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  WINDY CITY TIMES

CINEMA TREATS
by Gregg Shapiro
2001-12-19

This article shared 1701 times since Wed Dec 19, 2001
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Of queer interest: West Side Story ( widescreen print ) @ Gene Siskel Film Center 12.28-1.3

A Beautiful Mind ( Dreamworks ) : Ron Howard's biopic about troubled mathematical genius John Forbes Nash, Jr., winner of a 1994 Nobel Prize for his economic theories, goes a little crazy with its depiction of Nash's battle with schizophrenia. The script by Akiva Goldsman ( screenwriter of such classics as Lost In Space and Batman & Robin ) also sacrifices the subject

Sir Ian McKellen and Elijah Wood in Lord of the Rings.

of Nash's homosexual liaisons, and his subsequent arrest for solicitation during the pre-Stonewall era. As Nash, Russell Crowe proves that the Motion Picture Academy was right in awarding him an acting Oscar in the past, and Jennifer Connelly, who plays his former student and wife Alicia, deserves to be nominated. The gayest thing about A Beautiful Mind appears to be the presence of out actor Anthony Rapp, who plays one of Nash's Princeton classmates and later a colleague. In Ron ( Opie ) Howard's hands, John Forbes Nash, Jr. doesn't fare much better than the Grinch did. On a scale of 1 to 10: 6

Kate & Leopold ( Miramax ) : Overworked and underappreciated modern woman Kate ( Meg Ryan ) comes face to face with a real gentleman named Leopold ( handsome Hugh Jackman ) . The only problem is he's from the late 1800s and is technically the forebear of Kate's weirdo ex-boyfriend Stuart. If you can follow this simply convoluted plot, it would seem that Kate is also somehow related to Stuart which brings up all sorts of incestuous junk that doesn't really belong in a time-travel romantic comedy. Bradley Whitford, as Kate's befuddled boss, and Natasha Lyonne, as Kate's equally befuddled assistant, deserve better. If you like romantic time-travel movies, rent Time After Time, because you deserve better. On a scale of 1 to 10: 3

The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring ( New Line ) : Openly gay actor Sir Ian McKellen is Gandolf the wizard in this massive cinematic epic about a little person on a big quest to safely return a powerful ring to the place where it was forged, thereby saving the world ( a.k.a. Middle Earth ) from disaster. The first installment in the movie trilogy based on the fantasy books of J.R.R. Tolkien is as puzzling as the books on which they are based ...a worldwide literary phenomenon that leaves me bored and hungry for reality. Previous film adaptations haven't fared well and much is riding on the success of this first part of a costly trilogy. While the cast does their best to recreate such beloved characters as the Hobbits Bilbo ( Ian Holm ) and Frodo ( Elijah Wood ) , Frodo's sidekick Samwise ( Sean Astin ) , Frodo's protector Aragorn/Strider ( Viggo Mortensen ) , witchy women Galadriel ( Cate Blanchett ) and Arwen ( Liv Tyler ) , ruler Elrond ( Hugo Weaving ) and the evil Saruman ( Christopher Lee ) , the special effects were either spectacular ( waves that took the shape of horses, fireworks that became a dragon, the way the difference in size between Frodo and Gandolf was depicted ) or blatantly obvious ( crowded war scenes, the way the difference in size between Frodo and Gandolf was depicted ) . However, many moviegoers may take to this classic tale of good and evil, which speaks volumes at a time when our country finds itself at war. On a scale of 1 to 10: 6.5

The Majestic ( Warner Brothers/Castle Rock/Village Roadshow ) : In his latest bid for an Oscar and serious actor credibility, Jim Carrey plays early 1950s blacklisted Hollywood screenwriter Peter Appleton. After driving his car off of a bridge, he washes ashore in Lawson, Calif., where he is mistaken for Luke, the son of Harry ( Martin Landau ) , who was thought to have been killed in World War II. "Luke"'s presence brings a spark to the townspeople, many of whom had been devastated by the war casualties they suffered. Among the many changes to the town that occur is the renovation and reopening of The Majestic, a rundown movie palace owned by Harry that is restored to its former glory. As he is adjusting to his new life, "Luke"'s memory begins to return just in time for the FBI to catch up with him. This hokey holiday tearjerker is all manipulation, with very little majesty. On a scale of 1 to10: 5.5

Not Another Teen Movie ( Columbia ) : Director Joel Gallen doesn't have the pacing or the script to make this Abrahams/ Zucker brothers-esque teen movie parody deliver more than a smattering of laughs. Making reference to everything from John Hughes ( the characters are students at John Hughes High School, for starters, and the soundtrack is made up of remakes of vintage era tunes ) to American Pie ( the female exchange student, who speaks in subtitles, attends classes in the nude ) , it's temporarily entertaining to match the scenes with the movies being parodied. However, the humor spends more time in the toilet ( defecating on someone's chest after sex is supposed to be funny ) than someone with diarrhea. Gay-bashing is as much a sport in this movie as football is, and lesbians get the brunt of it. Both the father and brother of plain, pony-tailed, eyeglass and paint-splattered overall-wearing girl Janey ( Chyler Leigh ) , who also reads Sylvia Plath and listens to Bikin Kill, think she is a lesbian; after the oversexed Catherine ( Mia Kirshner ) finishes with the available men, she moves on to "older" student Sadie ( Beverly Polcyn ) for some same -sex action. On a scale of 1 to 10: 3

The Royal Tenenbaums ( Touchstone ) : Director and co-screenwriter Wes Anderson is the real star of this dark black comedy about a classically dysfunctional family. His warped ( remember Rushmore ) , yet incredibly original family portrait will hang in my memory ( and hopefully yours, too ) for years to come. Patriarch Royal ( Gene Hackman ) and matriarch Etheline ( Angelica Houston ) Tenenbaum separated, but never divorced when their family of genius children...financial expert Chas ( Ben Stiller ) , tennis pro Richie ( Luke Wilson ) and adopted Margot ( Gwyneth Paltrow ) , the playwright with a lesbian fling in her past...were only adolescents, and the impact of their parents' actions followed the children into adulthood. Desperate for a place to stay, Royal fakes a terminal illness in order to get back into the good graces of the family, resulting in something of a fractured reunion. After a failed suicide attempt, the stirring up of semi-incestuous feelings, the break-up of a marriage, a failed drug intervention, and the budding of a new romance, the Tenenbaums are, more or less, royally on the road to recovery. And you thought your family was strange? On a scale of 1 to 10: 8.5

Vanilla Sky ( Paramount ) : Coming as it does, a year after his acclaimed film Almost Famous, Cameron Crowe's latest feature is an admirable failure. Watching it, you can almost imagine what it must have meant to Crowe to be both reunited with his Jerry Maguire star Tom Cruise and to have the opportunity to make a more experimental project become a reality. As David Aames, the orphaned publishing industry heir with an original Joni Mitchell painting in his art collection, Cruise never reveals enough of the character to allow us to decide how we feel about him. Neither Cameron Diaz, as David's possessive "f*ck buddy" Julie, nor the overrated Penelope Cruz, as David's soulmate Sofia, are of much help either. Even worse is Kurt Russell as David's court-appointed shrink Dr. McCabe. By the time Vanilla Sky clouds over with science fiction life extension overtones ( featuring an appearance by Tilda Swinton ) , you may find yourself replaying Cruise shirtless scenes in your memory...anything to stay awake. On a scale of 1 to 10: 4.5

OTHER FLICKS:

Ali ( Columbia ) ...Will Smith as the man, the legend, the boxer

*#Beauty & The Beast ( Walt Disney ) ...IMAX!

*Business Of Strangers ( IFC Films ) ...Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles

#Eban and Charley ( Harcamone/ Monqui )

*#Gosford Park ( USA Films ) ...Robert Altman's latest ensemble piece

How High ( Universal ) ...Hip-hop giants Method Man and Redman

( # = queer interest )


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