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On The Screen

HHHH: Excellent

HHH: Good

HH: Average

H: Poor

HHH Bad Boys

Miami Narcotics Detectives Mike Lowrey (Will Smith) and Marcus Burnett (Martin Lawrence) are assigned to protect a beautiful material witness (Tia Leoni) from the bad guys. Smith and Lawrence work well together. Bad Boys is a great film with the right qualitative balance of action and comedy. This balance is filmed with skill by director Michael Bay. You get caught up in the action; it's of such quality that you become part of it. The direction adds an altogether new dimension to the pleasant combination of action and comedy. The one thing that detracts from the film is the lousy editing. The scene transitions are sometimes annoyingly noticeable, giving the feeling that a lot of material that aided continuity was cut out. However the interesting story, fast pace, and in-sync comedy make this a great action film which only increases my anticipation for the summer film season. -Kamal Swamidoss. Sony Copley Place.

HH Circle of Friends

This romantic trifle from Ireland bears the earmarks of a formulaic lighthearted Hollywood coming-of-age drama. College student Bennie (Minnie Driver) vies for the attention of Jack (Chris O'Donnell), star rugby player and all-around sensitive guy, between her two friends: faithful, trustworthy Eve (Geraldine O'Rawe) and seductive, beautiful Nan (Saffron Burrows). From first glance, we know that Jack and Bennie are made for each other, with sophomoric ideals and hearts of gold, but they are kept apart by the tyranny or jealousy of others, namely Sean (Alan Cumming), a local serpentine villain, and Bennie's own overprotective parents. When tragedy eventually strikes, it comes as no surprise: The plot devices can be seen a mile away. The movie relies on its simple-minded charm and fresh performances to win over audiences, but it comes up short. -Scott Deskin. Sony Copley Place.

HHH Disclosure

Disclosure is surprisingly entertaining, despite its external sexual-harassment sensationalism. The film spans one work-week in the life of Tom Sanders (Michael Douglas). On Monday morning, Sanders finds out that one of his ex-girlfriends, Meredith Johnson (Demi Moore) gets the promotion he was expecting. She seduces him in her office that night, and they spend much of the week at odds with one another after she brings sexual harassment charges against him the next day. The simple inversion of gender roles in the harassment case give rise to one of the best parts of the film - the interaction between Demi Moore and Michael Douglas. There aren't many scenes with the two of them, but each one is a treat to watch. You can feel the hate between them. With the sexual harassment story line (which leads Sanders into a realm of sinister corporate politics), there is a lot of material to cover in two hours, but everything is detailed thoroughly and nothing integral to the plot is rushed. The film manages to be highly entertaining while it gives the audience a new perspective on some dangerous positions in sex and business. -KS LSC Thursday.

HHH1/2 The Englishman

The Englishman is a low-budget, feel-good movie that excels at providing an in-depth look at provincial life in early twentieth-century Wales. The plot is simple: Two English surveyors (Hugh Grant and Colm Meaney) discover that "The First Mountain in Wales" is but a 984-foot hill. Outraged, the townspeople take it upon themselves to add sixteen feet of dirt to their beloved Fillan Garoo. Humor and World War I references add poignancy to this piece; in all, it is extremely well done, if a bit too patriarchical. -Teresa Esser. Sony Nickelodeon.

HH1/2 Kiss of Death

Ex-con Jimmy Kilmartin (David Caruso) has problems getting his life back in order with his wife (Helen Hunt) and infant daughter, as well as reconciling his past with his cousin Ronnie (Michael Rapaport), who pulls Jimmy back into the game of larceny and, eventually, back in jail. When Jimmy is released and finds that Ronnie has destroyed his life, he vows revenge on Ronnie and mob boss Little Junior (Nicholas Cage). Jimmy acts as a confidential informant for the police (represented by Samuel L. Jackson) in an joint effort with the district attorney's office to put Little Junior away. The film is a breed apart from most other mob films in that it explores the obstacles faced by a man trying to escape his dark past by taking one last plunge into the crime world. And the inner workings of justice are well-represented. Kiss of Death is probably a must-see for fans of the Godfather films and Goodfellas, but it can't live up to those films because of an empty, anticlimatic ending that negates the rest of the film. -Matthew E. Konosky. Sony Fresh Pond.

HHHH Red

Krzysztof Kieslowski's final film in his Three Colors trilogy is a beautiful, masterful fulfillment and exploration of human relationships. It's about a young Swiss model and student named Valentine (Irene Jacob) who runs over a dog with her car. The dog's rightful owner is a judge (Jean-Louis Trintignant) who gets his kicks from spying on the neighbors. After a first, unpleasant encounter, Valentine and the judge develop a tender friendship in which they confide their personal emotional wounds to each other. A parallel story involves a recently-graduated law student whose life is falling into the same pattern as the old judge's damaged life as a young man. The resolution, in which Kieslowski united the main characters of Blue, White, and Red is pretty fantastic, but the film is richly composed as a social meditation rather than an exercise in realism. Red is a perfect end to the trilogy which is both enjoyable and emotionally satisfying. -SD. LSC Next Friday.

1/2 Ride for Your Life

What Geoff Warner '97 calls an "Orwellian nightmare," Ride is the third in a series of interactive films. The plot of this video game of a movie is stupid. Whether the earth will be invaded and all of humanity enslaved depends on the outcome of a bicycle race. Adam West brilliantly portrays the alien Monty Oliver, President of BigCorp., the world's largest communications firm, who has a vested interest in the outcome of this race between the two fastest bicycle messengers in Manhattan. Choices appear on the screen, and the audience votes; however, because of the PG rating, the popular choice of beheading is never offered. The path of the movie is determined by the most popular choice. Hence, frantically pushing buttons to emphasize his choice, a viewer has a tired arm. There is also the coveted position of Most Influential Voter, the viewer who has voted the most times and who is given total control of the movie at certain times. Viewers vying for this renowned honor by rapidly pushing buttons also results in a tired arm. Needless to say, the target audience of this movie is very young. One young viewer commented, "It was pretty cool, especially when we got to push the buttons." Perhaps that viewer would be just as entertained by a Kevorkian machine. -Rob Wagner. Sony Copley Place.

HHHH The Shawshank Redemption

This extraordinary movie about hope, friendship, and renewal in the face of suffering in life is much more heartfelt than its title suggests. Tim Robbins embodies the classic protagonist in Andy Dufresne, a banker who is imprisoned for two murders he swears he did not commit, and he is forced to face the abrasive reality of prison life. He eventually comes out of his shell and cultivates a friendship with Red (Morgan Freeman), whose connections inside the prison provide a neat counterpart to Andy's own talents as a financial planner, which he eventually exploits to get on the good side of the prison guards. Through all of Andy's suffering in prison, he never loses the hope of being free, and this carries both Andy and Red through the tough times. This film transcends its short-story basis (originally written by Stephen King) with excellent performances and artful direction. It has "Oscar" written all over it. -John Jacobs. LSC Saturday.

1/2 Top Dog

For better or for worse, Chuck Norris is back. However, Top Dog fails miserably in that it is neither the typical Norris kickfest nor the children's dog movie as advertised. On the one hand, the violence is too unrealistic even by Norris movie standards, and on the other hand, a PG-13 rating requires one significant target audience to be accompanied by a parent. Reno, the title character police dog, though cute at times, does not make up for an idiotic plot about an inane white supremacist movement. Perhaps it would be more entertaining and less expensive to buy a gallon of paint, remove the lid, and wait. -RW. Sony Copley Place.

HH The Underneath

The basis for this film is simple. Michael Chambers (Peter Gallagher) returns home and finds things different from when he left after a prolonged absence. His brother is still upset by Michael's evil doings in the past, and his ex-wife, Rachel (Alison Elliott), is now involved with Tommy Dundee (William Fichtner), a man whom no one dares cross. His plans for an armored car heist are botched in an attempt at a big score, and he is eventually kidnapped by Rachel and Tommy in a less-than thrilling conclusion. Director Steven Soderbergh (sex, lies, and videotape) uses flashbacks extensively, which often confuses the storyline; however, this isn't half as annoying as the hard-boiled, predictable drama that propels the characters. -MK. Sony Nickelodeon.

HH1/2 While You Were Sleeping

A romantic comedy with a lot of classic scenes. Sandra Bullock plays Lucy, a lonely Chicago Transit Authority worker who falls in love with Peter, a nice guy who rides the train to work every day. She's waiting for the right opportunity to meet him when one day, she saves him from a speeding train. He's at the hospital in coma, and through some misunderstandings, his family believes that she's his fiance. Then she meets Peter's brother, Jack, and the plot thickens. The film is entertaining because from the starting situation, the story and characters evolve in a likeable way. It isn't jaded or cynical; it's a funny love story that your younger siblings, your girl/boyfriend, or your parents can enjoy. The play-like tone is set early in the film, and for some reason it helps the viewer overcome (even more than good direction in an action film) the looking-into-a-window effect that films generally give. Sandra Bullock performs well in both the romantic and comedic scenes. Overall, it's a nice date movie, or a movie to see with a bunch of friends. But I wouldn't see it for unique cinematic excellence, because it doesn't fully use the features of the film medium. -KS. Sony Cheri.