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movie reviews

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 »

I Love You To Death

River Phoenix

Directed by: Lawrence Kasdan

Something pulls you up short right at the start of this bizarre comedy: The impish glint in Tracey Ullman's eye is missing. Ullman plays Rosalie Boca, a frumpy housewife and mother of two who helps her husband, Joey (Kevin Kline), run a pizzeria in Tacoma. Rosalie is nice but dim; she doesn't notice Joey's obvious infidelities. Everyone else does, including Nadja (Joan Plowright), Rosalie's Yugoslavian mother, and Devo (River Phoenix), the spiritual young pizza chef who do... | More »

March 31, 1990

The Laserman

Marc Hayashi, Maryann Urbano, Tony Leung Ka Fai

Directed by: Peter Wang

Misuse of science is an odd subject for a screwball thriller, unless you factor in writer-director-actor Peter Wang. A laser specialist with a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania, the Chinese-born Wang changed vocations when he learned his work was serving government weapons programs. His lifelong interest in the arts led him to film. In 1982, director Wayne Wang (no relation) cast him as a cook in Chan Is Missing; his jolly performance won raves. Four years later, Peter Wang made h... | More »

March 30, 1990

Santa Sangre

Axel Jodorowsky, Blanca Guerra, Guy Stockwell

Directed by: Alejandro Jodorowsky

The parade of perversity marches on with this eye-popping oddity from Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky, who set gorges rising on the cult circuit back in 1971 with El Topo. Fenix, the central character in Santa Sangre (Holy Blood), has problems. At eight, Fenix – played by Jodorowsky's son Adan – is caught between bickering parents: a circus-ringmaster father, Orgo (Guy Stockwell), and a religious-fanatic mother, Concha (Blanca Guerra). Orgo's fling with the tattooe... | More »

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