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other new + recent LAZE features:
o Flick: The Last Kiss
Flick: Mutual Appreciation
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Flick: Jesus Camp
Flick: The Boys of Baraka
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copyright 1999-2007

before oscar by Kiera Tara O'Brien | 1 2 3
continued from page 1

Raging Bull (continued)

Review If Rocky was the Italian Stallion Comeback Kid, then La Motta was Mr. Crash-and-Burn. Based on the life of Jake La Motta, professional boxer of the 40s and 50s and one-time Middleweight Champion, Scorsese's Raging Bull is a brutal character study that flips Stallone's hero-boxer tale back to reality. Filmed in black and white with the air of a documentary, Scorsese presents the harsh realism of boxing as a sport, and one man's tragic downfall. Only a few idealistic, staged "home movie" clips are in color, but on the whole, the stark tones hide nothing. Dark blood explodes from sweaty faces. Traditional flash bulbs shatter. Bird shrieks and tiger growls accompany each landed punch and serene operatic theme music provides a powerful contrast for the human senses. Despite rave reviews from critics, the film only garnered two wins from its many Academy Award nominations. Audiences in the early 80s were less than interested in such an artistic and "noir" film, so Scorsese was passed over for Best Director and Best Picture. De Niro, thankfully, was not overlooked. His characterization never wavers. He surges with raw energy and struggling animalistic impulses in every shot, like a raging bull ramming its horns into an unforgiving brick wall. And, true to form, Scorsese shows us the consequences, clear to all, in plain black and white. The champion becomes a bum; the beast is left emasculated. This film couldn't be more visceral -- romantics beware.

o o o

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flick pick | The Crying Game 1992
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Screenplay written by: Neil Jordan
Starring: Stephen Rea, Forest Whitaker, Miranda Richardson, Jaye Davidson
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: drama/thriller
Watch it when you're in the mood for something:  serious
The critic says: ½/ 5 the rating system explained
Oscar factor (give it another one, come on!): /5 

Plot synopsis The Crying Game opens in the South Armagh Fairgrounds of Ireland. Drunken British soldier Jody (Forest Whitaker) is kidnapped by the IRA and held as a hostage on a remote farm. With a short deadline for one of their nationalist fighters to be released in exchange, Jody strikes up an odd friendship with his fairly boyish guard, an IRA volunteer named Fergus (Stephen Rea) who simply believes that the English 'don't belong here'. Following an army raid on the farmhouse that kills several of his companions, Fergus abandons the IRA, disappearing to the London suburb where Jody's girlfriend, Dil (Jaye Davidson), works as a hairdresser. The two develop a unique relationship marked by a series of revelations about themselves. When the IRA, led by the indestructible Jude (Miranda Richardson), finally tracks Fergus down, he is forced back into the fold to protect Dil. In the end, it all comes down to a phenomenal shoot out to the tune of (what else?) "The Crying Game".

Review Without giving away a few of the twists, suffice it to say that The Crying Game, the brainchild of Irish writer/director Neil Jordan, is a meticulous exploration into the nature of desire, love, violence and identity. More than just an "Irish conflict" thriller, this film draws its audience into a careful examination of the different relationships and interactions between characters: Fergus and the IRA members, specifically Jude; Fergus and Jody; Fergus and Dil; and Fergus with himself. Rea is phenomenal as Fergus and completely sympathetic. The audience can understand his dilemmas no matter how obscure they might seem to the typical moviegoer. As Jody, Whitaker not only tackles a difficult London accent flawlessly, but suffers the kinds of emotional swings one would expect from a hostage envisioning his own inevitable execution. And he stays on in the memories of Fergus and Dil, haunting their existence with cricket bowls and knowing smiles. Whitaker's physical expressiveness in Fergus' daydreams and nightmares is a driving force through the second half of the film. The supporting cast is equally superb, particularly break-out performer Jaye Davidson, who sings, swoons and seduces as perhaps one of the most unusual femme fatales of the 90s. It's best to leave any preconceptions behind. Stereotypes have no place in The Crying Game.

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