The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida on October 15, 1989 · 914
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The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida · 914

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Miami, Florida
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Sunday, October 15, 1989
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914
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gg SUNDAY OCTOBER 15 1S89 AT THE MOVIES THE MIAMI HERALD INTERNATIONAL EDITION Hispanics critical of Old Gringo Los Angeies T imes Service LOS ANGELES — Whatever mainstream American critics might say about Old Gringo — Columbia Picture’s romantic saga about Mexico-US relations during the Mexican Revolution in 1913 — the film has proven revolting to a number of Hispanic newspaper reviewers here and in Mexico El Financiero’s Jorge Ayala Blanco a leading Mexican film critic and scholar said Gringo resurrects old cliches and creates new ones: “It is bad literature about la mexicanidad (Mexico’s national character” he wrote bluntly Sabado’s Gustavo Garcia: “The film is a series of lies about the Mexicans It portrays death as something Mexicans don’t fear something we laugh at " In the United States several Hispanic film critics vented their views on last week’s airing of Telemundo’s Cara a Cara a public-affairs TV program “Technically it’s a beautiful movie” declared Jorge Camara of Spanish-language KVEA-TV in Los Angeles “But the story of the film’s main characters isn’t clear” Other complaints: The stereotypical portrayal of Mexican women as prostitutes and the character of Arroyo a brutal revolutionary general Hispanic critics decried the character even complaining that his accent was more “Puerto Rican than Mexican” BRAVURA BABY-SITTING: John Travolta shows new talents by taking care of Mikey (Jacob Haines) in Look Who’s Talking Baby movie has lot to say Willis great as the voice By RYAN MURPHY Herald Staff Writer Bruce Willis is seen in nary a frame of Look Who’s Talking yet he’s the soul of the film His catty largely ad-libbed voiceovers which spew from the mouth of baby Mikey and hover over the comedy like cartoon balloons are gems one and all When Mikey’s grandmother (Olympia Dukakis) lays him down in a bassinet and launches into embarrassing nonsensical cooing the child rolls his eyes and Wt Director s Amy Heckerling’s film is a delightful little comedy Kirstie Alley of Cheers plays an uptight accountant who’s having an affair with her selfish blithering boss (George Segal) After ending the affair because he won’t leave his wife Alley finds herself in the family way In her last trimester she vows to keep the child and find a good stable daddy Enter John Travolta as a taxi driver who picks up the about-to-burst Alley on a street corner races her to the hospital and helps with the delivery Smitten with mama and her babe he weasels his way into' their lives and helps bring up Mikey This movie has a lot to be thankful for a bashful then brash comeback performance by Travolta who dazzles Alley with superlative baby-sitting skills wonderful comic turns by Alley and Dukakis imaginative direction and zesty writing by Heck-erling and the raspy baby talk of Willis who demonstrates it’s sometimes better to be heard and not seen A baby who talks (and can only be heard by the audience) is a Baker Boys is fabulous so too is By RYAN MURPHY Herald Start Writer The Fabulous Baker Boys looks as though it had been shot through gold lame Michelle Pfeiffer’s luxuriant tresses Jeff Bridges’ killer smile the normally drizzly Seattle — everything glimmers and shimmers and shines The movie’s sunny metallic cast however is a ruse This is no MGM musical but a film about three of life’s great losers Pfeiffer’s Susie Diamond — one of the decade's great cinematic bad girls — is a reformed hooker who sings Beau and Jeff Bridges are the Fabulous Baker Boys haggard dueling pianists who plunk out crowd-pleasers like Can 't Take My Eyes Off Of You in Holiday Inn lounges Their lives are dim and gritty and yet they have hope — thus the film’s golden cast After Diamond links up with the brothers and gives their homespun act a much-needed injection of sex sell-out crowds ensue ' Steve Kloves’ witty and intimate script however isn’t about the underbelly of show business as much as it is about being true to your talent or dream The film’s central theme gains depth from the relationship that unfolds between Pfeiffer and Jeff Bridges Smitten by his brooding dark looks then by his musical skill Pfeiffer uncovers a profound secret: Bridges is actually talented but locked into the dreadful lounge circuit out of loyalty to his brother an enthusiastic yet mediocre player who needs the gigs to support his family After being confronted by Pfeiffer who leaves the trio to pursue her own dream brother Jeff is left to ponder one of the great all-time MOVIE REVIEW LOOK WHO'S TALKING (PGj V 2 Cast: John Travolta Kirstie Alley Olympia Dukakis George Segal Abe Vigoda the voice of Bruce Willis Director and screenwriter: Amy Heckerling Producer: Jonathan D Krane Cinematographer: Thomas Del Ruth Music: David Kitay A Tri-Star Pictures Release Running time' 96 minutes Prolanity and adult situations dangerous premise to base a movie on but Heckerling fleshes out the device with great satirical success A new mother herself the director of Fast Times at Ridgemont High came up with the film’s premise while pondering her daughter’s smiling face “Is this baby laughing because it has gas” she wondered “or is it laughing at me?” The film may be a rebirth for Travolta Fleshy yet bursting with energy he brings hints of past characters to his role It’s a street-smart performance much like his bravura turns in Saturday Night Fever and Urban Cowboy and yet sweet Heckerling has even given the star a big dance number (shades of Staying Alive ) that he attacks with gusto Holding Mikey in his arms he discos across a living room sambas across an area rug and collapses into a fluffy couch It’s a good reminder of how utterly charismatic Travolta can be And yet it is the towheaded Mikey who packs the strongest screen wallop Whether checking out the newborn femme fa-' tales who pass him on the street or dabbling in sandbox psychoanalysis with a troubled preschooler he is not only huggable but astute about the problems of urban living A child’s unjaded view of the anarchies and upsets that permeate adulthood is the core of Look Who's Talking As the movie proves out of the mouths of babes come wonderful nuggets of truth and humor MOVIE REVIEW THE FABULOUS BAKER BOYS (R) ? Cast: Jeff Bridges Micheie Pfe f‘er Beau Bridges Ell e Raab Xander Berkeley Director and screenwriter Steve Kloves Producers: Pa jla Weinstein and Mark Rosenberg Cinematographer Michael Ballhaus Music: Dave Grusin A 20th Century-Fox release Running time' 114 minutes Nudity vulgarity adult situations questions: Should he experiment with his true potential or continue to sleepwalk through life? The question is a tricky one and Kloves spins it off into several provocative subplots with masterful control and -thought The Fabulous Baker Boys is that rare romantic comedy that bustles with the detail usually reserved for drama The dialogue the settings even the costumes are rich with funky embellishments You can almost smell the stale cigarette smoke that hangs in the Luau Lounge where the Baker Boys perform and you can taste the bitter rivalry that adds tang to their act Kloves’ decision to cast the Bridges brothers is an inspired one Beau Bridges finally given a role he can do something with after misses like The Hotel New Hampshire delivers a memorable performance as a lounge lizard who treats Feelings with a kind of respect usually reserved for the national anthem Jeff Bridges — who acts almost entirely with his eyes — quietly seethes his Burt’s at his best as old burglar in loopy Breaking In By BILLCOSFORD Herald Movie Critic Bill Forsyth the Scottish director who became a kind of cult figure for his lyrically human comedies Gregory's Girl and Local Hero is one of those movie originals Once you’ve seen his gentle blend of character drama and daft comedy you don’t forget him His movies have a quality that is almost shy They’re never loud or brash and though they’re quite “accessible” they don’t seem to make many compromises to commercialism either So it’s weird to see the credits for Breaking In — directed by Forsyth and starring Burt Reynolds Of course it’s serendipity Breaking In is Forsyth in his usual good humor and Reynolds at the best he has been since since the dawn of cinema maybe It’s a small ditty of a film a caper comedy about a couple of crooks Reynolds plays the old one Emphasis on “old” because for Burt this was a stretch — you get a glimpse at what he’ll look like in maybe 15 years Casey Siemaszko whose biggest role to date was as one of Billy the Kid’s boys in Young Guns plays the young crook They meet one night in the same house burgling from opposite ends Reynolds’ character Ernie is a professional safecracker who cases carefully lays out his tools with precision before starting the job and dampens the wall plaster so the dust won’t aggravate his allergies Mike the Siemaszko character is a kid who breaks in basically to raid the refrigerator After he has eaten and maybe taken in some cable he peeks at the mail short-sheets the beds and goes back to his job as a tire-rotator at a garage What makes Ernie decide to apprentice this goofball is a subject the story lightly glosses over We assume that with his twilight approaching (he’s 61) Ernie has be- Distant Voices powerful visually By BILLCOSFORD Herald Movie Critic The characters in Distant Voices ' Still Lives an off-kilter period piece set in London during and just after World War II break into song at key moments during the narrative But it’s not a musical And it’s not really a “narrative” either but an autobiographical recollection of a family under duress In fact music is the unifying element in this handsome little collage: In the face of adversity which presents itself daily the family members fall back on renditions of pop tunes from the period from I Wanna Be Around to Pick up the Pieces to Buttons and Bows They sing in pubs in shelters during the Blitz in the parlor and in the kitchen The songs buoy the characters distract them serve as a sort of social anchor And they need all the help they can get The film tells the story of a family — father mother two daughters and a son It comes in two halves — Distant Voices was originally a short feature meant to stand alone Still Lives focuses on the fam- A KNOCKOUT: Michelle Pfeiffer scores as an actress and a singer in Bridges is terrific as a seething pianist way through a difficult haunted role Both are terrific But it is Pfeiffer who deserves the most praise With every film she gets better and better and The Fabulous Baker Boys shows her off as both a fine actress and a sultry singer She’s a kind of blond Billie Holiday in this film all raw and exposed MOVIE REVIEW BREAKING IN (R) Cast: Burt Reynolds Casey Siemaszko Sheila Kelley Lorraine Toussaint Director: Bill Forsyth Producer: Harry Gittes Screenwriter: John Sayles Cinematographer: Michael Coulter Music: Michael Gibbs A Samuel Goldwyn Company release Running time: 91 minutes Vulgar language sexual situations adult themes gun to think about posterity What makes Mike join up is that he thinks the whole thing is really neat So they become partners They do some robberies they teach us about the fast-fading art of cracking safes they have adventures — at one point breaking into a supermarket through the roof shinnying down a rope to come face to cold wet nose with a Doberman pinscher If you haven’t seen a Forsyth film all you need to know about his skills is that he makes this story about a couple of successful crooks fully sympathetic without glorifying what they do It is the best kind of character work: Breaking In has a good measure of “action” and at times builds credible tension but all the joy is in the characters themselves Forsyth’s movies have a magical feeling that is easier to detect and to analyze than it is to describe One of his trademarks is the recurring gag (usually a non sequitur) that is wholly extraneous to the story another is dialogue that just skirts the banal and seduces you with its ordinariness even as it’s moving the plot close to fantasy This script bears the Forsyth stamp though it was originally written by John Sayles and subsequently altered to fit Forsyth’s temperament The movie is too fine to spoil by giving away any of its quirks but here’s a tip: Watch how Forsyth MOVIE REVIEW DISTANT VOICES STILL LIVES (PG-13) Cast: Freda Dowie Pete Postlethwaite Angela Walsh Dean Williams Lorraine Ashbourne Director and screenwriter: Terence Davies Producer: Jennifer Howarth Cinematographers: William Diver Patrick Duval An Avenue Pictures release Running time: 85 minutes Vulgar language brief violence adult themes lnDade:Lumiere ily after the father’s death and was added later The film moves around deftly among time periods and we get a look at the principals at crucial moments in their lives But throughout those lives the force of music is directed against the other unifying element the brutal character of the father He’s a foul sod of a man a child-beater and wife-batterer who is consumed by his own sense of failure and enchanting Her first big screen moment — she rises from a club floor to purr a big band standard — is a knockout The scenes that follow are equally good It’s a brassy movie-star performance — think Rita Hayworth in Gilda — and Pfeiffer moves effortlessly between moments of san UNSELFISH PERFORMANCE: Burt Reynolds plays the straight man as Ernie an aging safecracker in Breaking In handles the confrontation between burglar and guard dog The big news is Reynolds’ performance He has become famous for the enthusiasm with which he wasted his talent and now it seems possible at least that he may become famous again for his ability to rejuvenate it Reynolds has never done anything remotely like Ernie who walks and talks and thinks like a tired old man The marvel isn’t that Reynolds took the part though that’s inter Distant Voices was written and directed by Terence Davies who has made it clear that the family is based on his own And what a life it must have been and projects it directly and without a second thought on the rest of the family They live utterly in his shadow trying to reconcile their hatred for him with their love for him Usually they don’t do a very good job at this Distant Voices was written and di-' rected by Terence Davies who has made it clear that the family is based on his own And what a life it must have been: In his film the faces' of the men are almost all like those of pug dogs — they have the same blunt menace to them The women have more vitality to them at least at first though their faces eventually grow angular and sharp craggy with defeat It’s not all tough times because the music saves everyone periodi Pfeiffer The Fabulous Baker Boys and Jeff guine reflection and sexy seduction She clearly had a ball making this movie and the feeling is contagious Which brings us to the entertaining lesson of The Fabulous Baker Boys: When Pfeiffer is good she’s great And when she plays bad she’s even better esting for a one-time sex symbol but that he did it so well — with nuance instead of broad strokes No good-ole-boy here and no smirks either This is a performer reaching for something he hasn’t had to use in 10 years and seemingly finding it with ease right where he’d left it It’s an unselfish performance too Reynolds doesn’t have the good lines he’s almost a straight man in this loopy comedy But it’s hard to think of anyone else who could have brought it off musically cally this is the kind of film in which a tense moment may be eased merely by the mother’s request “Sing us a song dear” And Davies’ design is deceptively handsome By an involved process of bleaches and other treatments he painted the film in sepia-tinted washed-out images that suggest sweet nostalgia and bad memories at the same time Davies is a visual stylist too His scenes develop as moving tableaux like slow-traveling murals So Distant Voices Still Lives is wonderful to listen to and fascinating to watch Beneath those surfaces however is a story of a desperate family blitzed from within and without It’s a powerful combination

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