Daily Archives: August 25, 2018

Beyond the Blurbs

From the Chicago Reader (August 30, 1996). — J.R.

Foxfire

Rating *** A must see

Directed by Annette Haywood-Carter

Written by Elizabeth White

With Hedy Burress, Angelina Jolie, Jenny Lewis, Jenny Shimizu, Sarah Rosenberg, and Peter Facinelli.

Escape From L.A.

Rating *** A must see

Directed by John Carpenter

Written by Carpenter, Debra Hill, and Kurt Russell

With Russell, Stacy Keach, Steve Buscemi, Peter Fonda, George Corraface, and Cliff Robertson.

Tin Cup

Rating ** Worth seeing

Directed by Ron Shelton

Written by John Norville and Shelton

With Kevin Costner, Rene Russo, Cheech Marin, and Don Johnson.

It’s already pretty clear from reviews and head counts that Escape From L.A. is something of a box-office loser and Tin Cup something of a winner. And although I wrote what follows about Foxfire before I knew its commercial fate, my suspicions were confirmed with such a vengeance that it’s no longer playing in Chicago (keep your eyes peeled for a second run). All three films are worth seeing — at least if you’re willing to settle for something good, not great, during the usual prefall slump — but my preference for Foxfire and Escape From L.A. over Tin Cup isn’t simple contrariness. If you go to movies in the hope of finding something beautiful or imaginative or different, as I do, there’s simply no contest.

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Cop-Out [DARK BLUE]

From the Chicago Reader (February 28, 2003). — J.R.

Dark-Blue-movie-poster

Dark Blue

* (Has redeeming facet)

Directed by Ron Shelton

Written by David Ayer and James Ellroy

With Kurt Russell, Scott Speedman, Brendan Gleeson, Michael Michele, Ving Rhames, Lolita Davidovich, Kurupt, and Jamison Jones.

A curious kind of double game is being played in Dark Blue, a cop thriller that sets out to “explain” the 1992 LA riots. For a good while I sat thinking, “At last — a movie that doesn’t mince words about police corruption and racism,” for even if it’s a decade late and a bit simplistic in some of its moral positioning, the story doesn’t soft-pedal the facts. (It even prompted me to think how useful it might be if someone in Hollywood delivered a thriller about the Enron scandal — not ten years from now but before the next presidential election.) But I soon realized that the attempt to wed a comfortable genre to an uncomfortable social agenda allowed another kind of soft-pedaling to take over.

The filmmakers — Ron Shelton directing a David Ayer script based on a James Ellroy story — obviously want us to swallow a bitter pill, but traditionally Hollywood genres, even the LA cop thriller, are sweet and don’t have much of an aftertaste.… Read more »