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movie reviews

Rambling Rose

Laura Dern, Robert Duvall, Diane Ladd

Directed by: Martha Coolidge

Picture Pollyanna as a nymphomaniac and you'll get some idea of what's percolating in this magnolia-scented memory piece about a nineteen-year-old Alabama flower named Rose (Laura Dern) who comes to live with a Georgia family in 1935. The Hillyers are a generous lot, despite the encroachment of the Depression. Mother (Diane Ladd) is a freethinker who's preparing her master's thesis in history while raising three precocious kids – Buddy (Lukas Haas), 13, Doll (Lisa Ja... | More »

The Fisher King

Jeff Bridges, David Hyde Pierce

Directed by: Terry Gilliam

A flame-throwing red knight on horseback looms up on Manhattan's traffic-clogged streets to chase a homeless man (Robin Williams). The image, laced with mirth and menace, is pure Terry Gilliam. In The Fisher King, Gilliam's latest high-wire act, reality and fantasy collide just as they did in Time Bandits, Brazil and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. Gilliam makes dark, brutal comedies about the need for dreams in a dismal world sucked dry by bureaucrats. He's a master of a l... | More »

The Indian Runner

David Morse, Patricia Arquette, Dennis Hopper

Directed by: Sean Penn

In his debut as a writer-director, Sean Penn shows a sure hand with actors and a knack for setting up a scene visually and dramatically. But he's a bust at following through. Dedicating his movie to the late directors John Cassavetes and Hal Ashby, Penn emulates the emotional intensity of their films without locating a distinct style of his own. He's trying hard, too hard, for seriousness. There's no pacing, variety or humor in this unrelentingly somber film. The movie begins ... | More »

Rambling Rose

Laura Dern

Directed by: Martha Coolidge

Picture Pollyanna as a nymphomaniac and you'll get some idea of what's percolating in this magnolia-scented memory piece about a nineteen-year-old Alabama flower named Rose (Laura Dern) who comes to live with a Georgia family in 1935. The Hillyers are a generous lot, despite the encroachment of the Depression. Mother (Diane Ladd) is a freethinker who's preparing her master's thesis in history while raising three precocious kids — Buddy (Lukas Haas), 13, Doll (Lisa Ja... | More »

September 6, 1991

Sex, Drugs, Rock & Roll

Eric Bogosian

Directed by: John McNaughton

Eric Bogosian's blisteringly funny film unfolds on a wide canvas (gutter to swimming pool) occupied by a dizzying array of characters. They include a subway panhandler, a British rocker, a scumbag lawyer and an assortment of junkies and con artists representing the male psyche unleashed. All contribute to an explosive entertainment that Bogosian calls "provocation in the guise of a good time." More astonishingly, Bogosian plays all the parts, and the action is confined to the bare stage ... | More »

The Rapture

Mimi Rogers, David Duchovny

Directed by: Michael Tolkin

Mimi Rogers plays an L.A. information operator named Sharon, who overcompensates for her dull day job by nightcrawling with her friend Vic (Patrick Bauchau) to pick up couples for group sex. You won't hear an operator ask, "Business or residence?" again without remembering Sharon. But just when you think you've got the title figured, writer Michael Tolkin (Gleaming the Cube) — in his directing debut — redefines rapture. Sharon doesn't find the ultimate kink; she fin... | More »

August 28, 1991

Homicide

Joe Mantegna, William H. Macy

Directed by: David Mamet

Writer-director David Mamet (House of Games, Things Change) has crafted a mesmerizing thriller, and he's done it the hard way: The suspense evolves from a philosophical search into the nature of identity. Joe Mantegna delivers a brilliant, multifaceted performance as Bobby Gold, a career cop who represses his Jewishness until a black officer calls him a kike. Gold is furious, not at the word but at the tone. His fury mounts when he's yanked off the hunt for a cop killer and told to ... | More »

The Commitments

Robert Arkins

Directed by: Alan Parker

How to film Roddy Doyle's comic and affecting novel about a Dublin band trying to bring soul music to Ireland? Audition 3000 musicians and pick the top twelve to play the Commitments. It's the old Monkees trick: If you can't find a band, manufacture one. British director Alan Parker (Fame, Mississippi Burning) lucks out. The dozen unknowns he's chosen — ten with no previous acting credits — make a joyful noise and rousing company. Parker, however, hasn't m... | More »

August 23, 1991

Naked Tango

Vincent D'Onofrio, Mathilda May, Fernando Rey

Directed by: Leonard Schrader

Writer-Director Leonard Schrader opens his film with a clip from the 1921 silent classic Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, showing Rudolph Valentino doing a sizzling tango. Dumb move. Schrader's take on the "dance of sex without love" can't compete. Though the film strikingly recreates the Argentinian underworld in 1924, the lurid script has the depth of a travel brochure. Stephanie (Mathilda May) is bored with her life as the wife of an old-coot judge (Fernando Rey). On a cruise shi... | More »

Dead Again

Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, Andy Garcia

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Expectation is the culprit in this romantic whodunit. With Kenneth Branagh – the boy wonder of Belfast – following up his Oscar-nominated triumphs as star and director of Henry V, you hope for something vital. Branagh didn't just declaim Shakespeare; he made the words live. Dead Again is a two-hour search for a pulse. Admittedly, it's as unfair to accuse Branagh of slumming because he chose to do lite instead of the classics as it is to compare Scott Frank's script ... | More »

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