Monthly Archives: April 1999

The Adopted Son

A striking first feature (1998) from Kyrgyzstanin fact, the first independent feature ever made in that countryabout everyday life in a rural village, including the pastimes of little boys. The young hero discovers that he’s adopted, following a local tradition of large families giving babies to childless couples. The beautiful cinematography is mainly in black and white, but every shift to color feels like a small miracle, and filmmaker Aktan Abdikalikov is equally adept at building his nuanced sound track piece by piece. (JR) Read more


An interesting, offbeat 1997 French road movie by Manuel Poirier, about a Spanish lady-killer (Sergi Lopez) and a Russian immigrant (Sacha Bourdo) traveling and quarreling their way through Brittany. A rambling but ultimately rather affecting comedy-drama by a talented filmmaker who’s almost completely unknown here, this has a deft feel for lower-middle-class life in rural France that registered strongly on its home front. (JR) Read more


Another Russian gangster film, you may groan at first, as I did at the onset of this 1997 feature by writer-director Alexei Balabanov (who made the remarkable 1995 short Trofilm). But the further this movie develops, the better it gets — not only as a hard-edged look at Russian life today but also as a finely nuanced psychological study. Starring Sergei Bodrov Jr. (Prisoner of the Mountains), this follows the ups and downs of a young man who returns to Saint Petersburg after leaving the army and discovers that his brother is a hit man. In Russian with subtitles. 99 min. (JR) Read more

Bird On A Wire

Mel Gibson plays a state’s witness in hiding who runs into his college girlfriend (Goldie Hawn), now a prominent lawyer, who thought he died in the 60s. They wind up fleeing cross-country together from two murderous corrupt DEA agents (Bill Duke and David Carradine), who are using the government’s computer technology to track them down. John Badham directed this romantic comedy-adventure romp from a script by David Seltzer, Louis Venosta, and Eric Lerner; it isn’t exactly art but it works pretty well as entertainmentat least until the overproduced and undernourished conclusion, where formulaic predictability sets in, along with certain gaps in logic and continuity (e.g., escaping from the deadly killers, the couple write them a note explaining where they’re going). Hawn and Gibson work well together, and both are encouraged to show a lot of leg; with Stephen Tobolowsky and Joan Severance, who manages to shine in a small part despite some far-fetched dialogue. (JR) Read more