Austin American-Statesman from Austin, Texas on January 29, 1992 · 36
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Austin American-Statesman from Austin, Texas · 36

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Austin, Texas
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Wednesday, January 29, 1992
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36
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PAGE C7 INSIDE Television, B10 Wednesday, January 29, 1992 vj Austin American-Statesman IKnr Life-changing cinema Book chronicles writers' childhood reactions to films By Hal Boedeker Knight-Rldder News Service - Like some hyperbolic coming attractions, the book's title promises drama and wonderment: The Movie That Changed My Life. Unlike most film trailers, this anthology of movie essays generally delivers. It's more insightful than the latest self-indulgent star autobiographies, more critical than most reviews, more entertaining than a shelf full of movie-appreciation texts. The Movie That Changed My Life, edited by David Rosenberg, brings together an impressive, though not all-star, cast of 23 writers, including Russell Banks, Joyce Carol Oates, Judith Rossner, Louise Erdrich and Meg Wolitzer. They don't review the movies; they reveal their reactions to them years ago and reappraise the experiences since recently seeing the films again on video. The essays are literate, feeling and perceptive in ways uncommon for books about the movies or for movies themselves these days. The Movie is bound to make any reader ponder: Which movies changed my life? It certainly will make parents second-guess the movies they let their children see. Something happened in the dark to these writers, and they remain haunted, appalled or entertained. In discussing Dracula, Oates writes that movie images "have the power of lingering in the memory long after all intellectual interest in them has been exhausted." Listen to Donald Hall on The Last Train From Madrid, a 1937 Dorothy Lamour war film: "It is bad art: The plot is improbable and the motivation incredible; the writing is ghastly, from clumsy exposition to the flattest cliches of dialogue. Yet it terrified me once, and it retained much of its terror 53 years later." After seeing the film as an 8-year-old, Hall put away his toy soldiers. A month or so later, he tossed his red-inked "war cards," depicting famous battles, in a coal furnace. Francine Prose calls Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the splashy 1954 MGM musical with Howard Keel and Jane Powell, "a buoyant, light-hearted, genial hymn to the joys and the social necessity of rape." Prose skewers the film ("an insidious, sinister piece of fluff), but reveals that she, like Powell, fell in love at first sight with a man named Howard and went to live with him in the mountains. The medium's reach is extraordinary. Rossner recalls that Margaret O'Brien's selflessness in Our Vines Have Tender Grapes, a 1945 drama, was her inspiration to stage TONIGHT An Evening ol Original Musk: Hoatad By DENIM WITH SPECIAL QUEST BARB DONOVAN THUM: RUSTY WIER fri: ALLEN WAYNE DAMRON 1320 S. Lamar 448-2552 n flMMmnt AI12 W. k al Mo Onmoa Opan Daily 11AM W4. Daily Urn 8pada,-NHlMPtJ, "tcahooaa lor tha Arte" proudly praaanla.- JAMES McMURTRY Coming TH: Tha NOVENAS FRI: LOUNGE LIZARDS SAT: WW. SEXTON BANO Sat 21: OavM Malay Frl H: ARC ANGELS Wad. . SonaoaiMY 'a To. It - Joanna Connor jff Special Selection rr" ADULT VIDEO i 3.M995 ;w COMPLETE ADULT 11 MAGAZINE m SELECTION P NEW & USED Z i-rWfjiP"-, -" wmwa, jpmmi-B i The violence and social situations of Bambi caused writer Russell Banks to rethink and, ultimately, reject concepts of gender Identification. UP , INf KsQ -'V. if .- f' v Seeing The Birth of a Nation had a profound and painful effect on African-American writer David Bradley. a play and help the starving children of Europe. And Erdrich says it was a 1969 Costa-Gavras thriller that touched her when she was a 14-year-old cheerleader in North Dakota. She writes: "I knew there was more to life than the stag leap, or the flying T, but it wasn't until I saw Z that I learned language for what that 'more' was." Pain is mixed with nostalgia. Clark Blaise says The Thing, the classic 1951 sci-fi chiller, "split my childhood in two; it exposed a layer of dread that I couldn't shake and still haven't shaken." David Bradley, a black writer, recalls his horror at seeing The Birth of a Nation at a white fraternity party in 1968. Banks sadly recalls that at age 4 he saw Bambi. "One person . . . seems to have died that afternoon; and another a child defined by his gender got born." He concludes his essay by wishing someone had pulled him out of the if; XJS MHRIflCHI ESTRELLfl WED 8-IORM. CALL 476-4838 FOR MORE INFORMATION 414 0AP.TON SPRINGS ROAD ynHaiHiiMjaw Elm MM Jan 21 thru Feb 2 Tues-Sat at 8; Sun at 2 & 7:30 Tickets at all UTTM outlets CHARGE-A-TICKET: 477-6060 Information: 472-5411 PARAMOUNT An linporuni Suge In Vfttiiis Hisicny. 713 Congress Avenue - theater 46 years earlier with the revelation, "This movie is only going to drive the kid deeper into sexual stereotyping." No wonder Banks stopped the VCR that was showing The Little Mermaid, what he calls a promotion for female submissiveness, to his 3-year-old granddaughter. Editor David Rosenberg has arranged the essays by genres: suspensefantasy on through adult. The best way to approach this book is to savor one essay at a time. What I like best is the distance the writers keep from the movie medium. This is no hooray-for-Hollywood celebration, no testimonial to the powers of celluloid. Valerie Sayers remembers her teen-age guilt over fixating on Gone With the Wind: "I was chasing after a high gloss I'd known to mistrust even when I was a child." Writes Blaise, remembering '50s romantic films, "What junk we Americans are fed on! What useless expertise we accumulate!" Several writers don't even buy into the concept of a movie "changing" their lives. As Oates writes: "I can't really claim that any film made an impression on me commensurate with that of the books I read as a child and a young adolescent." ;! BROKEN SPOKE f ' i : V1 ' I$p7c 1 I! 3201 SOUTH LAMAR presents S L I THIS WEDNESDAY & THURSDAY I f jtU J. "THE BEST IN live country !' Prx . . If R I BUY ANY ENTREE, GET THE I V$V nf) i BAND MUSIC 4 CHICKEN FRIED 4 fAlL;W' ft SECOND ENTREE OF EQUAL OR I Vlt l) tKl4X steak IN town" , yWllCr) LESSER VALUE FOR I W , Voted "Best Honky Tonkin Texas" I -5PfSlI C , I m Im. npIAr" I Wl i by Texas Highway Magazine ', I Wt --TO ! 0 D S3 1 1 H I Thur.Jan.30 I National Geography's "Favorite N.qht SijoI" J I flOWCl I II I W at B ! DAVIS DANIEL i Voted "Best Dance Hall in the Nation" j r.l"i:.qx Tl Ml I ' Fri Jan 31 Ji by Entertainment Magazine i 1 " "i 1 ' ' Sfl I I AMCCnilC nMe '! '! Amrd Winning (wnady by JERRY STERNER Oiractad by Ann CiolelrH I jL I LUNCOOME DOVE !' n i Xt.i !' JANUARY 31 - MARCH 7 JW Sal. 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I 4., . -TT " . ,' liMr J. 116-0 1 o i piiiiji ,; 4,ly'jf'f rlftilfn L notvauowithanvotneroffer j I 16511 BRATTON LANE A ' . piJlW'WWl!lMWi)I.J 1 I v. ril 11 1 ' ' V.s WINTER OLYMPICS Our coverage of the games will begin with a special tabloid section February 5. This section will be invaluable during the length of the games with broadcast and event schedules, sport-by-sport descriptions and information about top American contenders. Daily coverage will continue throughout with a Winter Olympics wrapper around the daily sports section, February 8-24. These will also feature broadcast and event schedules with results from the previous day's games. Don't miss out on this series. To subscribe call: 445-4040 'Austin imorican-c$tato$man Sensitive direction and portrayals of roles make 'Homeboys' a treat By Michael MacCambridge American-Statesman Staff A year after it made a big splash in the 1991 Sundance Film Festival, Hangin' With the Homeboys finally makes it to Austin this week. The fresh, slangy tone of this urban comedy puts it far above the treatments such films usually get from the major studios. Written and directed by Joseph B. Vasquez, the film is a story about one Friday night in the lives of four friends two black and two Puerto Rican who live in the south Bronx. The main character is the diminutive Johnny (John Leguizamo), who's been working in a neighborhood grocery store for two years to avoid going to college, even though he has the grades for it. He decides to go out on this night with his chronically unemployed and perennially paranoid best friend Willie (Doug E. Doug), who thinks all of the slights he receives are because he's black. Along with Willie is his friend Fernando (Nestor Serrano), a ladies' man with all the Abrupt director change stings 'Promises' By Andy Marx Los Angeles Times Service HOLLYWOOD The scenario usually goes something like this: Producers and studio executives see the first dailies of a new movie in production and panic. A few days later, the director gets the ax. The culprit: "creative differences." So a new director takes over where the other one left off. But what happens when the first director has shot almost two-thirds of the movie? That's what happened with the romantic comedy Hard Promises, shot in Lock-hart and Austin, which Columbia will release this week in selected markets (no word on when it will arrive in Austin). By the time the film's original Film review Hangin' With the Homeboys Stars: Doug E. Doug, Mario Joyner Director: Joseph Vasquez MPAA rating: R Theaters: Texas Union, through Sunday only Critic's rating: charm of a Dominican Andrew "Dice" Clay. In a denial of his racial identity, he insists his friends call him Vinnie. The three need a car, so they get Tom (Mario Joyner), an aspiring actor who "almost got a part as a waiter in Rain Man," to join them on this Friday, even though he has a date with his girlfriend. Their night of adventure brings them into contact on more than one occasion with both Tom's girlfriend and the vision of Johnny's desire, a virginal Asian woman who frequently stops in the grocery store. Revelations about both of these wom director, Lee Grant (Staying Together), was replaced by Martin Davidson Long Gone), she had shot 30 days of film on a 49-day shooting schedule. But when Davidson was brought into the film, it was agreed that he would start over from the beginning without changing the shooting schedule. Because the film was financed independently and there was no more money available, he had to reshoot the entire movie in the remaining 19 days. "I don't recommend making a movie this way," says Davidson. Davidson says that TV movies are routinely shot in 20 days, and that's how he approached Hard Promises. Shooting six to seven pages a day, rather than the cus . Wh- v T ... i 'at en become the focal point of the evening. But during the course of this tender-hearted movie, Vasquez digs beneath the stereotypes. Willie and Tom the two blacks seem to be completely opposite, but Vasquez brings some shadings into the characters. The only outright buffoon is Fernando, but even this character is tempered with his racial self-hatred. The tone never gets too dark, with Vasquez reminding us that losing all sense of humor about anything does not leave one well-equipped for the realities of city life. Because he knows these characters, and respects them, Vasquez' protagonists are all fully-realized. While some of the encounters and plot developments seem a bit lazy, the film ambles along at a comfortable pace. Best of all is Leguizamo as Johnny, a metaphor for all the mixed-up city kids who are barely keeping their head above water, hoping for a break but so afraid to fail that they sometimes never get out of their work-a-day existence. tomary one or two, he ground out almost four minutes of edited footage a day. So why was Grant replaced in the first place? "As is often the; case with collaborative situations, she had her idea of what the film should be and we had our idea," says actor William Petersen, one of the film's stars and one of its producers. "She was giving the movie a little more of a serious tone than I felt it could handle. It's a movie about forgiveness. I didn't want to make a movie about pain." Why did they wait so long? "It was one of those things that we couldn't tell about until we were way into the film," says Petersen.- A spokesman for Grant said she declined to comment. w 1 X

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