in the Streets
Fabulous new talent
makes film a winner.
Billy Elliot: Directed by Stephen Daldry. Written by Lee Hall.
Produced by Greg Brenman, Joe Finn. Cinematography, Brian Tufano. Production design,
Maria Djurkovic. Editor, John Wilson. Costumes, Stewart Meachem. Choreography, Peter
Darling. Starring Jamie Bell, Gary Lewis, Julie Walters, Jamie Draven, Jean Heywood
and Adam Cooper. Universal, 2000. R. 110 minutes.
Sometimes the difference between a superlative film and a good film is as slight
as the tweaking of a couple of scenes to wring emotions from the audience -- but
it makes Billy Elliot an A- to B+ film when it should have been an A. In a
year when A movies are scarce, it is a costly mis-step.
|Billy Elliot (Jamie
Bell) is a walking, dancing contradiction.
Think of sentimentality as a kind of goop kept in a bucket on the set of every movie
ever made. If the filmmaker or the suits do not trust a scene (or a film) to simply
stand on its own, someone dabs on the goop. The device is used most gratuitously
in Billy Elliot when Billy's dance teacher, Mrs. Wilkinson (Julie Walters),
reads aloud a letter his now dead mother (Janine Birkett) wrote the boy (Jamie Bell).
In case the audience isn't crying yet, Billy repeats some lines he's memorized. It's
also criminal for Billy's dad, Jacky Elliot (Gary Lewis), to break down in tears
at Billy's first major performance.
However, theater director Stephen Daldry's notable film debut; strong, emotionally
rich performances by Bell, Walters and Lewis; and the picture's gritty, realistic
ambiance aren't derailed by such cheap tricks.
Bell's a fierce young actor who makes you remember what contradictory emotional states
range through pre-adolescent boys. Billy might have experienced 11 as an age of optimism
in ordinary times, but growing up in a household without a mom and in a community
of hard-core miners out on strike, he merely feels he doesn't fit in anywhere. But
Bell is an exhilarating screen presence, and when he dances down these streets, his
joy is contagious.
Likewise, Walters' chain-smoking, tough-as-nails dance instructor doesn't need sentiment
to endear the boy to her. What she sees in Billy is a burning wildness to make something
of himself, a desire that has no proper outlet. She channels the boy's energy into
dance because of his natural aptitude but also because he loves active movement.
Lewis gives a terrific performance as an embittered miner whose inability to meet
his basic commitment to his family nearly destroys him. During a family celebration
of a meager Christmas -- they wear homemade paper crowns -- his embarrassment is
palpable and painful. We applaud as he grows into tender feelings that have terrified
him, but we recognize it as hard work that sentimentalizing discredits.
The grandmother and Billy's wild older brother, Tony (Jamie Draven), are less fully
developed. As the only feminine influence in the household, the grandmother is less
generously imagined than the male characters. Like many older characters in popular
entertainment, she is a cliché -- childish, whimsical, daffy. On the other
hand, Tony is a hothead pure and simple. It is his job to defy his father, to order
his brother to give up dancing, and to send the dance teacher packing. A caricature,
Tony can't be salvaged by Draven.
The film is based on the familiar theme of a talented but underprivileged youngster
who overcomes societal and domestic barriers to excel in an unorthodox field. Billy
Elliot is similar to Girlfight, in which a minority girl with problems
at home and at school overcomes all obstacles with the help of a supportive teacher
to become a winning boxer. Girlfight never pulls its punches, however, and
there isn't a moment of sentimentalism in it. But both films shine because of the
fabulous new talent they introduce. Michelle Rodriguez (Girlfight) and Jamie Bell
bring their audiences two of the great film experiences of 2000.
Billy Elliot is now playing at Cinemark 17 and is very highly recommended.
Loneliness is a human
Solas (Spain, 1999): Written and directed by Benito Zambrano.
Produced by Antonio P. Pérez. Cinematography, Tote Trenas. Music, Antonio
Meliveo. Production design, Lala Obrero. Sound, Jorge Marín, Carlos Faroulo.
Editor, Fernando Pardo. Samuel Goldwyn Films. Fireworks Pictures Release, 2000. Unrated.
98 minutes. Audience award, Berlin Film Festival (1999).
This wholly unsentimental, humanist film from Spain is directed by Benito Zambrano
in his first feature film release. Zambrano received his film training in Cuba at
a school founded by the Nobel Prize-winning writer, Gabriel García Márquez.
Perhaps it's there that Zambrano found a way to tell stories that might "improve
and change the world in which we live," as he said.
Fernandez) and her mother (María Galiana) in happier days.
Solas tells the simple story of a mother from the country who stays a few
days with her estranged grown daughter in an unnamed city. "The camera seeks
to understand the drama of the characters through their faces, the details of day-to-day
life," Zambrano wrote, "and tries to draw out the meaning of the lives
of these people, without deceiving the audience or resorting to sentimentality."
That's a big order. But like Thomas Vinterberg's Dogma-disciplined film, The Celebration,
Zambrano's avowed simplicity rewards an attentive audience with excellent characters,
zero special effects and the drama that arises from everyday life rather than artificially
imposed, extraordinary events.
So you can relax because there will be no sudden violence, even from the angry daughter,
María, beautifully played by Ana Fernández. Also, you can savor the
artistry of María Galiana, who plays the intuitive, quietly aware mother.
Mother takes the time to care and performs the tasks necessary to make things better
for others. And you can contemplate how the complexity of contemporary urban life
makes strangers of us all through the character of the downstairs neighbor, played
with a sober gentility by Carlos Alvarez-Novoa.
A lesser character is the father (Paco De Osca), whose hospitalization brings the
mother to the city. Unlike her, he is mean-spirited, suspicious and enraged. Without
ever saying it in so many words, the mother observes how like him María is.
She drinks too much, hates her job, is bitter about her poverty and has no love in
her life. What the mother doesn't know is that María is pregnant, and the
truck driver she's taken up with, Juan (Juan Fernández), is a crude, unfeeling
Because the film unfolds gently and builds slowly, you may feel that nothing is happening.
But like life itself, where only a very few dramatic moments break through our ongoing
day-to-day reality, the story that Zambrano tells reflects the everyday problems
we meet and shows us a generous response to them.
The film was shot in Andalusia, a region of southern Spain that boasts painters such
as Picasso, Murillo and Velásquez and the poet Federico García Lorca.
The film came in on a tiny budget of $750,000 but does not look it. Rich with history,
Andalusia is also the site of much rural poverty.
Zambrano was born in the region, and the film was shot in Seville, one of Andalusia's
larger cities. Galiana, also from Seville, is well known in Andalusian theatre as
well as in the cinema. Alvarez-Novoa is a theatre actor from Asturias now based in
Seville. Solas is the first starring role for Fernandez, Galiana and Alvarez-Novoa.
If the film touches you, it may help you decide to bring more beauty into your own
and others' ordinary lives. Like the flowering plants and tasty dishes the mother
brings into her daughter's neglected apartment, simple kindnesses can build bridges
that connect people and help all of us feel less isolated and lonely.
Solas opens at the Bijou Dec. 15 and is scheduled to run through the winter
holidays. A sweet film, it is highly recommended.
Films open the Friday following date of EW publication unless otherwise
Dr. T. and the Women: Robert Altman's pathetic comedy/romance stars Richard
Gere as an overbooked Dallas gynecologist with domestic problems. Also stars Helen
Hunt, Laura Dern, Kate Hudson, Shelley Long, Farrah Fawcett, Tara Reid and Liv Tyler.
Not recommended. R. Movies 12.
Dude, Where Is my Car?: Danny Leiner's one-joke comedy is about a couple of
dudes who get too drunk to remember where they parked the car with presents for their
girlfriends. PG-13. Cinemark 17. Movieland 6.
Emperor's New Groove, The: Disney animation, Sting's music, and the voices
of David Spade, Eartha Kitt and John Goodman enliven this tale of a young emperor
who is turned into a llama and learns to be nicer to others. G. Cinema World 8. Cinemark
17. Movieland 6.
Lost Souls: Thriller stars Winona Ryder as a woman who becomes aware of a
conspiracy to enable the Devil to walk the earth in human form. With Ben Chaplin
as the crime writer who can't believe he's the target. R. Movies 12.
Lucky Numbers: Starring John Travolta and Lisa Kudrow, this lotto numbers
gambling drama is directed by Nora Ephron. The stars plot a way to rig the game.
R. Movies 12.
Miss Congeniality: Dubious comedy stars Sandra Bullock as an FBI agent posing
as a beauty contestant, Miss New Jersey. Directed by Donald Petrie, flick also stars
Benjamin Bratt, Michael Caine and William Shatner. PG-13. Sneak Sat. 12/16 at 7 pm.
Remember the Titans: Football movie based on the true story of a 1971 Virginia
high school falling apart from racial conflict until a black coach (Denzel Washington)
from out of town pulls them together. Directed by Boaz Yakin, it also stars Will
Patton and Kip Pardue. PG. Late night Bijou.
Requiem for a Dream: Brilliant, deeply disturbing film directed by Darren
Aronofsky (Pi) from a script by Hubert Selby Jr. (Last Exit to Brooklyn). Jared Leto,
Ellen Burstyn, Jennifer Connelly and Marlon Wayans give realistic, gritty and courageous
performances here as junkies on the down slope. The film is innovative and beautiful,
but you will not sleep well after this one. Unrated. Bijou.
Solas: Spanish director Benito Zambrano directs this wholly unsentimental,
humanistic film about an estranged daughter whose mother comes to stay with her for
a few days. About the loneliness of cities and the lasting gifts of love. Stars Ana
Fernández, María Galiana, and Carlos Alvarez-Novoa. Unrated. Bijou.
See review this issue.
Streetcar Named Desire, A (1951): The film that confirmed Marlon Brando's
stardom. Elia Kazan directed this prize-winning version of Tennessee Williams' play.
Vivien Leigh won the Academy-Award best actress for her role as the faded Southern
belle who comes to New Orleans to live with her sister (Kim Hunter) and her husband
(Brando). Hunter and Karl Malden took awards for supporting roles. Lorane Film Society,
Lorane Grange Hall #54. Saturday, Dec. 16, 7 pm. (541) 686-9999.
What Women Want: Mel Gibson stars as an accident victim who can suddenly hear
the private thoughts of women. The women in question include Helen Hunt, Marisa Tomei
and Lauren Holly. PG-13. Cinemark 17. Cinema World 8. Movieland 6.
102 Dalmatians: Cruella De Vil (Glenn Close) is back, and this time she's
got a partner in crime: Jean Pierre Le Pelt (Gerard Depardieu). Live action comedy
from Disney. G. Cinemark 17. Cinema World 8.
Aimee & Jaguar: German film directed by Max Färberböck is based
on the true story of two women who fell in love as Berlin burned during WWII. One
is a housewife with four little boys and a Nazi soldier husband. The other is an
educated, stylish German Jew who hides in plain sight while working for the resistance.
Excellent performances. Highly recommended. Not rated. Bijou.
Bedazzled: Remake by Harold Ramis (Analyze This) of a late '60's Dudley Moore
chestnut, the movie stars a lovesick Brendan Fraser selling his soul to the devil
(Elizabeth Hurley) to win the woman of his dreams (Frances O'Connor). PG-13. Movies
Billy Elliot: Long-anticipated British film directed by Stephen Daldry about
a boy from a mining community who hates his boxing lessons but wants to dance. Stars
Jamie Bell as the lad, Julie Walters as his teacher and Gary Lewis as his reluctant-to-approve
dad. R. Cinemark 17. See review this issue.
Bounce: Gwyneth Paltrow and Ben Affleck star in this romantic drama written
and directed by Don Roos (The Opposite of Sex). Affleck plays a man who gives up
his seat on a flight that crashes, and Paltrow is the widow of the man who took his
place. Roos gives these two great material, and they know how to make the most of
it. Highly recommended.. PG-13. Cinema World 8. Cinemark 17.
Bring It On: Kirsten Dunst (The Virgin Suicides) is a cheerleader who wants
to lead her squad to a national title. Gabrielle Union (She's All That) is head of
a rival, inner-city hip-hop squad that has a score to settle with their suburban
counterparts. PG-13. Movies 12.
Cell, The: Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughan and Vincent D'Onofrio star in this science
fiction thriller. Lopez is a psychologist who becomes trapped in the mind of a serial
killer. R. Movies 12.
Charlie's Angels: Elite private investigators Natalie (Cameron Diaz), Dylan
(Drew Barrymore), and Alex (Lucy Liu), work for Bosley (Bill Murray), Charlie's lieutenant.
These gals can handle anything on land, sea or air with up-to-the-minute martial
arts skills, futuristic vehicles, high-tech tools and toys, and a raft of crafty
disguises. PG-13. Cinemark 17. Movieland 6.
Coyote Ugly: David McNally comedy about cocktail waitresses who perform juggling
acts with bottles in a rowdy New York bar. Stars Piper Perabo, Maria Bello, Melanie
Lynskey, Adam Garcia and John Goodman. PG-13. Movies 12.
Dungeons and Dragons: Fantasy adventure stars Jeremy Irons and Thora Birch
(American Beauty), based on the popular game. Courtney Solomon directs. PG-13. Cinemark
17. Cinema World 8. Movieland 6.
Exorcist (2000), The: Classic 1973 horror tale of a young girl possessed by
the devil raises fascinating questions about the nature of evil and fate. Director-
(William Friedkin) and writer's- (William Peter Blatty) cut features outstanding
performances by Ellen Burstyn, Linda Blair, Jason Miller and Max von Sydow and excellent
digital sountdtrack. An A+ movie. R. Movies 12.
Gone in 60 Seconds: Angelina Jolie, Nicolas Cage, Robert Duvall, Delroy Lindo
and Giovanni Ribisi star in Dominic Sena's car-thief drama. Cage and Ribisi play
siblings. Surprisingly entertaining. R. Movies 12.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas: Madcap Jim Carrey brings to life Dr. Seuss's
green grinch who wants to keep Christine Baranski, Molly Shannon and Bill Irwin and
others from celebrating Christmas. Directed by Ron Howard. PG. Cinemark 17. Cinema
I'm the One That I Want: Margaret Cho's stand-up comedy show filmed in San
Francisco is a raunchy but hilarious treat, laced with Cho's delirious bits about
her mother. Serious subtext speaks to racism, lookism, homophobia and sexism. Not
Kid, Disney's The: Played by Spencer Breslin, a child meets himself at 40,
a man played by Bruce Willis. Is he impressed? Find out in Jon Turteltaub's comedy.
PG. Movies 12.
Ladies Man: Saturday Night Live spinoff stars Tim Meadows and Will Ferrell,
directed by Reginald Hudlin. It's about a dumb-as-bread dude who thinks he's hot
stuff and goes on the radio to prove it. R. Movies 12.
Meet the Parents: Ben Stiller plays the unfortunate prospective son-in-law
to Robert Di Niro's overly protective father. Directed by Jay Roach, the film also
stars Teri Polo and Blythe Danner as the engaged daughter and her mother. PG-13.
Perfect Storm, The: Wolfgang Petersen directs this true action adventure based
on Sebastian Junger's nonfiction bestseller. Six fishermen out of Gloucester, Mass.
run into a killer storm on the high seas. Stars George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Diane
Lane and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio and William Fichtner. PG-13. Movies 12
Proof of Life: Russell Crowe is a special agent for kidnap and ransom who
gets involved with the wife (Meg Ryan) of a hostage (David Morse) in this romantic
drama set in South America. Directed by Taylor Hackford (Dolores Claiborne, The Devil's
Advocate). R. McDonald. Cinemark 17.
Rugrats in Paris: Stu Pickles takes the Finsters and his brood to Paris while
he works on EuroReptarland, a new amusement park. Tommy Pickles leads the Rugrats
on adventures to solve the mysteries of life and to help Chuckie Finster find the
right mom now that his dad is dating again. G. Cinema World 8. Cinemark 17.
Scary Movie: Parody of Scream teen horror directed by Keenan Ivory Wayans
stars Carmen Electra in the Drew Barrymore role, Marlon Wayans and Shawn Wayans.
Look for lots of improvisations in this spoof. R. Movies 12.
Sixth Day, The: Roger Spottiswoode directs this futuristic thriller starring
Arnold Schwarzenegger in two roles. One is a clone, but nobody can tell which one.
Also stars Wendy Crewson as his wife, Tony Goldwyn and Robert Duvall. PG-13. Cinemark
Unbreakable: New film by M. Night Shyamalan writer, director of last year's
surprise hit, The Sixth Sense, stars Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. Both put
themselves on the line in these understated roles. Willis's character is inner-directed
and thoughtful, while Jackson's steely reserve and crushing vulnerability are quietly
menacing. Beautifully directed, it's a great movie. Very highly recommended. PG-13.
Cinema World 8. Cinemark 17. Movieland 6.
Vertical Limit: Action adventure tale of a former mountain climber who has
to save a sibling trapped at 26,000 feet. Chris O'Donnell is the traumatized ex-climber,
Robin Tunney is his sis. Directed by Martin Campbell. PG-13. Cinemark 17. Cinema
What Lies Beneath: Harrison Ford and Michelle Pfeiffer star in Robert Zemeckis'
spooky psychological thriller about a husband who has an affair with a woman who
kills herself in their house. PG-13. Movies 12.
Use the links provided below for specific show times.
Bijou Theater | 686-2458 | 492 E. 13th
Cinema World | 342-6536 | Valley River Center
McDonald | 344-4343 | 10th and Willamette
Movieland | 342-4142 | W. 11th and Seneca
Springfield Quad | 726-9073 |
Movies 12 | 741-1231 | Gateway
Movies before 12:30 are Sat. Sun. only. $1.50 all shows all days.
Cinemark 17 | 741-1231 | Gateway Mall
Releases subject to change. Available the Tuesday following date of
EW publication, sometimes sooner:
Cell, The: Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughan and Vincent D'Onofrio star in this
science fiction thriller. Lopez is a psychologist who becomes trapped in the mind
of a serial killer. R.
Chuck and Buck: Directed by Miguel Arteta (Star Maps) and starring film's
screenwriter Mike White and Chris Weitz, this indie film's a stunner about what happens
when two men, best friends in childhood and early adolescence, meet again as adults,
and one of them is obsessed with the other. Also stars Beth Colt, Lupe Ontiveros
and Paul Weitz. Highly recommended. R.
Loser, The: College sex comedy stars Mena Suvari (American Beauty) and Jason
Biggs (American Pie). Directed by Amy Heckerling (Clueless). PG-13.
Road Trip: College partying silliness directed by Todd Phillips stars Breckin
Meyer, Tom Green and Amy Smart. R.
Saving Grace: Brenda Blethyn stars as Grace, who is left with major debt after
her husband falls (or perhaps jumps) out of an airplane without a parachute. Grace
and her soon-to-be-fired gardener hatch a scheme to farm marijuana to pay her debts.
Critics say it's hilarious. R.
Small Time Crooks: Woody Allen's 2000 comedy takes place in Manhattan where
married couple Allen and Tracey Ullman join a trio of bumbling hoods to rob a bank.
Hugh Grant is a smarmy opportunist hired to educate the couple in the ways of the
upper-crust. Smart and funny. PG.
Virgin Suicides, The: Sofia Coppola's debut film about five beautiful teenage
sisters growing up in 1970s affluent suburbia in a very strict, religious household.
Kirsten Dunst is fabulous as the family's "stone fox," with Josh Hartnett
as her dope-smoking boyfriend. James Woods and Kathleen Turner are the parents. Strange,
disaffecting film. R. Movies 12.
Where the Money Is: Paul Newman and Linda Fiorentino star in this caper tale
directed by Marek Kanievska. Newman's performance is excellent, but it's not enough
to overcome the weakness of the script. PG-13.
Next week: Autumn in New York, Comic Act, Crime and Punishment in Suburbia,
The Hollow Man, Under Suspicion, The Way of the Gun and Yellow.
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