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Review of the day for the week of July 1, 1996.

Monday:
Clockers (1995)

Clockers
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Spike Lee has really outdone himself this time. In Clockers, his style of filmaking is completely different from anything he's done in the past. His characters, language, cinematography and his direction are all great. The story is an Urban tale of the murder of a drug dealer and the effect it has on the community. It especially effects two brothers (Isaiah Washington and Mekhi Pfeiffer), who are almost like Cain and Abel. Washington is the hard-working, older brother, who confesses to killing the drug dealer. But a veteran cop (Harvey Keitel), who has seen practically everything in the city, thinks that it's obviously Washington's tougher, younger brother Pfeiffer.

Keitel also believes it was on the orders of the local drug Czar (Delroy Lindo), who has become a sort of father figure to Pfeiffer. In the mean time, everybody is going against Pfeiffer. The cops, fellow gang members, the much wiser members of the community, etc. The ultimate irony is that Keitel seems to be the only one who can save him from death.

A compelling drama about the good, the bad, and the ugliness of street life, shown from both the cops and the criminals point of view. Plenty of powerhouse performances from the likes of Keitel, Lindo, Washington and most especially Pfeiffer. The cinematography is both rapid and leisurely, and the quick editing is dynamite. I think if Lee ever had a masterpiece to date, it's this one.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Tuesday:
Hear No Evil (1993)

Hear No Evil
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This film is sort of a Wait Until Dark for the deaf. Marlee Matlin portrays a young deaf woman terrorized by a sadistic cop (Martin Sheen) and an unknown killer, who believes the young woman has a rare gold coin stashed away somewhere in her home. Only a brave knight in shining armour (D.B. Sweeney, totally miscast) can save her.

Well, all sarcasm aside, I think the average movie goer can pretty much predict the ending. This is one low-grade thriller, where suspense becomes boredom and horror becomes comedy. Sheen gives a truly ineffective performance, turning his character into an idiotic cliche. The film is only redeemed by Matlin's performance. But her performance aids this movie insignificantly. Otherwise, this cinematic exercise doesn't have much substance going for it.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Wednesday:
Basic Instinct (1992)

Basic Instinct
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One of the many Joe Eszterhas scripted sex thrillers, which just happened to rocket Sharon Stone into international stardom. She portrays a seductive suspect in a brutal ice-pick murder case. The detective assigned to the case (Michael Douglas) gets a little too involved with this manipulative femme fatale. Douglas' character happens to be a pretty messed-up dude himself in dire need of therapy. He's a man who is losing his battle against addictions to booze and cigarettes and has an extremely bad temper to boot. Sleeping with his psychiatrist (Jeanne Tripplehorn) doesn't help much toward his rehabilitation. Let's just say, that from the moment Douglas lays eyes on Stone, he gets himself deeper and deeper into trouble as more dead bodies start to pile up.

Well, it's never boring. I'll give it that! But the mystery (if indeed there is really a mystery ) is utterly predictable. You know who it is from the very beginning and the outcome is broadcast loud and clear.that you can't avoid knowing how it's all going to turn out. Plus, it doesn't help much that the characters, like most of Eszterhas' sleazeballs, are incredibly unsympathetic and unreal. This type of film sets up the disaster to come for Eszterhas' and director Paul Verhoeven's next sleazy, erotica tale, Showgirls. The only things good about this otherwise "fatal attraction" film are the sometimes brilliant visuals and Stone herself. She rises above the stereotype of the cold-blooded lesbian, murderess. The interrogation scene, where Stone toys with the male officers' sex drives, is most certainly a classic, which will be imitated and caricatured countlessly for eons yet to come.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Happy fourth of July! Have I got a treat for you.

Thursday:
Independence Day (1996)

Independence Day
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All I can say about this film is WOW!!!. The story is rather simple. Aliens attempt to conquer the Earth. In turn, they swarm out over major cities all over the globe, destroy them and take millions of human lives. A small band of Human survivors, including the President of the United States (Bill Pullman), a fighter pilot (Will Smith of Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) and a computer genius (Jeff Goldblum), begin a counter-offensive against the massive Alien technology.

Not since Jurassic Park has any Sci-Fi film generated such anticipation and lived up to all the hype. Great special effects, plenty of memorable moments, good acting (for this type of film) and lots of great action sequences. I'm sort of hoping that this blows away Twister at the box office. The story and the special effects are a lot more crowd-pleasing then anything else that has come out this summer.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Friday:
A Close Shave (1995)

Normally I don't review short films, but this one was too good to pass up. Most of America has never heard of Wallace and Gromit, but in England, they are outstandingly big. Mickey Mouse big! Wallace is an absent-minded inventor, who survives in the everyday world with the help of his, obviously smarter-than-himself, dog Gromit. They've had quite a few series of wild adventures. Here, they go up against a dangerous sheep rustler, who has his eye set on destroying Gromit.

Imaginative, witty and very well animated, this Oscar-winning short subject from Nick Parks, will probably make Wallace and Gromit just as big as Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny or Yogi Bear, here in America. You should probably also see the earlier Oscar-winning short, The Wrong Trousers, the first film to introduce us to this animated odd couple.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Saturday:
There Goes The Neighborhood (1992)

There Goes The Neighborhood
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This so-called "comedy", follows various greedy characters in their search for a buried treasure that lies under one of two suburban homes. Well, aren't we original! It would almost be funny, if it wasn't such a painful waste as it fritters away the talents of Jeff Daniels, Dabney Coleman, Catherine O'Hara and Judith Ivey. Chazz Palminteri (Bullets Over Broadway), as one of a trio of bumbling crooks, just barely saves this from going bad to worse. Other than that moment of pleasure, I came to the conclusion, that I'd rather see a movie about a sperm whale getting an enema, than sit through this again! Now that would be funny!!

My Rating = One Star

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Sunday:
Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

Ferris Bueller's Day Off
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One of the all-time greatest comedy, this movie tells the tale of a smart Chicago teenager (Matthew Broderick), who ditches school with his girlfriend (Mia Sara) and his neurotic best friend (Alan Ruck), so they can spend a day in the windy city. It also turns out that Broderick wants to build his buddy Ruck's self-esteem, a task that turns out to be a more difficult than he imagined. As if this wasn't enough, Broderick's sister (Jennifer Grey) and his principal (an achingly funny Jeffery Jones), truly believe he's playing hookey and they both want to nail him in the act. Talk about a dilemma.

This is a fine teenage comedy, with well-rounded, intelligent characters, giving Broderick a great starring role. Some of the best scenes are formed around Bueller's ability to gleefully manipulate everybody and everything around him. Those side-splitting, thigh-slapping scenes have to be seen to be believed. Of course, he gets a little help from his friends (Sara and Ruck). John Hughes has become quite good at making teenage fare, that are both amusing and realistic portraits of intelligent ("News flash" guys this is not an oxymoron) teenage life. If there was ever a film to put on your "What-to-rent" list, this is it.

My Rating = Four Stars

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