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movie reviews

Henry V

Kenneth Branagh, Derek Jacobi, Simon Shepherd

Directed by: Kenneth Branagh

Make no mistake. Kenneth Branagh is a cocksure twenty-eight-year-old talent explosion from Belfast, Ireland. He's already debuted with London's prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company, starred in movies (High Season, A Month in the Country) and on British television (Fortunes of War), created his own Renaissance Theater Company and written his autobiography, Beginning. His next step is even more audacious. It's been only a few months since the death of the great Laurence Olivier... | More »

November 7, 1989

Mystery Train

Screamin' Jay Hawkins

Directed by: Jim Jarmusch

Granted, writer and director Jim Jarmusch isn't everybody's idea of independent-filmmaking energy unbound. His previous movies (Permanent Vacation, Stranger Than Paradise, Down by Law) have been called minimalist, marginal and lulling. And that's by those who say they enjoy them. His detractors use words like dull, petty and numbing. The spare but richly funny Mystery Train (the final part of a trilogy begun with Stranger) ought to go a long way toward defusing the naysayers. I... | More »

October 27, 1989

Dad

Jack Lemmon, Ted Danson, Olympia Dukakis

Directed by: Gary David Goldberg

In his Debut as a Feature Director, Gary David Goldberg -- creator of NBC's Family Ties -- may have brought forth the ultimate tear-jerker. Dad, based on William Wharton's 1982 novel, grafts on elements from nearly every weepie made since sound arrived. It's Goldberg's Frankenstein. And he labors mightily to bring the dead thing to life. Jack Lemmon, wearing exaggerated old-age makeup to look seventy-eight, stars as Jake Tremont, a long-retired L.A. factory worker estrang... | More »

Immediate Family

Glenn Close, James Woods, Mary Stuart Masterson

Directed by: Jonathan Kaplan

Lucy Moore, The Seventeen-year-old played by Mary Stuart Masterson, is pregnant by Sam (Kevin Dillon), a Guns n' Roses fanatic with no job prospects. Lucy doesn't want an abortion, so a lawyer arranges an open adoption with Linda and Michael Spector, an infertile couple from Seattle. Problem number 1: Glenn Close and James Woods play the well-meaning Spectors; he's a veterinarian, she sells real estate. Both actors make yeoman efforts to look like they stepped out of thirty-so... | More »

October 18, 1989

Apartment Zero

Hart Bochner, Colin Firth, Dora Bryan

Directed by: Martin Donovan

Adrian leduc, played with uncommon skill by Colin Firth, manages a movie house in Buenos Aires that specializes in revivals. During off hours, Adrian grudgingly allows his cashier and her friends to use his theater for political meetings. A series of grisly murders around the city has led human-rights groups to believe that the killings are the work of a former member of an Argentine death squad. But Adrian can't be bothered with such matters. His business is failing, and he must now thi... | More »

October 13, 1989

Story of Women

Isabelle Huppert, François Cluzet, Nils Tavernier

Directed by: Claude Chabrol

This film may be in french, but that won't stop its star, Isabelle Huppert, from winning acting accolades in every country where her work is shown; she's already won at the Venice Film Festival. Huppert, whose American movies include The Bedroom Window and Heaven's Gate, has seized the role of a life-time. The film is based on the real story of Marie-Louise Giraud (here called Marie Latour), one of the last women to be executed in France. Her crime, for which she was guillotine... | More »

The Fabulous Baker Boys

Jeff Bridges, Michelle Pfeiffer, Beau Bridges

Directed by: Steve Kloves

It's parsley," says susie diamond, A professional escort turned singer on the cocktail-lounge circuit. She's trying to explain to Frank Baker (Beau Bridges), one-half of the piano-playing duo that employs her -- Jack Baker (Jeff Bridges) is the other half- why she wants to cut that shopworn standard "Feelings" from the act Frank, a worrywart with a wife, kids, a mortgage and a penchant for pop drivel, is stung. "It's parsley," Susie says again. "Take it away and no one would kn... | More »

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Martin Landau, Woody Allen, Bill Bernstein

Directed by: Woody Allen

What we have in Crimes and Misdemeanors is the first American film comedy about the absence of God. Naturally, it's from Woody Allen, the director-writer-actor for whom laughs are never enough. That attitude rankles those drawn to Allen's simple comedies, from his first, Take the Money and Run (1969), to this year's New York Stories. No matter that Allen's more complex comedies, the kind suffused with melancholy, are his six masterworks (Annie Hall, Manhattan, Zelig, The p... | More »

Breaking In

Burty Reynolds

Directed by: Bill Forsyth

Burt Reynolds has tweaked his he-man image before; he was Cosmo's first nude male centerfold. But this? In his latest, a wry comedy about thieves, Burt sports a potbelly, gray hair and yellow teeth and limps around on a game leg. Don't panic. It's makeup. Reynolds's Ernie Mullins is an old-timer from Portland, Oregon, a safecracker who can't keep pace with the new technology but can't resist one last big job that could finance his retirement. His one mistake is h... | More »

Look Who's Talking

John Travolta, Kirstie Alley, Olympia Dukakis, George Segal, Abe Vigoda

Directed by: Amy Heckerling

Ever since his smash in Saturday Night Fever, John Travolta has taken heat for making too many movies that show off his body and little else. None of that here. As a cabdriver named James in this witless farce, written and directed by Amy Heckerling (Fast Times at Ridgemont High), Travolta looks puffy and pooped. But, oh, is he sensitive. James helpfully speeds Mollie (Kirstie Alley of Cheers), an unmarried, pregnant CPA, to the delivery room. Later, he babysits, offers moral support, friends... | More »

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