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movie reviews

Naked Tango

Vincent D'Onofrio

Directed by: Leonard Schrader

Writer-director Leonard Schrader opens his film with a clip from the 1921 silent classic Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, showing Rudolph Valentino doing a sizzling tango. Dumb move. Schrader's take on the "dance of sex without love" can't compete. Though the film strikingly re-creates the Argentinian underworld in 1924, the lurid script has the depth of a travel brochure. Stephanie (Mathilda May) is bored with her life as the wife of an old-coot judge (Fernando Rey). On a cruise sh... | More »

September 22, 1990

Miller's Crossing

Gabriel Byrne, Albert Finney, John Turturro

Directed by: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen

Here's a jewel of a gangster film from director Joel Coen and producer Ethan Coen, with the sterling screenplay credited to both. It's the best picture yet from the Coen brothers: They've further honed the talent they demonstrated in the film noir thriller Blood Simple (1984) and the kidnap comedy Raising Arizona (1987), but this time they're not just showing off their technique. There's a new self-assurance with no loss of wit or invention. Instead of merely looking ... | More »

September 21, 1990

The Tall Guy

Jeff Goldblum, Rowan Atkinson, Emma Thompson

Directed by: Mel Smith

Crack the shell of this insipid romantic farce and you'll find a smashingly comic satire at the core. Jeff Goldblum, in top form, stars as Dexter King, a tall American actor eager to make it on the London stage. Instead, he's stuck playing stooge for the egomaniacal comedian Ron Anderson, brilliantly skewered by British top banana Rowan Atkinson. Screenwriter Richard Curtis did straight-man duties in the London hit An Evening With Rowan Atkinson, and director Mel Smith staged the sh... | More »

Narrow Margin

Gene Hackman, Anne Archer, James Sikking

Directed by: Peter Hyams

In this threadbare thriller, the Mob messes up the sex life of divorced publishing executive Carol Hunnicut, played by Anne Archer. On a blind date in Los Angeles with Mob mouthpiece Michael Tarlow (J.T. Walsh), Carol accompanies him to his hotel suite only to watch in horror -- unobserved in an adjoining room -- as a crime lord (Harris Yulin) and his guntoting stooge blow the lawyer away for dipping in the till. A terrified Carol high-tails it to a remote cabin in the Canadian woods. In hot... | More »

September 19, 1990

GoodFellas

Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta, Joe Pesci

Directed by: Martin Scorsese

Get set for a crime wave at the movies. Between now and the year-end release of The Godfather Part III, Hollywood will be married to the Mob. The criminal element dominates in GoodFellas, Miller's Crossing, Narrow Margin, State of Grace, King of New York, Desperate Hours, Men of Respect, The Krays and The Grifters. And next year we'll see Dustin Hoffman as mobster Dutch Schultz in Billy Bathgate and Warren Beatty as racketeer Bugsy Siegel in Bugsy. It remains to be seen whether cri... | More »

September 14, 1990

Hardware

Dylan McDermott, Stacey Travis, John Lynch

Directed by: Richard Stanley

In this ultraviolent horror show, a nuclear holocaust has incinerated most of the world and left New York looking even grungier than usual. Jill, a sculptor played by Stacey Travis, has to check visitors to her apartment for radiation levels. Writer-director Richard Stanley and his production crew, most of them veterans of the music-video world (Stanley worked with Renegade Sound Wave and Pop Will Eat Itself), have a ball giving the picture a techno-junk look. A thrash-metal radio jock named ... | More »

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 »

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