Roxbury, Touch of Evil and Clay Pigeons arrive in theaters

A NIGHT AT THE

ROXBURY

By Rattaya Nimibutr

Daily Cougar Staff

The Butabi brothers know how to party - or at least they think they do.

Sporting their psychedelic eye-blinding suits and head-bopping routine, brothers Steve (Will Ferrell) and Doug (Chris Kattan) rule the club scenes in L.A. Well, that is until they get to the hottest ultra-hip night club and can't get past the door.

To them, the Roxbury is like a club made in heaven. The day they can get in will be the biggest accomplishment in their short lives - ever.

So with sprayed-on sideburns and dorky, yet adorable dance techniques, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum actually cough up the hilarious A Night At the Roxbury.

Based on the popular skit on Saturday Night Live about the duo's frequent losing streak of woman-hunting, this new flick from the funny boys is a definite good laugh.

Despite the recent string of disappointing movies based on Saturday Night Live skits, Roxbury delivers comedy and a sensible plot, unlike its predecessors.

In their minds, Doug and Steve know they're smooth and good-looking and throughout the movie offer their best pickup lines.

To us, they're the cheesiest, dorkiest little wieners, but you can't help but like them and just hope girls will look at them for once.

Also starring Dan Hedaya (Clueless) as the duo's father and Loni Anderson as the plastic surgery-obsessed mother, it's one of those surprisingly funny movies that actually has you imitating the cornballs again and again.

Molly Shannon, who is filming her own movie based on her two-minute skit of the clumsy Mary Katharine Gallagher, appears as Steve's love interest, or rather the woman in demand of his naive, pop culture-esque reputation.

Then there's Richard Greico from 21 Jump Street as himself, playing the brothers' guilty-pleasure idol and litigation-phobic club junkie who ends up in a fender bender with the duo. One thing leads to another and Greico is still at his pathetic prime.

So go see the movie if you want a really good laugh. I surprisingly liked this flick (even more than There's Something About Mary). These guys just want to have fun and they succeed in A Night at the Roxbury.

Reach Nimibutr at

Rattaya@hotmail.com.

Touch of evil

By John Harp

Daily Cougar Staff

In the end, what does it matter what you say about movies?

How can anyone even begin to talk about Touch of Evil, the disregarded stepchild of the most brilliant mind ever to shoot celluloid (Orson Welles, if you even have to guess)? Will an amusing anecdote do?

A long time ago - the story goes - in a studio called "Universal International" (Doesn't "Universal" sort of assume it's "International"?) a very big (literally) filmmaker named Orson asked one of the studio producers which one of his B-movie/exploitation flick scripts showed the least promise ("sucked," in the parlance of our time). This producer, Albert Zugsmith, mentioned a crummy little write-up of a pulp novel titled Badge of Evil. Orson huffed and puffed and demanded to direct it, if he could be given two weeks to rewrite the script.

The end product? Touch of Evil, a wild, dark romp (in film critic-ese) into twisted detective-story clichés, sexploitation, drug cartels and culture clashes, with scenes filmed so mock-obviously that you can almost hear Welles himself giving shooting directions in the background:

"Okay, now take Janet Leigh - so what if she's a respectable actress? - take her and put her in the tightest wool sweater in the wardrobe. Stuff her bra to add a few sizes.

"Add a nervous hotel watchman, kind of a Don Knotts type. He'll be our comic relief and ham up the scenes. We'd get Billy Bob Thornton, but he hasn't passed puberty yet.

"Right, right. And last, I need Charlton Heston to dye his hair black and get a tan. He's going to play my heroic, Mexican lead. I don't care if he's butchering his Spanish. I need an actor, not a translator!"

In its shiny commercial wrapper, the over-the-top nature of much of the film turns a potentially gripping drama into total cheese - fondue noir, if you will. But the little things, the details Welles tosses in like pennies into a fountain, shimmer under the movie's rough surface if you've got keen enough eyes. So here's a list of five of the most

important things (in no particular order) to watch in Touch of Evil, if you want to get the most out of your pre-Technicolor experience.

1.) Shadows and light: You English and art majors would likely call this chiaroscuro. When your palette choices are (a) black and (b) white, well, you do the most with what you have. But pay particular attention to light sources and the shadows of specific objects, like creeping people or looming props.

2.) Long scenes with no cuts: Welles casts a peculiar magic with his ability to make one shot last for three or four minutes nonstop. Especially watch the first sequence in the movie, one long pan of the entire townscape in which the plot's crucial events take place. Also, look for scenes where the camera actually passes through walls in tight quarters.

3.) Ambient music: The most salient note in Welles' memo to Universal (the document on which this alleged director's cut is based) was that the overlapping of music coming from various speakers in the environment "should sound as bad" as it would in a real-life setting. Nonetheless, lone composer Henry Mancini latches together all of the various pop tunes in the film to make order out of chaos, complete with "theme songs" for particular characters and situations. Hey, if you can't have the man who created "Peter Gunn" and the music for Wait until Dark compose for your detective drama, why bother?

4.) Bit actors: Oodles of principal players from Citizen Kane, incognito of course, can be uncovered if you look closely. They're the ones who actually sound believable delivering lines. Keep an eye out for Zsa Zsa Gabor in a strip joint, too.

5.) Signs: From the metaphoric, Welles' Hank Quinlan taking his first swill of hooch in 12 years; or the verbally forbidding, like the early invitation, "Hello, Stranger!" on a billboard in the film's opening scene; to the ironically poetic, a shop window sign reading, "If you're mean enough to steal from the blind, go ahead and help yourself."

This is where the aesthetic thrust of the show really plunges beneath superficial levels of props and blocking. "Nothing is accidental," as Fritz Lang might say.

So here I am, end of my list, and I haven't even told you whether the film's any good or not. It's obvious I enjoyed it, but what recommendation can I make based on that? I don't even know what rating to give it, like I'm even qualified to deconstruct two hours of movie history into a little row of stars.

Oh well. Guess I'll be dramatic. Maybe somebody will finally give the thing the attention it deserves. "Adios."

Reach Harp at jah93949@bayou.uh.edu.

Clay Pigeons

By Alysa Slocum
Daily Cougar Staff

For Clay Bidwell (Joaquin Phoenix), life in the backcountry town of Mercer, Mont. is dull and ordinary.

That is until his best friend, Earl (Gregory Sporleder) confronts Clay during a routine target practice about how Clay has been passing his dull minutes by having an affair with Earl's loose wife, Amanda (Georgina Cates).

Clay's easygoing gas attendant life goes from bad to worse as he is "pigeonholed" into cover-ups, odd "friendships" and a bunch of serial murders.

The dark, comic thriller Clay Pigeons is the feature film debut of director David Dobkin, who has directed many music videos including some for Elton John, Coolio and two for the late Tupac Shakur.

As soon as the movie starts, so does the action.

The editing, directing and cinematography of Clay Pigeons is excellent from beginning to end and all add to the film's smooth transitions and good timing.

Janeane Garofalo (Permanent Midnight) plays the sharp FBI Agent Dale Shelby, who believes Clay is responsible for the serial murders.

"I remember thinking (the script) was weird, but I also felt it was important to have a strong lead character (Agent Shelby) in a movie where there's some violence against women," said Garofalo on what motivated her to appear in the film.

"I felt that it was important that I participated, to try and take the edge off of that."

Although the character of Agent Shelby does not appear until around halfway through the movie, Garofalo does add some needed feminine strength and extra comedy to the movie.

However, Vince Vaughn (Return To Paradise) steals the show with his role as the charming, but deadly, Lester Long, whom women fall for, frequently in more ways than one.

"It's rare to find a piece of material that is both very funny and very dark. That combination is what interested me," said Vaughn.

"(Lester) plays different roles, different things, depending on what he wants from someone, or what he's after," Vaughn said. "He is a man with no conscience. Nevertheless, Lester is a charmer - women love him and men easily become his friends."

Vaughn's take on the character of Lester provides the movie's strongest role with his weird, country antics, fake laughter and calm, psychotic behavior.

Vaughn and the rest of the cast keep the audience in suspense and laughter throughout Clay Pigeons, helping to drag them into depths of the film's wacky, but well scripted, plot.

Reach Slocum at AlTravel@yahoo.com.

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