Daily News from New York, New York on November 1, 1985 · 97
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Daily News from New York, New York · 97

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New York, New York
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Friday, November 1, 1985
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97
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Friday, November 1, 1985 daFlyTsiewsT C 21 A very long day at the. movie j . 3lte fflto waraiiffl qfl By KATHLEEN CARROLL Daily News Movie Critic ELENI. Kate Nelligan, John Malkovich. Directed by Peter Yates. At Cinema 1. Runnira time: I hour, 54 minute. Rated PG. N 1948, 9-year-old Nikola Gotzoyannis tiptoed through a minefield in a remote Communist-controlled village in northwestern Greece. He eventually achieved his mother's dream of joining his father in Amer- Where's the rage? John Malkovich as Nicholas Gage '(Macaroni Jack Lemmon (I.) and Marcello Mastroianni star as war buddies 'To Live and Die in LA.' William Petersen and Darianne Fluegel as a cop and his girt lass . k" " "e ' hi s i'S - I i ica. But his mother, Eleni, was to pay a terrible price for arranging his escape. Her act of defiance so angered local Communist officials they tortured her and then ordered her execution after a mockery of a trial. Kis mother's horrifying death continued to haunt Nikola who, after changing his name to Nicholas Gage, became a dogged investigative reporter for The New York Times. The desire for revenge finally prodded him into tracking down the men who killed his mother. He even stuffed a gun in his briefcase his plan was to kill the "judge" who had presided over his mother's trial. Gage did not fire his gun. Instead he told of his mother's brave sacrifice and his own raging quest for justice in "Eleni," an emotionally charged, prize-winning book. Given such a story, one would expect the movie version of Gage's book to be just as dramatic and intense. But "Eleni," as directed by Peter Yates, is simply dark and brooding. It contains some jarring scenes such as MACARONI. Jack Lemmon, Marcello Mastroianni. Directed bv Ettore Scola. At Loews Tower East. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes. Rated PG. kOBERT, A sour-faced American businessman in Ettore Scola's "Macaroni," arrives in Naples to find himself hounded by Antonio, a flaky local who insists they were buddies during the war. Robert, he claims, was even engaged to his sister, Maria. Robert, who has a hazy memory of this romance, is stunned to discover it made him a local legend. When visiting his former pal's rundown building, he's introduced by the concierge as "Antonio's American friend who abandoned his sister." Maria's husband and family greet him fondly. His photograph is on the same table TO LIVE AND DIE IN L A. William Petersen, John Pankow. Directed bv William Friedkin. Area theaters. Running lime: I hour, it minutes. Rated R. m rrrao live and Die in l L.A.," is a grim ac-Ll tion movie that is supposed to revive William Friedkin's reputation as a hip, hit-making director. Richard Chance, a feisty L.A. Secret Service agent, is out for blood. Enraged by the brutal killing of his former partner, he's determined to when Eleni jams a hot poker into her daughter's ankle to prevent her from being recruited into the Red army but one is never really moved by Eleni's suffering. PerhaDS the hiffeest ' mistake was the cas ting of British actress Kate Nelligan in the ti- f j-tie role. Nelligan gives it her all, but this small- boned actress, while con- veying the character's in- ner strength, lacks the raw anger and explosive ' force that one expects from a typically earthy Greek mother. This is one role that definitely cried out for a Greek actress, someone with the fire of Irene Pappas. Nelligan, despite her peasant drab dress, seems somehow too ladylike to have spent her entire life in such a rugged peasant environment. The much-praised John Malkovich is also disappointing as Gage. He seems curiously apathetic for a man who is supposedly consumed with rage. His low-key performance becomes electric only in the movie's best scene the showdown be- with pictures of the saints. It soon develops that Antonio, a frustrated playwright, has been writing letters to Maria under Robert's name, describing courageous exploits that make this success-consumed crank sound like a gutsy all-American hero. Scola has made far better movies than this shamelessly sentimental saga of a love-ably quirky Neapolitan teaching an uptight American to enjoy life and to trust in miracles. The paper-thin role of Robert is played by Jack Lemmon who, considering his past experience, could play a testy American big wheel in his sleep. Marcello Mastroianni's Antonio is an endearingly eccentric character and the pleasure of watching this acting love match outweighs most of the movie's obvious weaknesses. K. CARROLL "bag" the murderer a failed artist who's now a successful counterfeiter (Willem Dafoe). Chance vows he'll get his man even if it means breaking every law in the book. His new partner (John Pankow) becomes a nervous wreck as the increasingly reckless Chance swipes evidence from the scene of a crime. That's just the beginning Chance then pulls a heist because he needs real cash to buy fake cash. The movie raises the moral issue: Should a cop be able to get away with everything tween the aging Communist "judge" (played effectively by Oliver Cotton) and the gun-toting reporter. The real problem with "Eleni" is it fails to properly set the scene and to clearly identify the opposing "sides" in the Greek Civil War. Most audiences will be utterly bewildered by the sight of Greeks savaging their own people to promote the Communist cause. ft l J . W " feed " ;1 short of murder to na'b a criminal? Gerald Petievich, the Secret Service agent who wrote the novel which inspired this movie, contends aggressive cops who perhaps exceed their legal limits have the highest arrest records. . The problem is Chance, played by the cherubic-faced William Petersen, is a one-punch character whose behavior ranges from excessive cruelty to total stupidity. (If he's so street-savvy, why does he fall for a phony request from a prisoner to see his kid in the hospital?) 'Eleni' Kate Nelligan is too ladylike as the 1 peasant mother. ' '4 The movie hurtles along at freeway speed. There is the inevitable erash-a second car chase. But Friedkin wastes no time on character-building, so the movie seems to last a lifetime. At least the cynical twist ending has bite. Friedkin's latest opus is already being compared with his best-known "street" movie, "The French Connection." But that electrified audiences because you got to know its rough and ready cop heroes. This movie leaves one feeling just squeamish and bored. K. CARROLL

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