This week’s best bet features the proverbial something different from a new director. In this case, the film is “Before Sunrise” and the director is Richard Linklater.
As director of “Slacker” and “Dazed and Confused,” Linklater has evolved here from cynic to romantic. His objects of study are the American Jesse (Ethan Hawke), whose European vacation is nearly over, and French graduate student Celine (Julie Delpy), who is on her way back to Paris.
They meet on the train, are attracted to one another and decide to spend Jesse’s last hours together touring Vienna. They walk, and talk, and eat, and talk, and drink, and talk, and meet people and, of course, talk as only two young twentysomethings would who are trying to pack a whole lifetime of experience into one night.
Because of Linklater’s skill and the performances he elicits from his stars, “Before Sunrise” may be the most realistic exploration of instant attraction ever filmed. Add the scenic charm of Vienna and you have the film’s essential appeal. If you’re expecting something actually to happen, though, you may end up disappointed. Rated R. ****-1/2
Boys on the Side
Club singer Jane (Whoopi Goldberg) is headed to Los Angeles, so she answers a newspaper ad placed by perky real-estate saleswoman Robin (Mary-Louise Parker). The match is a seeming miss: Whoopi is into Janis Joplin, Parker is into Karen Carpenter. Then things get really bizarre when they stop in Pittsburgh to pick up Holly (Drew Barrymore), Jane’s friend who is drawn to abusive relationships. Before long, the three are on the road west and director Herbert Ross (“The Turning Point”) uses their venture to try to make some sort of a statement about the bonding that takes place between modern women. The problem is a script that, unaccountably, shorthands the storyline with such time-travel messaging as “Tucson, three months later,” and then involves the principals in a “Terms of Endearment”-type of tear-inducing sentimentality. The film’s twin saving graces are Goldberg and Parker, whose performances nearly make us forget some very corny setups. Rated R.
Star Trek: Generations
This much-ballyhooed alliance between Capts. Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Kirk (William Shatner) is an able attempt at bridging the two “Trek” casts. And the evidence indicates that the new crew has what it takes to achieve big-screen success. But the production suffers from the typical “Trek” problem: a script that can’t hold its plotline. A too-involved struggle that pits Picard and Kirk against a scientist (Malcolm MacDowell) obsessed with the drug-like high of a strange space power called the Nexus, is irritating. The special effects, though, are passable, and Brent Spiner as Data provides a special moment when, empowered by an emotion chip, he finally gets a joke he’d heard seven years before. And he laughs. Rated PG
The Walking Dead
Considering that this ostensibly is a story about the “black experience” in Vietnam, you’d think that the filmmaker - writer-director Preston A. Whitmore, II - would be a little more informed about that conflict and how it was fought. But five minutes into the movie it’s clear that Whitmore knows nothing about human behavior, much less filmmaking, so how could he know anything about Vietnam? This is one of those “message” movies that couples pre-Vietnam flashbacks with long stretches of dialogue laced with as many pretentious sentiments as four-letter words. It’s one in which characters die merely to give the filmmaker an easy way to bond other characters who otherwise would merely gnaw at each other’s throats. It’s a waste, actually. Rated R.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: What’s new to view Available this weekend - “Before Sunrise” (Columbia TriStar), “Boys On the Side” (Warner), “Houseguest” (Touchstone), “Star Trek: Generations” (Paramount), “The Walking Dead” (HBO). Available Tuesday - “Born to Be Wild” (Warner), “The Brady Bunch” (Paramount), “Demon Knight” (MCA/Universal), “In the Mouth of Madness” (New Line), “Miami Rhapsody” (Touchstone).