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Betsy Bruno

Burn, baby: The coast is toast and we like it the most (of the disaster flicks).

New and old blue-light specials

Edited by Gretchen Giles

VIDEO REVIEWING is like cleaning out the attic: Over there by the skates is that film that came to town too late for review; stored overhead is the movie that was just a skoosh too mainstream for a full review; and moldering away over there is that film that you meant to shout about two years ago, but forgot.

We cleaned out von Busack's attic.

PITY YOU CAN'T BUY into an undervalued director in the same way that you can buy into an undervalued stock on the exchange. Paul Mazursky, who is unfashionably old and whose last movie, The Pickle, went straight to video, is the kind of director one could practically pick up for a song.

And he certainly deserves another chance on the basis of Faithful, a movie that's funnier, deeper, and more honest than Mighty Aphrodite.

Cher stars as a rabbit who captures the hunter. It's her 20th anniversary, and her husband Jack's (Ryan O'Neal) infidelity and her own loneliness have driven her to the brink of suicide.

Before she can take the pills, however, she's ambushed in her empty mansion by Tony (Chazz Palminteri, who also wrote the play on which the film is based), a hit man. Tony explains that Jack is having her snuffed for the insurance money and that he's been hired to do the job.

But Faithful isn't a thriller, primarily because Cher excels in a role that calls on her to use her bare feet and legs as much as her deeply wounded eyes and voice to contrast her character's misery with her stirring lust.(R; 91 min.)

Kicking and Screaming
I STILL HAVE NIGHTMARES about graduating from college. If I could have connived it, I would have done pretty much what Chet (Eric Stoltz) does in Kicking and Screaming: take a job bartending in my college town, the world forgetting and by the world forgot.

It's a much more graceful movie than the title suggests: Grover (Josh Hamilton), a budding writer, has just lost his girlfriend, Jane (Olivia D'Abo), to an overseas program in Prague.

Jughead figure Otis (Carlos Jacott), a soft, calf-faced goof in pajamas, avoids an inevitable move to grad school in Milwaukee through a McJob at a video store run by a frustrated filmmaker. An increasingly testy Miami (Party Girl's Parker Posey, pretty but miscast) schemes to break up with her boyfriend, another member of Grover's circle of jerks.

Kicking and Screaming is a sharp-witted film, but it's sensitive; it refuses, in short, to make "Get a life" the moral of the story. (R; 98 min.)

THE PLEASANT SURPRISE isn't just that L.A. looks good under the volcano; it's that director Mick Jackson makes the town look worth saving. Jackson (who directed another salute to the city, L.A. Story) stages the spectacular destruction on the handsome Miracle Mile corridor.

After a bad earthquake, a volcano rears up out of the muck of the La Brea Tar Pits. The film follows Tommy Lee Jones, head of the Office of Emergency Management, as he organizes a stand against the river of red-hot lava oozing down Wilshire Boulevard. Anna Heche plays a seismologist who helps and instructs Jones.

Dante's Peak had a leaden tone, as if it were a social protest against vulcanism. Volcano is often serious, but the harsher moments are done with a necessary awe; Volcano is a witty but not cynical picture. (PG-13; 104 min.)

[ | MetroActive Central | ]

From the Sept. 11-17, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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