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AACID TUNG (Urban Cinefile’s world weary, sarcastic and cynical sourpuss goes to the movies in the forlorn hope that something will appeal. It rarely does.)

(National release: November 6, 1997)
Actors work on what goes IN to a performance, and directors watch to see what comes OUT, and the idea of having a director is that he can say, hey, you may think you’re making fillet steak, but what’s coming out is sausage. Maybe Craig Lahiff was reluctant to tell Russell Crowe that. In this ambitious attempt at the cocktail genre (mixing road movie with thriller and love story with revenge movie, plus a dash of Australiana), Crowe attempts to portray the basically ordinary Colin by the old timber method; but Woody Allen he ain’t. By contrast, Youki Kudoh plays the escaping bride cum-kidnap victim with ever increasing abandon, not to mention perfect make up in every ordeal. But it is Kenji Isomura, playing the jilted husband, who brings real hysteria to the film, matching Petru Gheorghiu’s Afghan sadist every inch of the way. My main gripe, though, is with the film’s ending – I won’t spoil it for you (bit late for that, anyway) but it needs a rewrite if it wants to retain any credibility.

(National release: November 13, 1997)
We have one big commandment in Aacidia: Thou Shalt Not Bore. Those that break this are condemned to forever roam the countryside with half a can of film, half their budget and half their stars signed up. The idea and even the script for Road to Nhill probably sounded side splittingly funny, with little old bowler ladies upturned in their car, which in turn turned the little Aussie bush hamlet into a panic zone and the old ladies’ older men chased about and fumblingly revelaed they cared for their wimin. Boy that’s funny. Then there’s the name of the place: Nhill. That’s really hilarious. Man, this has got HIT written all over it. In invisible ink.

(National release: November 20, 1997)
If you think this is Seven but longer and bigger, you’re wrong, although it does deal with sins. Sins of manpulation, deviousness, obviousness and predictableness (sorry, I’m a sinner, too). Black teacher doing his utmost is defeated by angry shitheads at school who have nothing on their minds except being shitheads. The teacher is a good target. This man is also devious and vicious, but we have to like him anyway. All these hateful people in one room gets pretty tense, so in the end everybody tries to kill each other or themselves. This is called entertainment for Americans. Catch the 187 bus instead. I think it goes to the depot, which is a really calm place.

(National release: November 27, 1997)
This is the Cusack family movie: John, Joan and Ann all bump into each other on set to tell a silly little story about a hired gun who is so unlikely and incredible that we don’t like him and don’t believe him. He’s not only a wimp but he’s not even funny. The title, laboured to death, refers to his home town Grosse Point, and the notion of shooting someone point blank, which he never does, but it appealed to the smartarse writers’ (there are several, including John C) (or the smartarse director’s, there is only one to take the can) notion of ha ha funny. The idea of a hit man returning for his high school’s 10th reunion, at the same time killing someone, is so irresistible as to be beyond belief. It is. Nice to see Joan Cusack still has rubbery face and lips, though.

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(National release: Nov 20, 97)

Another five or six drafts, with a really sharp script editor could have saved this film from being a nice, good, well made film with a few holes, and turned into a spicy, edgy, mawk-less, social portrait with spiky humour. But that didn’t happen. Some of the central characters, like Lizzie and her family, are overwritten and overacted, while the man who thanks God he met her is underwritten and doggedley acted. Frances O’Connor has a brilliant scene, and the opening credits are well designed. You can tell the film’s in trouble when I talk about the opening credit design.

(National release: Nov 6, 97)

The Irish can be exciting and intriguing and insufferable and drunk, but they are rarely boring, which this film manages to convey – and takes too long about it, Seamus! Coming of age films are, by definition, only useful if you are taking a partner with whom you can engage in cinerotica in the back stalls, and this film gives us no impetus whatever, in that department. Phooey.

(National release: Nov 27, 97)

Here comes the film we’ve all been waiting for. A film about giant cockroaches. AND, these giant cockroaches swoop up our heroine unharmed and fly through railway tunnels. The producer no doubt has relations who are butchers - hence the liberal use of entrails for decoration on a product placement basis. Mira Sorvino got so sick of playing the dumb blonde that she even accepted this role, but then didn't know what to do with it. Jeremy Northam should stick to films where his Queen’s English is put to better use. Lucky he has a degree in electronics and can fix the fuses on this very, very old train system, though.

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