[box cover]

Mulholland Falls

Until Darren Aronofsky's Requiem for a Dream (2000) brought her back into the fold (something cemented by her Oscar win for 2001's A Beautiful Mind), Jennifer Connelly's career looked dire. In 1991, both Career Opportunities and The Rocketeer looked to launch her into leading woman status, but perhaps her model good looks and impressive curves (the marketing thrust of Opportunities revolved around her cleavage) made people take her less seriously. She looked like a statuesque representation of the ideal '50s woman, the robust sex symbol, and there's something about perfectly beautiful women that Hollywood doesn't seem to know what to do with. Thus, for most the '90s she floundered, taking supporting work or roles that focused on her sex appeal. And the biggest drawing point to 1996's bloated mistake Mulholland Falls is the pleasure of seeing Jennifer Connelly in as a mid-century sexpot. She plays Allison Pond, a woman whose death greatly upsets Det. Max Hoover (Nick Nolte), mostly because he had once enjoyed her company. But he wasn't the only one Pond made the rounds, and she was last with General Thomas Timms (John Malkovich), who worked on the atomic bomb, and in the wake of WWII is now heading up the country's atomic energy program. Hoover is trying to find out the answers, but he's entangled because Pond's fey friend Jimmy Fields (Andrew McCarthy) filmed her conquests, including Timms and Hoover, while the government is making a direct effort to cover up whatever happened, regardless of who did what. A slapdash attempt to mine the superior Chinatown (1974), Mulholland Falls substitutes atomic energy for water conservation, and it has an impressive supporting cast that don't get to do much (including Chris Penn, Melanie Griffith, Chazz Palminteri, Treat Williams, Michael Madsen, Daniel Baldwin, Rob Lowe, William Peterson, Bruce Dern, and Ed Lauter). The plot even sets up the idea that Nolte is the head of a team (including Madsen, Penn, and Palminteri), but they get shucked aside as the story follows Hoover's leads. Had the script been better, this might have been Nolte's best on screen role; he's good here, but there's not much to the mystery. Sadly, Connelly has little to do in the film except smoke and get naked (not that she looks bad doing either). New Zealand director Lee Tamahori may not have understood Los Angeles, but Roman Polanski was from Poland, and he nailed the California setting — which means some of the blame must be shared by screenwriter Peter Dexter. MGM presents the film in both anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1) and full-frame with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. Trailer, keep-case.

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