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Movie Spotlight

July 12, 1998|Kevin Thomas

Even more surprising than Troy falling for that stupid wooden horse trick was NBC's striking success last year in bringing The Odyssey (KNBC Sunday at 9 p.m., completed Monday at 9 p.m.) to television. There is so much brawny spectacle in this 6 1/2-hour version of Homer's tale of ancient Greek folklore and myth. You'd think that a gigantic Cyclops and tidal waves alone would demand a big screen. Now, no one is guilty here of committing great literature. For that, read the book. Yet this two-parter, starring Armand Assante, delivers a whopping escapist adventure definitely worth four hours of your time.

Going boldly where no one has gone before is not what it used to be. Contentedly settled into a prosperous middle age, the "Star Trek" series now seems more comfortable retracing its own footsteps, carefully offering its horde of fans interludes that aspire to do no more than fit snugly into the patterns of the past. As a result, seeing 1994's Star Trek Generations (Fox Tuesday at 9 p.m.), the seventh Trekker theatrical feature, feels more like engaging in some kind of recurring religious ritual than taking part in the conventional moviegoing experience.

A 1990 revisionist Western, with Australian aborigines replacing Native Americans, Quigley Down Under (KTLA Friday at 8 p.m.; also TBS Monday at 5:05 p.m.) has the panoramic scope of a big-screen epic but the soul of a TV movie, so it may play better on television. It has an interesting premise: A sharpshooter from Wyoming (Tom Selleck) hires himself out to a slimy cattle baron (Alan Rickman) in Western Australia only to discover his job entails picking off aborigines.

Underneath all the trendy Generation X trappings, the 1994 Reality Bites (KABC Saturday at 9 p.m.) is an old-fashioned romantic comedy, about a TV production assistant (Winona Ryder) being wooed by a strait-laced executive (Ben Stiller) and a carefree musician (Ethan Hawke). Charming, lightweight entertainment geared to the late teens and twentysomething crowd.

The Magnificent Ambersons (KCET Saturday at 9 p.m.) Orson Welles' 1942 follow-up to "Citizen Kane," offers a world of vanished elegance: of sleigh rides and serenades, houses with vast porches, great curving staircases and elegant balls ... this is the world of the Ambersons, early-1900 Midwestern gentry, a milieu that will shrivel and die, as the least of them--killingly proud Georgie Minafer (Tim Holt)--receives his "comeuppance." Still one of the greatest American films: elegiac, virtuosic, the personal favorite of director-writer-narrator Orson Welles (then 26).

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