Archives - 1993 

  • One False Move

    2018-04-21 21:46:22

    Saved from the ignominy of a straight-to-DVD fate thanks to strong advance word-of-mouth, Carl Franklin's One False Move is a dark, tightly wound thriller which, in its expert fusion of modernist cool and classic film noir, deftly tips its hat to the James Ellroy/JimThompson oeuvre. Written by Billy Bob Thornton (who also essays one of the key roles) and Tom Epperson, the film plots the wayward misfortunes of  three police officers - one of them a country bumpkin sheriff - and three cold-blooded killers whose paths inexorably interesect in a violent showdown one dark night in a lonely Arkansas backwater. Boasting a uniformly excellent cast which, apart from Thorton, includes Bill Paxton, Cynda Williams, Michael Beach and Jim Metzler, Franklin's adroitly assembled B picture leitmotifs - shadowy nightscapes, existential villians, duplicitous dames, portent Freudian conceits - stylistically inform an efficacious crime opus that scene for scene doesn't strike one bad note or make one false move. 

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  • Germinal

    2017-12-25 22:04:49

    Touted as the most expensive French film to date, Germinal is a sprawling, ambitious dramatisation of Emil Zola's 1885 classic novel chronicling a punishing coalminer's strike in the bleak hinterlands of northern France in the 1860s. Adapted by Ariette Langmann and director Claude Berri, the film fairly resonates with the requisite anger and measured passion befitting a polemically-focused, agitprop-leaning, historical epic but at its centre it remains emotionally stunted, invariably eliciting indifference and demurral in equal measure. Boasting the same visual flair and iconographic veracity of Berri's Jean De Florette and Manon des Sources, but devoid of those films' emotional pull, it's a respectable but lumbering saga, earnest in its political acuity and impressive in the verisimilitude of its period design and broad brush sweep. As the idealistic strike leader Etienne Lantier, the imposing Gerard Depardieu straddles the screen with a committed, blustering performance but it's not enough to quicken the film's pulse. Co-stars Miou Miou, Renard and Jean Carnet gamely prop up the ongoing histrionics but it's still a long haul.


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  • The Joy Luck Club

    2017-07-11 01:39:33

    Set in San Francisco, a reunion between four Chinese mothers quickly succumbs to recriminatory undertows as the women begin to ponder, reflect upon and try to rationalise not only the brutal compromises their adopted country has forced upon them, but also the onerous moral imperatives they, by default, have inevitably imposed upon their American-born daughters. Based on Amy Tan's best-selling novel and adapted here by Tan and Roland Bass, this rueful, multi-character rumination on the immigrant experience and the multi-cultural familial ties that alternately bind and blind reworks a well-thumbed format with just enough brio to elevate it a few rungs above the standard issue tear-jerker. Director Wayne Wang, whose last effort was the execrable Life is Cheap . . But Toilet Paper is Expensive, knows the value of a carefully nuanced sentiment and his Asian-American cast, led by veteran France Nuyen and Tamlyn Tomita, never misses a cue. 


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  • Mrs. Doubtfire

    2017-05-19 22:08:31

    As Daniel Hillard, a sometime actor who, in the guise of a 62-year-old Scottish nanny, ingratiates himself in the employ of his estranged wife in order to be close to her and his three kids, Robin Williams reveals how easy it is to hang a slim, one-joke idea on a virtuoso performance. Free of the post-feminist conceits which informed Sydney Pollack's Tootsie (1982), where a temperamental Dustin Hoffman donned drag to score the female lead in a TV soap opera, Mrs Doubtfire, as directed by Chris Columbus, from a screenplay by Randi Mayem Singer and Leslie Dixon, has no qualms about wearing its sentimental heart on its sleeve. Almost unrecognisable in his corpulent female underpadding and senior citizen makeup, the firing-on-all-pistons Williams is in his element here, pinballing hilarious ad-libs and non-sequiturs with a manic zeal not seen since his star turn in Barry Levinson's Good Morning Vietnam back in 1987. Sally Field, Pierce Brosnan and Harvey Fierstein are the co-starring "straight men" who gamely step up to the pitch but wisely concede the picture to Williams' tour-de-force batting.  



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  • Free Willy

    2016-07-21 02:49:54

    Against expectations, this G-rated family film about a street-smart, eleven year-old kid who forms a mystical bond with a killer whale that he helps free from captivity boasts a narrative assurance seldom found in similarly-themed nature adventures. Thematically reminiscent of John Irvin's little-seen Turtle Diary, a disarmingly diverting 1985 British film (from a screenplay by Harod Pinter, no less) featuring Glenda Jackson and Ben Kingsley as a couple of social misfits who decide to kidnap a bunch of turtles from the London Zoo and release them in the sea, Free Willy may sound like a calculated exercise in heart-tugging sentimentality but the genuine and knowing sincerity in Keith A Walker and Corey Blechman's clever screenplay, coupled with director Simon Wincer's astute feel for panoramic imagery, lend it an emotional pull than never feels manipulative or manufactured. It all adds up to an appealing, PG-rated crowd-pleaser capped off by a lyrical end credits montage showing the whale cavorting in the sea with its reunited family. Photogenic newcomer Jason James Richter and his magnificent mammal effortlessly monopolise the film's cute factor, while supporting cast members Michael Madsen, Jayne Atkinson, Lori Petty and August Schellenberg bring up the rear with solid performances.

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