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movie reviews

Dances with Wolves

Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene

Directed by: Kevin Costner

Ignore the cynics who prematurely pegged this venturesome three-hour western, which is star Kevin Costner's directing debut, as Kevin's Gate. For all its excesses in detailing racial fears and violence between whites and Indians in South Dakota in the 1860s, the film is heartfelt and engrossing. Costner rarely indulges in the look-at-me-Ma tricks of most new directors. His expansive style shows a genuine feel for the muscular poetry of the landscape and the Sioux's language, sp... | More »

November 9, 1990

The Krays

Gary Kemp, Martin Kemp, Billie Whitelaw

Directed by: Peter Medak

This absolute stunner of a crime film tells the true story of the Krays, twin brothers who ruled London's underworld in the Sixties. Gary Kemp plays Ronald, a homosexual who carved up his enemies with an antique saber. Martin Kemp plays Reginald, a married man (though his wife commits suicide) who followed his demented brother's lead. The Kemps, also twins, are electrifying as the Krays. Members of the rock group Spandau Ballet, both have acted since childhood, mostly on British TV.... | More »

November 7, 1990

Baxter

Lise Delamare, Jean Mercure, Jacques Spiesser

Directed by: Jérôme Boivin

In telling the story of a Dog who talks, French director and co-writer Jrme Boivin has crafted a unique work of satirical bite and ferocious horror. Baxter is a bull terrier living with an old woman (Lise Delamare) in a Belgian suburb. Narrating the film in a half growl (in French with subtitles), the dog tells us he yearns for the human companionship he can't get from this invalid, who fears him. The openly carnal couple across the street are more to his liking. Baxter recalls a street ... | More »

November 2, 1990

Jacob's Ladder

Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Peña, Danny Aiello

Directed by: Adrian Lyne

Bruce Joel Rubin's 'Jacob's Ladder' was chosen by American Film a while back as one of the great unproduced screenplays. Too bad somebody had to spoil things by producing it. There is an intriguing premise: Jacob, played by Tim Robbins as if the role meant something, is a New York mailman with a PhD who is haunted by memories of being in Vietnam, where he was bayoneted in the stomach. He also has waking nightmares featuring vibrating heads and a reptile creature who feels ... | More »

Vincent & Theo

Tim Roth, Paul Rhys, Adrian Brine

Directed by: Robert Altman

This film, about Vincent van Gogh and his art-gallery manager brother, could easily have been one of those painfully earnest biographies of great men. Fortunately, the director is Robert Altman (M*A*S*H, Nashville, Three Women and TV's Tanner '88), and he doesn't go in for earnest. He prefers bold, innovative and provocative. That applies to his successes as well as his misfires (Beyond Therapy, Quintet and Popeye). This time, the risks pay off. The film opens with a recent Br... | More »

October 26, 1990

Tune in Tomorrow

Barbara Hershey, Keanu Reeves

Directed by: Jon Amiel

Blending fantasy and reality is a tricky business. Director Jon Amiel has managed it splendidly, first on TV with The Singing Detective and later in his first feature, Queen of Hearts. But even the gifted Amiel stumbles in this misguided film version of Mario Vargas Llosa's acclaimed novel Aunt Julia and the Scripter. Writer William Boyd doesn't so much adapt Llosa's novel as use it as a springboard for less imaginative inventions. At the core of the story is sexy Aunt Julia, ... | More »

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 »

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