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movie reviews

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 »

April 13, 1990

Vital Signs

Adrian Pasdar, Diane Lane, Jack Gwaltney

Directed by: Marisa Silver

It's all here: Arthritic writing, atrocious direction, career-crushing performances. Critics are always bitching about having to endure bad movies without finding one bad enough to really enjoy. Well, this is it. I clocked a laugh a minute, not one of them intentional. The scene is med school, third year, the tough year, the time when budding docs leave the classroom and start touching sick flesh – under supervision, of course. It's The Paper Chase with stethoscopes. Standing... | More »

Mama, There's a Man in Your Bed

Daniel Auteuil, Firmine Richard, Pierre Vernier

Directed by: Coline Serreau

Crude and misleading, the title barely hints at the joys of this effervescent, beautifully acted French romance. I must admit, however, that a one-sentence plot summary of the film is equally crude and misleading: Wealthy executive dumps his wife and family for an overweight black cleaning lady with five kids and five ex-husbands. Trust the French to make the combination seem as natural as a croissant and beurre. The film's writer-director, Coline Serreau, is best known for Three Men an... | More »

April 6, 1990

The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover

Richard Bohringer, Michael Gambon, Helen Mirren

Directed by: Peter Greenaway

This No-Mercy Assault On The mind and senses from British writer-director Peter Greenaway (The Draughtsman's Contract) boasts a full menu: swearing, screwing, stealing, cooking, eating, drinking, burping, choking, vomiting, defecating, punching, kicking and killing. Oh, yes, there's a guy who enjoys reading, but he comes to a bad end. Stunningly photographed by Sacha Vierny, this unnerving film takes place mostly in a cavernous French restaurant called Le Hollandais. The main room ... | More »

Cry-Baby

Johnny Depp, Ricki Lake, Amy Locane

Directed by: John Waters

You could say that underground filmmaker John Waters, Baltimore's sickest puppy, has sold out. Cry-Baby, his eleventh film, is an $8 million teen musical and, yikes, it's got a PG-13 rating. You could say that Waters already compromised his midnight-movie reputation when his last two films, Polyester (1981) and Hairspray (1988), hit mainstream pay dirt. You could also say that hiring a pretty-boy star for Cry-Baby – Johnny Depp of television's 21 Jump Street – is th... | More »

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