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movie reviews

Toy Soldiers

Sean Astin, Wil Wheaton, Keith Coogan

Directed by: Daniel Petrie Jr.

Five preppie misfits at a school for sons of the rich and influential outwit Colombian terrorists holding the campus hostage. It could have been harmless junk on the order of Taps, the 1981 film about a student takeover of a military academy that gave its greenhorn cast (Timothy Hutton, Sean Penn, Tom Cruise) a leg up on stardom. Instead, Toy Soldiers emerges as a violent and unactable example of the genre. Sean Astin stars as Billy Tepper, the rebel ringleader at school. Until the Colombian... | More »

Oscar

Sylvester Stallone, Ornella Muti, Don Ameche

Directed by: John Landis

Imagine being trapped in a roomful of hyper actors who won't stop shouting bad jokes until you laugh, goddammit, laugh. A nightmare? No, it's Oscar, a strenuously unfunny farce that stars Sylvester Stallone as Angelo "Snaps" Provolone, a Thirties gangster trying to go straight. The action icon is understandably eager to show his lighter side, but ham-handed director John Landis (Coming to America) can't channel the energy of his star or anyone else in the large and misguided c... | More »

A Kiss Before Dying

Matt Dillon, Sean Young, James Bonfanti

Directed by: James Dearden

These days Bret Easton Ellis isn't the only one accountable for giving the fictional American psycho a bad name. Case in point: the botch that writer-director James Dearden makes of A Kiss Before Dying, starring Matt Dillon as a babyfaced lady-killer and Sean Young as not one but two of the ladies (she plays twin sisters) who bring out his murderous impulses. Based on a novel by Ira Levin (Rosemary's Baby, Sliver), Kiss became an enjoyably trashy movie in 1956 with Robert Wagner in ... | More »

April 24, 1991

Chameleon Street

Wendell B. Harris Jr., Timothy Alvaro, Dave Barber

Directed by: Wendell B. Harris Jr.

It may take some effort to locate a theater showing Chameleon Street, in which Wendell B. Harris Jr. makes a dynamite debut as writer, director and star. Keep trying. Shot for peanuts in Harris's native Michigan, the film is based on the true story of Douglas Street, a black salesman who posed as a Detroit lawyer, a Time reporter, a French exchange student and a Harvard-educated surgeon until the law caught up with him. What sounds like a pat TV docudrama is transformed by Harris into s... | More »

April 19, 1991

Mortal Thoughts

Demi Moore, Glenne Headly, Bruce Willis

Directed by: Alan Rudolph

From their marriage to their movies, Demi Moore (Ghost) and Bruce Willis (Die Hard and Harder) are strictly mainstream. So it's a gratifying surprise to find these two actors in a small, resolutely dark thriller about domestic violence that challenges them to do more than swim with the tide. Moore coproduced this risky project for her own company, Rufglen Films, and her gamble pays off. The movie is an emotional powder keg ignited by Moore's vibrantly touching performance as Cynthia... | More »

April 12, 1991

Impromptu

Judy Davis, Hugh Grant, Mandy Patinkin

Directed by: James Lapine

James Lapine is a theater man of uncommon skill, as witnessed by his staging of such musicals as Falsettoland, Into the Woods and Sunday in the Park With George (for which he won a Pulitzer Prize). In his debut as a film director, he's chosen a seemingly perfect subject: the nineteenth-century romance between the introverted composer Frédéric Chopin (Hugh Grant) and the free-spirited novelist George Sand (Judy Davis), a woman who sported a man's name and wardrobe. Lap... | More »

Soapdish

Sally Field

Directed by: Michael Hoffman

Daytime TV dramas can be a fertile field for satire. Though falling far short of the peerless Tootsie, Soapdish has moments of inspired lunacy. Directed by Michael Hoffman (Promised Land) from a script by Robert Harling (Steel Magnolias) and Andrew Bergman (The Freshman), this unbridled farce boasts a spirited cast of crazies, led by Sally Field as Celeste Talbert, the aging star of The Sun Also Sets. Accepting her umpteenth award, Talbert thanks her co-workers, who mutter beneath their fixed... | More »

The Object of Beauty

John Malkovich, Andie MacDowell, Lolita Davidovich

Directed by: Michael Lindsay-Hogg

In the Nineties, we're supposed to drop the excesses of the last decade and discover the value of love without the trimmings. But Jake and Tina, an overprivileged couple played by John Malkovich and Andie MacDowell, can't hack the transition. These two thrill to their Giorgio Armani wardrobes and Manolo Blahnik shoes. The trouble is that Jake, a commodities broker, has just lost a bundle. Now he and Tina are broke in a chic London hotel. They're even considering eating in. The... | More »

April 5, 1991

The Marrying Man

Kim Basinger, Alec Baldwin, Robert Loggia

Directed by: Jerry Rees

Judging from an article in the February issue of Premiere, the making of The Marrying Man was a lively business – stars Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin fell in love, pitched fits and barred cost-conscious Disney executives from the set. Before shooting had ended, writer and theater legend Neil Simon (Lost in Yonkers) was alienated, and rookie director Jerry Rees was hospitalized for stress. Somebody should have made a movie of the article, since all the fireworks were off camera. In this... | More »

Poison

Edith Meeks, Larry Maxwell, Susan Norman

Directed by: Todd Haynes

This Faux-arty Exercise in self-indulgence won the Grand Jury Prize at the 1991 Sundance Film Festival. Perhaps the judges bought the publicity handed out by the film's writer-director, Todd Haynes, best known for Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, an underground curio that used miniatures and Barbie-size dolls to dramatize the singer's losing battle with anorexia. Poison – which boasts live actors – was inspired by the works of Jean Genêt, the outlaw, poet, thi... | More »

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