Daily Archives: August 21, 1987

The Big Easy

Coinciding with the Film Center’s Jim McBride retrospective (whose most provocative program, on Thursday, August 20, combined the flaky sex comedy Hot Times and a brilliant Twilight Zone episode about Elvis, The Once and Future King) is the release of McBride’s least personal and most commercial movie to date. Rewriting a hackneyed crooked-cop story by Beverly Hill Cop’s Daniel Petrie Jr., he gets tense, sexy performances from Dennis Quaid and Ellen Barkin and makes the most of his New Orleans locations. But as in some Cajun cooking, it’s the spices rather than the meat that imparts the essential McBride flavor: offbeat secondary casting (the late, great Charles Ludlam’s eye-rolling defense attorney) and a use of props ranging from the surreal (Mardi Gras floats in a warehouse) to the homey (Quaid’s squeaking gator doll). (Old Orchard, River Oaks, Water Tower)… Read more »

Steve Lacy: Lift the Bandstand/Jackie McLean on Mars

The problem with most jazz documentaries is combining talk with music without allowing either to ride roughshod over the other. Peter Bull’s recent feature about Thelonious Monk disciple and soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy is a stirring object lesson in how to do this without compromising either the performances of Lacy’s inventive sextet or the interest in what Lacy has to say about his career. The mesh isn’t quite so fine in Ken Levis’s short about another postbebop saxophonist. Jackie McLean has some acute things to say about politics, racism, and the music business, but it’s a drag to hear them interrupting his solos; only in an outtake from Shirley Clarke’s The Connection is he allowed to stretch a little. (Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Sunday, August 23, 6:00 and 8:00, 443-3737)… Read more »