February 11, 1994 |
Not only Hollywood's version of "Philadelphia" has been nominated for Academy Awards. The real world of depravation, stark poverty and heartbreak in North Philly is also up for an Oscar. Nominated for Best Feature Documentary is "I Am a Promise: The Children of Stanton Elementary School. " The powerful 90-minute film looks at the hardships, struggles and small triumphs at an all-black, inner-city school, the M. Hall Stanton School, at 16th and Cumberland streets. The non-fiction "Philadelphia Story" shows kids picking up crack vials in their school yard, a child abandoned by a drug addicted mother and teachers struggling with few resources.
August 28, 1988 |
This may be remembered as the Summer of Controversy. The Last Temptation of Christ continues to spark protest around the country - even as it amasses big numbers at the box office - and now Betrayed is drawing fire. In Fort Worth, Texas, a Republican Party chairman resigned his post because fellow executive-committee members refused to join him in condemning Martin Scorsese's Last Temptation, which he branded as "anti-Christian" and "anti- Republican. " Jim Ryan, who quit the Tarrant County GOP executive committee, called his opponents "satanic.
May 19, 1995 |
With all the recent World War II anniversaries, nostalgia for a supposedly more innocent era in American life is very much in the air. Babes in Arms, the first of the nine movies that Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland made together, is an apt way to set the mood. Filmed in the summer of 1939 and directed by Busby Berkeley, Babes in Arms was outwardly a screen version of the Rodgers and Hart musical. But only two of their songs survived the journey to Hollywood; happily, "Where or When" was one of them.
September 21, 1987 |
If you've read any of Britisher Clive Barker's horror stories, you won't be surprised to learn that his first movie is about someone who comes back from the dead. Barker's main character, Frank Cotton, dies in the first few minutes of the film. The way he dies caused most of the patrons in the theater where I watched the film to put down their popcorn and soft drinks. Most never picked them up again. To experience "ultimate pleasures," Cotton makes a deal with some demons called Cenobites, who appear once Cotton is able to solve a strange puzzle box. But the demons, those little devils, were just kidding.
May 24, 1986 |
In a summer in which Sylvester Stallone (Cobra) and Arnold Schwarzenegger (Raw Deal) threaten to overwhelm the marketplace as the gravestone cops who shoot first, then shoot again, Hal Ashby's 8 Million Ways to Die is a sometimes refreshing reminder that the best cop films are those that argue that a policeman's lot is not a happy one. Ashby's movie is in the same vein, if not the same league, as Tightrope (1984), in which Clint Eastwood revealed another side of his tough screen persona, and last year's To Live and Die in L.A. The film - an intense character study clumsily blended into a thriller in the film noir tradition - has as its protagonist an alcoholic cop who will take a case of bourbon over a criminal case any day, but who is self-aware enough to be a tormented witness to his own personal and professional downfall.
October 9, 1987 |
"The Princess Bride," a comedy/adventure starring Cary Elwes, Robin Wright, Mandy Patinkin and Chris Sarandon. Directed by Rob Reiner. Screenplay by William Goldman, based on his novel of the same name. A Twentieth-Century Fox release. At area theaters. Charm is a very dangerous quality for a moviemaker to pursue. If he doesn't watch out, it could come out coy, cute, arch, precious, silly or even fey. Which makes it all the more impressive that the best word to describe "The Princess Bride," Rob Reiner's new fractured fairy tale, even better than fun, funny, likable or clever, is charming.
October 15, 1986 |
In Jim Jarmusch's Down by Law, a prostitute who is far wiser than her pimp offers a bleak appraisal of social mobility: "America is a big melting pot," she says. "When you bring it to the boil, all the scum rises to the top. " The observation is a sly aside in a movie that Jarmusch has christened a "neo-beat-noir-comedy. " That description doesn't begin to cover what the director of Stranger Than Paradise (1984) has attempted in his third feature. This is an eccentric, delightfully unpredictable grab bag of a film that layers B-movie puns over a black comedy about one man who has just plunged into the melting pot and two who are stuck in the bottom of the barrel.
November 15, 1986 |
Choke Canyon" is a series of stunts in search of a movie. A biplane lands on a bus. A helicopter piggybacks on a truck. A man grabs hold of the undercarriage of a moving jeep and loosens the front axle. Other stunts involve animals, explosives, falls and fistfights. Writers Sheila Goldberg, Ovidio G. Assonitis and Alfonso Brescia have the thankless task of trying to write a movie around all this action. Not surprisingly, they fail. The story lurches ahead on a predetermined course, not letting logic or plot considerations stand in the way. In the opening scene, Stephen Collins, playing a physicist conducting solitary research in the wilds of Choke Canyon, complains about lack of research money.
June 5, 1991 |
Memorial Day has come and gone, the first of the massively hyped summer films has arrived, and America is heading for the cinema to see . . . "Home Alone. " Well, not all of America. But John Hughes' amazingly popular little comedy crept back up into the top 10 this week. It made $1.4 million, which put it in ninth place. Whether this is a vote of no-confidence in the summer blockbusters - or simply a reflection of the tremendous appeal of Macauley Culkin - is open to question.
September 9, 2010 |
The story of Ronald Reagan's life - from boyhood to Hollywood actor to leader of the free world - is about to spill out on the big screen in a way quite different from the miniseries that caused such a stir seven years ago. The feature film, titled "Reagan" and sporting a $30 million production budget, is set for release late next year and will be based on two best-selling biographies of the 40th U.S. president by Paul Kengor: "The Crusader" and "God...