BULWORTH (1998) ***1/2<br><br>Starring: Warren Beatty, Halle Berry, Don Cheadle, Oliver Platt, IsaiahWashington, and Christine BaranskiDirected, produced, and written by Warren Beatty 108 minutes Rated R(for pervasive strong language, drug use, sexual references, and briefviolence) <br><br>By Blake French:<br><br> I have seen a lot of movies in my time, but I have never seen anything aswitty, as twisted, as entertaining, as outrageous, or as original as WarrenBeatty's new political satire "Bulworth." It is, at times, funny, but atothers very dark. I can't recall ever stating that a "serious comedy," isone of the years best films before. That was then, this is now--and"Bulworth" is truly one of the better film's of 1998. <br><br> As the movie opens, a US senator named Jay Billington Bulworth, hires a hitman to kill an individual of his desire. The hit man wonders exactly whothis person is in which a man of such power wishes to eliminate. As it turnsout, Bulworth has paid this hit man to kill his own suicidal self. "If I'mnot dead by Monday, I'm canceling that check." Bulworth states firmly.<br><br> This is were the outrageous humor begins. During a campaign speech at alocal African American church, Bulworth goes seemingly nuts. He begins totell the citizens the truth about subjects in congress that most politicianswould never think of revealing to the general public. His representative,Dennis Murphy, who cares only about getting Bulworth elected, almost faintsin shock and disbelief. But you have to understand, these are the last daysthat Bulworth will be experiencing life, so why not reveal secrets, releaseenvelop pushing information, and start up controversy with the nation withhis last breaths.<br><br> "Never make life of death decisions when you're suicidal," explainsBulworth during one of the film's more invigoration sequences. He is talkingto a woman named Nina, whom he met nonchalantly during one of hispresentation speeches. The two of them fall in love. Too bad Bulworth hasnot taken his own advice typed above, for his death is near. But is Nina whoshe appears to be? Is his wife, Constance Bulworth, having an affair withanother man? Is Bulworth's demise in the near future? All suitable questionsthat will all be answered when you see the movie. <br><br> Parts of the film do not work. For instance, the subplot involvingBulworth's wife who is adulterous just isn't detailed enough, nor are thecharacters introduced, for us to even consider this anything but a gimmick.True, the affair does symbolize chaos preoccupied in his household, andestablishes another reason for him to be suicidal. Still, it's too small fora movie that offers so many good qualities. <br><br> "Bulworth" has a detailed opening that provokes empathy for our maincharacter, Jay Bulworth. We learn of an external problem, Jay being involvedin a heated presidential campaign, and an internal problem, Jay beingsuicidal and calling a hit on himself. The structure only goes uphill fromthere, and that is hard to do. Both conflicts are evolved, with Nina,Bulworth's sense of honesty, the hit man's presence, and several character &plot twists in which someone is not who they appear tobe.<br><br> Along with some very dramatic and meaningful moments found in "Bulworth,"also contained is dialogue that is smart, witty, and at times hilarious. Thefirst shock value sequence is truly outrageous, and the films unabashedsense of eagerness only gets more perverse; the film is rated R forappropriate reasons, mostly coming from Bulworth's style of life he becomesinvolved with. The situations we're facing here are quite controversial, butWarren Beatty directs the film with a certain humorous touch. He useseffective but bizarre camera angles, and a hip cinematographer that createsaggressive chemistry between Beatty and Halle Berry during their "partyanimal" scenes together. <br><br> The performances in "Bulworth" entirely demonstrate that Warren Beatty isnot only able to direct, write and produce well, but also that capable tolead an all star cast, including Don Cheadle, Oliver Platt, IsaiahWashington, and Christine Baranski, into an Oscar worthy overall appearancelevel. All of these things contribute to making "Bulworth" is of the betterfilms of 1998, and I recommend it highly.<br><br> Brought to you by Twentieth Century Fox.