Daily Archives: June 22, 1999

Twice Upon A Yesterday

Europudding incoherence with minor virtues. Director Maria Ripoll and writer Rafa Russo are Spanish, their characters are Spanish and English, and the setting is London; but the milieu, as far as I can tell, is effectively nowhere. An unpleasant and manipulative English actor (Douglas Henshall) sabotages his relationship with his longtime girlfriend (Lena Headey), then gets to go back in time and relive the experience, making different decisions this time around. The premise sounds promising, but the working out of the possibilities is relatively laborious, and arch references to Don Quixote don’t help. With Penelope Cruz, Charlotte Coleman, and Elizabeth McGovern. (JR)… Read more »

The Climb

Previously known by the equally bad title Straight Through the Heart, this 1997 drama is a good example of a certain kind of American feature: although it’s better than 80 percent of the movies that get shoved in your face, it has no public profile because there’s no studio muscle behind it. Set in a Baltimore suburb in 1959, it focuses on courageas it relates to a 12-year-old boy (Small Soldiers’s Gregory Smith) who wants to climb a radio tower near his home; to a bitter neighbor (John Hurt) dying of lung cancer who wants the boy’s assistance in putting him out of his misery; and to the boy’s father (John Sayles regular David Strathairn), who’s perpetually bullied by the local drunk because he didn’t serve in the war. The script by Vince McKewin, which has some of the feeling and conviction of lived experience, tends to avoid easy effects, and the Evanston-born director, Bob Swaimbest known for his French thriller La balance and Half Moon Streetdoes a fine job of handling the actors and charting the movie’s physical terrain. There’s a hair-raising action climax and a lot of fine shading in the characterizations; I hope you’re as pleasantly surprised as I was.… Read more »