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AUGUST 1999 | VOL. 3, NO. 8



CURRENT

FEATURES
Run Lola Run
American Pie

ALSO THIS MONTH
Eyes Wide Shut

LAST MONTH
The Hollywood Formula?

ARCHIVES



Short Takes
Grading from A-F

AMERICAN PIE (R):
While slightly immature and crude, this year's boundary stretching toilet humor comedy does have its moments - though not as many as last summer's "There's Something About Mary". Centered around a done-before plot of four high school senior who pledge to lose their virginity at the prom, "American Pie" tackles everything in high school's magnified culture including sexual exploration, jock stereotypes, fragile insecurities and even the recklessness of self-gratification.

While director Paul Weitz too often relies on the obvious, and cliched, humor, he includes enough unexpected surprises to make the film worthwhile. The apple pie scene from which the title stems is irreverent yet pointed, mocking the hyped up teen sex drive. Equally as risqué, an internet filming scheme gone awry provides the perfect backdrop for the conflicting inadequacies and desires of the main characters. B+

THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT (R):
With nonnegotiable skill, the filmmakers put forth a picture that demands horror be understood on the most primitive level: not the pretense of blood and gore and death, but rather the creation of an unacceptable, insurmountable fear that even death itself can not suspend. [More]
A-

THE PHANTOM MENACE (PG):
Star Wars Episode I suffers from less-than-enthusiastic acting and a pointless story, but still manages to set the stage for the rest of the series. [More]
A-

- Kevin Ridolfi, Laura Dave



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  Run Lola Run

 
RUN LOLA RUN
Rating: A-

Starring Franka Polente, Mortiz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri. Written/Directed by Tom Tykwer. Rated R. Running Time: 81 minutes.


LAURA DAVE

From the moment Lola (Franka Polente) steps onto the screen in Tom Tykwer's latest film, "Run Lola Run" becomes a furious journey that refuses to let up. Polente plays the fearless Lola, a Berlin Hipster, who has twenty minutes to get 100,000 marks to her small-time criminal boyfriend, Manni, (Mortitz Bleibtreu). Manni, who is apparently unable to rescue himself, promises Lola he will do something desperate if she fails to come through with the money in the allotted time.

With the conflict presented, "Run Lola Run" is off and running. This German film with English sub-titles brings the audience into the streets of Berlin, making it their home for the next 81 minutes. Working in real-time, we join Lola on three distinct journeys to find the money and hurry it to her man. In each attempt, Lola makes slightly different decisions that affect her timing; ultimately resulting in completely different outcomes for both Lola and the people she encounters. A bike-rider that approaches Lola during one journey is preoccupied in another, resulting in very different consequences for his life. An older woman, whose baby carriage Lola bumps, wins the lottery in one scenario, and ends up in the poorhouse in another. Playing with how the tiniest alterations in time can drastically affect one's life, Tykwer comments on the time/fate conundrum where previous movies have faltered on this same topic (think "Sliding Doors").

The strengths of "Run Lola Run" can be attributed to Tykwer's determination to let his film be a film as opposed to an imitation of life. Pulsating rave music, animation sequences, blood-soaked flashbacks and insane visual shots saturate "Run Lola Run" from start to finish, energizing the film and captivating the audience. And even greater than these special effects (and they are great) is Lola herself. Polente is nothing short of a modern female warrior. By "Lola's" conclusion, every woman in the audience wants to be her and every guy in the audience the boyfriend she is coming to save. Polente infuses the role with the perfect mix of unsentimentally, compassion and plain coolness. Though I can't help but wonder what is so great about this guy who can't seem to dial a telephone without her assistance, Lola will stop at nothing to help him and you want her to have whatever she wants.

Now, the movie does have notable problems. Lola's third rescue mission deviates from the other two drastically enough that Tykwer's point is weakened. An unconvincing casino scene and a strange encounter with Manni himself take away from Lola's ingenuity and make the movie too heavily weighed in fortune. Because of this, our heroine loses some of her potency to the gods of chance and her triumph feels like a cheat as a result. And during this disturbing change, Tykwer's time predicament loses its urgency, giving the audience ample opportunity to sit back and reflect on how farfetched Tykwer's final move is. These last twenty minutes need tightening to not offend the rest of this powerful picture. Because right now, with the exception of Manni and Lola's final moment together, the vast majority of this decisive scenario offers nothing but insincere hope.

Nevertheless, "Run Lola Run" pushes the envelope and deserves respect for doing so. Offering an accelerated mix of music, action and animation, Tykwer creates an awesome picture that is almost as heady in its accomplishments as what it attempts.




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.



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