#38 | April 23 - May 6, 1998  smlogo.gif

Krazy Kevin's Kino Korner

In This Issue
Feature Story
Press Review
Death Porn
Kino Korner
Moscow Babylon


Devil's Shite

Greetings from Philadelphia, where I spent last night drinking Coors Light at the my future brother-in-law's bachelor party. The shindig was held at an intimate little converted factory of a place called Daydreams on the city's northern industrial wasteland outskirts. The electronic message board at the place pretty much said it all: "Daydreams features SPORTS. Watch FOOTBALL, drink ALCOHOL (BYOB)...and see it ALL!!!"

All in this case refers to (obviously, I would think) fake tits and shaved twats. I've never seen such a large number of hideously overweight people (I'm referring to the hooting males in the audience, not the hootered dancing girls) all in the same room before.

If that doesn't make you glad to be in Moscow, I don't know what will. But at least I got to smoke Kools during the fiasco. Anyway, you folks probably want to hear about some films, so let's get to it.

First up is The Man in the Iron Mask, which scheduling issues have kept me from seeing. However, I have seen the trailer on three separate occasions, so I feel qualified to offer a few judgments.
Bald, fat, and British
(1) Following the trend started in Titanic, DiCaprio's acting is getting even worse. Obviously, being on the cover of every magazine on the planet simultaneously has made too much free sex or drugs or both available to him and his skills are suffering as a result. (2) Gerard Depardieu is never a pleasant prospect. (3) Chicks seem to think Gabriel Byrne is pretty hot. (4) Since when did Leonardo become Leo, anyway?

What's more, a reclusive graduate student friend of mine in New York skipped a class on post-Structuralist game theory to go see this one, and she informs me that the movie is pure shit and totally engrossing. But before you get all excited, be warned that Depardieu's naked (and fat) ass makes a not-so-brief on-screen appearance.

Another Golden Shit option this week is Devil's Advocate, which I've even gone to the trouble of seeing (twice!). This one's about a hotshot young attorney who is lured to a new city by a ridiculously high salary and juicy perks, only to find out the dark, evil truth about his new firm. If it sounds like The Firm, that's because it pretty much is The Firm (with elements of Rosemary's Baby and The Manchurian Candidate thrown in). There's even a Tom Cruise-type running sequence.

But there are two big differences. Number one is that instead of a supposedly intelligent hotshot lawyer played by Mr. Cruise, there's an obviously stupid hotshot lawyer played by Keanu Reeves. Number two is that instead of an evil tempter played by Hal Holbrook, there's a tempty Satan played by Al Pacino.
Three stages of kino hell: nonacting, with models (left); overacting, alone (center); Keanu Reeves acting (right)
Thus, while Reeves wields his trademark blank-slate technique like a brick wall, Pacino overacts to an even greater degree than he did in Heat. If you don't think that sounds fun, there's something wrong with you. The character actor factor is also a big plus. In addition to a much-plumped but still hilarious Jeffrey Jones, you've also get to deal with that fruity, funny-looking guy who was on the Jeffersons. The only person missing was that even funnier-looking guy who played teachers in the teen-trauma classics Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Better off Dead. If ridiculous dialogue is your thing, then this one will definitely do it for you. If Keanu's not busy scowling and effortlessly tossing off such gems as "Missed my window and had to go to law school instead," then Al is either laughing with gusto (which laughter accounts for roughly 38% of the film's duration by my calculations) or quoting Nietzsche in Spanish translation to convince some Hispanic youth on the subway that he really ought to join the Ku Klux Klan in order to stay out of trouble.

My personal favorite is when Keanu finally figures out the full scope of the plan in which he has become enmeshed. Al tells him he's to father a son, to which Keanu replies, "You're talking about the Anti-Christ." Al looks back and forth several times before finally responding with a mock-nonchalant "whatever" that just about made me want to convert to Islam. Pacino throws in the additional monkeywrench of attempting to portray the prince of darkness with only the use of his neck muscles and eyebrows. There are some simply choice shots of Al looking back over his shoulder or to his side with eyebrows raised in exaggerated whimsy. Most of the time he looks like nothing so much as a quadriplegic. Amusingly enough, "Paint It Black" plays over the closing credits. You can just tell that they wanted to play "Sympathy for the Devil," but had already been beaten to the punch by Interview with a Vampire.

Ostensibly, no one will mind the substitution of a different, appropriately themed Rolling Stones song, particularly as "Paint It Black" is a much better tune than the one that's actually about the devil. Without intending to, this musical choice will cause anyone who ever saw Blast play at Bedniye Lyudi to remember the poignant scene of Nosh slapping the light covers there with his "Come on, people, I'm slapping the lights here" look on his face. Alas, however, this is not the near-masterpiece that Keanu fans have been expecting ever since Point Break. The supermarket slick production - with more time-lapse photography than an Olympic coverage sob-story profile of some figure skater - is unentertainingly laughable. Add to this a painfully annoying wife for Keanu (who I spent the whole movie thinking was Naomi Judd but turned out to be some South African chick with a weird name) and a daughter of Satan who's not nearly as hot as she's supposed to be and also extremely annoying, and you've got something that's best watched on videotape with your finger kept on the fast forward button at all times.

Another movie I've actually seen is Seven Years in Tibet, which some extremely clever moviegoers have rechristened Seven Years at the Movies owing to its extreme length. Actually, the movie only clocks in at about two and a half hours, completely normal for today's market, particularly for a film of such epic scope.
Failed ritual brain search
It sure seems like it's about four hours long, though. It's not so much that there's anything bad about the film; it's just that there's nothing really there to even be bad (not even Brad Pitt's acting or his Austrian accent, which nevertheless does turn on and off like an AM radio signal received by a moving object under a bridge). While it may be acceptable for a 20-minute sitcom to claim to be about nothing, it is hardly advisable for a 150-minute film that's supposed to be about some mysterious foreign country to attempt to do the same. Needless to say, the Tibetans in the film are played adequately but without any real joy by all the usual Generic Asian Actor suspects - B.D. Wong, that old guy from Gremlins, etc. The real mystery is the presence of David Thewliss, whose phenomenal performance in Naked still haunts me. Thewliss, it seems, is intent on becoming the latest member in the Society of Talented British Actors Who Always Appear in Lame American Films. And who can really blame him, h'm? If Seven Years in Tibet has any real legacy, it will be as the long-awaited conclusion of Brad Pitt's "Melancholia in Montana" trilogy. The great distance separating the kingdom of Tibet from the American Rockies might appear to rule such an explanation, but the two places turn out to have more in common than you might think.

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