Daily Archives: April 8, 1996

The Last Supper

The ultimate exercise in dehumanizing liberals, this is a very silly 1995 black comedy about five Iowa graduate students and housemates (Cameron Diaz, Annabeth Gish, Ron Eldard, Jonathan Penner, and Courtney B. Vance) who throw a series of dinner parties in order to poison their bigoted right-wing guests and bury them in their backyard. The notion here of what constitutes a liberal (and of what constitutes a right-wing bigot) is scaled down to the level of, say, a sitcom written by Newt Gingrich during his lunch breaks. The automatic trivialization of human beings, to say nothing of political positions, is the sine qua non of this kind of goof, and you may get a fleeting kick out of it if you’re sufficiently alienated from both. Stacy Title directed the Dan Rosen script; with Nora Dunn, Charles Durning, Mark Harmon, Bill Paxton, and Ron Perlman. (JR)… Read more »

Fear

James Foley (After Dark, My Sweet, Glengarry Glen Ross) is one of the best studio directors around, and even if you feel ambivalent about the subgenre he adopts here (working as uncredited cowriter with Christpher Crowe), you can’t deny that he knows how to deliver the goods. A 16-year-old girl in Seattle (Reese Witherspoon) falls for a young man (Mark Wahlberg) with a troubled background who eventually becomes obsessed with her. Complicating the issue at least momentarily are the feelings of her own father (William Petersen) about her budding sexuality. If you’re only looking for brutal jolts you’ll probably get impatient; the buildup is at least as gradual as in Hitchcock’s The Birds, and Foley has a fine sense of shading in depicting a slightly dysfunctional family. The problem with this subgenre is the way it has to demonize and dehumanize its villains in order to produce the desired effect, which brutalizes the spectator along with the story and characters. If you can accept this limitation, this is a very efficient piece of machinery. With Alyssa Milano and Amy Brenneman. (JR)… Read more »