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28th March 1996

Well I finally got to see Broken Arrow today and I loved it. A great action movie. I think anyone who tries to over analyse it should take into account it's only a movie!! It is great entertainment and doesn't pretend to be anything else. I really like Christian in the hero role, he does it so well. Those stunts he did took a lot of guts to do, I 'm most impressed!! If you like a good action movie, definitely go and see it!

Avril Hodge

"John Travolta really hams it up as the bad guy. Way "over the top," as Siskel and Ebert say. He mugs a lot and has supposedly funny lines, but few of his lines got any laughs at the theater I saw it in. Slater steals it".

"Bottom Line: If you like Woo's movies or action flicks in general, you have a great time at "Broken Arrow."

"I was genuinely surprised that I really liked Slater as Riley Hale - he has a physical presence similar to (but not just a vamp of) young Harrison Ford".

"Actually a local movie reviewer who never likes anything, Dennis Cunningham, gave Broken Arrow a 9 out of 10".

"USA Today (I believe Mike Clark or Susan Wyscovina) gave it 3 stars out of 4".

"Phillip Wunch of the Dallas Morning News gave it 3 1/2 stars out of 4".

"Slater definitely went to the Keanu Reeves school of action-film makeovers--cropped hair, bulging biceps, total confidence. Although a running theme in the movie was Hale's lack of resolve, I never saw that for a minute. Slater is better than Reeves at this sort of thing, as he has more of a sense of humor, and the sarcastic timing that's absolutely necessary for good action films--mixing real emotion with a cynical, "I can't believe this is happening" demeanor. Christian did a solid job".

"Slater is earnest and appealing".

"I don't understand people here sometimes. I've read all these, "I'm disappointed" notes. Oh, give me a fucking break. What exactly was there to be disappointed about with this film? It was terrific. This is not a film to be "discriminating" about!! It's just FUN. John Woo just knows how to make fun movies, COMPLETELY without pretension. Hollywood is always keen on adding pretension and pretending to be profound. John Woo isn't that way, and that's what makes his films so great. He gives people what they want. And this was definitely an exciting film! I think Kenneth Turan said it best: "You won't be able to take your eyes off the screen." - Martijn

Broken Arrow (1996)

A film review by Steve Rhodes

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes RATING (0 TO *):

Broken Arrow is a non-stop action film by the Hong Kong master action director John Woo. Don't waste your time seeing this film in anything less than your local monster screen house. This is the type of movie for which they made digital sound, and there is enough low base to rumble you right off your seat. Some of the noises are so loud that you may find yourself jumping straight up in the air. The subwoofers are in overdrive throughout the show. It has more explosions that I have ever seen in any film plus it has almost much fire as in Backdraft. I judge action films by how much they get your adrenaline pumping, and by that metric, Broken Arrow really delivers the goods.

The movie starts with two fighter pilots Vic "Deak" Deakins (John Travolta )and Riley Hale (Christian Slater) sparing in a boxing ring. Every punch sounds like small bombs exploding, which is a metaphor for the rest of the film. Soon they are asked to take two live nuclear weapons on a low flying mission in a fairly new B-3 stealth bomber. Hale tells Deak he knows what turns him on, "It's the nukes. I know you love having the power of god at your fingertips."

Soon Deak turns bad, drops the nukes unarmed, and shoots Hale out of the plane. It turns out that Deak has a plan to ransom the return of the bombs, or he will blow up a large part of the southwestern United States. A wimpy civilian expert at the Pentagon, aptly named Giles Prentice (Frank Whaley), is brought in to spearhead the investigation to find the nukes. When Giles is told there is a "broken arrow", he says, "I don't know what's scarier - losing nuclear weapons or that it happens so often that we have a name for it." Giles wants to be taken seriously so he tells Hale that, "just for the record, I'm not entirely a civilian. I was a lieutenant in the ROTC atYale."

Hale gets a sidekick of a Park Ranger, Terry Carmichael played by Samantha Mathis whom you may remember as Janie in The Amerian President . She is great. She is full of bravado, fighting skills, and good ideas about how to get out of tough situations. The chemistry between the two of them is similar to that of Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves inSpeed . I must confess, that although I admired Samantha Mathis's performance, I think Sandra Bullock could have done even it better. Actually, I wish the romantic potential between Hale and Carmichael had been more fully developed.

The script by Graham Yost is fast paced and extremely funny. When one of Deak's cohorts is shooting over the weapons while trying to hit Hale, Deak gets angry. Gritting his teeth and slowly exaggerating each word, Deak tells him, "would you mind not shooting at the thermonuclear weapons."

Travolta is menacing and well cast as a bad guy. Watch especially the way he exaggerates his mouth movements and the way he can portray evil with his eyes. He is so evil he almost becomes a caricature. Christian Slater (Untamed Heart and Bed of Roses ) is a wonderful actor who specializes in sweet guys with a heart of a gold. Here he proves that he can play good guys who are tough as well. He plays his character in cowboy fashion with two guns blazing as he runs and jumps toward the bad guys.

Although it has excellent acting, directing, and writing, the real reason to see Broken Arrow is the action and the stunts. Although it does not come up to the tense pacing ofSpeed , the show really sizzles with extremely realistic special effects similar to, but much better than, those in True Lies. The action sequences here are innovative, e.g., car chases, but in Hummers and explosions, but thermonuclear ones. The great editing by Joe Hutshing, Steve Mirkovich, and John Wright add to the tension of the special effects. The scene of the helicopter coming out of nowhere to get Hale shows the editing skills best. Watch how they cut back and forth between the calm of the desert and the fury of the helicopter coming.

Broken Arrow is a movie where it is easy to suspend disbelief and ignore the numerous implausibilities in the plot since overall it feels sufficiently real. Although I can not prove it, I believe that Hale and Carmichael managed to kill 35 of the 20 bad guys in the movie.

Broken Arrow flies by at 1:40. The film is rated R for violence and a little bad language. There is no sex or nudity. The violence, although sometimes bloody, was more often like a Western where the bad guys get shot rapidly and die quickly. This movie would be fine for teenagers. Broken Arrow provides a fast paced and exciting time at the movies, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I think you would too so I recommend this show to you and give it .

*= One of the top few films of this or any year. A must see film. =

Excellent show. Look for it. ** = Average movie. Kind of enjoyable. * = Poor

show. Don't waste your money. 0 = One of the worst films of this or any

year. Totally unbearable.

Review Written On : February 9, 1996

Opinions expressed are mine and not meant to reflect my employer's.

Look for other reviews by Steve Rhodes.


A film review by Mark R. Leeper

Copyright 1996 Mark R. Leeper Capsule: Action films that deliver are no longer really uncommon. John Woo directs with nearly the same pacing he might give a Hong Kong film. And Travolta steals two thermonuclear devices and the show from Christian Slater. Broken Arrow offers nice effects, nice action scenes, and no surprises in the story. Rating: +1 (-4 to +4) [Some gaps in the plot are discussed in a spoiler section after the review.]

The plot is simple enough, with more than a few plot elements borrowed from Thunderball Vic Deakins (played by John Travolta) and Riley Hale (Christian Slater) are Air Force pilots who fly the sleek, fully digitized B-3 stealth bomber with live nuclear bombs. Deakins has also taken a fatherly interest in Hale, giving him lessons on the philosophy of winning while brutally beating him in the boxing ring. Of course he does not expect Hale to make much use of these lessons. Just a few hours later tries to kill Hale as part of his plan to steal two nuclear bombs. Hale, together and self-drafted National Park Ranger Terry Carmichael (Samantha Mathis) have race to recover the bombs before Deakins can get his intended use from the nuclear devices.

Christian Slater should be almost as angry as his character in this since Woo seems to have not so much let Travolta steal the film as having goaded him into it. Travolta is given an arsenal of cinematic mannerisms, comments on the action, and even a few slow-motion entrances all intended to make the actor look oh-so-cool. Slater's dialogue and acting are by comparison much more restrained and why only Travolta got the Sergio Leone treatment is not clear. Samantha Mathis is an also-ran, as well as an also- jumped, and an also-fired-guns. She just does not seem to show up very well on the screen and Woo did not polish her the way he did with Travolta. About all we learn about her is that she lives alone with her dog and for this script that seems to be enough. Woo seems to think that the National Park Service trains their rangers like Navy SEALS and gets their uniforms shipped in by rocket from the Planet Krypton. Delroy Lindo, who played so well off Travolta in Get Shorty , gets less opportunity to do it here as an Air Force colonel pulled into the action.

The pacing of Broken Arrow is fast and you are never very far from the next action scene. This is a style pioneered by the Bond series taken to extremes that make those films slow by comparison. But even the Bond films spend more time building the characters. Graham Yost, who wrote Speed , gave this film much or more of the same pacing. The action of Broken Arrow takes place over a period of about eighteen hours and the more serious events (if it is not a misuse of that word) are treated as just an extension of the boxing ring lesson at the beginning of the film, as if Slater is giving a rebuttal.

Of course Broken Arrow has lots of flashy visual effects: digitized flying scenes, a nuclear detonation, Travolta's performance, helicopter crashes, etc. Flying a helicopter in this film is a lot like wearing a red shirt in the first "Star Trek" series: it is really tough to do it and stay alive. Most of the effects are quite good though the computer digitized flying sequences are far too easy to pick out. Driving Broken Arrow are its action sequences and they are well done. The plot is told competently, though in the spoiler section below I will mention some holes. But the script never fleshes out it characters. It would have been worth it to have two fewer fights and a little character development instead. I give it a +1 on the -4 to +4 scale.

Three scenes particularly bothered me about the script. Somehow before the action of the film Travolta's character seems to have tampered with the electronics of the bombs to change the arming sequence. As he put it "I used uncoded circuit panels." Since when do the pilots have anything to do with building the electronics into nuclear bombs? And just what are "uncoded circuit panels?" It sounds like it is just double talk to explain an impossible plot twist.

In one scene Travolta's opens a door panel on the train and there is Slater's character, waiting for him to open the door. How do you sneak up on a train with a helicopter and how did Slater not only know that a door was going to open, but just what door it would be?

The physics of Travolta's final scene is absurd. Why is only the bomb torn loose, why does it have so much momentum, why isn't Travolta's character crushed against the wall before the bomb ever gets to him? The bomb almost seems to turn into a rocket.

Mark R. Leeper

Bed Of Roses

A film about the kind of love that comes around once in a lifetime, "Bed of Roses" is a modern, storybook romance starring Christian Slater and Mary Stuart Masterson. Set against the magical backdrop of seasonal New York City, Lisa (Masterson), a workaholic investment banker (is there any other kind?), begins receiving extraordinary floral arrangements from Lewis, a secret admirer (CS). In the days that follow, she seeks to learn the identity of the mysterious sender. But what she discovers is a love so powerful, their lives will never be the same.

"BOR" was written and directed by first-time filmmaker Michael Goldenberg. Inspired by a chance and fleeting romance, Goldenberg used the scenario as a seed to grow his heartwarming, original screenplay. Featuring a supporting cast of well-known and respected New-York-based actors such as Pamela Segall, Josh Brolin, Kenneth Cranham, Ally Walker, and Mike Haley, the film is produced by Allan Mindel and Denise Shaw.

I am definitely not a movie reviewer, so this is just a personal reaction to a lovely movie. Having said that, I think most movie reviewers have to be coming from a personal point-of-view in some respect. That is why some people like a movie and others don't. Okay, so after stating the obvious, I will take a crack at this.

I saw Bed Of Roses on Valentines Day (which incidentally was a very good day to see it). It was a gorgeous movie and Christian Slater is wonderful in a truly romantic role. Mary Stuart Masterson is good as the tortured workaholic trying to come to terms with her past (although there is a tendency to want to shake her and say "Snap out of it!!!") I just enjoyed watching it and taking it all in. The Flower Shop was just gorgeous, as was the rooftop garden that Lewis created.

When Lewis explains how he lost his wife and unborn baby, he sums it up perfectly by saying "I lost everything in just one second". That is all it takes to transform a "perfect" life into a tragic one, (I know, BTDT - been there done that). It also shows how it is possible to love again and find true happiness, although the path is a bumpy one. (Again I am living proof of this).

I also love the soundtrack, which I bought today. The instrumental songs are beautiful and each performed song has been chosed very well. I particularly like "Your Love Is Better Than Ice Cream", Independent Love Song" and Just Killing Time". I think this soundtrack is going to stay in my CD player for a while yet. - Avril Hodge

Bed Of Roses

A film review by James Berardinelli

Copyright 1996 James Berardinelli RATING (0 TO 10): 7.0

Alternative Scale: out of *

United States, 1996

U.S. Release Date: 1/27/96 (wide)

Running Length: 1:27

MPAA Classification: PG (Mature themes)

Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1

Cast: Mary Stuart Masterson, Christian Slater, Pamela Segall, Josh Brolin, Brian Tarantina, Ally Walker

Director: Michael Goldenberg

Producers: Allan Mindel and Denise Shaw

Screenplay: Michael Goldenberg

Cinematography: Adam Kimmel

Music: Michael Convertino

U.S. Distributor: New Line Cinema

While Bed Of Roses lacks the freshness of When Harry Met Sally and the smart sensuality of Before Sunrise , it nevertheless possesses enough intelligence and energy to lift it into the upper echelon of "traditional" modern romances. And, with so many of today's recent love stories originating from Jane Austen's pen, something like Bed Of Roses can offer a contemporary change of pace.

The film follows the expected pattern of a conventional romance: two characters meet and fall in love, complications arise, causing a breakup, then there's a reunion just in time for the end credits. While Bed Of Roses offers few surprises in its formulaic progression of events, the tale is told with heartfelt tenderness, and, for once, the circumstances that threaten the pair's happiness have nothing to do with re-appearing old flames.

In some romances, couples must cross a generational gap to be together. Other times, the barrier may be cultural or racial. In Bed Of Roses , each of the protagonists -- Lisa (Mary Stuart Masterson) and Lewis (Christian Slater) -- must overcome their own emotional dysfunctions in order to enter into a relationship. As a result of tragic pasts, neither is confident about expressing feelings, and, while both are emotionally needy, they discover that receiving is often as hard as giving.

Lewis was a happily married Wall Street mover and shaker when he lost both his wife and baby to childbirth. Since then, he has devoted his life to his new job: delivering flowers from the shop he owns. He does it because he likes to see people's faces when they receive their arrangement. In that way, he seeks solace through the ephemeral joy of others.

Lisa had a sad, lonely childhood that she never recovered from. Now, to compensate for the emotional gulf in her life, she has thrown herself fully into her career. With the exception of her best friend, Kim (the bubbly Pamela Segall), Lisa has no one to confide in or share with. She's a workaholic for whom the concept of fun is "utterly beside the point."

One night while Lewis is out for a walk, he looks up and sees Lisa standing by her window, crying. Moved, and not understanding why, he sends her an anonymous flower arrangement. Eventually, after being pressed for the sender's name, Lewis admits the truth, then follows up by inviting Lisa to spend the day with him, delivering flowers and watching people's faces.

Bed Of Roses probably wants to be more literate than it succeeds at being. The film belabors the symbolism of flowers, which, at one point or another, stand for everything from life and love to the fragility of emotions. There are also messages about the importance of family and how the traumas of childhood affect a person's behavior as an adult. Not all these themes are effectively explored. Better, however, for Bed Of Roses to be overambitious than for it to "dumb up" its script.

Among the movie's assets are the performances of leads Mary Stuart Masterson (Fried Green Tomatoes) and Christian Slater (Broken Arrow). Not only do these two work effectively as a couple, but each manages to create a sympathetic individual. Through the nuances of Masterson's performance, it's possible to feel Lisa's isolation. Likewise, Slater's underplaying of Lewis makes him more accessible to the audience.

Both Masterson and Slater have appeared in romances before -- he in Untamed Heart and she in Benny and Joon. Bed Of Roses marks a step forward for both actors. And, as 1996's undisputed Valentine's Day date picture, this film offers the mood that couples expect from a light drama about love in the '90s. Although the overall story claims little in the way of originality, it at least approaches its material with charm, which is more than can be said of many so-called love stories.

- James Berardinelli



Murder In The First

A film review by James Berardinelli

Copyright 1995 James Berardinelli RATING (0 TO 10): 7.7

Date Released: 1/20/95

Running Length: 2:01

Rated: R (Violence, torture, mature themes, language)

Starring: Christian Slater, Kevin Bacon, Gary Oldman, R. Lee Ermey, Embeth Davidtz

Director: Marc Rocco

Producers: Marc Frydman and Mark Wolper

Screenplay: Dan Gordon

Cinematography: Fred Murphy

Music: Christopher Young Released by Warner Brothers

With the possible exception of The Madness Of King George , few of the recent flood of "based on a true story" motion pictures have been particularly concerned with adhering to the facts behind the tale. Murder In The First is another example of a movie that strays from historical reality to create a more dramatically-appealing product. And, regardless of how this version raises the hackles of Alcatraz aficionados, Marc Rocco's movie is a solid and affecting example of film making.

It's March 25, 1938, and an escape attempt from the maximum security federal penitentiary at Alcatraz has failed. Two of the four escapees are dead, a third--the informant--is returned to his cell, and the fourth--a twenty-five year old named Henri Young (Kevin Bacon)--is placed into a dark, grimy cubicle deep beneath the ground. There, for three interminable years, his only respite from loneliness are the frequent visits of guards and Associate Warden Glenn (Gary Oldman), and the beatings they administer.

When his long stint in solitary confinement ends and Young is re-integrated into normal prison-society, revenge consumes him--a need to lash out against the man who blew the whistle on the escape. This he does, driving a spoon through the victim's throat, tearing away his life. With no regard for the barbaric treatment which turned a petty thief into a killer, the government tries Young for first-degree murder--a crime that carries a death sentence. Assigned to defend him is an up-and-coming member of the public defender's office named James Stamphill (Christian Slater), perhaps the only man to believe in his client's innocence.

As a court drama, there's little to distinguish Murder In The First . Sure, there are the theatrics we expect from high voltage clashes between the defense and the prosecution, but little in the trial sequences set Murder In The First apart from numerous predecessors, many of which are far more memorable. After all, who can forget Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson facing each other down in A Few Good Men ? Nothing here approaches that level.

However, Murder In The First is as much an indictment of the penal system as an account of one man's fight against a first degree murder rap, and that's where the picture's strength lies. The events leading to Young's actions are graphically rendered, and little doubt remains about where the responsibility lies. The questions that arise are whether Stamphill can prove it and, in the process, how much of his personal security he's willing to sacrifice.

Ultimately, however, it's Bacon's performance that elevates the film. With his astounding depiction of a man who has endured the torments of the damned and is waging a losing battle against his own dark fears, the actor draws the camera's focus to himself and mesmerizes the audience with his haunted eyes and agonized cadence. When Young says that all he really wants is a friend, Bacon's delivery gives impact to the plea.

Christian Slater is competent as Stamphill, an unusual role for an actor who has often been likened (sometimes unfavorably) to a young Jack Nicholson. Here, his usual cocky cynicism is replaced by an erstwhile sincerity. Meanwhile, the ubiquitous and versatile Gary Oldman is a notch more subdued than in his other recent roles (The Professional and Immortal Beloved ), but the intensity has merely been redirected. Associate Warden Glenn is a man bubbling with internal turmoil.

Unlike The Shawshank Redemption , this movie isn't about triumph behind prison bars. Instead, Murder In The First is an unrelenting look at the dehumanizing effects of prison life, and what can happen when power is abused. Some scenes may be too graphic for audience members to view comfortably, but "comfort" isn't on director Rocco's agenda. Little that occurs towards the end to affect a false sense of dramatic closure reduces the power of bearing witness to the exposure of Henri Young's soul--or what's left after Glenn and Alcatraz have finished with it.

- James Berardinelli

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"The acting is probably the main draw in this film. Kevin Bacon is fantastic in his role, doing more with his body language and facial expressions than his lines, which are often not-connected to the matter at hand. Slater is solid in a part which requires him, more than anything else, to not take anything away from Bacon, and Oldman is his usual self." - Vijay Ramanujan

Murder In The First

A film review by Mark R. Leeper

Copyright 1995 Mark R. Leeper Capsule: This is a story partially based on truth about a man who was tortured for 38 months in Alcatraz. In the early 1940s he is on trial for a murder he was forced to commit in prison.

While the visuals give in to stylistic excesses, the film boasts terrific performances from Kevin Bacon and Gary Oldman. Rating: high +2 (-4 to +4)

Back in the 1930s and 1940s Warner Brothers was known for its crime and gangster films. And while they were generally indictments of Organized Crime, Warner Brothers also occasionally would make a film such as I Was A Fugitive From A Chain Gang criticizing the barbarities of the system. In that tradition and considerably stronger is Murder Int The First , also from Warner Brothers. This is a fictionalized story of an actual case history of petty thief Henri Young (played by Kevin Bacon) sent to the maximum security Alcatraz Federal prison because they had space and he had stolen $5 from a post office. After an escape attempt he is placed in solitary confinement in a nearly pitch black underground cell for 38 months--19 days should be the maximum. During the confinement he is tortured brutally and reduced to little more than an animal. He is abused by Associate Warden Glenn (Gary Oldman) who takes the escape attempt as a personal affront. Glenn's sadistic torture and his diatribes are reminiscent of Amon Goeth in Schindler's List , Upon release from solitary, Young is manipulated into murdering the only other prisoner survivor of their four-man escape attempt.

Young is assigned a Public Defender, a young lawyer who is given the case only because it is absolutely hopeless. James Stamphill (Christian Slater) has in Young a client who was seen to commit the crime by two hundred convicts and who refuses to talk to Stamphill or even react to his presence. And Stamphill is under strong pressure to lose the case. Murder In The First is a harrowing and powerful drama set in a Kafkaesque world of omnipresent abuses of power and trust. With the possible exception of the judge (R. Lee Ermey) just about everybody in this film in a position of power abuses that power. Bosses verbally abuse their employees, prison officials and guards abuse and torture the inmates, trolley car conductors abuse their customers, even family members exploit each other. The script by Dan Gordon has a strong anti-establishment message and a powerful noir-ish tone.

Top-billed Christian Slater does his best to hold on to the film but he is still just Christian Slater in a 1940s business suit. Slater never conveys more than muted emotions at the best of times. In this film he is acting with Gary Oldman, the Robert Duvall of his generation. Oldman nearly always turns in a terrific performance, and as the sadistic Glenn he is genuinely chilling. Kevin Bacon is generally not so impressive, but this is the best role of his career so far. Robbed of his soul by the cruelty of 38 months of unspeakable tortures, harrowingly portrayed in the first half hour of the film, he is little more than a wounded automaton.

Director Marc Rocco has a style that verges on the expressionistic. He uses a very dark and bleak photography throughout the film. Nearly all of the scenes, particularly in and around Alcatraz, are painted in grays, blues, and blacks to underscore the somber noir-ish feel. Rocco gets the downbeat feel he would have had in black and white. Or perhaps he gets it more so because the viewer is aware that these depressing tones are in full color. The only time we see much color at the prison is a shot through some colorful weeds up at the gray prison. But even more noticeable than the artificial color scheme is the use of the camera. Fred Murphy's camera gives us overhead shots, sideways shots, pan shots, dolly shots, track shots, steadicam shots and a few shots there may not even be names for. Initially it seemed to be showing Young's disorientation because of his confinement in darkness, but the lively and active camera lasts through the whole film. In mock 1940s newsreels we are treated to hand-held camera shots that I thought were not invented until decades later. This and the pretentious usage of Christ images during Young's suffering add a mild irritant of pretentiousness.

This is a powerful message film at a time when most films' strongest statement is political correctness. Murder In The First gets a high +2 on the -4 to +4 scale.

Mark R. Leeper

Murder In The First

(AA) Actors Overcome Motion Sickness by Gary Michael Dault

Retransmit freely in cyberspace Author holds standard copyright Issues of eye in archive Mailing list available gopher:// Starring Christian Slater, Kevin Bacon and Gary Oldman.

Screenplay by Dan Gordon.

Directed by Marc Rocco.

Director Marc Rocco's Murder In The First is a film about: a) the spectacular legal defence of a desperately abused and criminally neglected Alcatraz inmate named Henri Young, accused of murdering a fellow prisoner; and b) the inhuman conditions at Alcatraz itself and the subsequent closing down of the infamous prison. Murder engenders two great roles: the prisoner, driven mad by three years in solitary confinement; and the young lawyer who is assigned the thankless task of defending him. Kevin Bacon is Young and he does an alarmingly fine job of portraying a man brought back to life after being lifted to the surface through the agency and attentions of his lawyer. Christian Slater is James Stamphill, the bright and sometimes terrified lawyer who uses Bacon as a lever for shifting the world. Rocco directs Murder In The First as if it were a Gothic opera. Everything is angles and rushes and falls and sweeps and pans so dizzying you nearly fall out of your seat. And as a whole, it's more or less centreless. But Bacon and Slater are so watchable the ordeal is worthwhile. (3 eyes out of 5)

True Romance

One Person's Take On True Romance- A Review by C.R.Lewis

There comes a time when certain wrongs must be redressed, and that time is long overdue for a film which many feel, myself included, has never been given its true and deserved place among the great films of this decade. That film is Tony Scott's True Romance, starring Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette, in roles that, if there were any justice in this world, would have secured for them both Oscar nominations.

True Romance ranks right alongside The River, The Man Who Would Be King, and The Year of Living Dangerously as one of my favorite movies of all time. I saw it again (for the fifth time) the other day, and was once again astonished at its power to move me, and move me it did, to tears, no less than three times. I was told by a friend that I would not like this movie, given as I am to rantings about violence in the cinema. And God knows, this film surely is one of the most violent of mainstream films- but the violence is of an almost mythological type, with a crystal clarity and a visceral satisfaction that forces one's eyes to stay riveted to the screen no matter how badly one wants to turn away, literally sweeping one along with its raw power.

Like all great films, True Romance exists on many levels, speaking as it does in many scenes simultaneously to both the lower and to the higher self. We witness a young man and woman, both hardly more than children, trying to find their way through an ugly, cold and dangerous dead-end world. They have nothing, less than nothing, but they are given, through the sordid circumstance of a paid one-night-stand, a glimpse of the people they could become for each other, and through new eyes bequeathed by love they see their chance and determine to fulfill the highest expectations of each other, no matter what may come. And what does come proves to be some of the most barbarous, violent, and cruel circumstances anyone would ever have to face.

From the opening scene, Slater's and then Arquette's performances soar above the driving engine of Quentin Tarantino's screenplay. The musical score combines both well-written original cues and brilliantly chosen songs, coloring each scene with exactly the right tinges of comedic lightness, wild and tearing darkness, or heartbreaking tenderness. For example, the choice of using Burl Ives' "A Little Bitty Tear", a funny and affectionate little tune, to accompany the introduction of the character of the father (Dennis Hopper), and then to have Mozart's exquisitely beautiful "Duettino Sul Arias" from The Marriage of Figaro playing beneath the scene where the father so basely baits the mobster (Christopher Walken) into killing him quickly for the sake of his son- sheer brilliance. Not many scenes in the history of the cinema could ever compare with that one for complexity and depth of emotion.

And allowing the Arquette character, one of complete gentleness and pliant femininity, to confront the most terrifying and brutal circumstances imaginable with lion-hearted courage, resourcefulness and strength generally seen only in the most macho of male action-heroes, made for me a cinematic experience unrivaled in roller-coaster emotion. To see innocence rise up in total hair-raising ferocity to so completely destroy evil like an avenging arch-angel, was a scene I shall never forget. As for those who might argue the innocence of a confessed call-girl, I would suggest they consider that true innocence is not, as some would have it, simple ignorance, but is instead a spiritual decision that must be based on experience. Alabama underwent the experience and made the decision.

Tony Scott's impeccable direction continues to delight me. His masterful command of the action sequences, his lyrical, tasteful yet completely sensual handling of the intimate love scenes shows this talented artist to be the renaissance director he is. So many of the top directors, anxious to garner attention for themselves, make the deadly mistake of allowing their "bag of tricks" to become noticable and therefore intrude upon the flow of their films. DePalma is particularly guilty of this egregious flaw. But it takes someone with such complete confidence, technical ability, and dare I say it, a whole lotta soul, to support a plot so as to never get in its way, and to sustain its forward motion in a way as to be almost imperceptible. Tony Scott has this ability, as does Peter Weir and perhaps a handful of others. It is the mark of a true master-director.

The juxtaposition of humorous (and not so humorous) vignettes drawn by a dazzling supporting cast, with the violent action and fast-paced plot development provides the screenplay with a juicy heft. That Tarantino has been criticized for concluding True Romance in a way similar to another of his films, Reservoir Dogs, is missing the point. Was any other artist ever criticized for perfecting a technique or reusing a method that worked? This fantasy shoot-out choreography fits in perfectly with a film whose very character is that of archetype, and mythos.

True Romance stands from beginning to end as a sweeping, joy-riding celebration of heroic and transforming love, of beauty found in and triumphant over the most wretched ugliness the world has to offer. True Romance is an utterly and truly romantic movie.-

Review by C.R.Lewis copyright1996 All rights reserved.

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A film review by James Berardinelli

Copyright 1993 James Berardinelli Rating (Linear 0 to 10): 8.3

Date Released: 9/10/93

Running Length: 1:58

Rated: R (Extreme violence, language, sex, nudity)

Starring: Christian Slater, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper, Christopher Walken, Saul Rubinek, Bronson Pinchot

Director: Tony Scott

Producers: Bill Unger, Steve Perry, and Samuel Hadida

Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino

Music: Hans Zimmer

Released by Warner Brothers

It's dangerous to live in Quentin Tarantino's world, as Clarence Worley (Christian Slater) discovers in the explosive True Romance. When Clarence, a loner with a love of low-budget Kung Fu movies, meets Alabama Whitman (Patricia Arquette), a callgirl, it's love at first

sight. After a heady night spent in each other's arms and out on a billboard making true confessions, the two decide to get married.After that, at the advise of an Elvis (Val Kilmer) who inhabits his mind, Clarence decides to go to Alabama's pimp (Gary Oldman) and tell

him that she's through working. What ensues is a vicious gunfight that leaves two people dead and Clarence with a suitcase of high-value cocaine that everybody--including mob boss Vincenzo Coccoti (Christopher Walken)--want to get their hands on.

There's good news and bad news about True Romance. The good news is that it's written by Quentin Tarantino, the man who made a stunning splash as the writer/director of last year's Reservoir Dogs. The bad news is that it isn't directed by him. At the helm instead is Tony

Scott, the man who foisted Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop II on us.

Like Reservoir Dogs, True Romance is filled with witty dialogue; sharp, macabre humor; and more bullets and blood than one would think likely for the running time. Tarantino's script is loaded with energy and brimming with power. This film is a wild, wild ride whose slower

moments are still punctuated by one-liners that only one other screenwriter (David Mamet) seems capable of penning.

Director Scott tries his hardest to turn this film into a typical Hollywood picture suitable for mass consumption. His style lacks punch--he goes for the safe, pretty shots that can be found in almost

any action film. It makes one wonder how different this movie might have been had Tarantino helmed it--his methods, which borrow heavily from John Woo and Martin Scorcese, are stark and crisp, and probably would have complemented the script nicely.

The story, however, is too good to be seriously damaged by pedestrian direction. However deeply Scott was involved in the production of this film, his role clearly didn't extend to messing with

what Tarantino had written. Those who have seen Reservoir Dogs will recognize the similarities, which include a hilarious opening conversation (True Romance's is about Elvis where Reservoir Dogs' is about Madonna's "Like a Virgin") and a multi-sided, drawn-guns showdown.

My favorite scene is a confrontation between mob don Christopher Walken and Clarence's father (Dennis Hopper). Sparks, as well as any number of racial epithets, fly during this visceral and violent tete-a-tete, which includes some of Tarantino's best dialogue and Scott's most proficient direction. Walken has never been more sardonically menacing, and Hopper somehow manages to give an impression of restraint. In a word, this four-minute gem is astounding.

For the most part, the characters are well-written and nicely-developed. My lone quibble is that the romance between Clarence and Alabama seemed forced. Necessary though it is to the plot, it's rushed through too quickly, and I had a hard time accepting how desperately in love these two are supposed to be. While their romantic chemistry is in doubt, they make great partners when it comes to crime, bloodshed, and being on the run.

Christian Slater and Patricia Arquette (whose appearance is unbelievably different from that of her last part, in Ethan Frome ) are perfect for these roles, knowing exactly how to put the right amount of energy into Clarence and Alabama without turning them into

caricatures. The supporting players are equally good, including Bronson Pinchot as a boot-licking actor who appears to have been included more for comic relief than anything else. Those looking for another link to Reservoir Dogs (however slim) will find Chris Penn in the cast.

In many ways, True Romance is an assault on the senses. It works best in a big theater with an impressive sound system. Hans Zimmer's score is on overdrive, and the soundtrack blares rock-and-roll. Somehow, True Romance on video isn't going to be nearly the same experience.

The cautionary warning given for Reservoir Dogs applies: those who are disturbed by extreme violence and profanity should stay away. There is no single scene in True Romance as gut-wrenching as the torture in Reservoir Dogs , but there are plenty of bullets and lots of

blood. The film is graphic in everything it does, and those who prefer sedate motion pictures will not find this one a pleasant experience.

Tarantino is a hot prospect now, which is good for anyone who enjoys this kind of intense, intelligent, and unapologetically violent thriller. Films such as True Romance don't come along very often--movies unafraid of slipping the bonds of convention in the name of giving the audience something new and exhilarating. For those who aren't bothered by blood and bad language, this is a motion picture to add to 1993's "must see" list.

- James Berardinelli

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