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Review of the day for the week of April 26, 1999.

Monday:
Cookie's Fortune

Cookie's Fortune
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Cookie's Fortune is an interminably lethargic, amazingly dull film that seemed endlessly pointless and boring. I felt as though I were in the movie theatre for two years.

Cookie (Patricia Neal) is a small-town old woman who decides to kill herself. When her two nieces (Glenn Close and Julianne Moore) discover her body, they decide to make it look like murder, to avoid the shame of having a relative who committed suicide. Inadvertently, they let the blame fall on Willis (Charles S. Dutton), a borderline alcoholic friend of Cookie's who is the only plausible suspect. However, no one, including the town sheriff, really thinks Willis did it. In fact, the sheriff leaves Willis' cell door wide open and sits inside playing cards with him. Cookie's grand- niece (Liv Tyler) also joins Willis in jail as a show of support.

A few mildly amusing moments weren't nearly sufficient to break the monotony of this tiresomely tepid movie. Although I really like many of the actors, including Close, Tyler, and Chris O'Donnell (who plays Tyler's boyfriend), I just couldn't get into this film. The plot just went nowhere fast.

My Rating = Two Stars

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Wednesday:
Life

Life
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Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence star in the wonderful movie Life.

Comedic but also serious at times, this film chronicles the lives of two convicts (Lawrence and Martin) sentenced to life in prison. (This happens in the 1930's when both are young men with big future plans.) At first they don't get along well, as they blame each other for being falsely accused of murder. (Actually, a cop set them up.) Eventually, as their time in prison wears on, they do become friends, and they never give up attempting escape, even in their old age.

I enjoyed Life, although it wasn't entirely your typical Eddie Murphy movie. I think the difference is that it had more depth than most of Murphy's films, although his movies are usually so funny that you don't care anyway. Murphy was obviously moving in this direction with his last film, Holy Man, but he is more successful with Life.

My Rating = One Star

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Friday:
Pushing Tin

Pushing Tin
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Pushing Tin is an unusual, slightly end- foreseen, but mostly humorous and gratifying movie.

Nick (John Cusack) is overburdened and under extreme mental pressure mainly because his job as an air-traffic controller is distinctly high-pressure and totally stressful. Recently, matters have become even more complicated with the addition of Russell Bell (Billy Bob Thornton), the new guy in town who is an excellent air traffic controller. (Translation: Nick feels his job is being threatened and resents Russell.) Perhaps that's why he doesn't hesitate to sleep with Russell's wife, Mary (Angelina Jolie) - even though Nick is also married.

Needless to say, Nick quickly begins to fall apart. By the time his wife Connie (Cate Blanchett) finds out that he cheated on her and consequently leaves him, he is already unable to concentrate on his work. (His boss and coworkers politely suggest he "take a little vacation".) This movie might just as easily have been titled "Portrait of a Nervous Breakdown".

Pushing Tin isn't a side-splitter, but there is a fair amount of comedy. The end was a bit dopey (not to mention unrealistic) but otherwise the film was well- plotted. I think it's also worth noting that this is the first movie where I actually liked Billy Bob Thornton - as opposed to his Armageddon and A Simple Plan roles. Blanchett doesn't have as strong a role here as she did in Elizabeth, but it certainly shows her ability to do different kinds of movies.

My Rating = Three Star

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