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DECEMBER 1999 | VOL. 3, NO. 12


Anywhere But Here

Sleepy Hollow: Burton fills classic tale with whimsy, humor and fear.
The Green Mile: King adaptation suffers from a drawn-out plot and a sanctimonious attitude.

Fight Club
The Insider


Short Takes
Grading from A-F

An effective film that surrealistically describes the status of the American male at the end of the 20th century: disenchanted, unfulfilled, castrated and looking for a way out. At times equally exhilarating, insightful, funny and inscrutable, "Fight Club" has enough ideas for five films and story lines for three, pushing well beyond two hours in length and exhausting the audience's attention span in the process. [More]

- Tim Clifton

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  Anywhere But Here - Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman, Hart Bochner, Shawn

Rating: B+

Starring Susan Sarandon, Natalie Portman, Hart Bochner and Shawn Hatosy. Directed by Wayne Wang. Written by Alvin Sargent and Mona Simpson. Rated PG-13 for sex-related material. Running time: 113 minutes.


With the wrong two leads, "Anywhere But Here" could have found itself as the movie of the week for a television network. But this movie about an endearing mother/daughter relationship casts two excellent leads - particularly Natalie Portman - and brings life, excitement and beauty to this picture.

"Anywhere But Here" is based on the semi-autobiographical novel by Mona Simpson that tells the story, over several years, of a wild, unpredictable mother (Susan Sarandon) and her sagacious, sad only child (Natalie Portman). Their story begins on the twosome's long journey from Bay City, Wisconsin to Beverly Hills, California where Sarandon's character is convinced her daughter will become a child- star and she will find happiness. The central conflict of the movie, if one dares to name one, is how the twosome go on when these dreams prove as elusive as them ever having enough money to stay in the Beverly Hills Hotel - their first stop when arriving in the City of Angels.

Directed by Wayne Wang, best know for "Joy Luck Club", this becomes character drama that chooses to takes snapshots of these women's lives as opposed to telling one continuous story. Painting the storyline in this way adds a certain honesty, making the movie more truthful, confusing and touching than if Wang had followed the typical linear evolution.

As the daughter, Portman ("The Phantom Menace") simply takes your breath away. Her performance feels effortless and completely natural. Watching her for just a few moments, it is clear why Sarandon said she would do this movie with no other actress. Portman takes over the screen whenever she is on it, taking even banal, forced scenes and bringing to them a purity of understanding as great as any actress could ever hope.

This movie is flawed, overly-sentimental and at times frustrating. But it is worthwhile to see it not just for the performances (which are reason enough), but because there is an sincere story here that wants to be told and should be told. It's a story that occurs in many homes between people whose love for each other is only matched by their misunderstanding of each other. Bring your mother and enjoy.

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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