Movies;movie Mini-Reviews

By Arnold, Gary | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 4, 1997 | Go to article overview

Movies;movie Mini-Reviews


Arnold, Gary, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


OPENING

* Diary of a Seducer (1996) (No MPAA rating - adult subject matter) - (TWO STARS). Director Daniele Dubroux, who also plays the role of a woman seduced in her own movie, spoofs the intellectual pretensions of seducers everywhere and gives us a surrealistic farce in the best French tradition. No sex, no nudity and no violence, but plenty of each is suggested. The production bogs down at midpoint, becoming somewhat repetitious, but it's fun overall and worth the price of admission just to see famed actor Jean-Pierre Leaud go through his antic paces as a crazed professor. In French with English subtitles. Exclusively at the Key. Ann Geracimos.

* Fire Down Below (1997) (R). Not a remake of the 40-year-old seafaring potboiler that co-starred Robert Mitchum, Rita Hayworth and Jack Lemmon. Steven Seagal revives the title as an undercover trouble-shooter for the Environmental Protection Agency. After a predecessor dies under suspicious circumstances, Mr. Seagal poses as a traveling carpenter to nose into the mystery, which leads him promptly to a despotic mine owner, Kris Kristofferson, who has been systematically polluting Appalachia. The supporting cast includes Marg Helgenberger, Harry Dean Stanton and Stephen Lang. Directed by Felix Enriquez Alcala from a screenplay by Jeb Stuart and Philip Morton. Not reviewed.

NOW SHOWING

* Air Force One (1997) (R: Frequent graphic violence, occasional profanity and sexual allusions) - (ONE AND ONE-HALF STARS). Harrison Ford, as intrepid President James Marshall, along with the first lady (Wendy Crewson) and their teen-age daughter (Liesel Matthews), is imperiled by Russian fanatics led by Gary Oldman, determined to extort the release of an imprisoned nationalist general (Jurgen Prochnow of "Das Boot" in a marginal role). While Mr. Ford attempts to outmaneuver his captors on Air Force One, Glenn Close takes charge of the official fretting and contingency planning back in Washington as the vice president.

* Career Girls (1997) (R: Frequent profanity, occasional sexual candor and comic vulgarity) - (ONE AND ONE-HALF STARS). A pretext that fails to blossom for the British humorist Mike Leigh. Katrin Cartlidge and Lynda Steadman play one-time college roommates sharing a weekend reunion in London. The scene shifts back and forth between past and present, incongruously contriving chance encounters with former classmates and acquaintances. Mark Benton plays a pathetic blob and Joe Tucker a complacent seducer. The format always seems artificial and the character revelations trite. Exclusively at the Cineplex Odeon Outer Circle and Shirlington.

* Conspiracy Theory (1997) (R: Occasional profanity and frequent graphic violence) - (ONE AND ONE-HALF STARS). Pulp mystery thrillers don't get much more convoluted, and an extended running time is needed to accommodate all the arbitrary twists and revelations embedded in this Mel Gibson vehicle. Mr. Gibson enters as a chip off Travis Bickle{D-} in "Taxi Driver," then begins adding incongruous features from the James Bond movies, "Marathon Man," "The Manchurian Candidate" and, inevitably, "The Road Warrior." A New York cabbie named Jerry, he babbles incessantly about political conspiracy and makes himself a systematic nuisance to a Justice Department agent named Alice, played by Julia Roberts. Despite the nominal job, she's more like a softhearted social worker with one client, who eventually proves to be the love of her life.

* Cop Land (1997) (R: Frequent profanity and occasional graphic violence; fleeting elements of sexual candor and racial animosity) - (THREE STARS). A crime thriller with a flair for heroic mythology and stellar personality contrasts. This flair needs to compensate for a plot that seems perilously expedient after about 10 minutes. Sylvester Stallone reawakens Rocky Balboa vibes while cast as the ponderous, defeatist sheriff of a residential community in New Jersey that has acquired the nickname "Cop Land" because many New York City police officers live there. …

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