The Aisle Seat
by Andy Dursin
With our webmaster still away (back soon!), we present another installment of Andy Dursin’s Aisle Seat on the FSD page–this will be archived and put in Andy’s aisle seat area, where he’ll update it every week.
We remind everybody that Andy Dursin represents the aesthetic and cultural values of the state of Rhode Island ONLY.
THIS WEEK AT THE MOVIES
Two words: STARSHIP TROOPERS. Word of mouth is excellent, all the early reviews have been positive, so there isn’t a whole lot else to say except… SEE IT!
THIS WEEK ON TV
Yup, November Sweeps is officially underway. Pat yourself on the back if you managed to sit through more than 20 minutes of HOUSE OF FRANKENSTEIN 1997; alas, I should have been watching the Season Premiere of the X-FILES over on Fox, but lucky for me, I have Primestar and swiped it a few hours later off the West Coast. (Oh, the power we Satelitte people have!)
This week brings an original mini-series on CBS, THE THIRD TWIN, which stars has-beens Kelly McGillis, Jason Gedrick, and Larry Hagman. Part one of this thriller airs Sunday at 9pm. But don’t worry, if it’s family fluff you want, catch Christopher Lloyd in ABC’s made-for-TV sequel, ANGELS IN THE BACKFIELD, which airs Sunday (11/9) at 7pm.
THIS WEEK ON VIDEO
THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK (**) comes to the small screen, where perhaps it will play better now that it completely failed to live up to expectations on the big one. Steven Spielberg’s movie lacks the spark that made the flawed but hugely enjoyable original such a hit; David Koepp’s script, meanwhile, is even more of a mess than its predecessor, filled with poorly drawn characters and an abysmal climax set in San Deigo. Some of the set-pieces are exciting, though most of these occur during the film’s mid-section on the island (and featuring Pete Postelthwaite as a big-game hunter, an intriguing role that seems to have been cut significantly from its original conception). The effects are competent but unremarkable, and Jeff Goldblum looks lost–literally and figuratively–in the lead. Things are made worse by Janusz Kaminski’s insanely ecletic cinematography, which is unusually pretentious for a movie like this. Unsurprisingly, John Williams’ score is the best thing about this sequel.
BOOGIE NIGHTS (**):
Wildly overpraised by a number of critics, this would-be Martin Scorsese-esque take on the blooming late ’70s porn industry and its subsequent fall in the early ’80s is an overlong, overdirected, underwritten, though generally well-performed film. Mark Wahlberg (Marky Mark himself) plays a talentless dweeb whose physical attributes below the belt enable him to become a prime picking for porn filmmaker Burt Reynolds (in his latest “comeback” role), who brings Wahlberg into his extended family of drug addicts, high school dropouts, and other assorted lowlifes–not the least of which include pathetic deadbeat mom Julianne Moore and forever rollerskating Heather Graham. Yes, both take their clothes off, and yes, depending on your personal taste, you may be overwhelmed by such a movie playing in multiplexes everywhere, but this picture has a number of problems. From the bloated running time to its under-developed characters, it’s clear that writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson needed more than a few film-school classes and all-too apparent viewings of GOODFELLAS to put this one across. BOOGIE NIGHTS has endless tracking shots, right out of the GOODFELLAS playbook (which the screenplay’s arc emulates in more ways than one), but it’s atonishing how little character development there is for a movie that goes on for over two and a half hours. For example, when Anderson wants us to (apparently) feel sympathy for Moore at a meeting with her ex-husband at the end of the film, it’s a feeling we completely cannot share since we’ve been deluged with two hours of seeing Moore and others getting wasted, fooling around (on-screen and off), and generally acting as if their brains were already toasted beyond all measure. You can’t have it both ways, which is a sentiment even more clearly defined by the picture’s ending, where Anderson tacks on a “happy epliogue” that contradicts the entire downward spiral that came before it. The cinematography is predictably garish, but so little of the film is entertaining–not even in a trashy way (VALLEY OF THE DOLLS at least had a sense of humor, albeit unintentional)–that most of it just dies there on screen, a plastic movie with plastic people and ambitious intentions. [R, 153 mins.]