Behind Enemy Lines

Imagine if the soldiers showcased in those flashy Navy commercials were able to talk, to act, to process thoughts. What would they say? How would they behave? Answer these questions and you might figure out the point behind first-time director John Moore’s “”Behind Enemy Lines,”” a ridiculously shallow hack job that fails to register an iota of the patriotism and pride that even the aforementioned commercials muster.

And speaking of commercials, Moore may have a future in them soon, but I’m getting ahead of myself. The plot, per se, involves Navy Lieutenant Chris Burnett (Owen Wilson), ordered by his commanding officer, Admiral Riegart (Gene Hackman), to run a routine reconnaissance flight over Bosnian territories on Christmas Day. Burnett earns this choice assignment by voicing his displeasure with the Navy

Dirty Harry

The lines have been ingrained in our conscience over time, recited in Clint Eastwood’s gritty rasp. “”Go ahead, make my day,”” or, “”Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you?””But taken out of context, these throwaway snippets of dialogue may distract from the bigger picture that is Don Siegel’s “”Dirty Harry,”” one of the finest examples of its genre from a time (the ’70s) that produced some genre-busting classics.

Even better, “”Dirty Harry”” crosses multiple genres, constructing a gritty urban police drama in the confines of a lawless Western, exactly the type of movies Eastwood had just finished making in 1971. Siegel’s San Francisco, a beautiful city by the Bay, could’ve just as easily been a one-horse town in Colorado during the gold rush, with a determinedsheriff policing his own town by his own rules. Eastwood’s badge is even shaped in the classic sheriff star, and a sequence showing Harry preventing a bank robbery ends with a shootout in the streets that just needs stagecoaches, horses and one character shouting, “”Draw!””””Harry”” follows Eastwood’s SFPD Lieutenant Harry Callahan, a loner we learn very little about but we seem to know almost immediately. For reasons unknown, a killer calling himself Scorpio (Andy Robinson) initiates a cat-and-mouse game, demanding money from the city’s government or he’ll continue to kill civilians at random. Callahan is assigned to the case, but the deeper he digs, the more obstacles hinder his investigation. When hefinally gets Scorpio behind bars, the system lets him go because of Harry’s brutal tactics, and the rules of the game change … for good.Practically every cop movie you’ve enjoyed for the past two decades owes something to “”Harry.”” A repeat viewing of this classic reminds us where Richard Donner (“”Lethal Weapon””) and John McTiernan (“”Die Hard With A Vengeance””) drew their inspirations. And the film’s multiple sequels (four, and counting), attest to the success of the characters and formula.The trick is Eastwood, transitioning ever so gently from being the archetypal cowboy by introducing a number of elements of that character to this new landscape. Like most cowboys, Harry operates outside the letter of the law, and his final act of disobedience speaks volumes of his respect for the badge he wears. Siegel cloaks the majority of hisaction in shadows, setting the proper mood that’s occasionally shaken awake by Lalo Schifrin’s soundtrack, a porno-sexy track that would make John Shaft jealous. And Robinson’s deranged killer, a faceless, nameless villain with no apparent motive, personifies the paranoia and fear plaguing the nation when “”Harry”” shot across the screen in 1971.Grade: A- THE EXTRASCommemorating the 30th anniversary of Siegel’s film, Warner Bros. has packaged “”Dirty Harry”” into a collector’s edition DVD. The picture appears crisp, enjoying a recent digital transfer, and the boom of Callahan’s prized .44 Magnum will rattle the woofers in your speakers.Eastwood sits down for a number of updated conversations on “”Harry,”” which can be found in the disc’s Interview Gallery. Robinson, Hal Holbrook, Evan Kim and actors Arnold Schwarzenegger and Robert Ulrich also give their thoughts on Eastwood, “”Harry”” and films from the Seventies.The “”Dirty Harry”” DVD also boasts two featurettes, an original, dated piece entitled “”Dirty Harry’s Way”” that promoted the film, and a modern featurette entitled “”Dirty Harry: The Original”” that spans the Dirty Harry franchise and explains why it earned a place in the annals of cinematic history.Grade: B+OVERALL GRADE: A- Just having the original “”Dirty Harry”” on DVD should make any collector’s day, but the informative extras add to this disc’s value.

Spy Game

With “”Spy Game,”” you get two movies for the price of one, though only one works its way to a satisfactory conclusion. The first, and more substantial, of the two occurs through flashbacks, as CIA operative Nathan Muir (Robert Redford) lures U.S. military sharpshooter Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) from the frontlines of the war in Vietnam to serve the elusive government agency.

The second story, set in the present day, frames Muir and Bishop’s working relationship and gives us a reason to invest in said flashbacks. On Muir’s last day before retirement, he receives word that his prized protege, Bishop, has been arrested for espionage outside of Hong Kong. Muir knows the charges are false, but his efforts to uncover information are repeatedly blocked by internal red tape. To prevent his student’s execution, Muir must walk a tightrope of office politics and political hand-wrangling that revolves loosely around our government’s valuable trade relationships with China. As Muir manipulates his co-workers into revealing confidential information, we’re provided with insight into how he came to know and work with Bishop. We learn how Muir finessed the idealistic officer’s military assignments so he’d eventually be ripe for the picking. We even tag along on harrowing missions through scenic West Germany andBeirut. Finally, we meet Elizabeth Hadley (Catherine McCormack), a deceptively beautiful missionary who captures Bishop’s heart and raises Muir’s omnipresent suspicions. By all accounts, the backstory told in the film’s flashbacks holds our interest longer than the talkative potboiler that outlines the plot. Pitt and Redford’s deliciously airtight interactions streamline these sequences, and director Tony Scott lends a distinctive visual texture that bleaches out the parched locales and properly roughs up the action. Redford and Pitt actually show us the torch being passed from veteran to protege, with so many “”teacher/student”” scenarios and age jokes made at the expense of the weathered leading man.But Scott also seems to realize his flashback sequences are far more interesting than his wordy frame story, so he spends a good deal of time flushing out the past, often abandoning the events that take place in CIA headquarters altogether. Given Redford and Pitt’s natural chemistry, we hardly mind spending more time with them, but it does steal away from the impact of Bishop’s imprisonment and Muir’s efforts to rescue him. The director, known for his stark visual approach and dizzying camera motions, attempts to jumpstart the stagnant outer story by freezing frames and injecting a digital clock that counts down the hours until Bishop’s execution, in case you weren’t paying attention or, worse, just forgot what Muir was racing to prevent. Gimmicks like this, though, just can’t juice endless sequences of Redford juggling phone calls or racing through corridors so he can pour over a folder of important classified documents. “”Spy Game”” has the makings of a good movie – had Scott continued to explore his characters’ twisty, volatile pasts – but right now its only 65 minutes long and encased in another 60 minutes of beurocratic debris.Final Grade: C-By Sean O’ConnellNov. 21, 2001

Black Knight

Martin Lawrence’s fans should love “”Black Knight,”” though that’s hardly a glowing recommendation. By now, the comedian’s crowd knows what to expect from his efforts, and the frantic funnyman finds a way to deliver the intended laughs. If you’ve neverconsidered yourself a Lawrence fan, then his latest coomedy certainly won’t do anything to win you over to his side, but the comedian’s fans (and you know who you are) shouldn’t be disappointed.

Lawrence plays Jamal Walker, an underachiever working at a run down medieval-themed amusement park who dreams of skipping across town to work for the competition, Castle World. Jamal’s plans are put on hold, though, when he reaches into the moat at his park to pick up a shiny amulet and is mysteriously transported back to 14th century England.Passing himself off as a messanger from France, Jamal lands himself smack dab in the middle of a political uprising by a small faction of peasants who wish to kill the king (Kevin Conway) and reinstate their deposed queen. But its all just a thin setup that allows Lawrence to shamelessly riff, dance and (endlessly) mug his way through a stupid fish-out-of-water routine. Jamal’s love interest, a fair-skinned beauty named Victoria (Marsha Thomason) who recruits our hero for her cause, hits the nail on the head when she flatly tells him, “”You speak with an unusual tongue.”” The problem is he never stops speaking with it. Lawrence established his fan base by lacing crude humor with a psychotic edge. He used to bring a volatility to bland material, and his back-up-off-me attitude always helped elevate him above the buffoons he was cutting down. Here, Martin doesn’t mind playing the fool. At one point, he pretends to be a court jester, which adequately describes his schtick through this flick, and it wears thin almost immediately. “”Black Knight”” originally was written for fellow motor-mouthed comedian Chris Tucker, but it wouldn’t have worked either way. About an hour into the already overlong “”Knight,”” I started paying closer attention to the people sitting in the theater with me. One woman who really enjoyed Lawrence’s antics howled with each toothy grin and cackled every time the actor arched an eyebrow. However, in between gasps of air, the lady kept repeating, “”He’s … so … stupid!”” Glad tosee I wasn’t alone in thinking so.Final Grade: D+Review bySean O’ConnellNovember 21, 2001

Harry Potter – It’s All That And A Bag of Toads!

Warner Bros. took a gamble, sinking an enormous amount of time, talent and energy into one little boy who legend promises will become world famous, known by every child the world over. The studio wants – no, needs – the public to embrace this boy, as talks of franchises, merchandising rights and long-term production deals run rampant. That boy is Daniel Radcliffe, a British child actor plucked from obscurity and thrust into the limelight when he was chosen to play J.K. Rowling’s magical hero, Harry Potter. And the studio’s gamble paid off.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, the first in what’s rumored to be a 7-part series of Potter pictures, adapts Rowling’s feverish bestseller into 152 minutes of pure magic and delight. Only a muggle wouldn’t know the story by now, but for their sake, let’s explain. Orphaned as a baby, Harry Potter has endured years of abuse at the hands of his domineering muggle (meaning “”non-magic””) relatives, unaware that his parents, who were murdered, were powerful wizards, and that he was one, too. On his eleventh birthday, Harry receives an invitation in the form of a giant messenger, Hagrid (Robbie Coltrane), to attend Hogwarts, a grand school for witchcraft and wizardry, where he will uncover his past and accept his destiny.Hagrid informs Harry that, as a baby, the young wizard became the only person to face an evil sorcerer, Lord Voldemort, and live to tell. This feat, and the lightning bolt-shaped scar he received as a result, has earned Harry a degree of notoriety, which works to his advantage once he arrives at his new school. The personable young Potter makes fast friends with two other first-year wizards: know-it-all Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), the fifth child in a long-line of wizard children.Together they make a gleeful Scooby gang, repeatedly poking their noses where they don’t belong with curious results.Potter and his pals do stumble upon a plot involving Voldemort and the Sorcerer’s Stone, a gem with the power of immortality that could revive the evil wizard, who

crazy/beautiful

Rich, spoiled, party girl Nicole (Kirsten Dunst) meets responsible Hispanic boy Carlos (Jay Hernandez) as she completes community service on the beaches of Santa Monica. Given his casual good looks and success on the high school football field, she’s immediately smitten. He, on the other hand, is prompted by a domineering mother to stay focused on work, school and his future at the Naval Academy in Annapolis.

But eventually the natural opposites date, forging a passionate relationship that tests the patience of their parents and friends. As things heat up, Nicole’s erratic behavior clashes with Carlos’ priorities, jeopardizing the very different futures they have planned.Unlike the progressively crass and insulting teen comedies that shoot down the pipe, “”crazy/beautiful”” works wellon multiple levels. Dunst, a proven talent, finds an emotional equal in relative newcomer Hernandez, who injects a calming sense of reality into the pair’s labored coupling. What starts as a contrived interracial romance melts into an acceptably difficult bond between teens who are rightfully unfamiliar with such a level of love. One scene, where Nicole uses her finances to fund Carlos’ first flight, rings particularly true. You can almost feel the young couple’s happiness.Phil Hay’s script takes risks, daring the audience and his leads to advance one giant step further. He forces the characters he’s developed to face undeniable problems before they can ride off into the sunset. It’s a dose of reality rarely seen in teen fare. Young adults hitting theaters can do much worse this summer than swallow the lesson””crazy/beautiful”” preaches. Final Grade: BThe Extras

Osmosis Jones

In “”Osmosis Jones,”” a witty live-action/animation hybrid from the left side of the brain Bobby and Peter Farrelly share, a mayoral candidate (voiced by Ron Howard) with hopes of running a city found inside a human body delivers a campaign speech from the center of some nauseatingly stench-infested bowels.

His platform, of course, is one of cleansing, and he calls for “”a healthier diet”” and more to achieve his goals. Named Tom Colonic, he’s knowingly described as a “”regular guy,”” and it’s gentle bathroom humor like this, laced throughout the film’s animated escapes, that highlight the finer sections of this originalfilm.The body in question belongs to Frank (Bill Murray), a vile, unkempt zoo keeper and single father whose personal hygiene habits are borrowed from the animals he caters to. Lucky for Frank, he isn’t fighting the good fight against such nasties as cholesterol and heart failure alone.””Jones,”” as written by Marc Hyman, imagines Frank’s body as a fully functioning city, a high voltage metropolis of veins, arteries, organs and bodily fluids. Frank’s stomach resembles an airport where foreign (and domestic) objects arrive at pre-determined gates. His brain serves as city hall, home to a superficial mayor (voiced by William Shatner) who is under the public’s microscope for allowing Frank to treat his body the way he does. And a police force of white blood cells, unofficially represented by gung-ho renegade Osmosis Jones (voice of Chris Rock), keep Frank safe from harm.On a routine inspection of the mouth, triggered by Frank’s ingestion of soiled egg parts, Jones encounters what he believes to be a serious infection. In fact, a deadly virus named Thrax (Laurence Fishburne provides his devious voice) has infiltrated Frank’s body with alterior motives. Thrax hopes to kill Frank off in 48 hours, a record time that would guarantee the virus a place in the medical journals. Eager to save Frank from this hostile takeover, Jones teams up with Drix (enthusiastically voiced by David Hyde Pierce), a robotic multi-tasker sprung from a cold pill Frank swallows. Pop star Brandy lends her voice to Jones’ blood cell love interest, Leah. Kid Rock and the deceased Joe C. even make a cameo as “”Kidney Rock.”” Pay special attention to the various backgrounds, as they’re often littered with inside jokes and puns. As clever and inventive as “”Jones””‘s animated tours through Frank’s body are, though, the live-action shots with Murray are just as flat. The lowest, most revolting examples of the Farrelly’s trademark bathroom humor are employed so Murray’s Frank can scratch his crotch, sniff his sweaty armpits, ingest enough fat to stop a rhino’s heart and vomit on his daughter’s teacher (Molly Shannon). This unfortunate character later has a zit explode on her. It’s “”hilarious.”” How one script alternates so easily between these repulsive scenes and the quick-witted animated sequences is beyond me. By the time Chris Eliott rears his talentless head as Frank’s best friend, you’ll be wishing the entire film had been hand drawn. Grade: B+THE EXTRASWarner

David Lynch fans, rejoice!!!

Fans of David Lynch, rejoice!Season One of the monumental Twin Peaks series will be released on 4 December 2001! Episodes 1-7 will be released in the glorious DVD format. With a host of special features, including introductions from the Log Lady! But wait, there’s more. One week later, fans can again rejoice with the release of The Elephant Man! This includes a narrated photo gallery as well as interviews. Mon Dieu, please pass the tranquilizers!Note this collection does NOT include the pilot episode.

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