Daily Archives: March 1, 1994

Flight Of The Innocent

A boy (Manuel Colao) caught in the crossfire of a Sicilian family feud flees to Rome, where his skirmishes with the Mafia continue. Carlos Carlei’s pretentious and arty American-style thriller, an Italian-French coproduction featuring not many thrills but lots of grandiloquent grandstanding, was understandably dismissed by European critics when it showed at the Venice film festival. But over here it won the director a Hollywood contract. Could the slow-motion, blood-spurting deaths a la Peckinpah be responsible, or is it the burnished gold hue of Raffaele Mertes’s cinematography? Or, better yet, the cackling villains and ethnic-cleansing ambience of compulsive tribalism? As in the case of Lina Wertmuller and Heaven’s Gate, the Europeans appear to be right; with Jacques Perrin. (JR)… Read more »


A watchable, occasionally charming, but less than stirring 1993 Italian feature by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, about Tuscany and a family curse. It… Read more »


Now let’s have a show of hands: how many want to see Martin Short play a ten-year-old brat who makes everybody miserable and winds up staying with his uncle (Charles Grodin) in Los Angeles for a week? Of those who do, how many are willing to go without any laughs, largely thanks to a director, SCTV’s Paul Flaherty, who has yet to learn how to make a funny movie? And is there anyone, apart from the screenwriters (Jay Dee Rock and Bobby Von Hayes), who wants this movie constructed as a flashback, in the form of a cautionary tale told to a bad boy by the priest the brat has become? Those who still have their hands up will have a ball. Mary Steenburgen and Dabney Coleman costar. (JR)… Read more »

Between The Teeth

It may not be fashionable to be (mildly) bored by David Byrne, but Lewis Kahn, one of his backup musicians, mechanically and distractedly running through his obligatory backup two-step between trombone solos proves I’m not alone. Truthfully, the only thing that seems meagre in this concert film, taped in 1992 in Red Bank, New Jersey, is the music; the showmanship and filmmaking, with directorial duties shared by Byrne (a veteran at this sort of thing) and David Wild, are impeccable, and the editing goes a long way toward making the proceedings less stale. This is no Stop Making Sense, but it functions, I guess. (JR)… Read more »

Aileen Wuornos: The Selling Of A Serial Killer

This 1992 English documentary has a lot in common with the second part of Norman Mailer’s The Executioner’s Song, the subject being the merchandising of death-row killers by the media, though here we also get the participation of the police, the convicted killer’s lawyer, and others. In more ways than one, this grim, sordid, and violent Florida story is a tale of buffoonsapart from Wuornos herself, who seems sad, brutalized, and enraged well beyond buffoonery. But where does that leave documentarist Nick Broomfield, who doesn’t breathe a word about the monetary benefits he’s reaping from this muckraking exercise? Are we to conclude that his motives don’t need to be examined? This is about as interesting in a scuzzy sort of way as the Vanity Fair article about the same case; as in other Broomfield documentaries (Chicken Ranch and Driving Me Crazy), the rhetoric indicates more noble intentions on the part of the filmmaker than anything we see or hear. (JR)… Read more »

The Abyss: Special Edition

The third collaboration of writer-director James Cameron and producer Gale Anne Hurd was a big-budget action thriller about a group of underwater oil diggers who go looking for a lost nuclear submarine and wind up encountering extraterrestrials. Shot largely underwater and with direct sound, it had a visceral kick to it that enhanced Cameron’s flair for high-tech special effects and streamlined storytelling, but the attempt to extract the essences of several genres (cold-war submarine thriller, love story, Disney fantasy, pseudomystical SF in the Spielberg mode) and mix them together ultimately led to giddy incoherence. This special edition, actually Cameron’s original three-hour cut, is 27 minutes longer than the 1989 version, and according to most descriptions it’s also vastly superior. (JR)… Read more »