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movie reviews

Sibling Rivalry

Kirstie Alley, Bill Pullman, Carrie Fisher

Directed by: Carl Reiner

For a dumb farce, the plot is fairly complicated, so pay attention: Married Marjorie (Kirstie Alley) has a single sister, Jeanine (Jami Gertz), who thinks Marjorie should have an affair because her doctor husband, Harry (Scott Bakula), neglects her. Harry's dominating doctor sister, Iris (Carrie Fisher), also treats Marjorie as a housewife nothing. In rebellion, Marjorie picks up a stranger named Charles (Sam Elliott) for a thrashing hotel one-nighter, but Charles's heart gives out ... | More »

October 19, 1990

White Palace

Susan Sarandon, James Spader, Jason Alexander

Directed by: Luis Mandoki

Glenn Savan's 1987 novel, White Palace, detailed an unlikely affair between Nora, a lusty, big-bottomed hamburger slinger in her forties, and Max, a sullen, tight-assed Jewish ad executive in his late twenties. This film version, vigorously directed by Luis Mandoki (Gaby – A True Story), can hardly be accused of typecasting. Susan Sarandon doesn't have the wrinkled neck, loose belly and fatty corrugations that Savan prescribed for Nora; her body has an athlete's sleek mus... | More »

The Kill-Off

Loretta Gross, Andrew Lee Barrett, Jackson Sims

Directed by: Maggie Greenwald

With three 1990 films adapted from his mystery novels (he wrote twenty-nine), Jim Thompson (1906-1977) is currently the most popular dead author in Hollywood. After Dark, My Sweet scored well this summer, and The Grifters shows up soon. The Kill-Off is Thompson's 1957 pulp classic about an evil woman who – to quote the book jacket – "spins a web of corruption." No argument. Luane, wickedly well played by Loretta Gross, is a bedridden old shrew who makes up for not moving her... | More »

October 17, 1990

Reversal of Fortune

Jeremy Irons, Glenn Close, Ron Silver

Directed by: Barbet Schroeder

Money sure beats the bejesus out of sex or drugs or rock & roll when it comes to choosing the top obsession of the Eighties – a decade when wealth was something to risk going to hell for. Lying, cheating and even killing for money had never entered the mainstream so pervasively. Our fascination with unbridled avarice, especially when filtered through celebrity, ran rampant. Let's face it: It still does, so Reversal of Fortune should score at the box office. The film – au... | More »

October 12, 1990

Memphis Belle

Matthew Modine, Eric Stoltz, Tate Donovan

Directed by: Michael Caton-Jones

Kansas in August has nothing on the corny appeal of this fact-based World War II aerial spectacle. It's the first film from producer David Puttnam since he resigned as chairman of Columbia Pictures in 1987; before that, he was known for such true-life dramas as Chariots of Fire and The Killing Fields. In the Puttnam tradition Memphis Belle is a grand and rousing adventure, complete with his trademark strong production values, sleek cinematography (from Out of Africa's David Watkin) ... | More »

To Sleep with Anger

Danny Glover, Paul Butler, DeVaughn Nixon

Directed by: Charles Burnett

Danny Glover is an actor of protean gifts. Whether it's action comedy (Lethal Weapons 1 and 2) or drama (Places in the Heart, The Color Purple), he never fails to deliver the goods. But in writer-director Charles Burnett's To Sleep With Anger, Glover outdoes himself, giving the performance of his career to date. Glover plays Harry Mention, a magnetic visitor from the Deep South who comes to stay with an old friend, Gideon (Paul Butler), and Gideon's wife and grown children, in ... | More »

October 10, 1990

Too Much Sun

Allan Arbus, Robert Downey Jr., Howard Duff

Directed by: Robert Downey Sr.

This sex farce exhibits a desperate need to shock: When wealthy O.M. Rivers (Howard Duff) dies, his two children — Sonny (Eric Idle) and Bitsy (Andrea Martin) — are stunned that avaricious Father Kelly (Jim Haynie) has arranged for the church to inherit the Rivers fortune unless Sonny or Bitsy can produce a child by natural means in a year. The snag is that Sonny and Bitsy are gay. But they're also determined to meet the challenge, much to the horror of their respective lover... | More »

October 8, 1990

Sibling Rivalry

Kirstie Alley, Bill Pullman, Carrie Fisher

Directed by: Carl Reiner

For a dumb farce, the plot is fairly complicated, so pay attention: Married Marjorie (Kirstie Alley) has a single sister, Jeanine (Jami Gertz), who thinks Marjorie should have an affair because her doctor husband, Harry (Scott Bakula), neglects her. Harry's dominating doctor sister, Iris (Carrie Fisher), also treats Marjorie as a housewife nothing. In rebellion, Marjorie picks up a stranger named Charles (Sam Elliott) for a thrashing hotel one-nighter, but Charles's heart gives out ... | More »

October 5, 1990

Listen Up

Clarence Avant, George Benson, Richard Brooks

Directed by: Ellen Weissbrod

Subtitled 'The Lives of Quincy Jones,' this earnest but needlessly jumbled documentary rounds up musical heavyweights – from Dizzy Gillespie and Miles Davis to Michael Jackson and Ice-T – to give the good word on Jones as trumpeter, composer, conductor, arranger, producer and friend. Whether it's jazz or pop, R&B or rap, Jones has been an innovator for four decades. So we're told. How much better it would have been to see how Jones does it. Instead, produc... | More »

Avalon

Eve Gordon, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Elizabeth Perkins, Joan Plowright, Kevin Pollack, Aidan Quinn

Directed by: Barry Levinson

"I came to America in 1914," says Sam Krichinsky, a Jewish immigrant from Europe whom writer-director Barry Levinson based on his own grandfather. Levinson shows the young Sam dazzled by the lights and flag-waving as he arrives in Baltimore on the Fourth of July. Levinson and cinematographer Allen Daviau (E.T.) give this opening scene a mythic allure. For Sam, Baltimore the beautiful is alive with promise. But as the film moves through the next five decades, Levinson shows America defaulting ... | More »

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