[VIDEO REVIEWS]Intense Drama, Black Comedy on TapMEN OF HONOR (2000)
Directed by George Tillman. Starring Robert De Niro and Cuba Gooding Jr.
Cuba Gooding Jr. created a stir in Hollywood with his "show me the money" scene in "Jerry Maguire." Following that success, however, he pretty much crashed and burned with a series of box office flops. "Men of Honor" may not have put his star back in the sky, but it at least shows Gooding still has some spark in his acting.
Gooding stars as Carl Brashear, who in real life was the first black American to become a U.S. Navy chief diver. Brashear, the son of a Kentucky sharecropper, applied to the Navy's dive school in 1948.
In the film, President Truman has just desegregated the military. Discrimination may not be legal, but it is a fact of life. Carl has to put up with bigots like Billy Sunday (De Niro) trying to thwart his career.
Sunday, the diving course training chief, makes it his personal mission to wash Brashear out of training, but Brashear perseveres and the two develop a mutual respect. Sunday even jeopardizes his own career to graduate Brashear.
If that isn't inspirational enough, Brashear's work takes him in search for a hydrogen bomb lost in an airplane crash off the coast of Spain in 1966. The bomb was found, but at the cost of Brashear's left leg.
For the duration of the movie at least, Brashear and Sunday show that honor is not dead.
GOODBYE LOVER (1999)
Directed by Roland Joffe. Starring Patricia Arquette, Don Johnson, Dermot Mulroney, Ellen DeGeneres and Vincent Gallo.
Patricia Arquette plays Sandra Dunmore, a real estate agent obsessed with the soundtrack from "The Sound of Music." Sandra loves to bake and has a high profile at church. She is also cheating on her husband, Jake (Mulroney), with his older brother, Ben (Johnson). This is just the beginning of the dark comedy "Goodbye Lover."
When Sandra tells Jake about the affair, he calls Ben and threatens to commit suicide by jumping off the balcony. Ben secretly goes to Jake's home and locks the door behind him. Who "slips" over the balcony? Ben.
The affair between Ben and Sandra was actually a set-up. Sandra and Jake want their hands on Ben's estate and $4 million life insurance.
Detective Rita Pompano (DeGeneres) is called to the crime scene. She questions them about Ben's accidental death and comes away dissatisfied with their answers. An autopsy fails to reveal foul play, but she keeps an eye on the two suspects.
The plot has only just begun its convoluted ride. Enter mousey Peggy (Parker), who unbeknownst to anyone, married Ben in Las Vegas a couple of days before his death. Ben did not have a will, so Peggy gets all his money but her life is soon in danger because Sandra and Ben contract with a hit man (Gallo) to kill her.
The plot keeps turning new corners all the way up to the end. Arquette shines as a perversely sunny femme fatale and DeGeneras nails the weary detective role with her deadpan delivery of one liners.
by Joe Yong-hee