JANUARY 2000 | VOL. 4, NO. 1


The Talented Mr. Ripley
Any Given Sunday

Man on the Moon: Depiction of Andy Kaufman fails to shed much light on a mysterious man.
Magnolia: Expansive exploration of loneliness needed a good editor.

Sleepy Hollow
Anywhere But Here
The Green Mile
Toy Story 2


Short Takes
Grading from A-F

Any Given Sunday (R) When Oliver Stone does something, he does it big. Conspiracies, back room deals, human emotions--all blown terrifically into an unfathomable proportion. "Any Given Sunday" is his sweeping perspective on all that is both right and wrong with the game of professional football. Name a recent football news headline and that problem is sure to strike the fictitious Miami Sharks franchise--from an owner threatening to sell to a Dan Marino-like aging quarterback. The results, thanks to several excellent performances and camera work stolen from "Saving Private Ryan", are good: a succinct detailing (if 2 and a half hours can be succinct) of sports as business.

Sure Stone overuses the athlete as gladiator metaphor (down to casting Charlton Heston as the league's commissioner) and stretches believability a bit by casting a youthful Cameron Diaz as the team owner, but the film is both fun and thoughtful. To her credit, Diaz manages to play a no-nonsense, icy owner despite her previous roles as a sex object. Al Pacino as the head coach is a role he could play in his sleep--lots of wild emotion and passionate speeches.

Die-hard football fans will enjoy the on-field action and numerous cameos (Johnny Unitas, Lawrence Taylor, Jim Brown) while the casual movie-goer can appreciate the performances of James Wood, Diaz and Pacino. With all the sports-as-life metaphors flying around today, you could do much worse than "Any Given Sunday." A-

- Kevin Ridolfi

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  The Talented Mr. Ripley - Matt Damon, Gweneth Paltrow, Judd Law

Rating: C+

Starring Matt Damon, Gweneth Paltrow, Judd Law, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Cate Blanchett. Directed by Anthony Minghella. Based on the book by Patricia Highsmith. Rated R. Running Time: 139 minutes.


It seems that a theme among this year's Hollywood holiday films is to market themselves in a reality completely unlike the one they offer up on the screen. From Girl Interrupted, the Ryder/Jolie spectacle which is marketed as a funny jaunt into a mental hospital in the late 60's, but in reality is a soupy television movie adaptation of the striking memoir by the same name, to The Talented Mr. Ripley, which is marketed as a suspense drama, but offers no suspense I could see, there is little to no truth to the advertising campaigns.

Particularly considering the hype surrounding The Talented Mr. Ripley, I still have trouble believing this is the same thought-provoking material that originally surfaced in Patricia Highsmith's fictional creations. This "adapted" world that Anthony Minghella has created more closely resembles fragments on the cutting room floor of The English Patient --another of his overindulged contributions to the American cinematography. While the two films focus on much different concepts, they drum up the same unauthentic feel, leaving any character-driven psychological depth to the viewers' own imaginations. In both pictures, the majority of the attention is fixed on the gorgeous scenery--which, to commend Minghella, is captured brilliantly--and far too little attention to digging up what's lurking beneath it. Viewers are left swirling in the wind that sits on the screen for ten minutes too long.

In Ripley, Minghella invites us to view the world of Dickie Greenleaf and Marge Sherwood--played by the gorgeous Jude Law (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil) and Gweneth Paltrow (Shakespeare In Love)--a world upon which Tom Ripley (Matt Damon) trespasses and destroys. The viewer knows, from the story's inception, that this destruction is inevitable: the only suspense here is how long it takes for the destruction to begin. It is a good hour before Ripley strikes and the movie actually sees some motion. From this point on, the movie has the potential to look further into Ripley's twisted demise, but unfortunately, it does nothing of the sort. Instead, Ripley races around Italy like any other criminal running from his crimes.

Minghella does manage to throw in some interesting supporting characters to the mix including the truly talented Philip Seymour Hoffman (Boogie Nights, Patch Adams), who also shines in another holiday blockbuster, Magnolia. Hoffman breathes life into every scene he enters as does the subtlety intriguing Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth). A very interesting trio for the main three would have been combining Law with Hoffman as Ripley, and Blanchett as his Marge. This would eliminate the Damon problem: an actor too polished and sure of himself to carry off Ripley, although he does invest his whole self in the role and reaches greater depths than he has in his previous work. Not to mention the Paltrow predicament: she resembles the self she offers on talk shows and articles, possibly suggesting she is too damn tired from working so much this year to dig beyond the real Gweneth.

This film definitely needed to do something to help it from its tired, slow moving agenda. I found myself as disconnected from Tom Ripley at the end as I did at the beginning. And I barely cared whether he killed anyone else or was killed himself. As long as I didn't have to watch anymore, I was ready to applaud for the one who came out on top.

LAURA DAVE , a free-lance writer living in New York City, writes both poetry and articles on popular culture for several publications. She is a staff entertainment writer.

PICTURE copyright © 1999 Miramax Pictures.

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