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The Last Supper

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Last Supper

Starring: Cameron Diaz, Ron Eldard
Director: Stacy Title
Rated: R
RunTime: 94 Minutes
Release Date: April 1996
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: Annabeth Gish, Jonathan Penner, Charles Durning, Bryn Erin, Nora Dunn, Mark Harmon, Bill Paxton, Ron Perlman

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1.  Steve Rhodes review follows movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review
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Review by Steve Rhodes
3½ stars out of 4

THE LAST SUPPER is a no holds bared satire and political comedy about the far left and the far right. It manages to be both thought provoking as well being chock full of dark humor. The premise of the show, as stated by Luke (Courtney Vance), concerns his theoretical time machine. "It's 1909 and you're alone with a young artist named Adolph. Do you kill him?" Think seriously about your answer to that question before reading the rest of the review as it may color how you view the plausibility of the film's plot.

As the show starts five graduate students and self-proclaimed liberals, Jude (Cameron Diaz), Luke, Paulie (Annabeth Gish), Marc (Jonathan Penner), and Pete (Ron Eldard), who share a house in Iowa, are watching TV. They are ridiculing the conservative political commentator Norman Arbuthnot (Ron Perlman) who is a straight take off from Rush Limbaugh. Norman warns his audience that, "A storm is brewing my friends, and someone must stop it."

Into their lives comes a redneck ex-Marine named Zack (Bill Paxton) who drives a pickup and who fought in Desert Storm. After befriending Marc by giving him a lift, the group invites Zack to stay for supper. He soon starts mouthing one racist cliche after another. Although the dinner table dialog by writer Dan Rosen, is too outlandish to be credible, taken as satire, it is great. After he ridicules liberals as talking but never taking action, he turns psychotic on them and threatens them with a knife. Marc responds by stabbing in the back and killing him.

Paulie demands, "We've got to call the police. They'll understand." In a strong and beautifully controlled performance by Courtney Vance as Luke, he ridicules this idea with, "Sure they would. Grad student kills war hero with a knife. You'll probably just get a ticket." Luke confidently wants to just bury him since, "People disappear all of the time." Jude retorts, "Especially in Iowa. We probably saved him from an alien abduction." The script is full of this intelligent and biting humor.

At first some of the group is horrified, but eventually they decide the world is a better place with Zack dead. Luke argues rhetorically, "What if you kill somebody whose death makes the world a better place?" Jude says "The conservatives are effective. They do things. All we do is buy animal-friendly mascara." From this stream of logic they devise a scheme whereby they have a dinner party once a week and invite over a conservative. If they view him as dangerous and they can not chance his mind by the end of the meal, they will give him poison wine out of the blue decanter rather than the good wine in the green. They all figure this will be a success since as Paulie puts it, "Look we're liberals. We do the right thing." Once this starts, they find almost everyone suspect and kill them. When a guy shows up with a swastika, they announce happy hour and kill him before dinner even starts.

Although I am a card carrying conservative, I found the satire hilarious. Okay, so I lied, I don't have a card, but I am a dedicated conservative. This is the type of movie that people on all ends of the political spectrum should be able to enjoy, laugh at, and generally make them think.

The first in their experiment is a homophobic priest named Reverend Gerald Hutchen played humbly, but bigotedly by Charles Durning. As soon as he asks to say grace, which they ridicule, they start eyeing the blue bottle. I soon lost track of everyone they found objectionable and killed. These included a male chauvinist, an anti-ecologist ("I'm not anti-earth; I'm pro-earthling. Kind of hard to care about the earth if you don't have a house to live in."), a librarian who banned "Catcher in the Rye", a militant Right-to-life activist, a black Muslim, and an anti-homeless guy. An innocent and sweet high school senior girl whose only crime was to sue the school district for distributing condoms does test the groups resolve to fight for liberal causes with unswerving vigor.

Nora Dunn plays Sheriff Alice Stanley who gets suspicious of the goings on at the house. Finally, the central figure in the show turns out to be none other than the Rush Limbaugh figure. The ending of the film is imaginative as the rest of the script.

The editing by Luis Colina yields a film that moves quickly but not so fast it fells like sound bites which would be an easy way to overedit the film. The cinematography by Paul Cameron is very effective in its use of the wide angle lens. He shoots all of the liberals at one end of the table with it and then the conservative by himself at the other end thus creating a perfect us versus them metaphor. The dramatic thunderstorms which bracket the shows beginning and ending are ominous and efficacious.

Although my favorite is Courtney Vance, all of the acting is brilliant. The conservatives with the exception of Bill Paxton and Ron Perlman have one dimensional parts. Nevertheless, all of the conservatives, although most have limited roles, are good too. I think most of the credit however should go to the director Stacy Title. An exceptional piece of work.

THE LAST SUPPER runs only 1:34. It is rated R. There is some sex, not overdone violence, pot smoking, a little bad language, but no nudity. This show would be fine for any teenager. With a strong cast, excellent direction and a funny script that never pulls its punches, I recommend this show highly and give it *** 1/2.

Copyright 1996 Steve Rhodes

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