Sat, 29 Apr 2000

Movie celebrate longevity, but will they last in cinemas

JAKARTA (JP): Longevity is the keyword here, with a robot that lives to two hundred years and a marriage that lasts 15 years before it begins to crumble. The following reviews and grades are by Oren Murphy and Tam Notosusanto.

Bicentennial Man. Drama, 130 minutes; starring Robin Williams, Embeth Davidtz, Sam Neill, Wendy Crewson and Oliver Platt. Directed by Chris Columbus.

Whatever the poster tells you, this is definitely not a comedy. It's an overlong tale of a robot (Williams) who spends two centuries of his lifespan to learn how it is to be human. It was written by the late, great Isaac Asimov and is turned into dull, uninspiring stuff by Columbus, who should just go back to making slapstick movies about kids being left alone in the house. Only the title is appropriate: the movie feels like it runs two hundred years. C (TN)

Boys Don't Cry. Drama, 118 minutes; starring Hilary Swank, Chloe Sevigny, Peter Sarsgaard and Jeanetta Arnette. Directed by Kimberly Peirce.

It is a misguided assumption that Swank easily won an Oscar thanks to her gender-bending role. She practically slips under the skin of Brandon Teena, the real-life Nebraskan youngster who successfully convinces everybody, including herself, that she is a boy.

When the object of her desire (Sevigny) falls for her, Teena becomes even more steadfast in denying her actual identity and follows her impulses instead, all the way to her tragic end.

Director/co-writer Peirce manages to mold this fact-based story into a powerful human drama, even though we wish she had gone deeper into Teena's soul. B+ (TN)

Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. Slapstick comedy, 90 minutes; starring Rob Schneider, Eddie Griffin, Oded Fehr and William Forsythe. Directed by Mike Mitchell.

A fish tank cleaner, Deuce (Schneider), becomes a gigolo (or man-whore as they refer to themselves in the film) to pay off damage to an acquaintance's apartment. In the process of dating all kinds of eccentrics, he meets the love of his life, but has to struggle to show he really loves her. Mishaps and capers ensue. It's stupid, but you'll probably find yourself laughing anyway. C (OM)

Sleepy Hollow. Gothic horror, 100 minutes; starring Johnny Depp, Christina Ricci, Jeffrey Jones, Christopher Lee and Christopher Walken. Directed by Tim Burton.

Not much in the film resembles Washington Irving's classic, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, but it is an enjoyable film nonetheless. Pathologist/detective Ichabod Crane (Depp) is sent up the Hudson to investigate a series of decapitations by a headless horseman in the small town of Sleepy Hollow.

Burton's film focuses on atmospherics rather than content, and creates a landscape as stunning as it is creepy. Depp is excellent as the faint-hearted detective. An often gruesome, but very entertaining film. B (OM)

Stir of Echoes. Supernatural thriller, 99 minutes; starring Kevin Bacon, Kathryn Erbe, Kevin Dunn and Illeana Douglas. Written and directed by David Koepp.

Completing Hollywood's 1999 trilogy of supernatural flicks, this movie is clearly riding on The Sixth Sense's coattail with its wide-eyed tyke who communicates with dead people. Only here the boy's father (Bacon), who recently acquires the gift himself thanks to a hypnosis session, joins in the effort to decipher the messages from the ghost of a teenage girl. Koepp's haunting visuals keep us thrilled throughout the film. But it all eventually leads to the unearthing of a predictable, unexciting murder secret. C+ (TN)

The Story of Us. Drama, 94 minutes; starring Bruce Willis, Michelle Pfeiffer, Tim Matheson, Rita Wilson and Rob Reiner. Directed by Rob Reiner. Ten years after When Harry Met Sally..., Reiner gives us this bleaker glimpse of a relationship, which shows a marriage breaking up at the seams.

Apparently wanting to mimic Ingmar Bergman's Scenes of a Marriage, the movie is never even half as intelligent or insightful. Rather, it teaches us that inappropriate happy endings could really ruin an already problematic film. And with his real-life break-up with Demi, you'd think Bruce could get some real juice into his acting here. What high hopes we have. C (TN)