The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia on March 13, 1992 · 31
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The Atlanta Constitution from Atlanta, Georgia · 31

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Atlanta, Georgia
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Friday, March 13, 1992
Page:
31
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i Friday, March 13, 1992 The Atlanta Journal The Adanta Constitution Cozy theater Where actors ; and audience really connect D2 cArtide999'- Film lampoons troubles of VA hospital D7 1 tt!tl Night Beat Visual Arts Film Notes D4: VS. -i i ' ' 1 7 r Joe Pescl is hilarious as a Brooklyn shyster in "My Cousin Vinny." Cousin Vinny: relatively riotous By Steve Murray FILM CRITIC There's no order in the court, but plenty of hilarity, thanks to Joe Pesci in "My Cousin Vinny." The big fish out of water in this winning comedy, the Oscar winner ("GoodFellas") plays Brooklyn lawyer Vincent Gam-bini, called down South to defend his cousin Bill (Ralph Macchio) and Bill's college chum Stan (Mitchell Whitfield), who have been arrested by small-town po. lice. ... . , , FILM REVIEW "My Cousin Vinny" A comedy. Starring j Joe Peso, Marisa Tomei and Fred Gwynne. Directed by Jonathan Lynn. Rated R for language. At metro theaters. The charge: murder. Seems a cashier got shot soon after the road-tripping pals breezed through his convenience store. So here comes Vinny, replete with a loud convertible, a black-leather-and-gold-medallion wardrobe, and his gum-smacking girlfriend Mona Lisa Vito (Marisa Tomei), who aims heri cute pink camera all around the sleepy Alabama town (actually Monticello, Ga.). The only thing Vinny doesn't bring with him is a viable legal background. A personal-injury; lawyer, he's never even been in-j side a courtroom. And under the , old-school scrutiny of Judge Hal-ler (Fred Gwynne), he has to learn his way around one. Fast. Pitting barking Brooklynites against Dixie drawlers, "Vinny" sounds like a standard cornpone culture clash. And, yeah, the script has jokes about grits. But in a turnaround from his last sorry vehicle, "The Super," Mr. Pesci powerhouses a comedy that's as interested in explaining the legal process as it is in ridiculing it. But whenever the legal-ese gets too thick, director Jonathan Lynn cuts it with some priceless slapstick scenes, including Vinny's various ill-fated escapades involving mud, a secondhand tux and a noisy owl. Terrific supporting work comes from Austin Pendleton as a stuttering public defender, Mr. Gwynne as Vinny's drawling nemesis and Ms. Tomei. A mix of sexiness and smarts, (her Mona Lisa is an automotive genius), Ms. Tomei proves a be-1 lievable bullheaded mate for , Vinny. And she gets to deliver a memorable riff on the idiocy of deer hunting. (The sharp script is by Dale Launer.) In addition to crack acting and crackup comedy, the movie slips in a message: Vinny's transition from court jester to legal eagle isn't an overnight breeze. He has to pick up the law books and study. Hard. That gives "Vinny" an intelli-, gent angle. But you'll probably be laughing too hard.to notice. A Dash of poetry inspires of the uusr By Eleanor Ringel FILM EDITOR m hey are princesses of the tides,, these Lowcountry heroines of Julie Dash's radiant "Daughters of the Dust." And their story envelopes you in a hypnotic flow of lyrical images and inchoate emotions.' An Atlanta-based artist making her long-worked-for feature de but, Ms. Dash is a filmmaker of startling originality and delicacy. Her film is poetry in motion, part dream-memory, part tattered family album. It's not really like anything else you may have seen in commercial theaters, though its evocative period tableaux, stunningly rendered by cinematographer Arthur Jafa, sometimes recall Terrence Malick's "Days of Heaven." Set in 1902 on the sun-kissed Sea Islands off the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina, "Daughters" focuses on a family gathering that is both a reunion and a farewell. The Pea-zants are an extended African-American clan, 'descendants of slaves whose offshore isolation has helped them maintain a distinctive African-derived culture known as Gullah. But now the decision has been made to leave their home, Ibo Landing, and move to the mainland (a migration to the North is implied). As the Peazants gather for a final picnic dressed in their Sunday finery, with a photographer (Tommy Hicks) on hand to record the event the gumbo simmers and so do family tensions. The 88-year-old matriarch, Nana (Cora Lee Day), her hands still stained blue from her days as a slave working with poisonous indigo; dye, insists she will remain on the island. She refuses to leave the souls of her ancestors or her tin box of memory scraps. Unlikely allies in the name of progress are a pair of strong-willed women. One is Nana's daughter, Viola (Cheryl Lynn Bruce), back from the mainland and flush with her new-' If ' 7 t. F . .. x-'s, Z" t - If ,'V - - jtf- 4 r a V" f Ssr I fft i'-V f H .... t Kino International Corp. Lowcountry heroines: Cora Lee Day (left), Barbara O and Alva Rogers are three members of the talented ensemble cast in Julie Dash's "Daughters of the Dust." FILM REVIEW "Daughters of the Dust" A drama. Starring Cora Lee Day, Tommy Hicks and Alva Rogers. Directed ty Julie Dash. Not rated. .At The Screening Room. found Baptist faith. The other is Nana's daugh-' ter-in-law, Haagar (Kaycee Moore); self-educated and sharp-tongued, she's a firm believer in assimilation. There's also the Prodigal Daughter, Yellow Mary (Barbara 0), "ruint" in the eyes of the others because she's been a prostitute and a wet nurse. And Eula (Alva Rogers), whose husband, Eli (Adisa Anderson), fears the child she carries isn't his (she was raped). However, we know better because their as-yet-unborn daughter (Kai-Lynn Warren) narrates the film, her spirit flitting in and out of scenes (even materializing in the surprised photographer's lens) as she tries to reassure her father that she is his. You may want to hold onto this abbreviated family tree because, on a purely narrative level, "Daughters of the Dust" is often difficult to follow. Ms. Dash is clearly less concerned with establishing who's done what to whom than with creating a kind of spellbinding web of family history. The Peazants are tied to Please see 'DAUGHTERS,' D8 A ; r r: cm IW.K j&u i .". 21 AS ) 2J WAV 1 13 ttii H - 8 V.t High-gjoss Mambo, has two left feet By Eleanor Ringel FILM EDITOR "The Mambo Kings" sways and swings and swivels its hips to an infectious Latin beat. In fact, it's a lot like something Carmen Miranda might put on her head all decoration and no substance. FILM REVIEW "The Mambo Kings" A musical drama. Starring Armand Assante and Antonio Banderas. Directed by Arne Glimcher. Rated R for sex, nudity and language. 1 At Perimeter and Tars. Based on Oscar Hijuelos' Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the movie is about two brothers who leave Cuba for the States in 1952. The Cas-tillos are searching for an Ameri can Dream they can dance to; they want to be the mambo kings of Manhattan. The eldest, Cesar (Armand Assante), is a Latin charmer the sort of irrepressible guy who can end up onstage with Tito Puente and in bed with a brassy blonde (Cathy Moriarity) on his very first night in New York. Nestor (Antonio Banderas) is the soulful sibling, the sensitive songwriter who still dreams of the girl he left Please see 'MAMBO,' D8 ' 'IK. i w i Warntr Brot. Antonio Banderas (left) and Armand Assante play Cuban emigres who aspire to be "The llambo Kings" of New York. Olmos takes a stand, delivers in the forceful 'American Me' By Eleanor Ringel FILM EDITOR line I V s JO J 1?1iitnMf TaiMAa nimAB folrAfl Viia taanhino mitt frnm 'l'?. "stana ana ueuver" one step runner wn unencan., t0 Me," a brutal powerhouse of a picture meant to scare theo hell out of any teen with romantic notions about a life officii crime. . t,flJn; As Santana, a career crim---" inal from East L.A., Mr. Olmos looks 10 years younger.-.- and about 10,000 times more ; dangerous than he did as "De-f liver's" inspirational matn; teen, Santana now heads the . Infamous Mexican Mana. Heii) virtually controls the barrio's drugs and extortion with- out ever leaving his cell. . The movie gets off to a deceptively turgid start as Mr.,'n Olmos who also directed establishes the tainted his-,- tory of prejudice, poverty and violence that made a San- : tana inevitable. In too-broad strokes, we see the Zoot Suit Riots of the '40s, the teen gangs of the '50s, the absurd;',' pseudo-macho ethos of young Hispanics that equates re- ' spect with fear. FILM REVIEW "American Me" A drama. Starring Edward James Olmos. Directed Dy Mr. Olmos. Rated R for sex, language, nudity and extreme violence. At metro theaters. T'3 ion Jo But once Mr. Olmos hits the screen, "American Me" hits its stride, with a blood-curdling display of savagery' -Q ; as a way of life. There are gang rapes, ODs, even a death1( jl j by tattoo. j By its very nature, the movie is prone to preachinessi on one hand, exploitation on the other. But Mr. Olmos ! brings to the film a riveting moral imperative as both ! director and star. "American Me" is a harrowing life les-,:1 I son, drenched in the blood, sweat and tears of homeboys . ' with no way out. 4. . -t-1

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