New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - July 10, 1997, New Braunfels, Texas
_Herald-Zeitung p Thursday July 10,1997 □ 7A
- wFilm Close-up: with Will Smith
By Joey Berlin Copley News Service
He sold millions of records as half • of the rap duo Jazzy Jeff and die Fresh Prince. He parlayed that into his own hit TV sitcom, “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air** But Will Smith found a new level of stardom as the heroic fighter pilot of who punched out a slimy alien, blew up the invaders* mother ship, and smoked a victory cigar in last summer’s blockbuster smash, “Independence Day.”
“I went from (shouting) ‘Hey Will! What* up!,* to (whispers) ‘Mr. Smith,
hello, it* really good to see you,’” Smith says. “Something about movie success makes people act differently. I was successful in music and television, but the movie stuff is. more intense. Something about that big screen makes people crazy.”
Now, one year after “Independence Day” opened, comes “Men in Black,” which finds Smith again battling monstrous extraterrestrials - but this time in a sci-fi comedy.
Based on the Marvel comic book, “Men in Black” casts Smith and stone-faced Tommy Lee Jones as agents for a secret government bureau that monitors alien activities on Earth. The advance word-of-mouth is so strong that many experts expect “Men in Black” to challenge “The Lost World” as the year* biggest hit Smith, however, is not comfortable with such predictions.
“Nostradamus is not here, so you never know what could happen,” he
says. “With ’Independence Day’ we said the one thing that could go wrong is that the aliens could show up for real before the movie comes out. I’m not that comfortable.
“But it* not all about foe box office,” adds Smith, with just a winking hint of sarcasm. “It* about making a good movie ■■■■ and having the fans come and enjoy the movie.”
With his undeniable box office appeal, dating back to his first hit “Bad Boys” with Martin Lawrence,
Smith has quickly become one of the most sought-after movie stars in Hollywood. His future dance card is getting quite crowded.
“You really drive your- ■■■ self crazy trying to figure out what the next thing is going to be,” Smith confesses. “But, hey, 1*11 take it”
Among the most likely projects is playing Jim West in a film adaptation of the comic western TV series.
the murder of a Senator by foe National Security Agency.
Smith also has written and sold foe romantic comedy “Love For Hire,” with girlfriend Jada Pinkett, but they are unlikely to star in it together.
“That would be a bit much,” he ■■■■■■HHH smiles.
“Nostradamus not here, so you never know what
WHI Smith In “Mon In Black” now showing at your local thaatar.
“The Wild Wild West” (for “Men in Black” director Barry Sonnenfeld, with George Clooney up for the role of Artemis Gordon).
Smith was considering a Muhammad Ali biopic, until he saw “When We Were King,” the acclaimed documentary about the Ali^3corge Foreman “Rumble in the Jungle” in 1974. The best bet for his next film is the government conspiracy thriller, “Enemy of the State,” directed by Tony Scott. He would play an attorney investigating
Right now Smith is busy pro-m o t i n g “Men in Black” -and the two songs he has on the soundtrack album. He is also back in the recording ■■■■■■■■■■H studio and hopes to have his first solo CD out later this year. He has been working with Warren G and, of course, “my old partner. Jazzy.”
“The thing about the music is it* the most personal of all the different forms of the media that I’ve been involved in,” notes Smith. “In television and movies, you’re really just a lump of clay to be molded by someone’s able hands. But with the music I’m molding myself. That sounds nasty, but that’s how it is. The music is more about what I think and what I feel.”
In keeping with the way Smith thinks and feels, his music will have a street sound, but an upbeat and often humorous perspective.
“With the loss of Tupac and
Films In Focus
“FACE/OFF” - John Travolta plays Scan Austin, head of the FBI* secret anti-trerorist unit He is fanatical to catch Castor Troy (Nicholas Cage), a death-giddy psycho who killed Austin* little boy six years before. As nihilistic insurance, the grinning, capering nut Troy has planted a bacterial bond) that could wipe out much of Lot Angeles. Still, he* caught almost killed, goes into coma. And the real story starts. To defuse the bomb and terrorist drug operation Troy left behind Austin has his face replaced with Troy*, his voice altered to fit the man* higher register, even his body type altered (in other words, Cage becomes Austin as Troy). The twis-teroo is that the real but now faceless Troy comes out of coma, blandly “oohs” his skinned facade and then takes the face and build of Austin. Yes, it* another big comeback for Travolta. He turns catty-creepy and wittily subversive as the Austin who is now a blithe devil, using foe FBI for insane ends. And Cage works up moral heartburn and family longing (Joan Allen is his anxious, wraithlike wife) as undercover agent Troy, sent to s hellish prison where foe inmates wear magnetized boots so they can be constantly monitored or electrolocked to foe floor. Cast: John Travolta, Nicolas Cage, Joan Allen, Gina Gaston, Alessandro Nivola, Harve Fresnel!. (Elliott) Rated R.
not gruesome but highly octaned. Voices: James Woods. Danny DeVito, Tate Donovan, Susan Egan, Rip Tom, Ellen Woodbury, Samantha Eggar. (Elliott) Rated G.
“ADDICTED TO LOVE** - You might be fighting to like this concept comedy, as it sinks into a strange rhythm: volatile inertia. Meg Ryan flashes a lot of New York hard edge (then gets into her usual adorableness) as a jilted lover seeking revenge on her ex, a French restaurateur in New York played as scaly Euro-lizaid by Tcheky Karyo. He* living in a loft with Kelly Preston, foe ex of the still smitten Matt Broderick, who wants her back. Broderick and Ryan spend most of their tune in a facing, slummy loft, voyeurizing through a big camera obscura (this leads to nifty compositions: Vermeer in So£Io) white cackling and scheming like buzzed infants. The humor is forced and often has a nasty bite. The real charms of the actors (including a brief visit by Maureen Stapleton) only illustrate foe limitations, so smoothly directed by actor Griffin Dunne. Writer Robert Gordon did foe first script as a student work, and still seems rather undergraduate (David Elliott) Rated R.
dear old Alfred, the Bat-butler, Michael Gough spends the whole rime dying. That puts him in precise sync with the film around him. (Elliott) Rated PG-13. 0
“BUDDY** - This first feature from Jim Henson Pictures has plenty of clever animals but a script that offers mostly creature discomforts. The story says: Be kind to animals! The visuals say. Be amused by these chimps in taffeta playing catch with a meat cleaver! As true-life 1920s socialite Trudy Lintz, Rene Russo presides serenely over a mansion crawling with exotic pets. The star is Buddy, a gorilla whom Trudy raises from babyhood. Alas, Buddy grows up - from wee ammatromc puppet to hulking man-in-a-gorilla-suit - and his struggle to fit in is the film* (wobbly) focal point. Director-wnter Caroline Thompson weaves in animal slapstick that may amuse kids, but “Buddy” is no “Babe.” Oddball highlight: Paul Reubens (aka Fee-wee Herman) as a snippy gorilla expert (Hebert) Rated PG.
some young’uns may be freaked. The lizzies in all sizes come at Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore and a bunch of other human bait including Pete PostlethWaite as (speaking of the primeval) a great hunter. The effects are astounding, the scene of Moore on cracking plate glass is a fright classic. The ending is never plausible, but you may get a giggle and a gasp. Spielberg’s directing skills do not falter, but foe script by David Koepp could have used an extra noshing or gnashing. (Elliott). Rated PG-13
“HERCULES** - “Hercules” will do nothing for classical studies, but it* a fetching summer show, h has foe usual brace of show-biz tunes by Alan Menken (and new lyricist partner David Zippel). The cartooning is vigorous and versatile, foe main-core style source being less Greek art than foe centaur episode in Disney* 1940 “Fantasia.” Hercules was the Hellenic hunk stronger even than Israel* Samson. Voiced in his full size by Tate Donovan, Here grows up from divine birth as son of foe mighty Zeus (Rip TornX through a fairly mortal boyhood, to become the greatest of Greek heroes - though Greek more in the sense of “fraternity jock.” Those doowop canaries provide a kicky chorus (Lillias White is a standout aa Calliope). And there is the cheerfully Bronxian satyr, Phil (as in Phiiocretes, voiced by Danny DeVito). And a pair of shape-shifting raacak who crack wise white serving foe vOlam, Hades. The movie is rather interne for young kids; the violence is
“BATMAN St ROBIN” - A very guilty hit, but only a doof* guilty pleasure. Joel Schumacher cranks up the franchise, heaps on tons of flirty Mardi Gras showmanship, lets Arnold Schwarzenegger “party” as Mr. Freeze (he* like an ice sculpture of Lou Ferrigno), allows George Clooney to smite his way through Batman and Chris O’Donnell to again be a bland pep boy as Robin, and gets a few streaks of fun going with tall, foreby lima Thurman as Poison Ivy, who does cute vocal spoofing of Mae West and Marilyn Monroe. Bitt the story is just instantly inane plot The loud sound, like the visual blather, is a steamroller to flatten moviegoing. As
“CONE F1SHIN* “ - Joe Pfesci is Joe, a Jersey Palooka and antic fishing buddy since boyhood of Gus (Danny Glover). The “lovable” dopes head for Florida, fearing alligators, and soon we learn to fear comedy. What* the high point - Joe* T-shirt (“Fish Newark or Die”) or their boat smashing into a diner? Or is it the busted water pipe in foe john? The real busted pipe is the script lamely directed by Chris Cain for laughs so squarely dated we expect Al Lewis and Buddy Hackett to pop up in a swamp doing Pogo and Foghorn Leghorn Nothing works here, except hopefully your legs heading for the exit. (Elliott) Rated PG. *
“THE LOST WORLD: JURASSIC PARK” - The sequel to 1993* humongous dinosaur hit is long, nasty, brutish and • never mind loose plotting or scientific incredibility • entertaining. But not for most kids;
“MY BEST FRIEND’S WEDDING” - Julie Roberts is “back” in this clever and - dare we say - subversive romantic comedy that flatters its star without insulting its audience. Director P. J. Hogan (“Muriel* Wedding”) brings a daffy sensibility to this morality tate about a commit-mcnt-phobc (Roberts) bent on busting up her ex-boyfriend* nuptials. Roberts is the most likable villainess ever, white Cameron Diaz (as foe fiancee) is the most adorable paragon possible. You may wonder why two beautiful women are fighting over the sweetly befuddled Dermot Mulroney, but three* no guessing why Rupert Everett* witty gay sidekick nearly steals foe whole film. He* perfect. (Peterson) Rated PG-13 ★★★
“ULEE’S GOLD” - lf not a masterwork, this is a highly engaging and satisfying film. Peter Fonda, after a prolonged absence, returns to major performance and attention as Uke, an emotionally constricted but deeply caring father and bee-fanner in Florida. He has to defend not his honeyed hives, but his real gold - his family - from vicious yokels who rouse in him deep anxieties (he* a Vietnam War vet, a widower, and not quite sure how to be a good grandfather). Victor (“Ruby in Paradise”) Nunez wrote and directed with his usual nuanced, sober craft and care, though the music is nudgy. The ace cast includes Patricia Richardson, Tom Wood,
Biggie, people are saying, ’That* enough, let* have some fun,*” says Smith, who is critical of much of the • rap music foal has become so popular since he was pioneering the form with Jazzy Jeff. • >
“There was a certain level of intel- * lect and artistic dexterity that you had to possess to even get a record deal. Now, in this rap-signing brev zy, foe artists are a lot less articulate;; They’re rapping, but they don’t have a mastery of foe language. I
“There are a lot of people just tty4 ing to get that quick buck preaching ; poison. It* trine to do something ’ different Hip-hop is about to go full; circle, back to foe days of Kurtis Blow and Grandmaster Flash and* foe Furious Five, when it was just about a party. Let* have senile fun.” Smith is unconcerned about the possibility that his music may be considered soft or corny in today* climate.
“It always has been,” he laughs. “It was always, ’They make their music for white people.* I don’t have a, problem with that People aren’t getting killed with the type of records I make”
Satuidav ■ July 12 Private Patty
day -PEN 625-HALL
2S5 Saengerhalle Rd., N.B.
-July 13 @4pm
Dewey Weber, Christine Dunford, and fervently buzzy bees. (Elliott) Rated R.
GIFT BOOKS AVAILABLE All thouA before 6p.m. $3.50 Adults $5.50. Kids & S Hors $3.50
WALNUT 6 629-6400
IH 35 and Walnut Ave.
RATINGS ftftftft - Excellent. iHtir - Worthy. irk - Mixed, fe - Poor.
0 - Forget It.
NR - Not Rated.
Capsules compiled horn movie reviews written by David Elliott, film critic for (beginital) The San Diego Union-Tribune, (endital) and other staff writers.
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