Mission: Impossible 2

This is obviously a sequel, but whether its true predecessor is Mission: Impossible, Face/Off, or Dr. No is less certain. Like its predecessor, it stars coproducer Tom Cruise, costars Ving Rhames, was written at least partially by prestigious hack Robert Towne (who takes solo credit here), and whimsically glorifies the CIA as a band of efficient sophisticates devoted to inventing new ways for its employees to perform fancy stunts. Like Face/Off, it was directed by John Woo, features a fair amount of sadistic cruelty, and dispenses so many rubber masks to allow the characters to swap identities that no hero or villain winds up carrying any moral weight at all. (How they sometimes manage to imitate one another’s voices is poorly explained, but credibility is so thin throughout that this movie only came into its own when it became available on video and thus truly disposable.) Like Dr. No, it’s a piece of nostalgia for colonialism (the main urban setting is Sydney), Playboy, Cary Grant, high-tech gadgets, and apocalyptic fantasies, and if Cruise makes an unconvincing Bond when compared to Sean Connery, Anthony Hopkins is perfectly cast as Cruise’s chief, and Thandie Newtonas a thief enlisted by the CIA to fuck her former boyfriend, villain Dougray Scottarguably makes an even better babe than Ursula Andress. I fully expected her to peel off a rubber mask at the end and show that she’s actually Tom Cruise, but you can’t have everythingjust the usual number of explosions, plus Woo’s slow-motion ass-kicking whenever interest flags. If only it had shown some nostalgia for the silent thrillers of Louis Feuillade and Fritz Lang, I might have had some fun. 123 min. (JR)

Published on 22 May 2000 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Passion Of Mind

At first glance, this Hollywood feature produced by cowriter Ron Bass (Rain Man, When a Man Loves a Woman) and directed by Alain Berliner (Ma vie en rose) deals with the same theme as Shattered Image (1998), a mainstream feature written by Duane Poole and directed by Raul Ruiz, in which a Seattle hit woman dreams she’s a newlywed honeymooning in the Caribbean, who dreams in turn she’s a Seattle hit woman, etc. In Passion of Mind, a widow living with her two daughters in a French village and being courted by a novelist (Stellan Skarsgard) dreams she’s a New York literary agent being courted by an accountant (William Fichtner), and vice versa. But in fact the two movies are polar opposites. The two women in Shattered Image are both played by Anne Parillaud, and the point of the exercise isn’t psychological but a Ruizian mind fuck; in Passion of Mind, both women are played by Demi Moore (who isn’t bad, by the way), and the story is designed as a psychological puzzle, offering two romantic love stories for the price of one. The Ruiz film is fun but leads nowhere; Passion of Mind is slick and effective escapism with a touch of poetry (a la The Sixth Sense) that left me vaguely dissatisfied once the mystery was supposedly resolved. 105 min. (JR)

Published on 22 May 2000 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Hamlet

It’s fitting that the most existential of plays should function as a kind of test, and fortunate that the first Michael Almereyda picture to get full mainstream exposure should also turn out to be his best to date. But what’s being tested isn’t either Shakespeare or Almereyda but the present moment: that is, the film asks how and how much we’re capable of living in the world Shakespeare wrote about. Wittily and tragically updating the play’s action to corporate America in general and New York in particular, Almereyda is no Orson Welles, but he begins to seem like one when he’s castigated for not doing his Shakespeare like Kenneth Branagh; the censure recalls all the times square and professional Laurence Olivier was used as a reproach to Welles’s hip “amateurism.” This is gloriously amateurish, the way all of Almereyda’s best movies are, so it’s rewarding to see how Julia Stiles’s Ophelia harks back to Suzy Amis in Almereyda’s Twister, how some of the intimate interiors recall Another Girl Another Planet (his second-best movie), and how the use of video as a kind of Greek chorus to the action, an Almereyda specialty, bears special fruit in a postmodernist climate where “To be or not to be” is recited in the action section of a Blockbuster and Hamlet (Ethan Hawke, better than you’d expect) lards his video production of The Mousetrap with all sorts of found footage. Fortunately, Almereyda has a terrific and game cast to score all his best points with: Bill Murray (Polonius), Kyle MacLachlan (Claudius), Diane Venora (Gertrude), Sam Shepard (the Ghost), and Liev Schreiber (Laertes), among others. And he employs a keen, labyrinthine sense of place to box, subdivide, and confound them. (Check out his great use of the Guggenheim, for instance.) Almereyda’s respect for his audience and his queasiness about the present register with equal weight, reinventing the poetry in the most relevant ways possible. Pipers Alley. –Jonathan Rosenbaum

Published on 19 May 2000 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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All You Need Is Cash [SMALL TIME CROOKS]

Please go to

http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/2000/05/all-you-need-is-cash/

Published on 19 May 2000 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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