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movie reviews

Not Without My Daughter

Sally Field, Alfred Molina, Sheila Rosenthal

Directed by: Brian Gilbert

There's something terribly wrong when a harrowing true story reaches the screen and feels false in every particular. This film is based on a book by Betty Mahmoody (with William Hoffer), an American housewife who risked torture and death to escape from Iran with her young daughter, Mahtob, in 1986. Betty had been reluctant to leave her Michigan home eighteen months earlier when her husband, Moody, an Iranian doctor who had lived and practiced in America for twenty years, wanted to return... | More »

January 10, 1991

Alice

Mia Farrow, William Hurt, Alec Baldwin

Directed by: Woody Allen

Mia Farrow is Alice Tate, the way Diane Keaton was Annie Hall – a real-life inspiration for Woody Allen to make a romantic comedy that contrasts his urban Jewish intellectual take on sex, love, religion and death with the views of a woman from a strikingly different background. Instead of Annie the WASP, this time it's Alice the Catholic. Alice is an overprivileged wife and mother. Her wonderland is Manhattan, where her stockbroker husband (nicely tweaked by William Hurt) gives her... | More »

December 25, 1990

The Godfather: Part III

Al Pacino, Diane Keaton, Andy Garcia

Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola

Few sequels can match the charge of anticipation you feel before watching the third part of Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather series. The first two parts – released in 1972 and 1974 – won Oscars as Best Picture and rank as the twin peaks of Mob movies. The lives of Don Vito Corleone (played by Marlon Brando and then Robert De Niro) and his children – Michael (Al Pacino), Fredo (John Cazale), Sonny (James Caan) and Connie (Talia Shire) – have become the stuff of mov... | More »

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 »

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