Monthly Archives: July 1990

Earth Girls Are Easy

This delightful 1989 pop-fantasy musical about Valley girls and extraterrestrials gives the talented English director Julien Temple an opportunity to show his stuff in an all-American context. The results are less ambitious and dazzling than his Absolute Beginners, but loads of fun nevertheless: his satirical yet affectionate view of southern California glitz is full of grace and energy. Nicely scripted by costar Julie Brown, Charlie Coffey, and Terrence E. McNally; with Geena Davis, Jeff Goldblum, Jim Carrey, and Damon Wayans. 100 min. (JR) Read more

Ducktales: The Movietreasure Of The Lost Lamp

The Disney people in France offer the first Uncle Scrooge McDuck animated feature, produced and directed by Bob Hathcock from a script by Alan Burnett. While the animation isn’t top drawer, the plot and characters are fairly diverting. Scrooge with his niece, three nephews, and an apparent derivation of Gyro Gearloose named Launchpad fly to North Africa and uncover a lost treasure, including a magic lamp containing a genie (a subdued version of Daffy Duck) who grants them three wishes apiecewhile villain Merlock and his Arab servant Dijon plot to get the goodies back. Ideologically speaking, this seems a lot more self-aware than the Disney cartoon features of the 40s and 50s; the plot’s charting of the Arab takeover of Scottish-American wealth makes the story seem more up-to-date than the Indiana Jones epics, and Scrooge’s miserliness is also a bit kinder and gentler (a la Bush) than it used to be, perhaps in keeping with the same overall strategy. With the voices of Alan Young, Richard Libertini, Christopher Lloyd, and Rip Taylor. (JR) Read more

Chicago Joe And The Showgirl

Although it’s based on a disturbing true storythe so-called cleft-chin murder case that swept the English press in 1944this period drama, written by David A. Yallop and directed by Bernard Rose, is served up in the form of fanciful and stylish nostalgia (evocative at times of both The Singing Detective and Bonnie and Clyde), perhaps because the power of fantasy is mainly what it’s about. Emily Lloyd and Kiefer Sutherland star as an aspiring 18-year-old movie star and a 22-year-old American serviceman who claims to have Chicago gangster connections. They meet during the London bombings and spur on each other’s fantasies until they’ve embarked on a life of crime. The results aren’t uniformly successful, but the film’s production design (by Gemma Jackson) is a knockout, and Lloyd and Sutherland make a pretty steamy couple. With Patsy Kensit and Keith Allen. (JR) Read more

The Belly Of An Architect

A middle-aged Chicago architect (Brian Dennehy) goes to Rome with his much younger wife (Chloe Webb) to mount an exhibition of the work of 18th-century French architect Etienne-Louis Boullee. He suffers a midlife crisis that includes a psychosomatic intestinal disorder and paranoia about his wife, which pushes her into an affair with a younger architect (Lambert Wilson), even after she discovers she’s pregnant with her husband’s child. All the characters are uniformly obnoxious, and director Peter Greenaway (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover) lingers over suffering even more than in his other features. There’s less physical mutilation this timeapart from a witty minor subplot about an Italian who removes the noses from statuesbut plenty of Greenaway’s preoccupation with art patronage, as well as his usual symmetrical framing and plotting and lots of educated lecturing on architecture, bellies, and Isaac Newton. Shot by the impeccable Sacha Vierny (1987). R, 118 min. (JR) Read more

Barroco

This feature by the talented Mexican director Paul Leduc (Reed: Insurgent Mexico and Frida) was apparently inspired by more than adapted from Concierto barroco, a novel by the celebrated Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier. A musical pageant without dialogue that recounts the history of Latin America, it includes elements of magical realism and the converging influences (musical and otherwise) of Native Americans, Spanish conquistadores, and African slaves. As in Frida, the impulse to work without dialogue leads to broad strokes and a certain amount of simplicity; there are certainly moments of interest, but often it’s as easy to be lulled by the camera movements, settings, and music as to be captivated by them. The actors and performers include Angela Molina, Francisco Rabal, Silvio Rodriguez, Pablo Milanes, and Van Van (1989). (JR) Read more

The Alamo

John Wayne directed and starred in this interminable 1960 western epic (originally 199 minutes, later reduced to 161), which has a much better supporting cast (Richard Widmark, Laurence Harvey, Richard Boone, Carlos Arruza, and Chill Willsnot to mention Frankie Avalon and Pat Wayne) than The Green Berets, his subsequent film as a director. John Ford reportedly lent a hand in the direction, but it’s still a long way to the final attack. (JR) Read more

The Adventures Of Ford Fairlane

Director Renny Harlin’s second summer 1990 releaseafter Die Hard 2features notorious hate comedian Andrew Dice Clay as a detective looking into the death of a heavy-metal singer (Motley Crue’s Vince Neil). Stylish trash given Harlin’s usual efficient (if soulless) polish, this makes Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer seem like a feminist; as Gary Giddins has suggested, it’s Jerry Lewis’s Buddy Love from The Nutty Professor without a shred of irony or shading, aimed pretty squarely at sexually insecure male adolescents and no one else. It’s especially doomed by a strained script (by Daniel Waters, James Cappe, and David Arnott) that recalls certain bottom-of-the-barrel Bob Hope vehicles of the 50s in its attempts to be brittle and self-mocking in its humor. (As far as I can tell, there isn’t one laugh in sight.) With Wayne Newton, Priscilla Presley, Morris Day, and Robert Englund, and a music score by Yello. (JR) Read more