Fun_People Archive
3 Mar
Art Imitates Life

Date: Thu,  3 Mar 94 14:02:08 PST
To: Fun_People
Subject: Art Imitates Life

Forwarded-by: bostic@vangogh.CS.Berkeley.EDU (Keith Bostic)
Forwarded-by: jim@Tadpole.COM (Jim Thompson)
From: Matt Zoller Seitz, movie critic for the San Antonio Current

CULT BOMBS (In Waco, the Final Battle is over film rights)

ART IMITATES LIFE.  Truth is stranger than fiction.  Give me that
old-time religion.  Whichever homily you choose.  David Koresh is hot.
According to the April issue of Spy magazine, 50 different production
companies, representing both television and movie interests, are
haggling with various witnesses and participants and lawyers in Waco
for the rights to tell their part of the seemingly never-ending story.

Depending on how jaded television has left you, you can either be
appalled by this vulturelike pursuit of human misery or rub your hands
together gleefully, anticipating a docudrama onslaught that would put
last fall's Amy Fisher triplecast to shame.  Here, then, are the
Current's --- oh, hell, why not call them PROPHESIES --- of who will
play who in which film version.


Title: Blood on the Prairie: The Koresh Story
Spin: Grace through suffering; everyone has warts.
Koresh: David Soul
God: Ed Asner
Others: Sensitive doctor (Jane Seymour); sensitive ATF agent (David Birney);
    the president (Bruce Boxleitner).
Plot: "Guyana Tragedy" revisited, only with a rewritten happy ending;
    the weary, frustrated Koresh, surrounded by corpses and besieged by
    tanks and choppers, launches into a radio anecdote about how he's been
    traumatized and unable to connect with anybody ever since his puppy
    died when he was five.  The aloof, gorgeous doctor who Koresh allowed
    inside the compound (Jane Seymour) finally falls for him.  So does
    everyone else.  Runs five consecutive nights.  Great '60s score.
Sample dialog: "Can everyone please mellow out for a second?"
Oscar Moment: None
Denouement: ATF agent Birney delivers long monologue to classroom full of
   Waco schoolchildren on the need for religious tolerance.
Main selling point: Seymour.  Also, Jean Stapleton's cameo as Koresh's
   first-grade teacher.


Title: The Hand of God
Spin: Koresh is the misunderstood, brilliant, persecuted hero.  Film is
    told entirely through his eyes.
Koresh: James Woods
God: Donald Sutherland
Others: Plenty, but they're not important.
Plot: A gifted, ahead-of-his-time mystic named David Koresh (a.k.a. the
    J-man) battles the oppressive forces of the ATF, the Waco cops, the
    CIA, the FBI, the Cubans, and the New York Times, in between mystic
    conversations with the Almighty.  Stone films the whole movie from
    Koresh's point of view and forces you into sympathizing with him.  By
    the end, the combination of graphic, slow-motion violence and wild
    hallucinations --- hawks in flight, Nam flashbacks, Forrest Whitaker in
    a rugby uniform --- is so overwhelming that theater ushers are
    instructed by Stone to hand out earplugs and blindfolds to audience
    members.  Great '60s score.  Woods wins much-needed PR points by going
    blond for the part.
Sample dialog: "I am the lizard king.  Ride the snake.  Let justice be done
    though the heavens fall."
Oscar Moment: Woods' combination free-verse poem and Revelations reading.
Denouement: Voice-over by Koresh: "Grandma, I guess in the end we didn't
    really fight the enemy --- we fought ourselves."
Main selling point: Stone charges conspiracy, claims HE'S Jesus.


Title: Darkness and Sunlight
Spin: Koresh is WASP, he-man ideal; Allen's attempt at an old-fashioned
    "funny" movie.
Koresh: William Hurt
God: Ingmar Bergman
Others: ATF agents (John Cusack, Tim Robbins, F. Murray Abraham, Anthony
    Hopkins, Madonna); Marshall MacLuhan as himself; Woody Allen as
Plot: Fielding Singer (Allen), a nebbishy Jewish director making a
    documentary about Waco sewer rats, accidentally enters the compound.
    At first, Koresh (Hurt) and his followers (the Sheens, the Baldwins,
    the Carradines, and the Quaids) terrify Singer with their burly,
    whitebread manliness, but eventually learn to appreciate their guest's
    sense of humor, especially his "Masada" jokes.  Singer is eventually
    killed and dumped over the wall for making passes at Koresh's youngest
    daughter, but Allen's final, ghostly, into-the-camera monologue ends
    things on an appropriately wry note.  Great big-band score especially
    "Sing Sing Sing" during the big shootout, in which Singer gets plugged
    in the toe and does a hilarious little dance.
Sample dialog: "What I wouldn't give for a large catapult!" "Hey, how old
    are you?"
Oscar Moment: Koresh playing backgammon with Satan.
Denouement: See above.
Main selling point: Mia dies onscreen.


Title: Home Alone 3: Lost in Waco
Spin: Duh
Koresh: Tim Curry
God: John Candy
Others: Kevin MacAllister (Macaulay Culkin); his family; bumbling police
    chief (Gordon Jump); ATF agents (Martin Short, Judge Reinhold)
Plot: En route to a vacation in Mexico City, little Kevin boards the
    wrong plane, lands in Waco, and through a series of misadventures, ends
    up in Koresh's compound.  Koresh: "I will bring the world down in
    flames, because I am the savior." Kevin: "I don't THINK so!"  Mayhem
    ensues.  The critics are divided.  Some love the slapstick
    ultraviolence (including Kevin lobbing grenades at meddling ATF agents
    with a giant homemade slingshot, and a great gag involving acid), but
    parent's groups decry it.  Great updated '60s score.  Candy's toga is
Sample dialog: "Yesss!"
Oscar Moment: The flamethrower scene (for Best Sound Effects); Kevin
    healing the town's old blind man (John Gielgud).
Denouement: Warm.  Kevin reunited with family.  Koresh loses skin.
Main selling point: Mac, who now has facial hair.


Title: The Waco Kid
Spin: Koresh is a poor boy craving attention and love; has animal pals.
Koresh: Animated generic ingenue-dreamer; voice by Michael J. Fox
God: Smiling cloud; voice by Steve Martin
Others: Skeeter, Koresh's trusty pet armadillo (Jack Lemmon); Bowser, the
    wise owl who advises caution (David Ogden Stiers); Cal, the talking .50
    caliber machine gun (Denis Leary); Becky Sue, the beautiful young
    ATF agent (Jodie Foster).  Plot: The usual hip schmaltz, with a
    toe-tapping '60s-style Broadway score by Alan Menken and Tim Rice,
    odd fundamentalist overtones, and an assortment of celebrity voices,
    including Burt Reynolds as ATF strategist "Roof" Stratten (a paunchy
    St. Bernard with a hairpiece) and Denis Leary as Cal, who smokes
    filterless "Llamas" (a Disney first).  The climactic near-apocalypse
    earns comparisons to "Fantasia".  Martin finally wins an Oscar,
    mostly on the basis of his energetic musical number, "Smite 'em!"
Sample dialog: "Way to go, GOD!" "Awesome!"
Oscar Moment: The songs: "Come on in, boys!" "Why Me, Lord?" "Tanks for the
    Memories."  Computer animated dancing bullets.
Denouement: Marriage montage, final waltz.  ATF agents come back to life.
Main selling point: Adult-oriented animation, with slapstick for the kids.
    Also, first Disney cartoon to provide specific date of the apocalypse.

[=] © 1994 Peter Langston []