SCREENnA Film Vacuumnby Stephen MacaulaynFalling in Love; Directed by UlunGrosbard: Written by Michael Cristofer;nParamount Pictures.nAnyone who believes that an actor ornan actress “makes” a film should sitnthrough Falling in Love. Twice. Oncenfor Robert De Niro. Once for MerylnStreep. Those two, certainly, arenamong the finest American players innthe cinema. De Niro, whose eyes cannshift from laughter to concern in anninstant, and Streep, who is able tonmake the trip from innocence to experiencenand back, are, quite simply, thentwo leading performers of theirngeneration—if only for their scenesntogether in The Deer Hunter.nIn Falling in Love De Niro plays ancontractor who builds high rises innNew York City—ari honest, down-toearthnguy. Streep is a free-lance commercialnartist who does pastel renderingsnfit only for menu covers in fernnbars that specialize in spritzers. He isnmarried and the father of two. She isnalso married but childless; she and hernhusband lost a baby soon after birth.nBoth fam.ilies live in the suburbs—butnnot the cookie-cutter variety.nWriter Michael Cristofer and directornUlu Grosbard must get Frank andnMolly together. They do so throughncontrivance after contrivance. The implausibilitynbreeds impatience. Givennthe obvious outcome—the title is,nafter all. Falling in Love—the amazingnthing is that the relationship thatnCristofer and Grosbard create is asnlifeless as a paragraph from a physicsntextbook. There is no passion. To bensure, two attractive people can meetnand find themselves attracted to onenanother, but they have—or shouldnhave—a long way to go between thatnmeeting and the unceremoniousndumping of their respective spouses.nThere must be changes, transforma­n30/CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnVITAL SIGNSn’^^.JVntions. Yet in Falling in Love Frank andnMolly have a free-fall in a vacuum: nonresistance, no friction. What is thenpoint? is the question that never getsnanswered, along with the more rudimentarynone. Why?nThe only remarkable thing aboutnFalling in Love is that although itsnvector is aimed straight at adultery, thencharacters have scruples of a sort. Bynthe time they get around to kissing,none is ready to applaud for the sake ofnshaking ofiFthe numbness. And there isnno skin. None—which goes to shownthere can be something in nothing.nAnd nothing is what Falling in Lovensurely is—De Niro and Streep notwithstanding,nccnMacho Machinesnand Female RolenModels: ThenTerminatornby E. Christian KopffnThe Terminator. Directed by JamesnCameron; Written by JamesnCameron and Gale Anne Hurd;nOrion.nThe Terminator is a machine, designednby other machines to huntndown and kill human beings. At first,none feels the same way about thenmovie Terminator itself it is perfectlynconstructed to excite, frighten, dazzle,nand arouse other appropriate emotionsnin the average American movie audiencen(which nowadays seems to be halfnteenager and a quarter young adult).nAfter the initial thrill or shock wearsnoff, however, the viewer begins tonrealize that the movie is not onlynskillfully crafted popular entertainment,nit also conveys clearly—and notnwithout subtlety—some importantnpoints of popular morality.nSince most of America has seen itnby now, I will not be spoiling anyone’snnnfun if I talk about the plot—a sort ofnspin-off of War Games, in whichnNorad’s computer threatens to startnWorld War III on its own in order tonteach erring mankind a lesson. In ThenTerminator, the machines of the futurenprovoke nuclear war in order to destroynmankind. When they are only partiallynsuccessful, they turn to other devicesnto accomplish their nefarious endn(among them cyborgs, machines thatnlook like humans). Eventually, however,na leader appears among menn—one John Connor—who rouses thenhuman survivors to a successful resistancenagainst the machines. The machinesnhave only one hope. They sendntheir latest model human destroyer,nthe Terminator (played by ArnoldnSchwarzenegger, world-class bodynbuilder and star of the Conan movies)ninto the past in order to destroy JohnnConnor’s mother before she can bearnhim. The humans also get one man,nKyle, through before destroying thentime machine. In the world of 1984’snLos Angeles these two—marvelouslynprogrammed cyborg and brave andndetermined human—wander, seekingnSarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), onento kill, the other to save her.nSarah Connor, as it turns out, is ansilly contemporary American girl,nworking as a (lousy) waitress in a fastfoodnjoint and living for her weekendndates with equally silly young mennwith fast cars. (When one of themnstands her up, her indignant roommatentells her, “He can’t do that tonyou, even if he does own a Porsche!”)nThen one horrible, ordinary Friday allnthe other Sarah Connors in L.A. startndying violent deaths, one after thenother. And she realizes that she isnbeing followed.nThere ensue all the car crashes andnshootings and blowing up of cars,nbuildings, and human beings (in ordernof moral significance) that any teenagerncould desire. The tension never letsnup, and each time our hero from thenfuture blows Schwarzenegger away, hengets up and starts chasing Sarah again.n