Daily Archives: December 17, 1996

Evita

I walked out halfway through Alan Parker’s bombastic 1996 version of Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1978 musical about Argentina’s national heroine Eva Peroncoscripted by Oliver Stone, who also teamed up with Parker on the lurid fantasies of Midnight Express. I figured if I stayed longer I’d only become angrier, which wouldn’t do anybody any good. In what I saw, Madonna in the title role tries bravely not to buckle under the weight of Stone and Parker’s sense of Stalinist monumentality and fails honorably, while the Lloyd Webber music goes on being nonmusical. Antonio Banderas plays a character serving as chorus and emcee, Jonathan Pryce is the heroine’s totalitarian husband, and Jimmy Nail is on hand as the tango-singer lover who enabled her to move to Buenos Aires. Parker’s Argentina between the 30s and 50s bears a close resemblance to his Midnight Express Turkey and his Mississippi Burning Mississippi. I’ve rarely felt so liberated as I did when I escaped from this torture engine, and I’m eagerly waiting for all the critics who called Nixon Shakespearean to explain why this equally inflated companion piece is Brechtian. (JR)… Read more »

Michael

John Travolta plays an angel who smokes, guzzles beer, romances women, and (no doubt because it’s Travolta) dances. Two washed-up reporters from a Chicago-based tabloid (William Hurt and Robert Pastorelli) are sent off to Iowa by their boss (Bob Hoskins) to write a story about him with the help of a dog trainer posing as an angel expert (Andie MacDowell). Before this turns to total mush, it’s a quirky, fitfully effective fantasy (1996) periodically enlivened by the cast. Producer-director-cowriter Nora Ephron is still learning how to make moviesafter proving in Sleepless in Seattle that she could hit pay dirt without knowingbut by now she’s at least able to slide her players over the weak parts of her scripts. Her cowriters this time around are her sister Delia, Pete Dexter, and Jim Quinlan. (JR)… Read more »