entangle themselves in a fierce competition of wits and derring-do, risking their marriages and the lives aboard 7,000 flights that come in and out of New York. Glen and Les Charles, creators of hit TV series Taxi and Cheers, wrote this superbly acted character-driven piece. Graded B by TN.

Runaway Bride; Romantic comedy; starring Julia Roberts, Richard Gere, Joan Cusack, Christopher Meloni and Hector Elizondo. Directed by Garry Marshall.

USA Today columnist Ike Graham (Gere) does a last minute story on Maggie Carpenter (Roberts), a small-town babe who has the habit of dumping men at the altar. Ike gets fired and seeks vindication by getting up close and personal with the "man devourer" herself. It's always great to see beautiful and well- liked people on the screen. A fun film with "quirky, weird and mysterious" characters. Graded B+ by RM.

The Sixth Sense; Psychological drama; starring Bruce Willis, Toni Collette, Haley Joel Osment, Olivia Williams and Donnie Wahlberg. Written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan.

Child shrink Willis must get inside the mind of a troubled young boy who sees dead people walking around him. It's a moving human drama about relationships and the fragility of life, disguised as a mild ghost story.

It doesn't matter that Willis underperforms, because Osment, as the boy, steals all the scenes with his staggering portrayal of a reluctant psychic. Look for the unrecognizable former New Kid on the Block, Wahlberg, in a brief chilling part. Graded A- by TN.

Spanish Fly; Adult drama; starring Daphna Kastner, Toni Canto, Marianne Sagebrecht and Martin Donovan. Written and directed by Daphna Kastner.

A sexually rigid journalist (Kastner) researches a book about machismo in Spain and finds out more than she bargains for. The film is a must-see for those interested in witnessing an example of a butchering job executed by the blunt scissors of the Indonesian censor board. A convincing plotline and character motivation are probably in bits and pieces on the censor board floor. Graded C- by NTA.

Universal Soldier: The Return; Sci-fi action; starring Jean- Claude Van Damme, Michael Jai White, Bill Goldberg, Kiona Tom and Daniel Von Bargen. Directed by Mic Rodgers.

In a plot taken straight out of 2001: A Space Odyssey, a disgruntled ultraintelligent computer runs amok and mobilizes a new batch of super-human Universal Soldiers to wreak havoc. But fear not, for ex-UniSol (and this sequel's co-producer) Van Damme is there to save the day. Although more plentiful in explosions and karate kicks but less exciting than the original, this flick mainly serves as Van Damme's martial arts demonstration and the big-screen debuts of wrestling champion Goldberg and TV fitness instructor Tom. Graded C- by TN.