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3 items from 1997


REVIEWS IN REVIEW:

12 August 1997 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

COP LAND

Miramax Films

A solidly entertaining drama that stays true to the independent spirit of its filmmakers, including the casting of heavyweights Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro in less-than-glamorous roles, Miramax's "Cop Land" has a good shot at leggy boxoffice success based on upbeat word-of-mouth and critical support.

Writer-director James Mangold ("Heavy") wrangles an impressive cast working for scale -- including Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Janeane Garofalo, Peter Berg, Robert Patrick, Michael Rapaport and Annabella Sciorra -- and spins a compelling tale of cancerous corruption within a secretive group of New York's finest who have settled in the fictional New Jersey burg of Garrison.

With solid production design by Lester Cohen and costumes by Ellen Lutter, the editing by Craig McKay is also on the nose. Howard Shore's fine score is assisted by songs from Bruce Springsteen, Robert Cray and Boz Scaggs (HR 8/11).

David Hunter

CAREER GIRLS

October Films

"Career Girls" is Mike Leigh lite. Coming off the much-lauded, emotionally taut "Secrets & Lies," the acclaimed filmmaker cleanses the artistic palate with another tale of two women, only this time the seemingly slight story -- about two former roommates who are reunited six years later -- generates more laughter than tears.

But while humor abounds, the reflective piece nevertheless carries an emotional heft that tends to sneak up on the viewer after the fact. It's a testament to Leigh's tremendous skills as a storyteller and the splendid performances of his leads, Katrin Cartlidge ("Breaking the Waves") and newcomer Lynda Steadman (HR 8/7).

Michael Rechtshaffen

G.I. JANE

Buena Vista Pictures

A Tom Cruise movie without Tom's magic smile, an Arnold Schwarzenegger adventure without the muscular machismo, Sharon Stone crossing her legs: Imagine more of the same, star vehicles with the star's best assets not used.

Thus marches out Hollywood Pictures' "G.I. Jane", Demi Moore as a Navy S.E.A.L. trainee with her head sheared bald and her body completely covered in military gear. Although there is novelty in seeing the one spot of Moore's anatomy we haven't been exposed to, this formulaic movie is not likely to detonate more than mediocre boxoffice for Buena Vista.

Basically "Top Gun" without the high-flying acrobatics and the good-old-boy charm, "G.I. Jane" is an ultra-serious tract about an underdog's battle against the big bad establishment, in this case, the first female Navy S.E.A.L. vs. the institutional harassment of the military machine.

Special praise to cinematographer Hugh Johnson for the charged scopings and Trevor Jones for the ear-blasting score (HR 8/8-10).

Duane Byrge

Other reviews

Also reviewed last week were "Def Jam's How to Be a Player" (HR 8/6) and "Free Willy 3: The Rescue" (8/8-10).

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Film review: 'G.I. Jane'

8 August 1997 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

A Tom Cruise movie without Tom's magic smile, an Arnold Schwarzenegger adventure without the muscular machismo, Sharon Stone crossing her legs: Imagine more of the same, star vehicles with the star's best assets not used.

Thus marches out Hollywood Pictures' "G.I. Jane", Demi Moore as a Navy S.E.A.L. trainee with her head sheared bald and her body completely covered in military gear. Although there is novelty in seeing the one spot of Moore's anatomy we haven't been exposed to, this formulaic movie is not likely to detonate more than mediocre boxoffice for Buena Vista.

Basically "Top Gun" without the high-flying acrobatics and the good-old-boy charm, "G.I. Jane" is an ultra-serious tract about an underdog's battle against the big bad establishment, in this case, the first female Navy S.E.A.L. vs. the institutional harassment of the military machine.

In general, "G.I. Jane" marches out in predictable lockstep as screenwriters David Twohy and Danielle Alexandra chart a narrative mission for her filled with obstacles, both psychological and physical. As one would expect, there's plenty of bad blood between Jane and some of her macho superiors, and, to boot, some opposition from entrenched female establishment-types. But she's a gutty survivor and gives as good as she gets.

"G.I. Jane" is at its most exciting and involving during Jane's hellacious training regimen: The rigors are so exhausting and emotionally draining that one almost feels as if one is in boot camp with her. Credit to director Ridley Scott for generating some dynamic and powerful images: "Jane"'s action cadence, is, perhaps, the film's best asset.

Where it missteps is in its human dynamics; the dialogue is utterly shrill and emanates from a squadron of largely stereotypical characters. Unlike life, and detracting from its realism, is the story's general lack of surprises and predictable character etchings.

In the titular role, Moore's ferocious intensity and moxy are credible character ingredients, but despite the inherent compassion one might feel for "Jane" as an underdog, that feeling is missing owing to the character's grunty demeanor.

Overall, the players are well-selected, particularly Viggo Mortensen as Jane's chief tormentor, her merciless master chief. Anne Bancroft does a nice turn as a senator with a hidden agenda that can hit like a torpedo-load.

Technical contributions fit the bill, with special praise to cinematographer Hugh Johnson for the charged scopings and Trevor Jones for the ear-blasting score.

G.I. JANE

Buena Vista Pictures

Hollywood Pictures presents

in association with Scott Free

and Largo Entertainment

A Roger Birnbaum/Scott Free/

Moving Pictures production

A Ridley Scott Film

Producers Ridley Scott, Roger Birnbaum,

Demi Moore, Suzanne Todd

Director Ridley Scott

Screenwriters David Twohy, Danielle Alexandra

Story Danielle Alexandra

Executive producers Danielle Alexandra,

Julie Bergman Sender, Chris Zarpas

Co-producer Nigel Wooll

Director of photography Hugh Johnson

Production designer Arthur Max

Editor :Pietro Scalia

Costume designer Marilyn Vance

Music Trevor Jones

Casting Louis Di Giaimo, Brett Goldstein

Associate producers Terry Needham,

Diane Minter Lewis, Tim McBride

Special effects coordinator Steve Galich

Color/stereo

Cast:

Jordan Demi Moore

Master Chief Viggo Mortensen

Lillian DeHaven Anne Bancroft

Royce Jason Beghe

Theodore Hayes Daniel Von Bargen

Chief of Staff John Michael Higgins

Instructor Pyro Kevin Gage

Running time -- 112 minutes

MPAA rating: R

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REVIEWS IN REVIEW:

17 June 1997 | The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News | See recent The Hollywood Reporter - Movie News news »

BATMAN & ROBIN

Warner Bros.

Batman and Robin are a dynamic duo in this latest entry from the Warner Bros. franchise, thanks chiefly to the charismatic performance of George Clooney as the leather-suited hero.

With a plot line that seemingly careens all over Gotham and enough lead characters to fill a city borough, this latest outing is overambitious in its plottings. It's the visuals that are the star, courtesy of former window dresser Joel Schumacher, whose smart eye invigorates a somewhat lackluster scenario.

Arnold Schwarzenegger is a percussive villain in the film -- his eyes glazed and his muscles flexing. Uma Thurman stands out as Dr. Pamela Isley (a k a Poison Ivy), while Alicia Silverstone is winningly fetching in her role as Batgirl (HR 6/16).

Duane Byrge

SPEED 2:

CRUISE CONTROL

20th Century Fox

"Speed 2: Cruise Control" is slow.

The story never gets out of first gear and it doesn't have Sandra Bullock do any behind-the-wheel heroics. In short, it completely misses the boat as a sequel, not using the whammy charm of Bullock's erratic in the original.

The writing is just plain drab, and the action sequences up to a big-crash finale are limited mainly to running through ship hallways.

Director Jan De Bont, who so wonderfully infused the original with a dynamic pace, has not energized this hulk to any emotional height. His tight, straight-on shooting deflates, rather than charges, this actioner (HR 6/12).

Duane Byrge

HERCULES

Buena Vista

The hero of Greek mythology with the "ripping pectorals" is a perfect choice for Disney's newest animated effort, a vast improvement over the lugubrious history lesson of "Pocahontas" and the turgid melodrama of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame".

Boasting the usual superb animation, the humor one expects from the creators of "Aladdin" and a wonderful villain as voiced by entertaining James Woods, "Hercules" will delight adults as much as children. The heroes and villains of Greek mythology turn out to be a wonderful opportunity for both the animators and the screenwriters to flex their imaginations as well as offering the flexibility to provide generous doses of humorous pop culture references.

It should do excellent business, although one shouldn't look for a blockbuster of "The Lion King" proportions (HR 6/13-15).

Frank Scheck

MY BEST FRIEND'S

WEDDING

Sony

Julia Roberts doesn't walk down the aisle in "My Best Friend's Wedding", but she'll sure leave plenty of boxoffice bouquets for Sony in this mainstream romancer. A bittersweet, modern-love morsel, this scrumptious drama should touch moviegoers' hearts in an action-gorged summer.

While the plot line has some unsettling pitfalls, this contemporary comedy sparkles with some shrewd insights into the pitfalls of women who are too sophisticated for their own good.

Duane Byrge

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3 items from 1997


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