Daily Archives: September 5, 1995

To Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar

Some reviewers euphemistically described this as America’s answer to The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desertwhich only makes sense if you consider that better-than-average Australian movie a question. This horrifically ugly and witless middle-American comedy (1995), seemingly designed for small-town homophobes who want to feel tolerant, is basically just an excuse to show Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze, and John Leguizamo in dressesnever mind giving them a plausible reason for wearing themand send them on a cross-country journey to teach stupid straights in Nebraska how to be outrageous and improve their love lives. Douglas Carter Beane is credited with the script and Beeban Kidron with the direction, though whether this is either written or directed is a matter of debate; sadly, the able secondary castStockard Channing, Blythe Danner, Arliss Howard, Jason London, and Chris Pennis disabled, like the leads, by the extenuating circumstances. 108 min. (JR)… Read more »

Unstrung Heroes

After the striking originality of her documentary Heaven, Diane Keaton’s first fiction feature as a director is disappointingly conventionala comedy written by Richard LaGravenese (The Fisher King) about a Jewish boy in New York during the 60s who goes to live with his two highly eccentric and paranoid leftist uncles. Thanks to the performers (including Andie MacDowell and John Turturro), this has a certain amount of charm and warmth, but the period ambience feels both remote and uncertain and the story as a whole is familiara cross between Woody Allen and Neil Simon. With Michael Richards, Maury Chaykin, Nathan Watt, and Kendra Krull. (JR)… Read more »

Devil In A Blue Dress

Carl Franklin (One False Move) directs his own adaptation of a Walter Mosley mystery novel set in Los Angeles in 1948. What’s most memorable about it is the period flavor, including a detailed and precise account of the jim crow complications blacks had to contend with. Denzel Washington is hired to track down a white woman (Jennifer Beals) who hangs out with blacks and finds himself pulled into a complicated intrigue; with Tom Sizemore and Don Cheadle (1995, 102 min.). (JR)… Read more »

Clockers

Though it’s no disgrace, Spike Lee’s 1995 reworking of Richard Price’s adaptation of his own novel (a project originally developed for Martin Scorsese) comes across as neither fish nor fowlunsatisfying as a Price script, but not entirely a Lee movie either. The story involves a Brooklyn crack dealer (Mekhi Phifer) caught between his boss (Delroy Lindo) and a police detective investigating a local murder (Harvey Keitel). The film is ambitious in exploring an ambiguous and complex situation that also involves the dealer’s respectable brother (Isaiah Washington), who unpersuasively confesses to the crime, and Keitel’s sidekick (John Turturro), but the sheer unpleasantness of the story isn’t always justified by its insights. The performances are strong, but the spectator often feels adrift in an overly busy intrigue. With Keith David. R, 128 min. (JR)… Read more »