LA Weekly from Los Angeles, California on October 24, 1985 · 79
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LA Weekly from Los Angeles, California · 79

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Los Angeles, California
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Thursday, October 24, 1985
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79
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JWUtW'iA"'- to',w LA. WEEKLY October 18-24, 1985 FILM J. -.S,V?1,- CHRONOS How many times have you watched a documentary, intensely desiring to shoot the narrator who drones on and1-on about the wind-swept majesty of the Grand Canyon while inviting us to ponder the significance of the mighty forces of nature that created it? Koyaanisqatsi was the groundbreaking film with nothing but vfeuals and music that allowed us. to come up with our own meaning for the images Chronos is its logical successor, and as directed by Koyaanisqatsi' s cinematographer, Ron Fricke, in the awe-inspiring 150mm-per-frame Imax format, it delivers more visual punch than David Lean, John Ford and Sergio Leone thrown together. Forgetting matters of plot, acting, or dialogue of which Chronos has none it is technically breathtaking, with landscapes that are the next best thing to being there and sometimes actually better. I don't care how many times you've seen the Parthenon, I don't care if you've actually visited the place, you've never seen it look like this, with every inch of the architecture staggeringly crisp while clouds whiz by forming impossible skyscapes. It inundates you with , emotions rather than data and leaves you wanting more. (Mitsubishi-lmax Theater, Museum of Science and Industry. Call (2131 744-2015 for screening times.) (Michael Dare) COMMANDO This comic-book movie is moronic on its own terms. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Colonel John Matrix, whose daughter Jenny (he calls her "Chennie") is kidnapped. Rather than do the crooks' bidding, he starts shooting, knifing, dismembering, and . Post-Toastying everybody in sight except for a wacky stewardess (Rae . Dawn Chong tries) and, of course, Chennie. For a while it's amusing , because the villains are fun: weasely David Patrick Kelly, a Coppertoned Dan Hedaya, The Road Warrior's flabby Vernon ("Wei") Wells, who chews scenery like there's a famine Down Under. But hapless director Mark L. Lester leads the-story into pointless gore, preposterous dialogue, even technical blunders. What makes it remotely watchable is the charismatic Arnie, whose prehistoric good looks make him the Cro-Magnon Charlton Heston. His accent's a gas, . his acting's a trip and the man's got a great set of boobs. And because he's affable-unto-laughable, this movie never seems as nasty as it actually is. (Area theaters) (John Powers) DETECTIVE This is pure Godard, with all that implies. Since he never tells a story straightforwardly, suffice it to say that the baroque plot concerns a love triangle, a boxing match (never shown), the Mafia, some detectives, and a two-year-old murder. By the end f found the story frustrating but redeemed by Godard's matchless ability to create startling, delightful, cinema-expanding moments. He finds the poetry in three billiard balls, teases beauty from a cigarette lighter, explores the exhausting potential of a CURRENT RELEASES Reviewed by Mary Beth Crain, Michael Dare, F.X. Feeney, John Powers, Ginger Varney and Michael Ventura. AFTER HOURS Griffin Dunne, a man bored with his life, takes a taxi from his Madison Avenue apartment downtown to SoHo and loses his way amid the freaky demiworld of artists and punk vultures that await him there, as if a wrathful God had created them just for him. Joseph Minion's screenplay is delicious in its intelligence: Halfway Great star, good old-fashioned thriller: Michael Caine in The Holcroft Covenant. soundtrack, even turns credits into -humor, distinguishing between his "actors" (Jean-Pierre Leaud, Alain , Cuny) and his "stars" (Nathalie Baye, Claude Brasseur and Johnny . Hallyday). Chockful of allusions, book covers, joke's and bare breasts (hes . turning into Jean-Landis Godard), this . movie of marvelous moments, remains ' a minor diversion by a major. . filmmaker, Unless I'm missing - ,t something (which, given Godard's geniusj is perfectly possible), the irony here is so free-floating that even its creator isn't quite sure what he's saying. (Cineplex, Brentwood) (John Powers) DIM SUM Wayne Wang's second feature swaps the ragged energy of Chang Is Missing for a restrained style drawn explicitly from Japan's great Yasujiro Ozu, He hasn't changes his subject: Chinese-American life and the subtle intermingling of Old World traditions and New World possibilities The placid, Ozuesque plot turns on a Chinese-born mother (Kim Chew) trying to marry off her hip but dutiful daughter (Laureen Chew) with help and hindrance from a loveable uncle (Victor Tam). Though it doesn't achieve Ozu's condensed beauty Wang's vision overflows with treacle the film still brims with wonderful things (witty details, Michael Chin's exquisite photography, Kim Chew's astonishing screen-presence). A lovely, small film. (Westside Pavilion) (John Powers) THE HOLCROFT COVENANT Michael Caine plays an architect who receives a remarkable inheritance; his through, one of the characters makes a reference to The Wizard of Oz, and its not hard to see, from the minor tornado that snatches his last dollar bill through a taxi window to the sudden twist that delivers our hero from this funhouse of Good and .Bad Witches, that After Hours is the same story, reworked in the terms that we adults live out more often than we know, under the skins of the lives we think we lead. But good as the script is, it needed Martin Scorsese to orchestrate it: Almost no director works with actors as subtly as he can, and his consciousness so inhabits every corner of.the film that it gives what could have been a talky farce an angular, hilarious, dreamy force. (FXF) father was a Nazi who apparently switched allegiance before the end of the war and formed a pact with several others to help future generations of Jews. Caine finds himself the beneficiary of several billion dollars which must be used to aid victims of the Holocaust. Unfortunately he shares this trust with three others, and in true Hitchcockian mode he finds himself caught up in an all-encompassing web of worldwide intrigue, with neo-Nazis and God knows who else firing at him right and left. Written by Robert Ludlum and directed by John The Manchurian Candidate, Seven Days in May) Frankenheimer, this is a good old- ' fashioned spy thriller that's satisfying on every level. Anthony Andrews and Victoria Tennant are mysteriously wicked as the co-inheritors, and Michael Caine supplies good humor and a final shot that's breathtaking. There's really not much more to say without giving anything away. The Holcroft Covenant delivers exactly what it promises, good old-fashioned thrills and spills by filmmakers who know exactly what they're doing. (Michael Dare) JOSHUA THEN AND NOW Imagine The Apprenticeship of Buddy Kravitz with all its edges removed and you'll get a foretaste of this breezy, harmless entertainment. Joshua Shapiro (James Woods) rises from Montreal's working-class Jewish neighborhood to become a media pundit who runs with rich goyim, marries a blonde shiksa, Pauline (Gabrielle Lazure), and suffers the usual Jew-Among-WASPs identity crisis. Mordecai Richlers script (from his own novel) skates over the surface of life, pausing only to caricature AGNES OF GOD Few things kill a film faster than the hope of an Oscar. Norman Jewison's Agnes of God involves a novice nun (Meg Tilly) and a psychiatrist, a thoroughly modern woman and lapsed Catholic played by Jane Fonda, appointed by the court to ascertain the length and breadth of Agnes' hysteria. John Pielmeier's strong screenplay narrowly skirts a number of cliches about the disappearance of faith in a rational age and about the excesses bred by repressive dogmas. Director Jewison, however, has no eye, no sense of dynamic composition or movement, so he relies on Sven Nykvist's expressive images to tell his story. Fonda, Anne Bancroft as the gentiles (Pauline talks like the Mad Housewife from Mars) and to make Jews cuddly "characters" (as Joshua's Runyon-head father, Alan Arkin does perfect Jewish shtick for the umpteenth time). It's no good at all, but there's so much energetic guff that it's great fun to watch. (Laemmle's Music Hall) (John Powers) THE JOURNEY OF NATTY GANN A perfectly respectable children's film, neither patronizing nor sickly sweet, and a true throwback to the old Disney days. Natty is a tomboy whose solid, square-jawed dad leaves her behind in Chicago for a logging job in Washington state. Meredith Salenger as Natty has one of those powerful faces that offers compassion without facade. Escaping the care of a particularly unpleasant landlady. Natty rides the rails across America during the Depression in a realistic search for her pop. Along the way she befriends a wolf, several desperate bums, and gets a more than casual glimpse of a country with staggering beauty just underneath the level of desperation. Though I have a hard time believing that everybody in the '30s wore nothing but browns and grays, The Journey of Natty Gann manages a few tender tugs at the old heartstrings without making us feel too manipulated. This one's from the heart, and you won't feel like an idiot watching it with your kids. (Mann's Regent) (Michael Dare) REMO WILLIAMS Fred Ward is a wonderful actor - his portrayal of Gus Grissom gave The Right Stuff its only emotional backbone, and his supporting performance in Secret Admirer (as a pretty teenager's short-fused Papa) Mother Superior, and Tilly are treated with such careful reverence that a story which could have been sordid and sublime, thoughtful, relevant, and sensational, becomes a selfconsciously monumental made-for-TV miracle. (Helen Knode) ALWAYS Once in a great while there's a movie that you not only recommend, but that you have to take your friends to see. I mean take them yourself, because you want not only to hear but to feel their reactions, sitting in the next seat, watching them as much as the movie. Always is that kind of movie for me. I want all of my friends to see it. And my sister and brothers. was the saving grace that raised that comedy to gut-busting levels. For that reason, I wish I could tell you that Remo Williams is a great movie. It's not Ward plays an Indiana Jones-like adventurer, an international crime fighter trained by an ultra-secret spy organization but terrific as he is, the movie is weakly written and directed. Its flaws are identical to those of the first Superman film too much time is spent on Remo's education, not enough on his actual adventures. And much as it's fun, if not downright amazing, to watch Joel Grey disappear into his role as Remo's super-Zen martial arts instructor, teaching our hero to walk on water and appreciate fine soap opera, the filmmakers failed to understand that the real pleasure would have been to watch Remo using his newfound powers. By the time he does it feels like the big climax is right around the corner and it is. Ward and Grey are delightful enough to merit a sequel but they're too good for me to take much pleasure in waitipg for it. (Pacific Cinerama Dome, Hlywd.) (F.X. Feeney) TIGER BY THE TAIL The members of the United Automobile Workers Local 645 out in Van Nuys made a movie about themselves. From them we get fresh, first-hand news of what it means to be a worker in today's America. It means hard, dirty work. We see fathers and sons, women, blacks and Latinos bending, stooping, pushing, pulling and lifting, always in time to the rhythm of the assembly line. And we hear the workers talk about themselves, their jobs and their lives. They talk honestly and searchingly. Kelly Jenco says she's not so crazy about the job, as no one would be, but she loves the people she works with, and that's why she wants the General Motors plant to stay open. She and her fellow workers are a community, and she does not want to lose their comradeship. We also see the members of the larger community the educators, politicians and clerics who come from East L.A., South Central L.A. and the Valley to join with the workers at G.M. to demand that the corporation keep not just a profitable operation but a living, thriving community intact. By the end of the 40-minute film, it does not seem impossible that 5,000 workers just might make a difference, just might stand up and say, "This is what we think, and what we think is important. Tiger by the Tail is directed by Michal Goldman in clean, straightforward strokes, the perfect approach to people who believe what affects one of us affects us all. (UAW Local 645, 7915 Van Nuys Blvd., Van Nuys; Sat., Oct. 19, 8 p.m. Call (818) 782-5362. For group rental information, call (213) 931-9888.) (Ginger Varney) SCREENINGS1NO AVALABLE1BYM PRESSTIMEWM Dream Child Even my parents. And my friends again friends should see it twice. Three couples - one about to get divorced, one about to get married, and one "solidly" married spend the Fourth of July weekend together, never leaving the house and garden of the couple about to be divorced. The couple is played by Henry Jaglom and his ex-wife, Patrice Townsend, with a nakedness and a precision of performance that utterly dissolve any barrier between the viewer and the film. It's very funny, embarrassing, scary, challenging, silly, profound and, above all, alive. Most films try to make you happy by cheering you up; Always tries to make happiness possible by telling the truth. (MV)

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