Weekend Entertainment Guide

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Movies: City HallAl Pacino plays fictitious New York Mayor John Pappas as the tornado at the center of "City Hall", a cluttered drama that imagines a Faustian battle between Pappas and his deputy mayor, Kent Calhoun (John Cusack). Because the story was written by Ken Lipper, a deputy mayor in the Koch administration, and snazzed up by a trio of old-pro screenwriters -- Nicholas Pileggi, Paul Schrader, Bo Goldman -- and because it was shot in GothamÕs City Hall with Mayor Rudolph GiulianiÕs blessing, the movie has a burly verisimilitude. "After a few reels, though, things get goofy," says TIME's Richard Corliss. "Suddenly every room is preposterously dark; the most powerful men in town canÕt afford decent light bulbs. PacinoÕs performance turns crazily manic: when he gives an oration for a dead child, his wild hand gestures read like sign language for the myopic." Nostalgia is the chief feature of "City Hall", notes Corliss. "The film harkens back a decade or two, to the days when New York pols with great names -- Meade Esposito, Stanley Steingut --swaggered toward a tragic destiny. Movies are still in love with the romance of corruption. They need to believe the gaudy worst about government: that Inside is the dirtiest, most divine place to be."