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movie reviews

Shag

Phoebe Cates, Bridget Fonda, Scott Coffey

Directed by: Zelda Barron

This coming-of-age comedy, set in South Carolina in 1963, has a seductive charm that sneaks up on you. Just when you're lulled into expecting yet another twinky variation on Where the Boys Are, there's a fresh line or a frisky performance that sucks you in. Shag is finally out of the chute this month after a distribution snag that has held back its release for more than a year. There's no telling how a low-key, unhyped little picture like this will do against the summer behemot... | More »

July 6, 1989

The Killer

Chow Yun-Fat, Danny Lee, Sally Yeh

Directed by: John Woo

When it comes to gunplay, Schwarzenegger and Hollywood's other testosterone titans had better make room for Hong Kong's Chow Yun-Fat. At thirty-four, Chow is Asia's biggest star. He's made hundreds of films, a dozen in 1988 alone, but The Killer is the first to crack the U.S. market. In his role as Jeff -- a hit man in dark shades -- Chow is the quintessence of cool detachment. During the first shootout, in a nightclub, Jeff wastes an army of hoods without undue muss or f... | More »

July 5, 1989

Weekend at Bernie's

Andrew McCarthy, Jonathan Silverman, Catherine Mary Stewart, Terry Kiser, Don Calfa

Directed by: Ted Kotcheff

This one has all the elements for hot-weather success: It's crude, tacky and tasteless. You may laugh, but you'll hate yourself in the morning. Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman play two jerky New York-insurance-company trainees whose boss (the eponymous Bernie) invites them to his Hamptons beach house so he can pin a rap on them for his latest shady deal. But before the jerks arrive, Bernie gets offed — via drug injection — by a hit man. The boys fear they'll ... | More »

June 30, 1989

Great Balls of Fire!

Dennis Quaid

Directed by: Jim McBride

When Dennis Quaid, duded out and blonded up as Jerry Lee Lewis, swaggers to the stage to pump a piano and sing "Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On," "Breathless," "Wild One," "Crazy Arms" or the incomparable title song, this movie can shake your nerves, rattle your brain and at the very least make you feel like dancing. Jerry Lee recorded new versions of his Fifties hits for Quaid to lip-sync (which Quaid does expertly), and the Killer has rarely thundered with more thrilling ferocity. Lewis&#... | More »

Do The Right Thing

Danny Aiello, Ossie Davis, Ruby Dee

Directed by: Spike Lee

When a black man sends a garbage can crashing through his white employer's plate-glass window during the galvanizing climax of Do the Right Thing, all howling hell breaks loose. And maybe not just onscreen. Producer-writer-director-actor Spike Lee thinks that his movie, which culminates in a race riot, might get him wrongly accused in the white press of stirring insurrection. Before Universal put up the $6.5 million budget, Lee says, Paramount had passed on the project for fear "that bla... | More »

June 14, 1989

Comic Book Confidential

Lynda Barry, Charles Burns, Sue Coe

Directed by: Ron Mann

A find, more than a find, A treasure-trove. Don't say you're bored by comic books. Wait. Ron Mann's documentary may make you an addict. See it if only to prepare for the onslaught of comics-derived movies that starts this month with Batman and will continue through Spiderman, Brenda Starr, Archie, Boris & Natasha and Dick Tracy. In 1954, a Senate subcommittee called comic books "an important contributing factor in juvenile delinquency." Mann thinks they're an art form... | More »

June 9, 1989

Star Trek V

William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, DeForest Kelley

Directed by: William Shatner

Few spectacles will lower your jaw to your lap faster this summer than the first oh-my-God glimpse of the aging crew members of the starship Enterprise reunited for Star Trek V: The Final Frontier. The joke goes that there haven't been so many wrinkles and wattles on parade since the California Raisins. But there's nothing funny about the desperate way the old gang resists the fact that time goes by. What could have been a heartfelt valedictory to the troops in the September of thei... | More »

Dead Poets Society

Robin Williams, Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke

Directed by: Peter Weir

Tradition, honor, discipline, Excellence. That's the kind of propaganda the profs are filling students' heads with at stuffy Welton Academy, tucked away in the hills of Vermont. It's 1959. The activist Sixties are about to dawn, but you wouldn't know it from these priggish preps. They need a wake-up call. They get it from the new English teacher, a firebrand named John Keating. The picture gets it from Robin Williams, who plays Keating. Williams doesn't shout, "Good m... | More »

June 2, 1989

Renegades

Kiefer Sutherland, Lou Diamond Phillips, Jami Gertz

Directed by: Jack Sholder

This one had the makings of a good, newfangled version of the old-fashioned, come-out-with-your-hands-up-or-your-guns-blazing, B-movie wallow. The opening diamond heist is a pip. And the cops-and-robbers car chase on the streets and sidewalks of Toronto (doubling for Philadelphia, where it's more expensive to shoot) is almost exciting enough to make you forget there ever was a Bullitt or a French Connection. Director Jack Sholder, whose work on The Hidden never got the credit it deserved... | More »

Vampire's Kiss

Nicolas Cage

Directed by: Robert Bierman

The bloodsuckers in this thriller may not have much bite, but here's a movie that can — it's guaranteed — drain the life out of an audience in minutes. The perpetually addled and adenoidal Nicolas Cage stars as a Manhattan literary agent. For kicks at the office, he browbeats his secretary (Maria Conchita Alonso). At night, he picks up whatever's handy in spike heels. One evening chez Cage, a bat swoops in the window and interrupts the agent's coital exertions.... | More »

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