Four Boring Movies

Four boring movies had me ready to throw in the towel last week.   
The first dud was BASQUIAT, which is more a nagging sketch than a 
particular portrait of died-young graffiti-artist-turned-famous-
painter Jean-Michel Basquiat.  Tony winner Jeffrey Wright plays the 
title character in a performance so "oblique" (to quote another 
reviewer) that I caught myself leaning forward, as if I could 
somehow complete the connection for him.  The busy supporting cast 
includes Benicio Del Toro, Gary Oldman, and David Bowie as a funny 
Andy Warhol.  They keep enough of the scenes moving so you won't 
fall asleep, even after the novelty of New York's art scene wears 
off and leaves you wanting to take a bath.  Writer/director/fellow-
artist Julian Schnabel includes a handful of great lines.  Listen 
carefully for Jean-Michel's reaction to Andy's piss-art.  Also too-
close-for-comfort is another character's comment about "ten people 
on the planet who know anything about painting."  I won't touch 
that one.  (Rated "R"/106 min.) 

MAXIMUM RISK was the next butt-number, which we caught in Atlanta.  
Disguised as Yet Another Van Damme Vehicle (YAVDV), the surprise is 
that Ringo Lam (CITY OF FIRE) is behind the camera.  He's another 
acclaimed Hong Kong helmer who, like John Woo, can direct the hell 
out of an action sequence.  Unfortunately, he doesn't know how to 
make the slower, more-subtle moments move.  (The plot?  Jean-Claude 
plays a French cop who assumes the identity of a dead twin brother 
that he didn't know he had and winds up in Manhattan with a chatty 
cabbie at his side, a leggy brunette in his bed, and the Russian 
mob on his behind.)  The expertly directed chase scenes at either 
end are a treat, I'll give you that.  As is a finale which dares to 
combine the words "chainsaw attack" with "meat locker."  It's just 
the rest of the movie that sucks.  (Rated "R"/126 min.)

In that same afternoon we sampled SHE'S THE ONE, the new romantic 
comedy from writer/director/actor Ed Burns.  The plot is another 
take on brotherly love that gets funnier as it goes, despite some 
serious casting problems.  Burns, his real-life g.f. Maxine Bahns, 
and "Friends" friend Jennifer Aniston are entirely appealing.  John 
Mahoney, however, merely musters a fouler-mouthed variation of his 
"Fraiser" character.  He's wasted, as is Cameron Diaz (THE MASK) 
who barely registers as a brother's mistress.  The worst offender 
is Mike McGlone, who just overacts and overacts.  Trying to believe 
these assorted actors as assorted characters left me thinking the 
same thought that I had after seeing Burns' last film, THE BROTHERS 
MCMULLEN:  Real people don't behave this way.  Not even real movie 
people.  And what's up with the director's choice of casting every 
character except himself and his sweetie as a smoker?  Huh?  (Rated 
"R"/96 min.)

We wrapped our vacation at a jam-packed sneak-preview of THE FIRST 
WIVES CLUB.  The comic chemistry between Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, 
and Bette Midler is furiously funny.  They're the best thing about 
this movie, though a sharp-tongued script (by Robert Harding, from 
the novel by Olivia Goldsmith) and a superb supporting cast rate 
an awfully close second.  (Wail till you see Maggie Smith and Sarah 
Jessica Parker in the same scene!)  The rest of the movie, however, 
is a godawful mess.   You may not find the story's serious streak 
too terrible, but I challenge *anyone* to ignore that Tingling 
Sensation Down Under that starts about twenty minutes before the 
living end.  Long sit.  The final scene is a music video of the 
girls singing "You Don't Own Me," which, I guess, is a sight no 
stranger than that of Hawn playing a "lovable drunk" or Bette 
acting butch in a lesbian bar.  Whatever.  (Rated "PG"/90 min.)

Grades:  C  (BASQUIAT)
         C+ (MAXIMUM RISK)
         C+ (SHE'S THE ONE)

Copyright 1996 by Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies

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