Corrections or additions?
This article by Jack Florek was prepared for the March 21, 2001
edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Movies: Oscar Preview
It’s an old truism that no great art is ever made by
a committee, meaning that the more people involved in the
process, the more water-downed the artistic product.
This maxim rings truer than ever this week. Despite all the overheated
ballyhoo, the movies being celebrated in the 73rd Academy Awards are
a pretty thin lot. There are really no good films — just pieces
of good films.
Ang Lees’s "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" is a case in
Marketed as a kind of art house Kung Fu film with super-duper visual
effects, it has been nominated for a massive 10 awards, including
Best Picture and Best Director. But despite the fact that it currently
trumpets itself as "the greatest movie ever made" in
ads, it is really a pretty mediocre film. Of course, its visual
are what is most endearing. (Who among us has not dreamed of flying?)
Watching its heroes do battle while the tree tops tickle their toes
is, at first, pretty exciting. But as the effect continues on and
on, the magic soon fades and one begins to look for more substantial
elements of filmmaking, such as a good story, or perhaps some riveting
acting. By film’s end, one is left with the realization that if one
cuts away those ornamental flight-fight scenes, all that is left is
a limping fable, populated by one-dimensional characters, that lacks
Even less worthy is "Gladiator," also nominated for a slew
of awards, and our first big-time blood-and-guts epic featuring
races in 40 years. (Like Charlton Heston, they just won’t go away.)
Russell Crowe stars in the story of a war hero hunk who is forced
into slavery, and ultimately becomes famous as a gladiator in the
ancient Roman arena — the Roman imperial version of football
Marred by a weak script and equally weak acting, "Gladiator"
tries to redeem itself with a plethora of sweaty biceps and bloody
Although the Best Actress Award is likely to go to Julia Roberts for
her role in "Erin Brockovich" (not the first Academy Award
to be won largely on the strength of a twinkle in the eye and a
displayed cleavage). Missed will be the stunning return of 67-year-old
Ellen Burstyn in "Requiem For A Dream," a melodrama with
of black comedy that outlines the overpowering effects of low
and addiction — to chocolate, TV game shows, and diet pills.
character descends emotionally, mentally, and physically in her
attempt to finally "be somebody." "Requiem For A
is a flawed film (its predictability and preachiness become truly
grating), but Burstyn’s performance is courageous. She performed the
same magic in her last major film role, over 20 years ago, in the
equally flawed "Resurrection." There she rose above the
and elevated the hum-drum into something wonderful. In "Requiem
For A Dream" she has reprised this craftsmanship.
On the subject of addiction, watching the Academy Awards has always
been a kind of marathon on the nerves. It always goes on too long,
with too many long speeches, too many lame jokes, too many
Some find it best to videotape the whole thing, then pick and choose
what one wants to see later on. This year the same can be said for
the movies being honored.
— Jack Florek
live on ABC Television Network, hosted by Steve Martin. On the Web
at www.oscar.com. Sunday, March 25, 8 p.m., EST.
Co-op/New Jersey Media Arts Center, New Brunswick. Screenings are
Fridays through Sunday in Scott Hall, Room 123, College Avenue Campus
(near the corner of College Avenue and Hamilton Street). Thursday
screenings are in Loree Hall, Room 024, Douglass College Campus (near
the corner of Nichol Avenue and George Street). All programs begin
at 7 p.m.; $5 non-members. Information 732-932-8482; Website:
Greek myth of the musician Orpheus set to a samba and hip-hop score,
Friday to Sunday, March 23 to 25. Cinema Verite, a retrospective
survey by Peter Wintonick that examines the finest documentaries of
the 1950s and ’60s; free, Wednesday, March 28. Live Nude Girls
Unite! , by Julia Query and Vicki Funari, on a double feature with
Book Wars by Jason Rosette (2000), $8, Friday to Sunday, March
30 to April 1.
based on an ancient epic, featuring spectacularly kinetic karate
women, Friday to Sunday, April 6 to 8.
for its production of Puccini’s "Turandot." Auditions are
at Clark Music Center, Lawrenceville School, on Saturday, March 31,
from 1:30 to 4 p.m. To schedule an appointment, contact Margaret Anne
Butterfield at 609-895-2177.
children. Young families, single professionals, empty nesters, and
grandparents are welcome. Call Linda Leyhane at 609-466-7973.
to host an exchange student, receive help with a community project,
have a free speaker, or send a student to study abroad. Call regional
director, Barbara Overton, at 800-251-4938.
Maryland on Wednesday, April 4, to view the Edouard Manet show at
the Walters Museum, tour the historic Garrett-Jacobs Mansion, and
lunch at the mansion. $72 per person; leave from Lawrence Shopping
Center. Call the Friends office at 609-394-5310.
Chapter, will travel to Doylestown, Pennsylvania, on Wednesday, May
2, for a behind-the-scenes tour of Fonthill, the 44-room castle built
by Henry Mercer. Also visits to the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works,
lunch at Roosevelt’s Blue Star Restaurant, and a guided tour of the
James A. Michener Art Museum. $70 inclusive. Reservation and payment
must be received by March 30. Call Cynthia Edel, 609-737-0352.
River Sojourn," Friday, June 15, through Saturday, June 23.
River Odyssey" covers 70 miles combining canoeing, camping, and
educational programs. The trip begins in Hankins, New York, and ends
on New Jersey’s Maurice River. Call 908-996-0230 or www.drbc.net.
cruise on the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Sea visiting Naples,
Florence, Pisa, Valletta, Barcelona, and Monte Carlo. Prices,
airfare, begin at $2,499. The cruise begins Friday, August 3. Call
Margie Cortez at 732-257-6662 or www.eastersealsnj.org.
in paying for instructors, supplies, and finances for their social
and athletic programs. Trenton Police Department places children who
have gotten into trouble with the law in the organization for guidance
and a second chance. Over the last two years, the enrollment has grown
from 200 to 700 children. Not one child in the program has had further
police intervention. Call 609-392-3191 or send contributions to Boys
& Girls Club of Trenton, 212 Centre Street, Trenton 08611.
summer workshop in Princeton beginning Monday, August 13. Designed
for teachers, it covers eight neurodevelopmental areas that affect
learning, and uses comprehensive observations to understand each
learning behavior. The program is based on research by pediatrician
Mel Levine. Tuition is $1,200. Call 888-956-4637 or visit
and Heisman Trophy winner Ron Dayne, who will work with players 8
to 18 to improve skill level and sportsmanship. The program will be
at East Stroudsburg University, Pennsylvania. Other New York Giants
attending include Greg Comella, Howard Cross, and Mike Cherry. Call
1-800-555-0801 or visit www.footballcamps.com.
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