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movie reviews

The Russia House

Michelle Pfeiffer

Directed by: Fred Schepisi

In this laudably ambitious film version of John le Carré's labyrinthine spy novel, Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer attempt to make something sexy of moral rehabilitation. Well, if anybody can do it . . . Connery plays Barley Blair, a burned-out British book publisher more interested in his next bender than the global balance of power. Pfeiffer is Katya, a Soviet editor willing to risk her life to help her scientist friend Dante (Klaus Maria Brandauer) smuggle his vital notebook... | More »

December 21, 1990

The Bonfire of the Vanities

Tom Hanks, Bruce Willis, Melanie Griffith

Directed by: Brian De Palma

Tom Wolfe's 1987 novel about the Greed Decade was penetrating, prophetic and incisively satirical. Director Brian De Palma's $45 million film version of the book is superficial, shopworn and cartoonish. On film, Bonfire achieves a consistency of ineptitude rare even in this era of over-inflated cinematic air bags. Let's start with the miscasting. Tom Hanks is a comic actor of proven gifts. But he is not Sherman McCoy, the patrician bond trader whose career mirrors the rise and ... | More »

December 20, 1990

Kindergarten Cop

Arnold Schwarzenegger, Penelope Ann Miller, Pamela Reed

Directed by: Ivan Reitman

Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a hard-ass L.A. cop named John Kimble who goes undercover as a kindergarten teacher. The whole thing shouts Hollywood high concept – the kind of movie, like Home Alone and Look Who's Talking Too, that works best as a trailer. Usually the actual movie simply plays out the same gag again and again. But K Cop is more energetic and enjoyable than the rest of that ilk. Writers Murray Salem, Herschel Weingrod and Timothy Harris (it took three of them) even man... | More »

Awakenings

Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Julie Kavner

Directed by: Penny Marshall

This movie is an emotional knockout, an almost certain Oscar contender for Best Picture, Best Actor (Robert De Niro and Robin Williams) and Best Director (Penny Marshall). So a lot of people are going to bitch about what's wrong with it. Awakenings is a true story, adapted from the 1973 book by Dr. Oliver Sacks, a clinical neurologist who in a New York hospital in 1969 used the experimental drug L-dopa to awaken a group of post-encephalitic patients. These survivors of a post-World War I... | More »

The Field

Richard Harris, Sean Bean, Frances Tomelty, Brenda Fricker, John Hurt

Directed by: Jim Sheridan

Writer-director Jim Sheridan seems unlikely to repeat the deserved success he won last year with My Left Foot. His new film, based on a play by John B. Keane, is as overwrought as his last one was understated. Set in Ireland in the Thirties, the film stars Richard Harris as Bull McCabe, a tenant farmer who tries to buy the field he's rented all his life from a wealthy widow (Frances Tomelty) who hates him. Tom Berenger is a rich American who wants to bury the field under concrete and bui... | More »

December 19, 1990

The Russia House

Sean Connery, Michelle Pfeiffer, Roy Scheider

Directed by: Fred Schepisi

In this laudably ambitious film version of John le Carré's labyrinthine spy novel, Sean Connery and Michelle Pfeiffer attempt to make something sexy of moral rehabilitation. Well, if anybody can do it...Connery plays Barley Blair, a burned-out British book publisher more interested in his next bender than the global balance of power. Pfeiffer is Katya, a Soviet editor willing to risk her life to help her scientist friend Dante (Klaus Maria Brandauer) smuggle his vital notebooks to... | More »

December 14, 1990

Edward Scissorhands

Johnny Depp, Winona Ryder, Dianne Wiest

Directed by: Tim Burton

Director Tim Burton's richly entertaining update of the Frankenstein story is the year's most comic, romantic and haunting film fantasy. The title character, played with touching gravity by Johnny Depp, is the handiwork of an aging inventor – Vincent Price, in a lovely cameo – who lives in a dark, musty mansion overlooking a small town of pastel-colored tract houses (exteriors were shot in Florida). Engaged in fanciful cooking experiments, the lonely inventor turns one o... | More »

Edward Scissorhands

Johnny Depp

Directed by: Tim Burton

Director Tim Burton's richly entertaining update of the Frankenstein story is the year's most comic, romantic and haunting film fantasy. The title character, played with touching gravity by Johnny Depp, is the handiwork of an aging inventor — Vincent Price, in a lovely cameo — who lives in a dark, musty mansion overlooking a small town of pastel-colored tract houses (exteriors were shot in Florida). Engaged in fanciful cooking experiments, the lonely inventor turns one of his co... | More »

December 12, 1990

The Sheltering Sky

Debra Winger, John Malkovich, Campbell Scott

Directed by: Bernardo Bertolucci

The Long-Awaited Film Version of Paul Bowles's landmark 1949 novel of an American marriage heading for oblivion in North Africa is a wincing embarrassment. The only thing director Bernardo Bertolucci (The Last Emperor) has gotten right is the atmosphere. Camera whiz Vittorio Storaro conjures up genuine drama out of sand, heat and pestilence, something Bertolucci and co-writer Mark Peploe fail to manage with the film's three main characters as they set out for the desert. John Malko... | More »

Havana

Robert Redford, Lena Olin, Alan Arkin

Directed by: Sydney Pollack

You expect more of stars Robert Redford and Lena Olin, director Sydney Pollack and a $40 million budget than an uncredited and unpalatable rehash of Casablanca. In the early days of World War II, Bogey, as an apolitical club owner, mooned over gorgeous Swede Ingrid Bergman, who was married to underground leader Paul Henried, while listening to Dooley Wilson sing "As Time Goes By." In the final days of Batista in Cuba, Redford, as an apolitical gambler, pines for gorgeous Swede Lena Olin, who ... | More »

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