Daily Archives: April 13, 2018

Scorn in the USA [RISING SUN]

From the Chicago Reader (August 13, 1993). — J.R.


** (Worth seeing)

Directed by Philip Kaufman

Written by Kaufman, Michael Crichton, and Michael Backes

With Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes, Harvey Keitel, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Kevin Anderson, Mako, Ray Wise, Stan Egi, Stan Shaw, and Tia Carrere.

Before seeing Rising Sun and then reading the Michael Crichton thriller it’s based on, I happened to read four negative reviews of the movie, and was more than a little taken aback by them. Here are samples of what I found:

“Following the cut-and-dried police procedural structure of the book, cowriter and director Philip Kaufman has soft-pedaled the critique of Japanese behavior stateside, which may reduce justification for protests against the film, but also removes much of the material’s bite.” (Todd McCarthy, Variety)

“Trying to transcend the material, the director loses the novelist’s crude but compelling urgency.” (David Ansen, Newsweek)

“Crichton’s novel was largely powered by his animus against the Japanese business culture, and perversely, you miss his outrage.” (Richard Schickel, Time)

“Crichton, in his novel, was accused (with some justification) of Japan-bashing, but if his vision of Japanese executives as omnipotent control freaks had a racist tinge, it was also sinister fun.… Read more »

A Fine Madness (The Legacy of Mad Comics) (1980)

If I’d had to depend entirely on the quality and interest of the films released in any given week, I probably wouldn’t have remained a movie reviewer for several decades. Luckily, I often found ways of writing about other topics, using the film or films being released as excuses. This was especially true during my extended stint of writing for Soho News almost every week for about about a year and a half (1979-1981), reviewing books (mainly fiction and literary criticism) as well as movies, and during my more than twenty years of writing about films for the Chicago Reader, I usually had the same freedom, at least as long as I had a fair amount of length at my disposal. Perhaps the most obvious example of this freedom at Soho News was the following piece about Mad that I did in 1980, for the July 16 issue, occasioned by a very forgettable comedy released that week. — J.R..

A Fond Madness

Though the ads for the crude, uneven Up the Academy are at some pains to link the movie to Mad — a publication (first a comic book, then a magazine) –- now in its 28th year, the connection clearly has more to do with packaging than with contents.… Read more »