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movie reviews

State of Grace

Sean Penn, Ed Harris, Gary Oldman

Directed by: Phil Joanou

New York's Hell's Kitchen has served as the scene for gangland movies since the days of the Dead End Kids. But recent urban renewal has broken up most of the old gangs and increased the viciousness of those that remain. An Irish wild bunch called the Westies has even attempted an alliance with the Mafia to consolidate its power. Using the gentrified Hell's Kitchen as a backdrop, screenwriter Dennis McIntyre and director Phil Joanou have fashioned a thundering, vividly acted fil... | More »

September 12, 1990

Postcards from the Edge

Meryl Streep, Shirley MacLaine, Dennis Quaid

Directed by: Mike Nichols

In her first novel, 'Postcards From the Edge,' Carrie Fisher showed how famous parents, plus lovers, shrinks, drugs and a career in the shadows, nearly finished a fictional actress named Suzanne Vale. That Fisher, the actress daughter of Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher, knows the territory is evident from the novel and this fiercely witty and moving film version, scripted by Fisher and incisively directed by Mike Nichols. Fisher jettisons most of the book's rehab-center materi... | More »

September 9, 1990

The Reflecting Skin

Viggo Mortensen, Lindsay Duncan, Jeremy Cooper, Sheila Moore, Duncan Fraser

Directed by: Philip Ridley

It's not your average vampire movie; this one's got aspirations. Philip Ridley, the British painter-illustrator-novelist who turned screenwriter with the mesmerizing 1990 gangster film The Krays, debuts as a director with a perversely alluring work he describes as "Blue Velvet with children." Ridley's script revolves around Seth Dove (a superb Jeremy Cooper), an eight-year-old growing up in the Fifties on the Idaho prairie (the film was shot in Canada). Seth's mother, Rut... | More »

September 7, 1990

Taxi Blues

Pyotr Mamonov

Directed by: Pavel Lungin

In a caustic comedy of startling originality, writer and first-time director Pavel Lounguine takes an unblinking look at Moscow in the glasnost era through the antics of Chlykov (Piotr Zaitchenko), an antisemitic Russian cabbie, and Lyosha (Piotr Mamonov), a vodka-swilling Jewish sax player. Done at a high level of imaginative energy — Denis Evstigneev's location camera work is strikingly vivid — the film is the Soviet entry in the foreign-language Oscar sweepstakes. Loungui... | More »

August 31, 1990

The Lemon Sisters

Diane Keaton, Carol Kane, Kathryn Grody

Directed by: Joyce Chopra

A Movie Starring Three Women (Diane Keaton, Carol Kane and Kathryn Grody) and directed by another (Smooth Talk's Joyce Chopra) is so rare in macho-or-die Hollywood that The Lemon Sisters deserves credit just for being made. But the credit stops there. Why would these proven talents saddle themselves with a lame comedy script, attributed to Jeremy Pisker, that views women as insufferably whimsical airheads? Eloise (Keaton), Franki (Kane) and Nola (Grody) grew up pals in Atlantic City, wh... | More »

August 24, 1990

Dreams

Akira Terao, Mitsuko Baishô, Toshie Negishi

Directed by: Akira Kurosawa

Travelers in a blizzard are bewitched by a snow fairy; a small boy spies on a wedding procession of foxes; crows rise majestically above a wheat field. These are just a few of the awesome images in this eight-part free-form film from Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Ran). While Hollywood's young Turks hustle to duplicate last year's hot model in action hardware, the eighty-year-old director remains a rambunctious risk taker. Dreams is overlong: A parade of images – ev... | More »

Life is Cheap... But Toilet Paper is Expensive

Cheng Wan Kin, John Chan, Kwan-Min Cheng

Directed by: Wayne Wang, Spencer Nakasako

It's different. An Asian-American man, played by this film's screenwriter, Spencer Nakasako, flies from San Francisco to Hong Kong to deliver a briefcase to the Big Boss (Lo Wai). Eager to visit the port city before China reclaims it from Britain in 1997, the man encounters a hooker, a cabdriver, a geriatric "sex dancing" teacher and a butcher who interrupts his duck killing to deliver the sage aphorism that is the title. Director Wayne Wang (Chan Is Missing) lets the camera run wi... | More »

Darkman

Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Colin Friels

Directed by: Sam Raimi

This High-Camp hoot of a horror film is so shamelessly dumb, derivative and over the top that it defies any standard of critical judgment. It's like The Phantom of the Opera directed by the Marx Brothers. Actually, Sam Raimi -- wearing three hats as director, coproducer and co-writer -- gets the credit or debit, depending on your tolerance for this sort of nonsense. Because Raimi's early low-budget shockers (The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II) have spawned an avid cult, there should be ... | More »

After Dark, My Sweet

Jason Patric, Bruce Dern

Directed by: James Foley

Jim Thompson wrote twenty-nine lean and lowdown novels before his death in 1977. Two of these memorably warped potboilers — The Getaway and The Killer Inside Me — have been turned into disappointingly conventional Hollywood movies. This year we'll see three more film adaptations of Thompson's work — The Grifters, The Kill-Off and, first on deck, After Dark, My Sweet, which was published in 1955 but updated to the present for the screen. Directed by James Foley ("At... | More »

Akira Kurosawa's Dreams

Martin Scorsese

Directed by: Akira Kurosawa

Travelers in a blizzard are bewitched by a snow fairy; a small boy spies on a wedding procession of foxes; crows rise majestically above a wheat field. These are just a few of the awesome images in this eight-part free-form film from Akira Kurosawa (Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Ran). While Hollywood's young Turks hustle to duplicate last year's hot model in action hardware, the eighty-year-old director remains a rambunctious risk taker. Dreams is overlong: A parade of images — ev... | More »

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