Dennis Schwartz'
Short Reviews 
'D'  28

 



DAMAGE (FATALE) (director/writer: Louis Malle; screenwriter: David Hare/based on the book by Joseph Hart; cinematographer: Peter Biziou; editor: John Bloom; cast: Jeremy Irons (Dr. Stephen Fleming), Miranda Richardson (Ingrid Fleming), Rupert Graves (Martyn Fleming), Juliette Binoche (Anna Barton), Ian Bannen (Edward Lloyd), Leslie Caron (Elizabeth Prideaux); Runtime: 111; New Line Cinema; 1992-France/UK) ... Reviewed on 7/21/2001.

A cold and calculating tale about uncontrolled passion that lacks conviction. A family is torn apart by an affair. A Tory minister (Irons) meets his son's (Graves) new girlfriend (Binoche) at a cocktail party and becomes obsessed with her. It makes for a thin, predictable story, leading down a familiar road of ritzy London townhouses. It's based on the best-seller by Joseph Hart. The performers bring nothing new to their roles. GRADE: C-



DAY OF THE OUTLAW (director: Andre De Toth; screenwriters: Philip Yordan/from the story by L.E. Wells; cinematographer:Russell Harlan; editor: Robert Lawrence; music: Alexander Courage; cast: Robert Ryan (Blaise Starrett), Burl Ives (Jack Bruhn), Tina Louise (Helen Crane), Jack Lambert (Tex), Nehemiah Persoff (Dan), Alan Marshal (Hal Crane); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Sidney Harmon; United Artists; 1959)

This, the director's last western, is a beaut. In this neglected low-budget film, De Toth presents a brutal picture of renegade cavalrymen on the run. They invade a town and borrow 4 of its women, trapping the townspeople by holding them hostage to their demands. This is bleak film, reflecting the stark snowbound landscape and the futility of the town. Burl, as the leader of these men, keeps control of them--but he's dying. When he finds out that Ryan will lead them out of town in an escape route that doesn't exist, meaning death for all of them, he refuses to say anything about this to his men. The raw power lies in its unflinching realism, like when Ives tells Ryan: "I guess every fool has his reason." GRADE: B+ 



DEAD CALM (director: Phillip Noyce; screenwriters: Terry Hayes/book by Charles Williams; cinematographer: Dean Semler; editor: Richard Francis-Bruce; music: Graeme Revell; cast: Nicole Kidman (Rae Ingram), Sam Neill (John Ingram), Billy Zane (Hughie Warriner), Joshua Tilden (Danny), George Shevtsov (Doctor), Rod Mullinar (Russell Bellows), Michael Long (Specialist Doctor); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Terry Hayes/George Miller/Doug Mitchell; Warner Brothers; 1989-Australia)

A decent film if you don't mind seeing a claustrophobic, tension-filled yarn about three people on two boats. On one of the boats is the psychopathic killer Zane holding Kidman hostage while her husband, the straight-laced sea captain, Neill, is stuck on the boat Zane abandoned. GRADE: C



DECKS RAN RED, THE (director: Andrew L. Stone; cast: James Mason, Dorothy Dandridge, Broderick Crawford, Stuart Whitman; 1958)

Offbeat sea tale about conspiring sailors aboard a freighter who wish to cause a mutiny and then kill off the crew so that they could collect a million dollar reward for bringing the ship back intact with its valuable cargo. Crawford is the evil one, stirring up trouble by talking behind the officer's back and then carrying out his plan to murder the crew. This is an exciting movie. It covers themes such as a man's ambition and his work ethic. Mason is convincing as the captain who wants to do his duty while he fights off the evil forces that afffected his first command. GRADE: B-



DEEP IMPACT (director: Mimi Leder; screenwriters: Michael Tolkin/Bruce Joel Rubin; cinematographer: Dietrich Lohmann; editor: David Rosenbloom; cast: Robert Duvall (Spurgeon Tanner), Tea Leoni (Jenny Lerner), Elijah Wood (Leo Biederman), Vanessa Redgrave (Robin Lerner), Maximilian Schell (Jason Lerner), Leelee Sobieski (Sarah Hotchner), Morgan Freeman (President Beck), James Cromwell (Alan Rittenhouse), Mary McCormack (Andrea Baker), Blair Underwood (Mark Simon), Dougray Scott (Eric Vennekor), Ron Eldard (Oren Monash), Alexander Baluev (Mikhail Tulchinsky), Jon Favreau (Gus Partenza), Charles Martin Smith (comet expert); Runtime: 121; Dreamorks/Paramount; 1998)

A disaster of a disaster film, as presented by Steven Spielberg's Dreamorks. It falls into the special effect dreck category. "Deep Impact" had no emotional impact except for the inconvenience it caused the citizens as they learned from President Morgan Freeman that a meteor the size of Mt. Everest is heading towards Earth and should within a year hit its target with a deadly force. The only one who can save the Earth is Robert Duvall and he's on a joint U.S.-Russian nuclear spacecraft Messiah, whose mission is to intercept the comet and nuke it. This secret was kept for a year as the comet was discovered by Elijah Wood for his high school astronomer's club, and the story is broken by an ambitious reporter for one of the cable TV stations, Tea Leoni. The story was delivered in pure formula style. GRADE: D



DELICATE ART OF THE RIFLE, THE (director: D.W. Harper; cast: David Grant, Stephen Grant, Jon Kessel; 1996)

This independent film spoofs a day in the life of a sniper. There are no revealing insights, but lots of sight gags and inane dialogue. In the background students at the university rehearse Shakespeare. The film restructured the '60s Texas Tower shootings, where a sniper for no apparent reason fired on a crowd. It should be noted that the sniper's name was Walt Whitman (a name hardly representing the poet). The film sets a mood of contrasts: light and dark. This film is not for all tastes. I found it somewhat tasty, but still not a healthy enough meal for me to feel completely sated. GRADE: B- 



DELUSION  (director/writer: Carl Colpaert; screenwriter: Kurt Voss; cinematographer: Geza Sinkovics; editor: Mark Allan Kaplan; music: Barry Adamson; cast: Jim Metzler (George O'Brien), Jennifer Rubin (Patti), Kyle Secor (Chevy), Robert Costanzo (Myron Sales), Jerry Orbach (Larry); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Daniel Hassid; IRS Media/RCA; 1991)

A noir road movie, as computer executive Jim Metzler embezzles a huge sum of money by creatively altering the books during a recent takeover of the company he works for and heads by car to Reno. Unfortunately, he picks up a couple, Jennifer Rubin and contract killer Kyle Secor, who hold him hostage as Secor does his contract on fellow gangster Jerry Orbach. Death Valley scenery, quirky characters, lots of plot twists, and fast-paced direction, help move this forgettable film along to oblivion. The film can't get you emotionally involved in the characters, but it had its bizarre moments in the sun. GRADE: C+



DESIGNATED MOURNER, THE (director: David Hare; screenwriter: Wallace Shawn/based on Mr. Shawn's play; cinamatographer: Oliver Stapleton; editor: George Akers; music: Richard Hartley; cast: Mike Nichols (Jack), Miranda Richardson (Judy), David de Keyser (Howard); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Donna Gray/David Hare; First Look Pictures; 1997-UK)

A pretentiously boring talkfest from the literati playwright Wallace Shawn. It is about the triumph of lowbrow culture, which is perceived as the death of civilization. An elderly man, the dissident poet (de Keyser), his daughter, the dissident highbrow (Richardson), and his son-in-law, the journalist (Nichols), sit behind a desk and talk to the camera while each delivers a monologue. They recall their relationship to each other and to what they considered highbrow and lowbrow art. This work is clearly a theater piece, and the still camera has virtually nothing to do in this film but remain still. It was shot in three days. References to such paragons of the cultural elite as John Donne, cannot  make the pic lyrical. Nichols dominates the stage, exclaiming at one point: "I understood that my self was just a pile of bric-a-brac." GRADE: B-



DESTINATION MOON (director: Irving Pichel; screenwriter: based on the novel Rocketship Galileo by Robert A. Heinlein/ Robert A. Heinlein /Alford Van Ronkel / James O'Hanlon; cinematographer: Lionel Lindon; editor: Duke Goldstone; music: Leith Stevens; cast: (John Archer (Jim Barnes), Warner Anderson (Dr. Charles Cargraves), Tom Powers (General Thayer), Dick Wesson (Joe Sweeney), Erin O'Brien-Moore (Emily Cargraves), Ted Ward (Brown); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: George Pal; Eagle-Lion; 1950)

This early sci-fi'er is distinguished by some innovative special effects, its highly technical explanations of the space flight, and its highly patriotic message of let's beat the Russians to the moon. The implication is, if we don't then there is no way to prevent an attack from outer space. The film has a weak plot and terrible acting and paper thin characterizations, as it tells of a private group of scientist in defiance of the American government who take a trip to the moon just before there is a court order to stop it. The plot of the story was more incredulous than any of the machinations regarding the real first trip to the moon, which came about 19 years after the film. GRADE: C-



DESTRY RIDES AGAIN (director: George Marshall; screenwriters:Felix Jackson/Gertrude Purcell/Henry Myers/story by Max Brand ; cinematographer: Hal Mohr; editor: Milton Carruth; music: Frank Skinner; cast: James Stewart (Tom Destry), Marlene Dietrich (Frenchy), Charles Winninger (Wash Dimsdale), Brian Donlevy (Kent), Una Merkel (Lily Belle Callahan), Mischa Auer (Boris Callahan); Runtime: 94; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Joe Pasternak; Universal; 1939)

A comical Western. The pacifist Steward is taming the town with his humor. Marlene sings, gets romantic, and is marvelous. A very good spoof of the Old West. GRADE: B 



DEVIL - DOLL, THE (director/writer: Tod Browning; screenwriters: Garrett Ford/Guy Endore/Eric Von Stroheim/from the novel by Abraham Merritt  Burn Witch Burn; cinematographer: Leonard Smith; editor: Frederick Y. Smith; music: Franz Waxman; cast: Lionel Barrymore (Paul Lavond), Maureen O’Sullivan (Lorraine Lavond), Raffaela Ottiano (Malita), Frank Lawton (Toto), Henry B. Walthall (Marcel), Robert Greig (Emil Coulvet), Grace Ford (Lachna), Pedro de Cordoba (Charles Matin), Arthur Hohl (Radin), Lucy Beaumont (Madame Lavond), Claire Du Brey (Mme. Coulvet); Runtime: 79; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Tod Browning/E.J. Mannix; MGM; 1936) ... Reviewed on 10/29/2001.

Paul Lavond (Barrymore) was a respected banker in Paris when he was framed for robbery. He escapes from Devil's Island prison in France and disguises himself as an old matron when he finds residence in a mad scientist's house. The premise being that the scientist invented the atom-shrinking process, which Barrymore uses to get his revenge. The inventor dies and Barrymore carries on the work in a toy shop with the help of his crazed widow Rafaela Ottiano. He gets his revenge and confession from the three guilty parties, and lives to see his daughter (O'Sullivan) forgive him and marry the nice guy Toto. The script was creaky, but there were some creepy scenes of the dolls who are real people reduced in size to miniature beings. The film was too mushy for Browning's dark vision, but there was one very dark scene of a doll as a Christmas tree ornament coming down the tree to get revenge for Barrymore -- that gives the film its proper mood. GRADE: B



DEVIL IN THE FLESH (director: Claude Autant-Lara; screenwriters: Jean Aurenche/Pierre Bost/from the novel by Raymond Radiguet; cinematographer: Michel Kelber; editor: Madeleine Gug; music: René Cloerec; cast: Gerard Philipe (Francois), Micheline Presle (Marthe), Denise Grey (Madame Graingier), Jean Debucourt (M. Jaubert), Jean Varas (Jacques Lacombe); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Paul Graetz; Universal International; 1947-dubbed into English)

WW1 love story about a high school student, Gerard Philipe, who falls in love with an older woman (Micheline Presle). She is engaged to a soldier in the battlefield, whom she marries while this love affair is going on. She then decides that she doesn't love him. Interesting period piece, that captures the French wartime mood in 1918. The story holds up well but it is poorly dubbed into English, which somewhat weakens the film. It is told in flashback, through the eyes of Gerard, who is barred from his lover's funeral. That happens to coincide with the date of the Armistice. GRADE: B-



DEVIL IN THE FLESH (director/writer: Steve Cohen; screenwriters: from the story by Richard Brandes & Kurt Anderson/Robert McCall/Kelly Carlin-McCall/Michael Michaud; cinematographer: Joseph Montgomery; editor: Michael Thibault; music: Michael Burns/Steve Gurevitch; cast: Rose McGowan (Debbie Strand), Alex McArthur (Peter), Sherrie Rose (Marilyn), Peg Shirley (Fiona), Phil Morris (Det. Joe Rosales), Robert Silver (Det. Phil Archer), Krissy Carlson (Meegan), Wendy Robie (Joyce Saunders); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Kurt Anderson/Richard Brandes; Ardustry Home Entertainment; 1998)

This film tried too hard to be funny and absurd. A beautiful psychopathic high schooler (Rose McGowan) becomes obsessed with her macho creative writing teacher (Alex McArthur), who is only interested in looking at her cleavage. His steady is a gorgeous airline hostess (Sherrie Rose) whom he has a mild spat with, giving McGowan (the girlfriend of rocker Marilyn Manson) a chance to go after the idiotic teacher. When he dumps her, a trail of dead bodies start showing up all leading to the trail of the deranged McGowan. GRADE: D



DEVIL, PROBABLY, THE (director/writer: Robert Bresson; cinematographer: Pasqualino De Santis; editor: Germaine Lamy; music: Philippe Sarde; cast: Laelita Carcano (Edwige), Henri De Maublanc (Michel), Nicolas Deguy (Valentin), Geoffrey Gaussen (Bookseller), Régis Hanrion (Dr. Mime), Robert Honorat (Commissioner), Tina Irissari (Alberte), Antoine Monnier (Charles); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Stéphane Tchalgadjieff; New Yorker Films; 1977-France-in French with English subtitles)

An opaque look at the student movement in the Paris of the '70s, that raises more questions than it answers. The disenfranchised Charles (Monnier) rejects everything about his culture, the revolutionary movement, societies' crimes against nature, his romantic relationships, and chooses suicide as a pure way to voice his opinion of the horrors of what the government is doing and how small in scope the individual has become. It's a bleak film. GRADE: B-



DIABOLIQUE (director/writer/producer: Henri-Georges Clouzot; screenwriters: Jerome Geronimi/Frederic Grendel/Rene Masson/based on the novel Celle Qui N'etait Pas by Pierre Boileau and Thomas Narcejac; cinematographer: Armand Thirard; editor: Madeleine Gug; music: Georges Van Parys; cast: Simone Signoret (Nicole Horner), Vera Clouzot (Christina Delasalle), Paul Meurisse (Michel Delasalle), Charles Vanel (Inspector Fichet), Noel Roquevert (M. Herboux), Thérèse Dorny (Mme. Herboux); Runtime: 107; MPAA Rating: NR; Kino International; 1955-France-in French with English subtitles)

Signoret, as the teacher in a boarding school, conspires with Clouzot to eliminate the head master, who is Clouzot's beastly husband. The plot is filled with twists and suspense. The camera acts as judge, watching and recording the events as the characters get more embroiled in their own irrationalities. This is a strong, acrimonious film, tinged with irony. GRADE: B+


DIAL M FOR MURDER (director/producer: Alfred Hitchcock; screenwriter: Frederick Knott/from the play by Mr. Knott; cinematographer: Robert Burks; editor: Rudi Fehr; music: Dimitri Tiomkin; cast: Ray Milland (Tom Wendice), Grace Kelly (Margot Wendice), Robert Cummings (Mark Halliday), Anthony Dawson (Captain Swan Lesgate), John Williams (Chief Inspector Hubbard); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: NR; Warner Brothers; 1954)

Milland is the fortune hunter, willing to kill his wife for her fortune. The thing to see in this film is how clever Milland is in working out the details, and how much smarter the cops are in figuring out how he is going to do it. A middling work for Hitch ... but still way above average. GRADE: B



DICK TRACY MEETS GRUESOME (director: John Rawlins; screenwriters: based on comic strip of Chester Gould/From story by William H. Graffis & Robert E. Kent/Eric Taylor/Robertson White; cinematographer: Frank Redman; editor: Elmo Williams; cast: Ralph Byrd (Dick Tracy), Boris Karloff  (Gruesome), Lyle Latell (Pat Patton), Anne Gwynne (Tess Trueheart), Skelton Knaggs (X-Ray), Tony Barrett (Melody), Jim Nolan (Dan, reporter), Edward Ashley (Dr. Lee Thal), June Clayworth (Dr. I. M. Learned),  Milton Parsons (Dr. A. Tomic), Lex Barker (Ambulance Driver); Runtime: 66; RKO; 1947)

Many film buffs consider this the best in the Dick Tracy series. It is the last one that RKO made, mainly because the Tracy films were becoming so expensive to make. Ralph Byrd, who played Tracy, went on in 1950 to star in the TV series. Boris Karloff, as the villain Gruesome, makes this film special. It is hilarious, as bank robbers steal a secret formula used to make a gas bomb that harmlessly freezes people for about 12-minutes. The bank robbery was priceless as was Karloff's sinister performance, bullying the unethical scientists who hire him to rob a bank and then trying to evade the pursuing Tracy. Karloff himself accidently comes into contact with the smoke bomb, going limp in front of the Hangman's Knot Bar. Skelton Knaggs, as the villain X-Ray, has a terrific look, almost a completely sleazy, untrustworthy one. He occasionally has his throat in his mouth, as Gruesome puts some fear into him. When he is not frightened, he is dumping bodies into a furnace to get rid of the murder evidence. A most enjoyable Tracy flick, totally played for laughs. Characters have ridiculous names such as Dr. I.M. Learned and Dr. A. Tomic. The lead characters seem like caricatures of themselves. GRADE: B+ 



DICK TRACY VS. CUEBALL (director: Gordon M. Douglas; svreenwriters: from the comic strip by Chester Gould/Robert Kent/Dane Lussier/original story by Luci Ward; cinematographer: George E. Diskant; editor: Philip Martin; cast: Morgan Conway (Dick Tracy), Anne Jeffreys (Tess Trueheart), Dick Wessel (Cueball), Lyle Latell (Pat Patton), Rita Corday (Mona Clyde), Joseph Crehan (Chief Brandon), Ian Keith (Vitamin Flintheart), Esther Howard (Filthy Flora), Douglas Walton (Percival Priceless), Harry V. Cheshire (Jules Sparkle), Byron Foulger (Simon Little), Jimmy Crane (Junior); Runtime: 62; RKO; 1946)

This RKO grade B-programmer was based on Chester Gould's comic strip and was a sequel to the 1945 film. It's about stolen diamonds, dead bodies, and a baldheaded strangler called Cueball. Morgan Conway looks like Dick Tracy but, evidently, even though the film was popular, audiences were only lukewarm to him; and, therefore he was replaced in later movies by Ralph Byrd. This is a fun movie, lined with a bevy of characters each with flamboyant names. They emote with plenty of theatrical antics. Ian Keith as Tracy's friend, is wonderfully effete. Cueball is brutishly cartoonlike, going after the jewelers who hired him to steal the diamonds and then double-crossed him. Justice will take its course when Cueball gets stuck on the tracks and a train runs him over. I loved the name of the bar Filthy Flora owned, The Dripping Dagger. This is a typical fast-moving, snappy film in the series that started out in the 1930s as a 15 chapter Republic serial. GRADE: B-



DIVERTIMENTO (director: Jacques Rivette; cast: Michel Piccoli, Jane Birkin, Emmanuel Beart, David Bursztein, Marianne Denicourt, Bernard Dufour; 1993-Fr.)

Revision of the 1991 hypnotically fascinating film, La Belle Noiseuse. It is shorter and adds more importance to the feelings of those surrounding the artist than was done previously. After a ten year lapse, a once famous painter Frenohofer (Piccoli), unable to find the confidence in his abilities to achieve ideal beauty refuses to paint anymore. His masterpiece, La Belle Noiseuse (which he says means, "ball-buster"), goes unfinished. He is spurred on to resume work on the masterpiece by meeting the attractive Marianne (Beart), the date of a young artist friend of his, Nicolas (David). They are visitors to his mansion in Languedoc. The film is loosely based on Balzac's short story, "The Unknown Masterpiece." GRADE: A+



DOCTOR ZHIVAGO (director: David Lean; screenwriters: Robert Bolt/from the book Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak; cinematographer: Freddie Young; editor: Norman Savage; music: Maurice Jarre; cast: Omar Sharif (Yuri Zhivago), Julie Christie (Lara), Tom Courtenay (Pasha Strelnikov), Rod Steiger (Komarovsky), Geraldine Chaplin (Tonya), Alec Guinness (Yevgrat Zhivago), Siobhan McKenna (Anna Gromeko), Ralph Richardson (Alexander Gromeko), Rita Tushingham (The Girl), Adrienne Corri (Lara's Mother); Runtime: 197; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Carlo Ponti; MGM; 1965)

Adapted from Boris Pasternak's novel about the married doctor who falls for Lara. It depicts life in Russia after the 1917 Communist Revolution. The film offers great sweeping visionary shots of the landscape. If you want to find out how great a storyteller Pasternak is, you will have to read the book. GRADE: C


DOG DAY AFTERNOON (director: Sidney Lumet; screenwriter: Frank R. Pierson/from the article by P.F. Kluge & Thomas Moore; cinematographer: Victor J. Kemper; editor: Dede Allen; cast: Al Pacino (Sonny), John Cazale (Sal), Sully Boyar (Bank Manager Mulvaney), Penelope Allen (Sylvia), Beulah Garrick (Margaret), Carol Kane (Jenny), Charles Durning (N.Y. Detective Moretti), Chris Sarandon (Leon), James Broderick (FBI Agent Sheldon); Runtime: 130; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Martin Bregman/Martin Elfand ; Warner Brothers; 1975)

The film is based on the events of an actual bank heist. It slowly evolves into the story of an inept homosexual who wants the dough for a sex change. Pacino is more than adequate for the role, bringing insight into his characterization of this troubled man. The film has a wry humor.  GRADE: B



DONKEY SKIN (director/writer: Jacques Demy; screenwriter: from a story by Charles Perrault; cinematographer: Ghislain Cloquet; editor: Anne-Marie Cotret; music: Michel Legrand; cast: Catherine Deneuve (La première reine/Peau d'âne), Jean Marais (Le premier roi/The King), Delphine Seyrig (La fée des lilas/The Fairy), Micheline Presle (La Reine Rouge, la seconde reine), Jacques Perrin ( Le prince charmant/The Prince); Runtime: 89; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Mag Bodard; Janus Films; 1970-France, in French with English subtitles)

One of Demy's weaker works, a fairy tale from the pen of Charles Perrault who gave us Cinderella. This film was lush and colorful, spiced with fun and silliness, but it lacked proper tension and credibility for it to work. It's about a perfect love among a king and queen and their daughter. When the queen dies, the king chooses to marry his daughter. The young princess runs away to hide, cloaked in a donkey skin as she awaits her Prince Charming. GRADE: B



DON'T LOOK NOW (director: Nicolas Roeg; screenwriters: Allan Scott/Chris Bryant/story by Daphne du Maurier; cinematographer: Anthony B. Richmond; editor: Graeme Clifford; music: Pino Donaggio; cast: Donald Sutherland (John Baxter), Julie Christie (Laura Baxter), Hilary Mason (Heather), Massimo Serrato (Bishop Barbarigo), Clelia Matania, (Wendy), Renato Scarpa (Inspector Longhi), Sharon Williams (Christine), Nicholas Salter (Johnny); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Peter Katz; Paramount; 1973-UK)

Daphne du Maurier's story of the supernatural, set in Venice. A couple (Sutherland and Christie) are trying to recover from the death of their baby daughter; as they go on holiday to Venice. By one of the canals, they meet a mysterious blind woman who offers them a message from their dead daughter, warning them of imminent danger. Roeg takes us into dark corners, scaring us with objects we don't believe we are perceiving, or maybe we are. There is a dreamlike quality to this film that tugs on our emotions. GRADE: A



DREAM WITH THE FISHES (director/writer: Finn Taylor; screenwriters: based on a story by Finn Taylor and Jeffrey Brown; cinematographer: Barry Stone; editor: Rick LeCompte; music: Tito Larriva; cast: David Arquette (Terry), Brad Hunt (Nick), Kathryn Erbe (Liz), Cathy Moriarty (Nick's aunt), Patrick McGaw (Don), J.E. Freeman (Joe, Nick's Father), Allyce Beasley (Sophia), Timi Prulhiere (Michelle), Anita Barone (Mary); Runtime: 97; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Johnny Wow/Mitchell Stein; Sony Pictures Classics; 1997)

Bad try at whimsical filmmaking. Fish probably have better dreams than this stinker. It's a buddy movie where two diverse characters stay together after one of them, a gun toting wise guy talks the other out of jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge by talking him into taking sleeping pills instead. The terminally ill druggie (Brad Hunt) and the suicidal, voyeuristic nerd (David Arquette) become pals. The film tries too hard to be zany, but succeeds only in looking artificial. Erbe is Hunt's girlfriend who gives herself a few tattoos. Best scene in the film, nude bowling. GRADE: C



DRUNKEN ANGEL (YOIDORE TENSHI) (director: Akira Kurosawa; screenwriter: Keinosuke Uegusa; cinematographer:Takeo Ito; cast:Takashi Shimura (Doctor Sanada), Toshiro Mifune (Matsunaga), Michiyo Kogure (Nanae), Reisaburo Yamamoto (Okada), Chieko Nakakita (Miyo), Eitaro Shindo (Takahama); 1948 - Japan)

Akira Kurosawa might be one of the most overrated directors. I get peeved when I hear some say he is the best director in the world. I just don't see it, as I continue to find most of his films to be dull and conventional. This standard story of a drunken doctor (Shimura), whose practice is in the slums of Tokyo is both corny and preachy. Despite his ragged appearance and disappointment that life didn't turn out that well for him the doctor, whose speciality is treating TB patients, really cares about his patients. Toshiro Mifune is the hardened gangster who comes down with TB and gets treated for the disease despite his efforts to resist the doctor's treatment. When another gangster (Okada) gets released from prison, he challenges Mifune for power in the gang and we see Mifune begin to crumble before our eyes. A lively polka is played as Okada triumphs over the saddened Mifune. There is the supposedly tense knife fight between the two gangsters but who fight like they were sissies, which makes the scene risible and the movie hard to take seriously. GRADE: C-



DUST DEVIL (director/writer: Richard Stanley; cinematographer: Steven Chivers; editor: Derek Twigg; music: Simon Boswell; cast: Robert Burke (Hitch/Dust Devil), Chelsea Field (Wendy Robinson), Zakes Mokae (Ben Mukuros), Rufus Swart (Mark Robinson), John Matshikiza (Joe Niemand), Marianne Sägebrecht (Dr. Leidzinger); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Harvey Weinstein; Miramax; 1993-UK/USA)

Pretentious attempt at making an art film. It relies on mayhem, magic, and politics to sustain its nonstory of the Devil incarnate. The Devil shows his stuff by killing the woman he hitches a ride with. He twists her neck off and completely dismembers her. South Africa is the locale. This film is for those who like their occultism served bloody. GRADE: C



DUST IN THE WIND (LIAN LIAN FENG CHEN) (director: Hsiao-hsien Hou; screenwriters: T'ien-wen Chu/ Nien-Jen Wu; cinematographer: Pin Bing Lee; editor: Liao Ch'ing-sung; music: Ming Chang Chen/Ching Chun Hsu; cast: Wang Ching-wen (Wan), Hsing Shu-fen (Huen), Li Tien-lu (Grandfather); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; International Film Circle; 1987-Taiwan-in Mandarin with English subtitles)

A very slow and at times tedious teenage love story; it tells about an eventual failed relationship for the childhood lovers who move from their small village in mainland China to Taipei to get menial jobs. When he goes into the army, their relationship ends. There is one noteworthy scene of a frightened fisherman from the mainland who has to get his boat repaired, that is a scary reminder of how ominously close Communist China is to Taiwan. The nonprofessional actors distinguished themselves and the visualizations were outstanding, but overall the film was disappointing. It lacked earthiness. GRADE: B-



Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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