This engrossing film about a man who unexpectedly risks everything to help someone who'd only recently been a stranger opens in 1815, with August King ("Rush's" Jason Patric) returning home from market. His wife and child are dead. Into his life crashes Annalees ("Jefferson in Paris'" Thandie Newton), a young female slave escaped from wealthy landowner Olaf Singletary (Larry Drake, in a complex turn far different than his kind-hearted Benny on TV's "L.A. Law"). Olaf cries from emotional pain at the loss of his house slave, but he still considers her one of his possessions and demands that she be found and returned "unsullied." After directing her to head north, August decides to help her, placing his own property in jeopardy so that Annalees won't again become someone else's.Read more
Laurent Benegui's successful adaptation of his own novel about the closing night of a favorite neighborhood restaurant after 30 years recalls "Babette's Feast," and with good reason: Food is as central a character here as it was in that film, and the female lead, Stephane Audran, also played Babette.
As the close friends and family of proprietors Josephine (Audran) and Hip-polyte (Michel Aumont) unite for a final meal, the story jumps across time, with everything--flashbacks and current conversation--taking place at the same Paris restaurant, Au Petit Marguery. We revisit the restaurant on its opening night, witness family arguments and overhear intimate details in this place that will be and has been a pivotal part of their lives.
There's relatively little to differentiate "Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain" from the usual adventure-themed "family" film other than the fact that its adventurers are girls. If not for the talents of Christina Ricci and Anna Chlumsky, the whole affair would be an excruciatingly adolescent exercise in formulaic genre storytelling. Backed by handsome production values and a rousing score by Joel McNeely, director Kevin James Dobson almost succeeds at masking Barry Glasser's glaringly pedestrian screenplay. But even with this fancy wrapping "Gold Diggers" quickly becomes dull. Starring Christina Ricci and Anna Chlumsky. Directed by Kevin James Dobson. Written by Barry Glasser. Produced by Martin Bregman, Rolf Deyhle and Michael S. Bregman.Read more
Based on a Chris Radant short story, this dramedy about the whys and wherefores of Thanksgiving family reunions is, in the hands of director/producer Jodie Foster (who made the effectively quiet "Little Man Tate"), surprisingly overwrought. As it opens, struggling painter-turned-museum art restorer Claudia (an oddly off-the-mark Holly Hunter) simultaneously receives a budget-cut ax, sexually attacks her now-former boss and has a sneezing fit, and thus the maniacal yet high-brow tone part "Ordinary People," part "Animal House" is set. Woven into the tale of Claudia's ensuing return home for the holiday are her daughter Kitt (Claire Danes), who announces she's soon to lose her virginity; brother Tommy (Robert Downey Jr.Read more
Screened at Telluride. Of the two upcoming period films scripted by Christopher Hampton and about unconventional relationships between artists, "Total Eclipse" is significantly less successful than "Carrington." Here, the dissipated French poet Paul Verlaine (David Thewlis) in flashback recalls his meeting in 1871 Paris with Arthur Rimbaud (Leonardo DiCaprio), whose poetry would eclipse Verlaine's work, and his subsequent involvement with the unconventional young man. First seen at age 16, Rimbaud is often obnoxious, with a juvenile urge to shock. He publicly insults poets during readings, even urinating from the table. Eventually, Rimbaud and the married Verlaine become lovers.Read more
In this Joel Silver actioner's big scene, a chase along a freeway, two vehicles collide and explode--except the film's pyrotechnics crew, close examination shows, detonated the explosives a moment before the vehicles touch. Then there's the hurried ending aboard a surprisingly unpopulated center-of-black-ops ship, aboard which a Miami detective (William Baldwin) and a babealicious lawyer (Cindy Crawford) defeat a former KGB operative (Steven Berkoff) whose killer cronies have been pursuing them; detective shows up, grabs the girl, the ship sinks. Did Silver run out of coin? A ...Read more
A faux documentary about the death and remembered life of underground German filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim, "Neurosia: Funfzig Jahre Pervers" captured the best gay film prize at the '95 Locarno fest. One would pray that means it was the only gay film at the fest, because this is alternative moviemaking in the Ed Wood school. Inept scene disconnectedly follows inept scene, with the maverick director (a first-generation Gregg Araki) more interested in shock and very safe self-parody than in looking back with real insight over a heralded/even-more-reviled career that began in 1970 with the ground-breaking "Die Bettwurst" ("Bed Sausage") and "It's Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Situation in Which He Lives.Read more