Daily Archives: October 2, 1987

Homecoming

Cantonese director Yim Ho’s delicate and touching film charts the return of Coral (Josephine Koo), an attractive Hong Kong businesswoman in her thirties, to her native village in southern mainland China. Staying with her childhood friend Pearl (Si Quin Gao Wa)–now a school principal married to a farmer, with a daughter-she discovers that her urban life and problems have irrevocably estranged her from the ways and attitudes of the village, although she and Pearl make many heartfelt efforts to bridge their differences. Kong Liang’s screenplay eschews melodrama and big events for quiet insights, and a remarkably dense portrait of the village emerges, framed by Ho with a distinctive grasp of composition, landscape, and personal detail that occasionally evokes the complexity of a Brueghel. The performances are nuanced and moving, and one comes to know these people–not only the heroines, but Pearl’s defensive and tongue-tied husband, an unruly and mercenary little boy, a man who can’t read the letters in English his son sends him from UCLA, a wise uncle, and many others–on a first-name basis. (Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Saturday, Tuesday, and Thursday, October 3, 6, and 8, 9:00, 281-4114)… Read more »

Fear of Feminism [FATAL ATTRACTION]

This is one of the first hatchet jobs that I wrote for the Chicago Reader, which ran on October 2, 1987.  – J.R.

FATAL ATTRACTION

no stars (Worthless)

Directed by Adrian Lyne

Written by James Dearden

With Michael Douglas, Glenn Close, Anne Archer, Ellen Hamilton Latzen, and Stuart Pankin.

“A profoundly uninteresting married yuppie lawyer (Michael Douglas) has a weekend affair with a profoundly uninteresting unmarried yuppie book editor (Glenn Close). The latter proves to be insane and makes the former’s life a living hell as soon as he ends the relationship, and the plot gradually turns into a sort of upscale remake of The Exorcist, with female sexuality (personified by Close) taking over the part of the Devil, and yuppie domesticity (personified by Douglas, wife Anne Archer, and daughter Ellen Hamilton Latzen) assuming the role of innocence. While billed as a romance and a thriller, the movie strictly qualifies as neither. The major emotions appealed to are prurient guilt, hatred, and dread; and with director Adrian Lyne shoving objects like a knife, a boiling pot, and an overflowing bath in the spectator’s face to signal that Something Awful’s Going to Happen, he can’t be expected to display any curiosity about the motivations of the spurned antiheroine, who eventually becomes, simply, an extraterrestrial robot killer.… Read more »

20th International Tournee of Animation

There are many pleasant surprises in this collection of 18 animated shorts from ten countries, but perhaps the biggest one is that the range of influences informing animation seems to be getting wider. While the terminal cuteness of Disney and the gallows humor of Eastern Europe have tended to dominate in the past, and are far from absent here, the more vernacular genius of Tex Avery also seems to be making some headway–in such diverse works as Bon Kurtz’s parodic Drawing on My Mind from the U.S., Guido Manuli’s Plus One, Minus One (a screwball remake of It’s a Wonderful Life) and Bruno Bozzetto’s Baeus (a doodle-bug variation on Avery’s King Size Canary) from Italy, and Joanna Quinn’s Girl’s Night Out from Great Britain, which plays with some Averyesque gags on striptease and libido from a female Cockney point of view. There’s also striking hyperrealist computer animation from the U.S., clay animation from the Soviet Union and Hungary, and the usual batch of glum parables from all over. But my favorites in this batch strike out freshly on their own: Susan Young’s semiabstract Carnival, which beautifully evokes a London ethnic street fair; Academy Leader Variations, the most avant-garde selection which combines the giddy talents of 20 animators from the U.S., Poland, Switzerland, and China; Bob Stenhouse’s The Frog, the Dog and the Devil from New Zealand, which uses exciting forms of illumination and transition to carry a straight narrative; and Bill Plympton’s American Your Face, which features some nightmarish facial contortions worthy of David Lynch.… Read more »