From the Chicago Reader (April 10, 1998). — J.R.
The Newton Boys
Not to be hyperbolic, but Richard Linklater’s first big-budget movie may be the Jules and Jim of bank-robber movies, thanks to its astonishing handling of period detail and its gentleness of spirit, both buoyed by a gliding lightness of touch. Linklater, Clark Lee Walker, and Claude Stanush (who also worked on the script of Nicholas Ray’s The Lusty Men) have adapted Stanush’s oral history about the Texas-born Newton brothers, who between 1919 and 1924 became the most successful bank robbers in the U.S. The film may occasionally bite off a few more narrative strands than it can chew, but that’s merely the flip side of its generosity and energy. You can keep your L.A. Confidential; here’s a vision of the American past that I’m ready to climb inside. Matthew McConaughey, Skeet Ulrich, Vincent D’Onofrio, and Ethan Hawke play the brothers; with Dwight Yoakam and Julianna Margulies. 600 N. Michigan. — Jonathan Rosenbaum
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A Price Above Rubies
Though scoffed at by some professional Jews, writer-director Boaz Yakin’s 1997 second feature (after Fresh), about the painful break of a young wife and mother (Renee Zellweger) from her husband and Hasidic community in Brooklyn’s Borough Park, is for me a potent and very moving polemic about the oppressive misogyny often found in Orthodox Jewish life, predicated on a kind of patriarchal mind-set that seems surprisingly close to attitudes found throughout the Middle East. After becoming involved in the jewelry business through her husband’s double-dealing brother (Christopher Eccleston), the heroine finds herself drifting further and further from her family; once she begins to champion the work of a Puerto Rican artist who makes jewelry (Allen Payne), her ejection from the Orthodox Jewish community becomes total. Yakin isn’t always successful in shoehorning various forms of magical realism–appearances of the heroine’s late brother and a spectral bag lady–into the story, and the denouement, like some of the events preceding it, may seem a bit overdetermined. But this is still a powerful and persuasively acted piece of dramatic agitprop about a neglected subject, provocative and spellbinding. 900 N. Michigan. –Jonathan Rosenbaum
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): fiml still.… Read more »