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"The Hurricane"

Directed by Norman Jewison ("Moonstruck").
Written by Armyan Bernstein and Dan Gordon. 
Starring Denzel Washington.
Release Year:  1999 
Review Date:  1/19/00 


We here at Bellview appreciate a movie as much as the next person, and that's why we will shell out our hard-earned cash to check out flicks on a regular basis.  But, because "The Hurricane" was showing at only three theaters here in DC over its opening weekend, I had to see it at the semi-new Potomac Yard 16 Cinemas in Alexandria.  Don't get me wrong, I like stadium seating as much as the next guy (Regal Cinemas had them five years ago), and stereo surround sound and reasonably clean urinals are a nice, not required, convenience.

But, who the FUCK told these people to start charging $8.25 for a movie?  EIGHT TWENTY-FIVE!!!  As my good friend Brian "Schmoove" Prenoveau related to me the other day, when he paid for two tickets for "The Green Mile" last week at the Potomac Yard, he gave the cashier a $20, and when he only got $3.50 back, he quietly looked at the petty change left in his hand and wondered, "So, am I getting a couple of hookers with that?"

Hence, the $7.50 show rating is now officially being changed to $8.25 show, to reflect the current high price in the DC area.

"The Hurricane" is based on the true-life story of former welterweight great Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, whose tome "The Sixteenth Round" is used as the basis for much of the story.  Basically, Carter is wrongly accused of murder in 1960s New Jersey and given a triple-life sentence for his supposed actions in a nighttime bar shooting.  The majority of the movie is spent following a black youth that reads "The Sixteenth Round" and, with the help of three Canadian white people (not necessarily one-and-the-same), help bust Carter out of jail.


Sorry, it's just that the exact role of these three white people is still a little unclear to me.  I mean, because they are not really well-defined by the movie's script, it is hard to tell if they are private investigators, educational consultants, architects, or lawyers!  I can tell that they are nice people, I know that they are Canadian, and I know that they really want to see Rubin set free.  I picked up all of that.  But, the white people get the black youth to learn how to read and write, give him money to send to Rubin, help dig up clues on how to get Rubin out of jail, and do a damned good job of raking the leaves.  So, why do I not feel like I know these people, even though they are the prime reason why Carter gets out of jail (sorry, this isn't a surprise)?  The editor of this film must have realized that 150 minutes is a long time for a movie to follow just one character, and didn't feel like more scenes with the white people would have added anything to my understanding.

In fact, in terms of moviemaking, Libby "Tribe" Hiller was not at all impressed with how the filmmakers went about telling the story, claiming that the story became too clichéd down its inevitable happy-ending stretch.  I can't disagree with much of that, but it still hooked me even though I knew the real-life story of how the details of the case came out near the end of Carter's 19-year prison stay.  My complaint would be that besides Carter, every other role in the movie is just that:  a role.  You know, the whole roles vs. characters argument.  While the other people in the movie have names, I don't need to tell them to you to let you know what is happening.  And, because you have never heard of any them before, it's unlikely that you will find reason to get into them emotionally; a little more star power would have helped, because the acting in the other roles is very, very dismal.

But, the flip side of that coin is that Denzel Washington is absolutely boss.  He has the opportunity to play Carter in his 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, so he shows his range masterfully and looks the part as a boxer during the few fight scenes of the movie.  And when he is talking to his lawyers about whether or not to take his case to the Supreme Court ("I'm 50 years old..."), he had most of the audience--and, almost me--in tears.  He is far and away the best part of the movie, but even Washington cannot save the movie's other performances.  But, the movie is a good ride even without strong performances, and makes a good all-around flick for friends, dates, and families (the R rating is for some irregular strong language and bloody depictions of the murders that Carter never committed).

Rating:  $8.25 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09