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we could paraphrase michelle pfieffer's character in dangerous minds and say that beyond rangoon starts with an " a . "
that's fair enough .
all movies , like all school children , should be given the benefit of the doubt .
the chance to succeed .
after all , we like to think that the right combination of talent and effort can do wonders .
mountains can be moved , and good movies can be made .
yeah right .
children fail , as do films .
as does director john boorman's latest .
the success of beyond rangoon hinges on the believability of patricia arquette ( ed wood , true romance ) as the busty westerner-in-peril wandering about 1988 burma without a passport .
though we can stomach the mild plot contrivances that get her there , it's a tougher task to overlook the actress .
she's a lightweight .
as the first scene ( with narration ! )
demonstrates , she doesn't have * nearly * enough range for the emotions that her character--a mother fleeing the memories of a murdered husband and son--is supposed to show .
she may give a stronger performance than , say , keanu reeves in a walk in the clouds , by not by much .
beyond rangoon is a very physically appealing film , thanks to the practiced craftsmanship of john boorman ( deliverance , excalibur , hope and glory ) .
he keeps the narrative moving , no matter how muddy the story--or the heroine--gets .
why he chose arquette remains a mystery , though .
maybe he was thinking that the dramatic weight of the story would overcome any casting deficiencies .
but even after an hour of half-stated political statements and murky mass killings , we * still * don't know enough of what's happening in this country to feel distressed for the characters or their situations .
empty exoticism .
the technical credits in beyond rangoon are a curious mix , combining lush jungle photography with bad blue-screen work .
also odd is the obvious dubbing .
done to make some of the foreign characters sound less foreign ?
and , is it my mistake , or do the same extras keep reappearing as different soldiers ? ?
doo doo doo doo .
[ " twilight zone " theme , or opinion of movie .
you be the judge . ]