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Review of the day for the week of Februrary 23, 1998.

Monday:
Coming to America

Coming to America
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Eddie Murphy is, as usual, hilariously funny in Coming to America, a typically idiotic comedy.

Murphy plays the twenty-one year old prince of the African country Zimonda. Tired of being pampered - he even has a servant to wipe him when he uses the bathroom! - the last thing he wants is the woman chosen to be his wife. She has been trained to be the queen, which means to obey his every command like a pet dog on a leash. He asks if she has a favorite food and she says yes, so he asks what it is. "Whatever food you like," she replies. This conversation continues for several minutes, and they get nowhere. So the prince decides to travel to America and find his queen there.

You can imagine how funny things get from then on. Murphy is one of the best comedy actors around, and this is a terrific example. I can't say this was the most original or realistic film I've ever seen, but that doesn't really matter - it's a grand comedy.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Tuesday:
The Apostle

The Apostle
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The Apostle, despite receiving rave reviews from other critics, did not impress me.

Robert DuVall stars as Euliss Sonny Dewey, a corrupt preacher who becomes insanely jealous of his estranged wife's (Farrah Fawcett) new beau, Horace (Todd Allen). In a most un-saintly fit of jealousy, he cracks Horace on the head with a baseball bat, then runs off to another town and proceeds to start a new church. Meanwhile, Horace lies comatose and the police are after him.

How many phony Halelujah's can you squeeze into a two-hour movie? That's what you find out in this film. Basically all any of the actors do is shout "Praise the Lord," probably in an attempt to make you forget that this preacher is wanted for first degree murder. I fail to see what's so wonderful and uplifting about this story.

My Rating = One Star

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Wednesday:
The Net

The Net
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The Net is a thrilling and original story about - what else? - the Internet.

Sandra Bullock is Angela Bennett, a lonely, but busy computer hacker working at home, who suddenly becomes caught into a complicated mess thanks to a fellow computer coworker. He sends her a program with a glitch that could allow access to anything - even government files. Then he mysteriously dies. Before she knows it, someone has stolen Angela's identity and she's forced to agree that she's a criminal, Ruth Marx. Slowly, her friends are being killed off.

You don't have to be a hacker to enjoy this movie. It's captivating enough to hold anyone's attention, and you might just pick up some useful computer lingo. Or maybe not. At any rate, it's well plotted and well acted, if a bit slow getting started.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Thursday:
The Tango Lesson

The Tango Lesson
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The Tango Lesson is distinctly different. Vaguely reminiscent of last year's Shall We Dance, another lovely foreign film, it is spoken mostly in French (Shall We Dance was in Japanese).

Sally (Sally Potter) a movie director and writer, decides to take tango lessons from a considerably younger man named Pablo (Pablo Veron). As you would expect, a romance gradually develops between them.

Meanwhile Sally decides to write a film about tango dancers, and include Pablo in the film. All she has to do is convince Hollywood to make the film.

The dancing is fun to watch and keeps you entertained for a while, but then it grows repetitious and tiresome. The unusual camera angles and plot are also temporarily diverting, but, like the dancing, lose their charm after the first forty-five minutes or so. Shall We Dance was a more enticing movie.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Friday:
The Paper

The Paper
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Hilarious actor Michael Keaton stars in this crazy comedy about the newspaper business.

Henry Hackett (Michael Keaton) writes for one newspaper, but is considering a job at a rival newspaper. His pregnant wife (Marisa Tomei) wants him to take the job because he'll make more money working fewer hours, and can spend more time with her and their new baby. Meanwhile, several stories are developing and he has to decide which one is going to be the biggest story. The confusion and mayhem in the newsroom escalates until a shot is fired.

While talking with the rival paper's editor about the job, Henry manages to obtain information on their lead story for the next day. But, will he steal the lead story?

Keaton is a very risible comedian, and the story will hold your attention. The various subplots are equally diverting, and although the movie slows at times, overall, it's worthy entertainment.

My Rating = Three Stars

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Saturday:
Krippendorf's Tribe

Krippendorf's Tribe
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Although I'm not a big Richard Drefuss fan, (I did think he was terrific in Mr. Holland's Opus), I thoroughly loved Krippendorf's Tribe.

Dreyfuss is Professor Krippendorf, an anthropologist and single father, whose wife apparently died of a tropical disease on their last family trip to Africa, while he was searching for a lost tribe of African natives. Now, because he used up quite a lot of grant money on the trip, he is forced to pretend that he did find the tribe, when he didn't. So he enlists the aid of his children in creating a false video of the "natives" (played by his children). He also gets an annoying female colleague drunk and takes embarrassing videos of her dancing around in a hula skirt, which he promptly airs on television! (He calls it a "mating ritual").

She gets back at him, however, in a hilarious scene where he dresses up as a native for another TV appearance. She shows up unexpectedly and forces him to eat a slug, saying "all the natives eat slugs".

This may not make sense, but the plot is so stupid, it's brilliant. Dreyfuss's acting is superb for a comedy, and this is definitely his best work since Mr.Holland's Opus. If only he'd make more movies like this.

My Rating = Four Stars

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Sunday:
Hero

Hero
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Dustin Hoffman stars as a not very heroic hero in Hero, a rather unrealistic but entertaining drama.

Hoffman is Bernie Laplante, a common criminal. On the way to pick up his kid and see a movie, he witnesses a plane crash. Complaining about getting his stolen hundred dollar shoes wet, he opens the hatch and lets everyone out of the plane. A little boy asks him to go in after his father and he agrees, although reluctantly. As it turns out, the boy's father is already out of the plane, but Bernie does save several other lives. At one point, he saves an ambitious news reporter, played by Geena Davis, (pocketing her purse in the process). The reporter is carried off to an ambulance exclaiming, "It's my story!" He also loses one of his shoes and gives the other to another down-and-out man, John Bubber, played by Andy Garcia. Later, a reward is offered to the man who saved everyone. When Bernie fails to step forward, Bubber claims the reward, leading to interesting complications.

Bernie who is now in the doghouse with his kid, whom he never got to take to the movies. Later,when he tries to pawn the reporter's credit cards on the black market, he gets arrested.

Hoffman's dry sarcasm and the originality of the story make this film intensely entertaining. Hoffman was the perfect actor for this part, and the supporting actors were admirable.

My Rating = Three Stars

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