Wim Wender's film opens with Travis wandering in a Texas desert. Lost for four years, Travis' brother, Walt, travels to Texas to claim him and takes him back to Los Angeles where Walt lives with his wife and Travis' son. Given Travis' absence, his son has all but forgotten about him -- causing Travis to clean up his act and get his life back in order. Given that Travis doesn't say a word for the first 20 minutes of the film, it's a little bizarre when the film focuses solely on him in the second and third acts -- turning a blind eye to Walt and his wife, who have been moving the story along for the first half.
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But Lynch fans might find stuff to enjoy in Dune anyhow. After all, there's a floating bug monster that parlays with Jose Ferrer's space emperor in the early going, flanked by legions of somnambulant slaves in black raincoats that probably inspired the villains in Dark City. This is followed by Kenneth MacMillan's puss-faced Baron Harkonnen floating around on wires, plucking out the heart of an angel-faced boy-toy (who was planting Blue Velvet-style pastel flowers only moments earlier), and sharing some homo-erotic blubbering with his nephew Feyd (played by Sting, who can't act but lends the film his charismatic rock star presence). Even when the plot is difficult to follow -- some nonsense involving a trade war over different planets that all made sense in Frank Herbert's original novel -- there's enough giddy comic book theatrics to keep Dune interesting as it meanders along for nearly three hours.
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A dark comedy on par with Pulp Fiction, Aussie director Gregor Jordan (in his second film) transports us to Germany in 1989, on an American Army base during the waning days of the Cold War. These enlisted troops aren't your Officer and a Gentleman go-getters. They're criminals, offered the option to serve their country in lieu of staying in jail. But since there's no war on, getting in to trouble is the only thing to do. As our protagonist says, "There was nothing to kill but time."
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Frankly, I was shocked to discover how much I liked Air Force One. Yes, it has villainous Russians who can never see our good guy President (Harrison Ford) when he's hiding right in front of them (much less shoot him). Yes, it has Secret Service guys who die at the hand of the enemy like flies in a bug zapper. Yes, it has the cheesiest special effects this side of of a Tom & Jerry cartoon. Yes, it features a rambling Gary Oldman in one of his clearly improvised looney-tune terrorist/psychopath roles. I could go on and on...
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CQ stars mostly people you've never heard of in a movie about making movies that were never actually made. Don't worry, it's really not that confusing. Boring, yes, but certainly not confusing. Jeremy Davies plays Paul, a struggling young director, who funds his personal film by working as a film editor on a cheesy, big budget science-fiction movie. But his director doesn't have an ending, and eventually Paul finds himself gifted with the job.
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