April 10, 2003

Take One

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It’s astonishing, and disconcerting, how little free time we have here at Cornell, as we’re constantly inundated with classes and prelims, meetings and presentations. On week nights in high school, I remember finishing my tedious homework by ten, and then watching those senseless yet sometimes oddly gripping WB dating shows. Believe it or not, watching a college dropout date five cheerleaders/bartenders/former strippers at once, and then go through the oh-so-painstaking process of picking only one for a “relationship,” is enjoyable, especially if you’re bored. Often, I would even have time to flip between Leno, the slightly less talented Letterman, and Sportscenter. I would get six and a half hours of sleep and be reasonably efficient the next day, without much complaint of work overload or of sleep deprivation.

These days, in the white April of Ithaca, there isn’t a whole lot of time to relax like there used to be. Even just last year, I would occasionally have the time to go to the movies, but no, not now. I would imagine that, as the final round of prelims finishes up, and as the drive continues towards the fun of Slope Day and the horrors of the ensuing two weeks, most students here will lack the chance to go to the movies. So let’s somberly consider some of the films that will be released between now and the end of May that many of us might have to miss — until, of course, they arrive at Blockbuster.

An official selection in Toronto and in Sundance, the disturbing yet compelling City of Ghosts is slated to arrive on screen, in limited release, at the end of April. It represents a remarkable effort by Matt Dillon, who stars in, co-wrote, and directs the film. Dillon’s character, Jimmy Cremming, flees the United States while an insurance scam investigation, of which he is the target, is pending. His exodus brings him to Cambodia, where he attempts to seek out his mentor, Marvin, played by Academy Award winner James Caan. However, finding Marvin becomes the least of his worries. What he finds in Cambodia is unrelenting torment and mystery, and as he attempts to put the pieces of the puzzle together, he must rely on his wit and on his instinct to keep him alive in a world where the truth is severely distorted.

Also opening on April 25 is the thriller Identity. Ray Liotta and John Cusack star in this dark film, full of scenes taking place under turbulent and ominous nights. Several strangers trapped in a harsh storm are forced to take abode at a relatively abandoned motel, yet it quickly becomes apparent that their arrival at the motel was no coincidence. The secret of their identities takes a dramatic twist when they discover a common bond they share — they all have the same birthday.

Despite a couple recent failures (for example, Simone), any film starring Al Pacino is deserving of a deeper look. Opening in limited release at the end of this month, People I Know is finally getting its chance after being delayed by the September 11 attacks last year. The elegant film is set in New York City, with Al Pacino playing a press agent (based on a larger than life real agent) whose assignment to cover a TV actress spins wildly (and hopefully, interestingly) out of control. The ensuing drug scandal becomes the focus of the film, and high caliber acting is expected of Pacino, and also of his co-star Kim Basinger. One of the controversial shots in the film, which has been edited out, is a hallucinatory image of the World Trade Center towers tipped on their sides. Pacino was to have experienced this image after a rough night involving alcohol and drugs.

And finally — he’s baaaack! Jim Carrey returns to comedy, finally, in his new film Bruce Almighty, set to open in mid-May. Bruce has a decent job as a television reporter, and he has a loving girlfriend played by Friends star Jennifer Aniston. However, he craves more and just cannot understand why God does not seem to be on his side. Consequently, Morgan Freeman, playing the human form of God, challenges Bruce to realize just how difficult overseeing the world can be, and he bestows upon him his almighty powers for one week. What ensues is surely incessant comedy as Carrey’s character misuses his tremendous new powers. The film is directed by Ace Ventura director Tom Shadyac.

These movies are on at least my short list of the ones to watch out for over the coming weeks. And hopefully I’ll have the time to get away from my work and see at least one. Certainly, however, there are occasions when work overload just does not matter; after all, if you’re reading this, take a break and tune in to ESPN2. Even I have time for the Frozen Four.

Archived article by Avash Kalra