May 24, 1989 |
"High Frequency" (citywide) gets my own special, infrequently awarded prize: The Golden Whatzit, given to a movie of surprising entertainment value, so lightly regarded that no one bothered to screen it for critics. Keep in mind the ground rules. Something is almost always seriously wrong with unpreviewed movies. This one appears to be an Italian co-production, shot in Maine and Washington, D. C. Some actors are clearly dubbed; others have strange accents for New England. It has a preposterous script, full of strained plot twists and logic glitches.
May 12, 1989 |
In "The Return of Swamp Thing" (citywide), the film makers strike a historic blow against censorship: the first instance ever of sex between humans and vegetables in a PG-rated movie. Their audacity knows no bounds. "Dynasty's" Heather Locklear, looking pouty, blond and busty, stares at Dick Durock in his full "Swamp Thing" regalia--an outfit full of squiggly green growths and bulging, broccoli-like deltoids--and gives him her best come-Heather smirk. Startled, the Thing protests: "It wouldn't work.
May 5, 1989 |
You've seen the soothing ads on television: If your teen-ager has a drug or a drinking problem, this shady-acred estate with its licensed staff is just the place to have your troubles taken off your hands. The backdrop for the overheated "Lost Angels" (citywide) is one of these private psychiatric facilities that specialize in treating affluent kids who have taken a bad turn. As he begins his story of Valley boy Tim Doolan (Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz), who has good reason to feel unwanted since his parents' divorce, director Hugh Hudson walks a tightrope between a fascinating demonstration of the inner workings of such places, and the increasing melodrama of Michael Weller's screenplay.
April 7, 1989 |
"I like scars--really," says a girlish, love-starved refugee in "Cyborg" (citywide), trying to woo the bloodied beefcake hero with a little idle flattery about his battle blemishes. This movie too, jam-packed with clockwork bits of the old ultraviolence, is mostly for people who like scars--really.
April 24, 1989 |
"Pet Sematary" (citywide) finds Stephen King at his farthest out, never more simultaneously compelling and repelling, but there's no denying that in Mary Lambert he has a director who can go the distance and make the contradiction work. No doubt King's multitudinous fans will have flocked to the film on opening weekend, but it's going to be fascinating to see if--or how soon--backlash sets in. There's a big difference between that which is depicted on the printed page and on the big screen, and movies--so far--haven't gotten much more gruesome or disturbing than "Pet Sematary."
April 28, 1989 |
Mississippi playwright Beth Henley specializes in dippy, small-town Southern Gothic; black humor with polka dots. In her 1981 Pulitzer-Prize winner "Crimes of the Heart," she gave us three oddball small-town Southern sisters united in catastrophe. The new Henley play-into-film, "Miss Firecracker" (AMC Century 14), has three more relatives coming together for another disaster: Yazoo City's annual Fourth of July beauty contest. It's a low-budget production with major-league acting by Mary Steenburgen, Holly Hunter and Alfre Woodard.
October 22, 1986 |
The Sicilians say that revenge is a dish best served cold. But for the Irish Protestant and Catholic pensioners who populate "No Surrender" (at the Monica 4-Plex), revenge is a full-course meal. If the hors d'oeuvres don't provoke a brawl, then a bloody battle over dessert will do just fine. What gives this wonderfully barbed British black comedy its acidic edge is the way it takes the rancor of these aging foes and plays it as farce.
November 10, 1989 |
The small-town atmosphere in "Staying Together," set in Ridgeway, S.C., is humid with metaphorical meaning. The streets are a bit too quaint; the homes too ramshackle; the people too countrified and ornery. If you think you've seen it all before--well, you have. And that's the point. The movie (citywide) is englobed in the sentimentality of a hundred rural coming-of age dramas, and the familiarity breeds not contempt but boredom.
June 30, 1989 |
Under the opening credits of "Do the Right Thing" (citywide), Tina (Rosie Perez), a young, great-looking honey blond in satin boxing trunks and a halter top, punches out a message of sexual aggressiveness steamy enough and serious enough to melt the grommets in your Air Jordans. Working to the song "Fight the Power," she pouts, jabs, double-punches and, for a little emphasis, puts her boxing gloves behind her head and tosses off a series of hip thrusts vicious enough to pop contact lenses in the back row. She's sexy and she's funny about it. She is also writer-director-producer Spike Lee's way of putting us on warning: People are mad here.
September 12, 1990
More than 100 films and videos representing 25 Pacific Rim cultures are being screened through Sunday. Highlights of programs today and Thursday are reviewed here: Today Endymion & Selene Colombia Today with "Love, Women and Flowers" at AMC; and Friday at AFI Animated mythology by Tricia Garcia, done with a cool serenity, a simplicity and seeming artlessness that sometimes recalls the work of John and Faith Hubley.--M.W.