The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida on February 18, 1990 · 982
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The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida · 982

Miami, Florida
Issue Date:
Sunday, February 18, 1990
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AT THE MOVIES THE MIAMI HERALD INTERNATIONAL EDITION Courage Mountain: Fun for kids 12B SUNDAY FEBRUARY 18 1990 T it ' ( '1 t 4? - -gtoO - sv m V-v-' ' - A -v t MOVIE REVIEW By BETH DUNLOP Herald Arts Writer Courage Mountain is an old-fashioned children’s feature film the stuff that Saturday matinees were made of No self-respecting adult could believe the plot no child could help but be caught up in the suspense and the adventure of it all Heidi — our old-fashioned Heidi of the dirndls and Clara and Peter and Grandfather — has grown up a bit She is 14 and about to be sent off from her innocent Swiss village to a boarding school in Northern Italy at the outbreak of World War I Just as Heidi Guliet Caton) gets settled at school the troops march in and announce they are taking it over as quarters Heidi and several other girls end up in a dreary Dickens-like orphanage run by the evil Signor Bonelli (Yorgo Voyagis) who puts children to hard labor making soap Heidi leads four girls through a battlefield and across the Alps to eventual safety in Switzerland but not without a suspenseful final escape from certain death at the hands erf Signor Bonelli who has been pursuing them and a dramatic rescue by Heidi’s friend Peter (Charlie Sheen) The many improbabilities were all too clear to this adult — but then who ever watched say Mary Pop-pins or Treasure Island for realism? And it didn’t faze my 6 ‘i-y ear-old son Adam or his cousin of the same age They sat without squirming sometimes even a bit breathless for most of the movie even during boarding-school scenes geared specifically toward older girls The scene in which Peter rescues Heidi and her friends does include some amazing stunt skiing And there are plenty of edge-of-the-seat anxious moments It has a happy if sappy ending and lots of morality about it Caton plays Heidi in a restrained understated disarming fashion and the other girls seem to come Madhouse: Only a child would want to visit 2 stars don’t belong in this embarrassment By JUAN CARLOS COTO Herald Entertainment Writer I rise from my seat at the screening of Madhouse trying to shake off the numbing effects of this obnoxious overwrought comedy when a little boy of about 5 — we’ll call him Spanky — pipes up behind me: “Wow! That was the best movie I’ve ever seen in the whole world!” Spanky says That should give you an idea of what age group will find Madhouse most hilarious The movie which stars John Larroquette of TV’s Night Court and Kirstie Alley of TV’s Cheers has some moments that will elicit chuckles from adults though not nearly enough Larroquette and Alley don’t belong in this cartoonish embarrassment but they do a good job of fitting in — their performances are worthy of Saturday morning television They play Mark and Jessie Bannister He’s a financial planner she’s a TV reporter and they recently mortgaged their guts out on a new home Everything is peachy until the house guests arrive First comes Mark’s cousin Fred Gohn Diehl formerly Zito on Miami Vice ) and his New Jersey nightmare of a wife Bernice Qessica Lundy) The follow-up is Jessie’s blue-blooded sister Claudia (Alison La Placa) Then after various plot contrivances the neighbors and Claudia’s son move in leaving Mark and Jessie to camp out in the back yard It’s supposed to be funny and first-time writer-director Tom Ropelewski wastes no time in making this known by banging the audience over the head with gags that range from brainless to crude Claudia for example bellyaches about her rich philandering husband Kaddir by calling him such quaint colloquialisms as “Middle Eastern maggot” and “towel head” Spanky didn’t like that much He preferred the scene when Fred’s cat vomits on everyone in the car The one funny sequence involves home movies of Mark as a boy when he must have weighed 300 pounds Dennis Miller the mega-hip comic and host of Saturday Night Live’s news also makes a witty appearance as Mark’s slick buddy Wes but he’s wasted Madhouse is the dime-store equivalent of Luis Buftuel’s The Exterminating Angel about dinner guests who can’t bring themselves to leave a house and end up starving You’ll have no trouble skipping Madhouse unless you’re Spanky and you think the movie is like really rad COURAGE MOUNTAIN (PG) Cast: Juliet Caton Charlie Sheen Leslie Caron Yorgo Voyagis Jan Rubes Laura Betti Director: Christopher Leitch Producer: Stephen Ujlaki Screenwriters: Weaver Webb from a Story by Fred and Mark Brogger Cinematographer: Jacques Steyn Music: Sylvester Levay An Epic Productions release Running time: 1 1 9 minutes Some sequences might be upsetting to very young children straight from the pages of a storybook And though they are rescued by a boy in the end these girls are gutsy and they are presented as heroines in a straightforward nonsexist fashion That is enough to recommend it alone but Courage Mountain is a fairly sophisticated movie story line notwithstanding It’s a beautifully designed film done in faded tones of brown and gray the beautiful scenery and architecture not glorified in any way The settings are the right backdrop for the movie’s sentimentality and its too-obvious symbolism contrasting the evil of war and the innocence of children Leslie Caron is upright and ladylike as Jane Hillary who runs Heidi’s boarding school Jan Rubes is a doting grandfather Sheen is a curiously flat Peter He is quoted as saying he wanted to play a “regular” hero but his performance is rote In fact of the adults only Voyagis really shines playing the menacing Signor Bonelli as high melodrama which is fine given the unlikely plot Somehow the adults here don’t even matter The young girls — Heidi and the four who cross the Alps with her all young English actresses — steal the show Courage Mountain is the story of children standing undaunted in the face of virtually unsurmountable obstacles and in that respect it’s really quite thrilling t 4 4 it ' £'4- j ' -0 k J I Jt' 1 £ d w - V j Al n Ar a ! ---1 GOOD TIMES: Heidi (Juliette Caton) romps through the Alps with best friend Peter (Charlie Sheen) in Courage Mountain 0' My Left Foot is the story of man’s intimate crusade ilVu ' r Vjf t&! an I k r - 5 SHOULD HAVE STAYED HOME: Kirstie Alley and John Larroquette are wasted in Madhouse MOVIE REVIEW MADHOUSE (PG-13) Cast: John Larroquette Kirstie Alley Alison La Placa John Diehl Jessica Lundy Writer-director: Tom Ropelewski Producer: Leslie Dixon Cinematographer: Denis Lewiston Music: David Newman An Orion Pictures release Running time: 88 minutes Vulgar language comic violence The following review is reprinted from October’s Greater Fort Lauderdale Film Festival Last week the film was nominated for five Academy A wards- best picture actor supporting actress director and adapted screenplay By BILL COSFORD Herald Movie Critic Christy Brown was born with cerebral palsy and grew up with the full use of a single limb his left foot He grew up to become a celebrated artist and author anyway His story is now a movie of course But it’s not the TV movie you figure it to be sugarcoated and stuffed with sentiment On the contrary My Left Foot is unflinching and spare it would work as drama if the central character were "normal” in every way So you don’t have to go in feeling noble and you need not expect to come out that way either Brown was talented but flawed in ways that had little to do with his disability and his life was tough for other reasons as well My Left Foot is ennobling yes — but it never asks for your sympathy Brown was born into a large Dublin family (he was one of 13 children to survive) in 1932 His siblings rallied around him from the start and so did his mother but Father was different The assumption in the pubs and in the work place was that because he was so physically limited and because he could not talk at first Brown must be mentally impaired as well — a retard Brown’s father took some loutish ribbing over his ale But the brothers and sisters wheeled him around in a barrow and Brown showed some spark in his eyes and eventually he became part of the scenery in his working- class neighborhood — a kind of village idiot but no big deaL Then in scenes the film makes perfectly wonderful Brown first transmits a sense of his intellectual vigor The family and the town are changed And father takes the boy to the pub introduces him as a MOVIE REVIEW MY LEFT FOOT (R) Cast: Daniel Day-Lewis Brenda Flicker Alison Whelan Kirsten Sheridan Declan Croghan Marie Conmee Cyril Cusack Ray McAnally Hugh O’Conor Director: Jim Sheridan Producer: Noel Pearson Screenwriters: Jim Sheridan Shane Connaughton Based on the book by Christy Brown Cinematographer: Jack Conroy Music: Elmer Bernstein A Miramax Films release Running time: 103 minutes Adult themes genius These moments are highly charged as you might expect But so are others that are less predictable At one point in his adolescence Brown is discovered with a “men’s” magazine This leads to a period of enforced religious instruction at the hands of a priest who is clearly unnerved Brown is a captive audience without recourse even to the small evasions of the bored but able-bodied preteen This poor twitching creature gets a lecture on purgatory vs hell — “You can get out of purgatory” the priest tells him apparently oblivious to the fact that Brown who is already in it knows there’s no escape at all Christy Brown went on to become a lion of arts and letters wielding his foot with more eloquence than most men to their whole beings and My Left Foot makes the story into an intimate crusade Brown who battled alcoholism and a mean streak with varying degrees of success was a real hero not a Spielberg creation Daniel Day-Lewis who plays Brown as an adult (Hugh O’Conor is excellent as the young Christy as well) invests the character with the full range of human foibles No pandering here and the performance is extraordinary for its subtleties over the obvious physical manifestations The direction by Jim Sheridan is tough-edged 1 - IMilwPwww - f ''Fv:- - -ypr STEVEN SEAGAL: Martial arts whiz in 2nd starring role Hard to Kill has plenty of thrills By JUAN CARLOS GOTO Herald Entertainment Writer Martial arts whiz Steven Seagal who busted heads while uncovering a CIA drug plot in 1988’s Above the Law returns to the screen in Hard to Kill which involves the shady dealings of a senator who looks like Dan Quayle The resemblance might be part of the reason Hard to Kill — which is even less subtje than its title — is all show and no depth The plot of Above theLaw'NAs at least intricate Hard to Kill is a revenge picture and nothing more Seagal plays Mason Storm a straight-shooting neck-chopping LA detective whose family is snuffed out after he gets too close for Sen Vernon T rent’s (Bill Sadler) comfort Trent’s goons think they’ve killed Storm too but he holds out in a coma for seven years He awakens with a Christ-like mane and beard and a doting nurse (Kelly Le Brock Seagal’s real-life wife) at his side There’s also a hit man on Storm’s tail Our hero escapes and true to action flick protocol is bent on vengeance But don’t muscles atrophy if you’re in a hospital bed for seven years? In a Karate Aid-style montage Storm treats himself with acupuncture punches some plywood runs up and down a mountain and — watch out bad guys! — he’s back Then the plot takes a back seat to car chases explosions and fight sequences which — thanks to Seagal and director Bruce Malmuth — provide some Grade A in-your-face thrills Malmuth who directed the 1981 Sylvester Stallone police thriller Night hawks knows how to play up Seagal’s wise-guy charms which provide an entertaining balance to his blinding aikido moves Malmuth also exploits what was the biggest crowd pleaser in Above the Law when Seagal snapped the villain’s forearm with his bare hands Mason Storm breaks at least three arms in Hard to Kill and snaps one wrist twice Though he can’t surpass Mel Gibson in his Lethal Weapon mode Seagal has come a long way in his second film He already has a better delivery — and more presence — than Chuck Norris has after a string of movies Le Brock’s acting however produces more crash-and-burn disasters than the stunt drivers It's a performance only a husband could love — or pay for She should stick to pitching shampoo on TV Sadler isn’t a very compelling villain either and his goons are merely punching bags with a few lines of dialogue Hard to Kill is all Seagal and if pure action thrills are your preference this will do just fine MOVIE REVIEW HARD TO KILL (R) Cast: Steven Seagal Kelly Le Brock Bill Sadler Director: Bruce Malmuth Screenwriter: Steven McKay Cinematographer: Matthew F Leonetti Producers: Gary Adelson Joel Simon Bill Todman Jr Music: David Michael Frank A Warner Bros release Running time: 97 minutes Violence vulgar language brief nudity What wins Oscar? In academy’s view great acting has to look like acting By HAL BOEDEKER Herald Television Critic The Academy Award nominations have been announced for another year There is always speculation about why actors are included or overlooked But what do the nominations throughout the academy’s 62-year history say about great movie-acting? In the academy’s view great acting has to look like acting And the role has to be a challenge George C Scott’s Patton and Ben Kingsley’s Gandhi are classic examples A bravura turn usually beats a subtle one Maybe that explains why Joseph Cotten and Myrna Loy were never nominated To take the prize it helps to be sick (Elizabeth Taylor for Butterfield 8 ) old (George Burns for The Sunshine Boys ) a veteran who has never won before (Geraldine Page for The Trip to Bountiful) or a combination of them all (Henry Fonda for On Golden Pond) In some cases the academy simply admires certain performers Here is a survey of the most nominated actors and most of the performances are available on video: Katharine Hepburn (12 nominations four victories): The regal independent actress leads all performers in nominations and victories The academy likes her class She was nominated for Morning Glory Alice Adams The Philadelphia Story Woman of the Year The African Queen Summertime The Rainmaker Suddenly Last Summer Long Day’s Journey intoNight Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? TheLion in Winter and On Golden Pond Unfortunately with the exception of The Lion in Winter the academy has honored her lesser performances: Morning Glory Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and On Golden Pond Her performances in Little Women Alice Adams and Long Day’s Journey were more deserving Bette Davis (10 nominations two victories): A furor arose when the academy failed to nominate Davis’ star-making performance in Of Human Bondage Vivid and versatile she went on to command the academy’s attention through the late ’30s and early ’40s Her nominations came for Dangerous Jezebel Dark Victory The Letter The Little Foxes Now Voyager Mr Skeffington All About Eve The Star and What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? She won for Dangerous and Jezebel Like Hepburn Davis went unrewarded for her greatest work: The Letter The Little Foxes and All About Eve Laurence Olivier (10 nominations one victory): Acknowledged as the world’s greatest actor at his death Olivier won over the Oscar nominators with material that ranged from classical to junk His nominations: Wuthering Heights Rebecca Henry V Hamlet Richard III The Entertainer Othello Sleuth Marathon Man (supporting category) and The Boys from Brazil Surprisingly he won only once — for Hamlet His performances in Henry V and Richard III were just as deserving Spencer Tracy (nine nominations two victories): He was an exception to the academy’s penchant for showy acting Tracy made it look effortless natural His nominations: San Francisco Captains Courageous Boys Town Father of the Bride Bad Day at Black Rock The Old Man and the Sea Inherit the Wind Judgment at Nuremberg and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? He won for Captains Courageous (a wonderful performance) and Boys Town (an unbearably sentimental movie) Jack Nicholson (nine nominations two victories): The killer smile really gets to the Oscar voters Best actor nominations for Five Easy Pieces The Last Detail Chinatown One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (he won) Prizzi’s Honor and Ironweed supporting nods for Easy Rider Reds and Terms of Endearment (he won again) Marlon Brando (eight nominations two victories): The academy likes his Method even when he refuses the Oscar He was up for A Streetcar Named Desire Kiiio Zapata! Julius Caesar On the Waterfront (win No 1) Sayonara The Godfather (win No 2) Last Tango in Paris and A Dry White Season (supporting category) Jack Lammon (eight nominations two victories): A beloved figure in Hollywood Lemmon dazzles the academy with his versatility in comedy and drama

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