A warning to readers: This review reveals much of the plot of the film Windtalkers, which opens this weekend.
World War II movies have become Hollywood's warhorses -- big, hulking moneymakers that run roughshod over emotions. John Woo's Windtalkers is no exception. Larded with war-movie clichés, tubs of gore and body parts, and multiple, unabashed grabs for the heartstrings, Windtalkers is a familiar, if harrowing, viewing experience. Underlying the bloody schlock, however, is a countercurrent that charges many Woo movies: an ultimately moving story about the hard, gritty love between men who have put each other through hell, and saved each other from it.
The uber-rich and the wanna-bes from last week's reality TV series The Hamptons ought to be ashamed. Ashamed, I say, because as they were buying heirloom tomatoes, trying to jostle their way into photos with Candace Bushnell, or going to "big hoochie-mama parties" (as one revolted viewer described the show to me), the men and women of Boston 24-7 were working. And they weren't doing nice work, either. They were queasily examining bloody trial evidence, putting out fires, and inspecting dead bodies.
The Sum of All Fears is a strange movie -- a curious combination of timeliness and irrelevance. Much has been made of Sum author and executive producer Tom Clancy's prescience in foreshadowing terrorist attacks on America: His 1994 book The Debt of Honor featured an enraged pilot crashing a plane into the Capitol. As a result, even CIA Director R. James Woolsey has been calling Clancy Miss Cleo in the wake of 9-11. But if Clancy is so all-seeing, then why do I feel like this movie is old news?
There it was, like a burp that resurrects the memory of a junk-food binge: Celebrity Boxing 2. And this after Fox put out a week of miserable series finales only roaches and rats could survive: the undead horror that was The X-Files got a stake put through its heart, and Ally McBeal was finally kicked out on her neurotic no-ass. It was nearly too much to handle, but those of us who watch Fox -- the roaches and rats of the TV world -- are still standing.
So: I was glumly kicking around outside the theater, feeling a queasy combination of dread and excitement at seeing the latest installment in the Star Wars legacy, Attack of the Clones. Dread because reviewers -- from The New York Times to Salon to The Washington Post -- had nearly run out of adjectives in describing the movie's crappiness. Excitement because, well, it's Star Wars.