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movie reviews

Class of 1999

Bradley Gregg, Traci Lind, Malcolm McDowell

Directed by: Mark L. Lester

This SCI-FI swill is the brain-child of director Mark L. Lester (Class of 1984), who says it's really about "kids and the future of urban public education." No, it's not. It's about kids and teachers kicking ass for two benumbing hours. What a waste. Just the sight of Stacy Keach, looking crazed in a white wig and red contacts, raises hopes for a trash wallow. As head of the Department of Educational Defense, Keach has reprogrammed three combat-trained androids, played by Pam G... | More »

Longtime Companion

Stephen Caffrey, Patrick Cassidy, Brian Cousins

Directed by: Norman René

Funny, Touching and Vital, Longtime Companion is the best American movie so far this year. It is also, astonishingly, the first major feature to detail the gay community's battle against the AIDS epidemic. The disease has been killing homosexual men for a decade now — 50,500 at last count. Artistic responses have been varied, ranging from the decorous TV drama An Early Frost (1985) to Larry Kramer's angry off-Broadway play The Normal Heart (1987). But Hollywood, ever fearful o... | More »

Without You I'm Nothing

Sandra Bernhard, Steven Antin

Directed by: John Boskovich

Sandra Bernhard says that her smash one-woman show Without You I'm Nothing — it ran for six months off-Broadway in 1988 — has been opened up and "elevated" for the cinema. Don't be too scared off. It's still the same sweet Sandra, insulting stars from Barbra Streisand to Prince, turning "Me and Mrs. Jones" into a lesbian torch song, tattling about the night she urged a Warren Beatty-like star to put on two condoms and thrusting her impertinent breasts at the audienc... | More »

May 4, 1990

Last Exit to Brooklyn

Jennifer Jason Leigh, Stephen Lang, Burt Young

Directed by: Uli Edel

Wearing your art on your sleeve can be a dangerous business. Director Uli Edel's film version of Hubert Selby Jr.'s 1964 cult novel, Last Exit to Brooklyn, is shamelessly eager to pummel its audience with profundity. Edel (Christiane F.) and coproducers Bernd Eichinger and Herman Weigel say they have wanted to adapt Selby's brutal classic since they graduated from film school in Munich in the late Sixties. They were drawn to Selby's vision of Red Hook, on the Brooklyn wate... | More »

Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!

Victoria Abril, Antonio Banderas, Loles León

Directed by: Pedro Almodóvar

Spain's Hell-Raising Pedro Almodóvar has fashioned a passionate and boldly hilarious follow-up to his 1988 smash, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. The writer-director again uses sex and violence to grab our attention and then speaks directly to the heart. This film – his eighth – offers a boy-meets-girl story, Almodóvar style. Ricki (Antonio Banderas) is an orphan, a newly released mental patient with a tenacious desire to settle down and start a fami... | More »

April 27, 1990

Wild Orchid

Mickey Rourke, Jacqueline Bisset, Carré Otis

Directed by: Zalman King

The oddest thing about this limp exercise in erotica – aside from the scary way mumps-cheeked Mickey Rourke is beginning to resemble Murder, She Wrote's Angela Lansbury – is that some people consider the sex scenes hot stuff. The watchdogs of the Motion Picture Association of America initially slapped the film with an X. Rourke has been through this before with 9 1/2 Weeks and Angel Heart, which were both edited to escape the X hex. After a few frames were snipped fromWild Or... | More »

Q & A

Nick Nolte, Timothy Hutton, International Chrysis, Armand Assante, Luis Guzmán

Directed by: Sidney Lumet, Alan Smithee

In his blistering script for Q&A, writer-director Sidney Lumet includes a prefatory note about the ethnic slurs regularly spewed out by New York City police detectives and members of the judiciary: "It is important to keep in mind that the racial epithets are always said in a normal tone of voice, with no animosity whatsoever. It's as if the characters were saying, 'It's eleven o'clock.'" And so we hear the words like a litany, from cops, lawyers, politicians &md... | More »

April 20, 1990

Chattahoochee

Gary Oldman, Dennis Hopper, Frances McDormand

Directed by: Mick Jackson

Integrity Oozes from every frame of this fact-based film about human suffering, but it bored me breathless. The star is Britisher Gary Oldman – riveting in the right role (Sid and Nancy) and gratingly intense when weak material forces him to push (Criminal Law). He pushes like hell here. Oldman plays Emmett Foley, a Korean War vet who shoots up the small Florida town in which he's always been a model citizen. Foley wants the cops to kill him so his wife, the splendid Frances McDorm... | More »

Monsieur Hire

Michel Blanc, Sandrine Bonnaire, Luc Thuillier

Directed by: Patrice Leconte

Everything about this alluringly tainted French mystery is geared to make us doubt our first impressions. An agitated man (André Wilms) photographs a young girl's corpse. His emotional state suggests a personal involvement, but the man is a police inspector investigating the girl's murder. Later he interrogates a local tailor, Monsieur Hire (Michel Blanc). Hire is a misanthropic hermit whose dark clothing and parchment pallor (he's a ringer for the child molester played ... | More »

Miami Blues

Fred Ward, Alec Baldwin, Jennifer Jason Leigh

Directed by: George Armitage

Adapted from the late Charles Willeford's sardonic 1984 crime novel, this thriller is so gritty it could chafe your eyeballs. Alec Baldwin plays Junior Frenger, a merry sadist who blows into Miami from San Quentin and starts his day by breaking a Hare Krishna's finger. Junior splurges on a hotel room with stolen credit cards and sends out for sex; the hooker, a moonlighting college student named Pepper (Jennifer Jason Leigh), gives him the going rate for a suck. Before long he'... | More »

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