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A&E >  Entertainment

Beg off current big-budget flops for better alternatives



 (The Spokesman-Review)
(The Spokesman-Review)
The Spokesman-Review

At the approach of each movie season, summer and winter, I get excited.

I see the next action flick as the next “Die Hard,” the next comedy as the next “Galaxy Quest,” the next romance as the next “Annie Hall,” the next drama as the next “Godfather” and the next non-mainstream offering as the next “Pulp Fiction.”

It seldom takes long before reality sets in and I realize that the latest crop of Hollywood dross simply … well, it simply sucks.

Take what’s in theaters now.

“The Ring Two”: Even bringing in Hideo Nakata, director of the original “Ring” series that hit Japan in the late ‘90s, couldn’t help this turkey. The first American version, which was directed in 2002 by Gore Verbinski, may not have been quite as creepy as Nakata’s 1998 original. But it was close, and one sequence involving a horse on a ferry is magnificently filmed. There’s not one scene in this sequel, part of which was shot in scenic Astoria, Ore., that measures up – not even the much-hyped bathtub-water-on- the-ceiling scene.

And, oh, by the way, here’s a reality check. Big-city news reporters don’t take jobs as editors of smaller newspapers such as the Daily Astorian so they can expect more time with their kids. I can tell you from experience, the work at smaller newspapers is likely to take up your entire life.

“The Pacifier”: If “Christmas with the Kranks” was one of the worst (if not the worst) films of 2004, then “The Pacifier” has to be the leading candidate for worst film of 2005. And we’re not even one-fourth of the way through the year.

Whoever advises Vin Diesel on his career choices should be fired. Not because he shouldn’t stretch himself. A guy can play the same role – steely-eyed, rumbling-voiced, bad ass with heart – only so many times before he gets type-cast.

But if you’re going to, say, take a role in which you’re a – take a breath now – SEAL officer doing undercover, bodyguard work for a gaggle of belligerent, under- achieving children badly in need of the kind of discipline that only you can give, which then gives you a chance to discover your softer side while still giving the school bully a lesson and, of course, getting the girl in the end – then you might want to pick a better project than “The Pacifier.”

Others can be dismissed in far fewer words.

“Hitch”: Director Andy Tennant does the highly improbable – he wastes the talents of Will Smith.

“Be Cool”: A sequel to “Get Shorty.” We waited 10 years for this?

“Ice Princess”: This is something to embrace only if you love cheesy sports films.

“Constantine”: Keanu Reeves plays Neo with a smoking problem.

And so on. It’s just too depressing.

Especially when you consider what’s opening today. Is anyone out there really looking forward to “Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous” or “Guess Who,” which plays off the title of the 1967 film “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” to offer another Ashton Kutcher vehicle?

Anyone up for home video?

Actually, there are theatrical alternatives. Michael Smith continues, if erratically, to bring in the occasional alternative film at The Met (227-7638). Up next is “American Bellydancer: Life, Liberty & the Pursuit of Dance,” a film by documentary director Jonathan Brandeis that explores the history and the art behind this exotic style of dance. It shows April 8.

The Garland Theatre (327-1050) and CenterStage (747-8243) continue their weekend midnight films. The Garland is showing Rob Reiner’s 1984 comedy “This is Spinal Tap” tonight and Saturday, while CenterStage will screen Ed Wood’s 1953 curiosity “Glen or Glenda” on Saturday.

Films continue to be shown on occasion at the Community Building, 35 W. Main Ave., too. Thanks to Thin Air Radio, low-power FM station KYRS 95.3 (also on 92.3 FM), a dozen or so films have been screened in the building lobby over the past couple of years.

“They’re usually films with some sort of political message or political content,” says KYRS station manager Lupito Flores. “Some international films. We tried doing some quirky B-horror movies, but nobody came.”

Big crowds number up to 80 people, Flores says.

Then there’s this: A group associated with the Community Building has plans to build a couple of theaters in an adjacent building. If it happens, those Spokane-area movie fans who have felt rootless since the closing of the Magic Lantern may again find a home.

And that’s something definitely worth getting excited about.

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