Monthly Archives: September 1993

For Love Or Money

If Billy Wilder had been hired to rewrite Mark Rosenthal and Lawrence Konner’s script and take over the direction, this might have had a chance of succeeding; unfortunately, the directing job went to The Addams Family’s Barry Sonnenfeld, who’s OK at paying homage to his own work and filling in the background of some shots with arch sight gags, but lacks the light touch needed for the rest. Michael J. Fox stars as the good-hearted concierge of a luxury hotel in Manhattan who dreams of opening his own establishment; a bad-hearted English tycoon (Anthony Higgins) agrees to stake Fox if he can entertain his adulterous mistress (Gabrielle Anwar). Fox is smitten, and winds up having to choose between …you can fill in the blanks. Overproduced, overdirected, and overfamiliar, this is one of those conspicuous-consumption spreads that is trying to tell us that true love is all that really matters. Come again? With Michael Tucker, Bob Balaban, and Isaac Misrahi. (JR)… Read more »

Dazed And Confused

Belonging to an international trend that might be called the plotless examination of bored teenagers, Richard Linklater’s third feature (1993) begins right after the end of spring term in 1976; a lot of the stupidity it lingers over and criticizes (though nostalgia a la American Graffiti threatens to overwhelm the critique) has to do with the brutal hazing of junior high school kids by juniors and seniors. I enjoyed some performances (especially by Wiley Wiggins and Rory Cochrane) but hankered after the precise sense of place and the elliptical treatment of character that gave Linklater’s Slacker some of its distinction; here one learns enough about the characters to realize how little Linklater knows about them, and so little about the location (despite the Texas license plates) that one often feels stranded in Anywhere, USA. What survives is a better-than-average teen movie but not much more, at least if you aren’t a member of Linklater’s generation. With Jason London and Milla Jovovich. R, 94 min. (JR)… Read more »

Calamity Jane

An elaboration of the concept of Annie Get Your Gunnot to mention Doris Day’s tomboy image in On Moonlight Baythis 1953 western musical is perhaps best remembered for its Oscar-winning tune Secret Love; otherwise there’s Howard Keel as Wild Bill Hickok, direction by David Butler, and all that kinky cross-dressing. (JR)… Read more »

Bullets For Breakfast

A bizarre, multilayered, hour-long experimental documentary by Holly Fisher (1992) about the wild west as strained through diverse cultural perspectivesthose of pulp novelist Ryerson Johnson, feminist poet Nancy Nielson, and John Ford (My Darling Clementine), among many others. (JR)… Read more »

A Bronx Tale

Robert De Niro’s honorable directorial debut (1993) takes on Scorsese materialChazz Palminteri adapted his own play about growing up Italian in the Bronx during the 60swithout copying Scorsese’s style; the results may be soft in spots, but it’s encouraging to see De Niro go his own way. The narrator hero, seen at the ages of 9 and 17 (when he’s played by Lillo Brancato), oscillates between two father figures, a local gang boss (Palminteri) and his law-abiding, bus-driving father (De Niro). Once local racism comes into the picture, the moral distinctions between these parental guides become a lot more ambiguous and complex than one might initially suppose. Despite some sentimentality and occasional directorial missteps, this is a respectable piece of workevocative, very funny in spots, and obviously keenly felt. With Francis Capra, Taral Hicks, and Katherine Narducci. (JR)… Read more »