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movie reviews

The Handmaid's Tale

Natasha Richardson, Faye Dunaway, Aidan Quinn

Directed by: Volker Schlöndorff

Picture two beautiful women in bed with one man. The first woman -- fully clothed -- moves her legs apart. The second woman -- red gown hitched up -- lies between the other's thighs. The man -- trousers down but white shirt buttoned and necktie knotted -- looms above, penetrating the second woman with a militaristic two-four stroke. Kinky? Maybe in a David Lynch movie. But in this futuristic look at sexual politics, the three-way is about as erotic as a gynecological exam. In adapting T... | More »

House Party

Christopher Reid, Robin Harris, Christopher Martin

Directed by: Reginald Hudlin

Young, unheralded film talents were as plentiful as snow boots in Park City, Utah, during the ten-day Sundance United States Film Festival, which ended on January 28th. Still, the Hudlin brothers, from East St. Louis, Illinois (they call it "the blackest city in America"), made notably deep imprints. Writer-director Reginald and producer Warrington seemed to be everywhere. At screenings, Q&A sessions and receptions, the Hudlins held forth on their debut feature, House Party. The film, abo... | More »

March 2, 1990

The Hunt for Red October

Sean Connery, Alec Baldwin, Scott Glenn

Directed by: John McTiernan

This just in: some audience members at the film version of Tom Clancy's best-selling submarine saga The Hunt for Red October have been spotted listing in their seats, their eyes dull and glazed. The experts are confounded. The movie boasts a major star (Sean Connery), a stalwart young contender (Alec Baldwin) and the best production $50 million can buy. And John McTiernan, the anything-for-a-jolt director of Die Hard, is at the helm. So how does a book that has readers checking their pul... | More »

Too Beautiful for You

Gérard Depardieu, Josiane Balasko, Carole Bouquet

Directed by: Bertrand Blier

This cheerfully perverse french film -- a bonbon spiked with wit and malice -- starts by asking us to accept a preposterous notion: that businessman Bernard, played by the great Gerard Depardieu, would leave his gorgeous, leggy wife, Florence (Carole Bouquet), for short, dumpy Colette (Josiane Balasko), his office temp. It's a tribute to the wicked craft of writer-director Bertrand Blier (Get Out Your Handkerchiefs) that the situation soon seems, well, not inevitable but tantalizing. Be... | More »

February 23, 1990

Cinema Paradiso

Philippe Noiret, Enzo Cannavale, Antonella Attili

Directed by: Giuseppe Tornatore

There's magic, romance and fun in Italy's entry for the Best Foreign Film Oscar, which has already received the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes. This is only the second feature for writer-director Giuseppe Tornatore, known for documentaries and TV films, but he has plugged into something vital about the hold movies have on us. Set in a small village in postwar Sicily – before TVs and VCRs – the film re-creates a time when people gathered in shoe-box theaters, like this villag... | More »

Mountains of the Moon

Patrick Bergin, Iain Glen, Richard E. Grant

Directed by: Bob Rafelson

Bob Rafelson's new movie has no stars, and its subject is British colonialism. Does this maverick director harbor a box-office death wish? Since the Sixties, Rafelson has dreamed of making a film about Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke, the English explorers who set out for Africa in 1854 (the first of two journeys) to discover the "mountains of the moon," the fabled source of the Nile. Now he's done it. The result is an occasion, and not one for napping. Rafelson's reflec... | More »

Where the Heart Is

Dabney Coleman, Uma Thurman, Joanna Cassidy

Directed by: John Boorman

John Boorman has made several remarkable films, including Point Blank, Deliverance and Excalibur. Best of all is Hope and Glory, based on the writer-director's reminiscences of growing up in England during the Blitz. He's also made some mistakes (Zardoz, Exorcist II). This whopper, unfortunately, belongs in the second category. An overscaled family comedy, handsomely shot by Peter Suschitzky, the film plays like the pilot for a moronic TV sitcom. Dabney Coleman, the tube's Buf... | More »

Mountains of the Moon

Patrick Bergin

Directed by: Bob Rafelson

Bob Rafelson's new movie has no stars, and its subject is British colonialism. Does this maverick director harbor a box-office death wish? Since the Sixties, Rafelson has dreamed of making a film about Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke, the English explorers who set out for Africa in 1854 (the first of two journeys) to discover the "mountains of the moon," the fabled source of the Nile. Now he's done it. The result is an occasion, and not one for napping. Rafelson's reflec... | More »

February 9, 1990

Stanley & Iris

Jane Fonda, Robert De Niro, Swoosie Kurtz

Directed by: Martin Ritt

In the minutes before a critics' screening of Stanley & Iris, I was thumbing through the program notes and read a quote from Jane Fonda, one of the film's stars, that filled me with dread. "I'm a believer that movies can make a difference," declared Fonda, who claimed that Stanley & Iris – in which she plays a recent widow who tutors an illiterate cook played by Robert De Niro – was a movie that could both "entertain and, perhaps, change things a bit." Ther... | More »

February 2, 1990

Men Don't Leave

Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates, Arliss Howard

Directed by: Paul Brickman

p>Paul Brickman made an auspicious directing debut with Risky Business, the raunchy teen satire – also written by Brickman – that put Tom Cruise on the map. That was in 1983. Clearly Brickman takes his time deciding what to do for an encore. Men Don't Leave, which he directed and co-wrote, doesn't quite live up to seven years of expectations – the tear-jerking tendencies of co-writer Barbara Benedek, who created the excruciating Immediate Family, may have cloude... | More »

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