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January 07, 2000 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 2000-01-07

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* e Kimberly Pierce film opens at the State Theater tonight.
One of the year's best films tells the story of the gender bending
Teena Brandon, played very compassionately and powerfully by
newcomer Hilary Swank. Give her a damn Oscar. 7 & 9:30 p.m.

te icIi&m iutk

Check out Erin Podolsky's review of "Boys Don't Cry," a film that
immediatly had critical acclaim when hit screens at Sundance.
January 7, 2000



flowers in
By Matthew Barrett
Daily Arts Writer
"Respect the cock and tame the cunt." Not
exactly the first thing that we'd expect to hear
coming out of Tom Cruise's mouth. Then again,
"Magnolia" is not what we've come to expect in
today's cinema. It is bold, daring and unapolo-
getic. It is three hours long, and not a moment is
asted. It is nothing short of a masterpiece.
The film follows several characters who are
involved in a story that unravels during a 24-hour
period in the San Fernando Valley.
Writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson is the
man behind "Magnolia" and he never wavers
over the course of the film. "Magnolia" begins
with three vignettes, unrelated to the plot, but
essential to the movie. They let us know that even

Zahn, Northam
make silly hijinks
in 'Happy, Texas'

By Aaron Rich
Daily Arts Writer
Do we really need to see yet anoth-
er escaped-con movie? Well, yes and
What we don't need is a film about
two guys (maybe of two different eth-
nic or social backgrounds) handcuffed
together, finding out that they are not
so different after all. We also don't

At The Michigan

need a story
about two guys
running from the
police and talk-
ing about one-
armed men.
"Happy, Texas"
is neither of the
above - and it
takes the escape
premise to rather
new, if ridicu-
lous, ends.
J e r e m y
Northam and

At Quality 16
and Showcase

the impossible occurs every
so often and that sometimes
it's better not to ask ques-
Soon after, Anderson sets
the. scene, offering us
glimpses of the cast of char-
acters before we delve into
the guts of the plot. From
this point on, several stories
with common connections
are going at once, in the vein
of Robert Altman's
"Nashville" and "Short
One thread involves TV

To make matters more sticky, the
town Sheriff, Chappy (played bril-
liantly by William H. Macy), deciding
that the arrival of the pair is a perfect
opportunity to come out of the closet,
falls in love with Harry.
Both Northam and Macy give won-
derful performances - in a film that
seems to be the farthest thing from.
anything either actor would ever pick
up (this isn't David Mamet after all).
None of Northam's classical,'
Shakespearean training comes out in
the role (he plays a know-nothing
American thief), but that is the point,
in a sense.
For Macy fans, there is perhaps.
nothing more exciting than seeing the
master thespian convincingly take-on
the role of a gay Texan sheriff (almost
like a gay Jerry Lundegaard). He is
both pitiful and funny - perfect for
laying down the law.
Though getting laughs out of cute,
silly kids is a cheap route to take, it
works well here. Wayne, who could
only be pictured stealing kids toys,
works in ridiculous ways with' the
young wannabe Miss Americas. He
continually makes them cry by insti-
tuting "prison rules" in the talent
show rehearsals, but also improvises
wild dances for the tots to show off for
the judges. "Happy, Texas" might not
go down in history with "The Defiant
Ones" or "The Fugitive," but, thank
goodness, it does not try to. The film
has no pretensions about being any
bigger than a simple, silly comedy.
And it is a very enjoyable one.

Courtesy of New Line Cinema
"I don't even have to ask. Stanley, get your butt up there." Jeremy Blackman plays kid wiz Stanley Spector In 'Magnolia.'

producer Earl Partridge (Jason Robards), a dying
man, his wife Linda (Julianne Moore), his care-
taker Phil (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and their
search for Earl's long lost son.
Another involves a boy-genius, Stanley
Spector (Jeremy Blackman), whose competing
on "What Do Kids Know?" a game-show hosted
by Jimmy Gator (Philip Baker Hall).
On the other side of town Jimmy's daughter,
Claudia Wilson Gator (Melora Waters), is trying
(keep Jim Kurring (John C. Reilly), a nosy and
bumbling policeman, out of her life. All of which
has something to do with Donnie Smith (William
H. Macy), a game-show sensation as a child and
a romantic failure as an adult. And then there's

Frank T.J. Mackey (Tom Cruise) a motivational
speaker whose program "Seduce and Destroy"
can be ordered by picking up your phone and
dialing 1-877-TAME-HER (give it a ring).
Through the course of the movie, we jump
back and forth between the ongoing narratives,
sometimes seeing characters for several minutes,
leaving them for half an hour and then returning
right where we left off. Anderson handles the
action with confidence and, rather than forcing
things along, grants each section of the narrative
the time that it deserves.
The cast is outstanding across the board with
not a bad performance in the bunch. Anderson
seems to hand-pick some of the best actors in
the business for his films and it pays off. He also
re-uses several actors from his previous efforts
("Hard Eight" and "Boogie Nights"), which
lends a nice feeling of consistency to his work.

Cruise received a well-deserved Golden
Globe nomination for his part and is worthy of
all the praise that's being heaped upon him.
Playing the seedy and sexist Mackey was an
audacious move on the actor's part, but he ends
up creating a character audiences will be talking
about for years to come. In terms of the details
surrounding the film's plot, the less you know
the better. A lot of action is going on at once, but
it's never hard to stick with the story. Several
sequences in the film are worthy of high-praise,
but cannot be discussed without compromising
the movie.
In a time when stale and uninspired movies
crowd the theaters, "Magnolia" is a breath of
fresh air. It is unique and deserves to be seen.
The film also signals Anderson's transition from
an exciting young filmmaker to a budding
auteur. "Magnolia" is not to be missed.

Steve Zahn play two prisoners who
escape from their chain gang in Texas
and steal the camper of two gay beau-
ty pageant coaches. Deciding the best
way to lay low is to play along with
the new personae, they find them-
selves in the small, picturesque town
of Happy.
Hair-brained schemes abound until
Harry (Northam) falls in love with the
town banker and Wayne (Zahn) falls
for one of the mothers. These
romances present problems as the two
also plan to betray both of their belles
by ripping off the bank during the big

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