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movie reviews

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 »

March 29, 1991

The Five Heartbeats

Robert Townsend, Michael Wright, Leon

Directed by: Robert Townsend

Robert Townsend, the writer-director-actor whose Hollywood Shuffle was a keen satire of black stereotyping, loses his edge in this musical soap opera about the members of a Sixties R&B group (the Five Heartbeats) who squabble for three decades until they learn – aaah! – that they need one another more than success. The script allots one trait per Heartbeat: Townsend is Duck, the serious songwriter; Leon is J.T., Duck's horny brother; Harry J. Lennix is Dresser, the homeb... | More »

The Comfort of Strangers

Christopher Walken, Rupert Everett, Natasha Richardson

Directed by: Paul Schrader

Using a vaporous nighttime Venice as setting, the ever-murky Harold Pinter as adapter of Ian McEwan's novel and the sexually sinister Christopher Walken as star, director Paul Schrader (Patty Hearst, Mishima) has fashioned a film of surpassing creepiness. It's pretentious, too, and sometimes maddeningly dull. But the erotically unsettling atmosphere – exquisitely rendered by cinematographer Dante Spinotti – soon seeps in. Walken plays a Venetian aristocrat named Robert.... | More »

March 28, 1991

The Ballad of the Sad Cafe

Vanessa Redgrave, Keith Carradine, Cork Hubbert

Directed by: Simon Callow

It's painful watching the great Vanessa Redgrave struggle to play Miss Amelia, the protagonist of the Carson McCullers novella The Ballad of the Sad Caf. But the character won't yield to her. This ill-judged adaptation, written by Michael Hirst and directed by Simon Callow, is faithful in detail but misses the spirit of the book. In a Depression-era Southern town, Miss Amelia runs the general store. She's been intimidatingly solemn since she kicked criminal Marvin Macy (Keith ... | More »

March 22, 1991

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II

Paige Turco, David Warner, Michelan Sisti

Directed by: Michael Pressman

The sequel to 1990's $100 million smash is amiably asinine. Let it go at that. The half-shell heroes are part of a hype juggernaut. This review merely marks the acting debut of rapper Vanilla Ice for the record. Ice makes his appearance late in the film. While being chased by the evil Shredder and the Foot clan, the Turtles bust into an Ice concert. Trying to express surprise, Ice merely stares blankly at the camera, waiting for a song cue. His composition, "Ninja Rap," contains such de... | More »

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