The winner of the Genie award for best Canadian documentary is a fascinating account of of the remarkable Charles E. Bedaux. French-born, Bedaux came to New York at age 19 with a dollar in his pocket and a penny's knowledge of English. By 1934, he was one of the five richest men in America, the creator of a new time unit that measured efficiency in factories, a sponsor of grand explorations and, as "The Champagne Safari" makes clear, a Nazi collaborator.
Anchoring this documentary is newly found footage of Bedaux's ill-fated 1934 expedition across the uncharted Canadian R...
In this Rysher production--part sloppy dog jumping on you for affection, part visual essay on the origins of suburban row housing--a 1950s' single mom (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) with two sons ("The Cure's" Joseph Mazzello and Seth Mumy) takes in an odd drifter (Patrick Swayze) and his dog; not surprisingly, he becomes surrogate husband and father. Hints are dropped there's more to his oddness than his unkempt appearance and penchant for nude sunbathing, but it's all left murky till the final reel. The cast brings as much as can be expected, but the film-makers would have done better to craft a clear story in place of a disjointed series of sentimental episodes tied together by some platitudes at film's end.Read more
After centuries of blood-sucking in the Bermuda Triangle, a vampire named Maximillian (Eddie Murphy) makes his way to Brooklyn to find a half-vampire woman (Angela Bassett) whom he intends to take as his mate. Unfortunately for him, the woman, a detective named Rita, is unaware of her "true nature" and already is the object of her partner Justice's (Allen Payne) secret admiration. For both Murphy and director Wes Craven, "Vampire in Brooklyn" is an odd change of pace, and it does justice to neither. Essentially little more than a romantic triangle with a "good versus evil" twist, it's not a bad film, but it is also neither winningly funny enough to exploit Murphy's talents nor bitingly scary enough to exploit Craven's.Read more
Screened at Toronto. Woody's Allen's latest comedy is an unfunny attempt at mixing Greek mythology with his usual cast of upper-middle class New Yorkers. Allen plays sportswriter Lenny Weinrib, who along with his wife (Helena Bonham Carter), an art gallery owner, adopts a baby boy. The child is smart, but Lenny becomes obsessed with discovering who his mother is. After a long search, he finds her: a porn star/prostitute (Mira Sorvino). This prompts Lenny to try to sort out her life, even as his marriage begins to crumble. As a modern Judy Holliday, Sorvino is priceless; sexy, salacious, innocent and oblivious, she gives a star-making performance -- in some ways similar to Jennifer Tilly's turn in Allen's "Bullets Over Broadway".Read more
This emotionally wrenching but often formulaic morality tale opens with the high-tension scene of a mother dying from trauma just after giving birth to an albino child whose brainwave activity is off the chart. He's left in the care of his grandparents but, when they die 16 years later, the boy (Sean Patrick Flanery), nicknamed Powder because of his stark-white complexion, is taken from the basement where he's lived in total isolation and is introduced into a predominantly unaccepting society. It doesn't help that Powder is charged with a powerful electric current somehow connected with his ESP and supergenius I.Q.Read more
In this grippingly suspenseful thriller, Oscar winner Holly Hunter stars opposite Sigourney Weaver as the two unite against a "Seven"-like serial killer who's been copycatting infamous murders. Not a movie for the weak-willed, "Copycat" overflows with footage of bloodied women's bodies (perhaps more than is necessary) to create the repulsion and fear that comes with a mass murderer on the loose. But, as a thriller, the story lives up to its name, taking the viewer on an intense ride with many fast turns. Starring Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver. Directed by Jon Amiel. Written by Ann Biderman and Jay Presson Allen. Produced by Arnon Milchan and Mark Tarlov. A Warner Bros. release. Drama. Rated R for violence and language. Running time: 123 min.Read more
Screened at Toronto. This raw and unrelenting portrait of a man (Nicholas Cage) who gives up his desire to live by drinking himself toward oblivion in Las Vegas and of a street-smart hooker (Elisabeth Shue) who clings to him in a desperate need to find reasons to live is the most difficult kind of film to pull off. In pictures like "Days of Wine and Roses," "Barfly" and "When a Man Loves a Woman," the temptation is to offset boozing's ugliness with a story of redemption. In "Leaving Las Vegas," writer/director Mike Figgis strives not to capitulate to that tired -and-true formula.Read more