Daniel Von Bargen

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G.I. Jane Review

So it's a blatant, gimmicky ripoff of Top Gun, but G.I. Jane gave Demi Moore a chance to prove that she had more in her than was on display in Striptease. I don't know if they really beat the crap out of her during the production of this film, but it sure looks like they did. And that's worth two hours of my time.

The Postman (1997) Review

When picking a protagonist for a movie as massively pulp as this filmwas, a good idea is to make a character that the audience can have some connection with. In order to do this, it might be a good idea to not associate said character with anything that alienates the character. In other words: if you want to choose your basic pulp protagonist, please do not choose their occupation as something that has become synonymous with psychopath.

Yes, I'm talking about The Postman. Post-millennial, post-apocalyptic, and post-intelligence, The Postman is the story of patriotism being reborn (ironically, the patriotism is in opposition to nationalism, which is the flip side of the patriotic coin) in the form of Postal Carriers. OK. It's dumb. The United States has become defunct, a racist psychopath holds all of the power, and the first thing that the new US Government is trying to get working is the mail.

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Artworks Review

It was 1990's Highlander 2 that sunk Virginia Madsen's career and it was 2004's Sideways that resurrected it. Here's one from those lost years, brought back to life thanks to her sudden resurgence. Expect to see a lot of movies like Artworks in the coming months: Low budget affairs she made, probably out of boredom, and lacking much to really make you want to watch.

In Artworks (and yes, that title is horrible), Madsen is Emma, a security system salesperson, the police chief's daughter, and an amateur artist. She hooks up with Bret (Rick Rossovich), an art gallery owner. Together, they hatch a plan to rob the locals of the paintings they don't properly appreciate: Both of them hate phonies that collect art simply for bragging rights. The remainder of the film tracks their heists and eventual comeuppance, in between panty-clad romps in the bedroom.

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The Majestic Review

As a film lover, I've always been enamored with the magic of the modern American moviegoing experience. Unlike the beer-between-breaks mentality of television programming or the solitary confinement of DVDs, the cinema is a communal experience. The theater itself is a gateway into new worlds; the ticket, a simple price paid for magic. But while The Majestic promises to grace the screen with the joys of cinematic glory, it chooses instead to chase a Communist "red herring."

Set in 1951, The Majestic stars Jim Carrey as Peter Appleton, a blacklisted actor struck by a mishap, endlessly seen in its trailers, that erases his memory. As so many amnesiacs before him, Carrey wanders around aimlessly until someone tells him who he is. Unfortunately, that someone mistakes him for his son, dead seven years, a brutal casualty of WWII. Even more coincidentally, Peter looks exactly like the long-dead hero Luke Trimble, and soon the entire town, having lost nearly all it's young men to the war believes as well, rallying around Luke and his re-opening of their local movie theater "The Majestic" as a source of rejuvenation.

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Super Troopers Review

Written by and starring members of the comedy troupe Broken Lizard, Super Troopers definitely starts out exhibiting a lot of potential. The four guys of Broken Lizard play Vermont state troopers - Thorny, Rabbit, Mac, and Farva - that spend their days pranking folks they pull over on the highway into Canada, played out to particularly good effect in the opening scene involving a car full of stoned college kids. Plus, they get their kicks picking fights with the local fuzz, and battling to keep their precinct from being shut down by the budget-minded governor (Wonder Woman herself, Lynda Carter).

Unfortunately, Super Troopers never really hits its stride. While these pals who met at Colgate University (and produced Puddle Cruiser there) seem to be having a blast paying homage to cheesy '70s and '80s comedies - from the brilliant like Animal House and Caddyshack to the retarded like Cannonball Run and Police Academy, most of their gags fall flat - especially the biggest ones. And as much as I appreciate good old fashioned boy humor (masturbation, crotch shots, blow-up dolls, etc.), it's frustrating to see these guys - who are obviously pretty clever - waste their talent on parodies of things they probably thought were funniest when they were high.

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Blessed Art Thou (A Question Of Faith) Review

I'm usually a sucker for a Disney movie. Blessed Art Thou, screened at the Boston Film Festival, is a Disney movie of sorts, but this ain't no Little Mermaid. The only Disney involved here is Tim Disney, writer/director of this tale of theology, faith, and the sexes. The plot alone could make his great uncle Walt thaw out, and this live-action film as a whole is appealing, gentle, and hopeful, despite its weaknesses.

At a quiet monastery on a vineyard, Brother Anselm (M.E. Hackett) claims to have witnessed a true miracle. He purports to have seen the angel Gabriel himself descend to Earth and initiate a sort of "connection" with Anselm, one that Disney smartly keeps vague. There's further confusion in that Disney actually shows us the encounter, a strangely homoerotic visual that might have worked well in a dream sequence in the Village People's Can't Stop the Music. Toss in the Brother's androgynous look, and Blessed Art Thou is an exciting little mystery right from act one.

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