Sat, 13 May 2000

Roberts' movie shines at local cinemas

JAKARTA (JP): A young innocent tries to experience life outside the walls of his orphanage, while an unlikely legal crusader storms through legal bureaucracies and snobbish lawyers. The following reviews and grades are by Oren Murphy (OM) and Tam Notosusanto (TN).

The Bachelor. Romantic comedy, 101 minutes; starring Chris O'Donnell, Renee Zellweger, James Cromwell, Artie Lange, and Brooke Shields. Directed by Gary Sinyor.

Jimmie Shannon (O'Donnell) has 24 hours to get married or lose his US$100 million inheritance. He botched the job with the woman he loves (Zellweger) and so desperately searches for an alternative. The film heaps cliche upon stereotype about what men are like (mustangs ever looking for a new "succulent patch of grass") and what women are like (looking for romance and marriage). Flat acting, dumb script and an utterly predictable ending are just a few reasons not to see this film. Graded C- (OM)

The Cider House Rules. Drama, 125 minutes; starring Tobey Maguire, Charlize Theron, Delroy Lindo, Paul Rudd, Jane Alexander and Michael Caine. Directed by Lasse Hallstrom.

Young Homer Wells (Maguire) wants to leave the New England orphanage where he has been living all his life to get a little taste of the world. His mentor and father figure, Dr. Larch (Caine), tries to keep him from going. This coming-of-age drama from best-selling novelist John Irving moves too slowly to get to its point. And the only performances that leave an impression are from the children who play the bit parts as the orphans. Graded B- (TN)

The End of the Affair. Drama, 109 minutes; starring Ralph Fiennes, Julianne Moore, Stephen Rea and Ian Hart. Written and directed by Neil Jordan.

Fiennes plays an author in wartime England who romances the wife (Moore) of his good friend (Rea). Jordan adapted Graham Greene's autobiographical book into this exquisite motion picture, filled with passion, humor and a little bit of mystery that drives the plot through. Moore is outstanding as the tortured lady, in a performance that received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Graded B+ (TN)

Erin Brockovich. Legal drama, 130 minutes; starring Julia Roberts, Albert Finney, Aaron Eckhart, Marg Helgenberger and Peter Coyote. Directed by Steven Soderbergh.

Erin (Roberts) is a divorced mother of three with a bad temper and a bad taste in clothing. But at a small law firm where she works as a filing clerk, she discovers evidence of a giant electric and gas company polluting the water of a small neighboring town and covering it up. With the obstinate persistence that amazes his employer (Finney) and other seasoned attorneys, Erin manages to motivate the town's people to file a huge lawsuit against the company. This factual story comes alive in the hands of indie filmmaker Soderbergh, who proves to be equally able tackling mainstream. And never before has Roberts shown a performance this dynamic and captivating. Graded A- (TN)

Romeo Must Die. Action, 115 minutes; starring Jet Li, Aaliyah, Isaiah Washington, Russell Wong and Delroy Lindo. Directed by Andrzej Bartkowiak.

No, this is not the latest adaptation of the Shakespeare tragedy, although the story has two warring families and two youngsters from each clan who seem to be smitten by each other. That's as far as they would go, because this movie is mainly a showcase for Li's martial arts talent in his first English- speaking starring role, not for him as a romantic leading man.

Nonetheless, the movie has great, elaborately choreographed fight scenes. And the suspenseful, at times humorous script makes it the more enjoyable. Graded B (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 off at the seams. Apparently inspired by Ingmar Bergman's Scenes of a Marriage, the movie is never even half as intelligent or insightful. Rather, it teaches us that an inappropriate happy ending 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. Graded C (TN)

The Whole Nine Yards. Comedy, 98 minutes; starring Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Natasha Henstridge, Michael Clarke Duncan and Rosanna Arquette. Directed by Jonathan Lynn.

Analyze This begets a copycat with this story of a Canadian dentist (Perry) who gets all jittery when he realizes his new next-door neighbor (Willis) is a mob contract killer hiding from his former employers. The strange script, wooden acting and Perry's overblown shtick makes this movie a sore. But Arquette shows off a hilarious Quebecois accent as Perry's gold-digging wife. Graded C (TN)