The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida on May 24, 1991 · 95
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The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida · 95

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Miami, Florida
Issue Date:
Friday, May 24, 1991
Page:
95
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WEEKEND ROAD ADVENTURE: Susan Sarandon left and Geena Davis are best friends on the road in Thelma & Louise Take a wonderful ride with Thelma & Louise By BILL COSFORD Herald Movie Critic Thelma & Louise is the first gal-buddy existential road movie and not a moment too soon You got Susan Sarandon as a waitress run amok and Geena Davis as her pal a housewife on the lam — who could ask for anything more? Ridley Scott (Alien Blade-runner) directed so you know there will be that out-of-this world thread running through the thing It was shot out West in Monument Valley and along the two-lane blacktops of impossibly scenic Utah The women have their epiphanies under the stars and by the lights of their ancient T-Bird And when they they meet a guy they don't like they blow up his truck The movie ought to be a big hit Road trip goes awry Here's what happens: Louise who can't get a commitment out of her boyfriend a rough-edged musician decides to ditch the hash house for a weekend and take Thelma whose marriage to a good-ol'-boy carpet salesman is a hopeless dead end up into the mountains for some R & R Thelma's deal is so bad she can't even work up the nerve to ask her husband for "permission" — she just leaves a note on the microwave and splits All does not go well They're barely out of town when a stop at an Arkansas roadhouse leads to big trouble Thelma (played by Davis newly blond and bean-pole beautiful) dances with a MOVIE REVIEW THELMA & LOUISE (R) Va Cast: Susan Sarandon Geena Davis Harvey Keilel Director: Ridley Scott Producers: Ridley Scott Mimi Polk Screenwriter: Callie Khouri Cinematographer: Adrian Bid-die Music: HansZimmer An MGM release Running time: 126 minutes Vulgar language sexual situations violence stranger and winds up in the parking lot fending off rape Louise (Sarandon still exuding that weathered sexiness) arrives in the nick of time But the guy won't stop abusing them — he's a little bit drunk a whole lot rude and even dumber than that So Louise shoots him Dead The chase If Thelma & Louise was a road movie before that it's a full-fledged fugue afterward The women make the usual series of not-quite-plausible bad decisions in the moments after the crime and because of their early panic become trapped The law (led by a sympathetic detective played by Harvey Keitel) wants them with increasing fervor particularly after their encounter with a heartless state trooper whom they reduce to tears They exact some sort of tribute from virtually every man they meet along the way in fact in set pieces that are extremely gratifying The men are mostly pigs after all Thelma and Louise make 'em pay The movie operates just that simply on one level but it's more than a feminist revenge fantasy (though that given the times wouldn't be so bad either) In their flight across America Thelma and Louise undergo some changes Thelma's is the most fun: She learns she has "a knack" for crime and Davis opens the character up beautifully Louise actually mellows — her character is ripening under the sun as their vintage T-Bird sends up dust-devils across the Southwest Flawless casting A good deal of what happens to Thelma and Louise isn't believable really — at one point a bicycling Rastafar-ian turns up on a desert highway to apply the coup de grace to their humbling of the state trooper But then this is a fantasy as well as a butt-kicking feminist manifesto The casting is perfect Sarandon and Davis play off one another expertly they have better "chemistry" than some male-female combinations now in the theaters and they're wonderfully funny Even when Thelma & Louise is bounding cheerfully out of control — and Scott doesn't always seem to know where he's going with it — it's the kind of movie that sweeps you along for the ride Thelma and Louise are a bad boy's nightmare Their revenge doesn't last all that long — just a bit over two hours actually — but it sure is sweet Backdraft suffers its ups and downs Truly terrifying special effects are its salvation By BILL COSFORD Herald Movie Critic Every little boy thinks at least once about being a fireman and the hours are good and you get to have a Dalmatian So how come all the movies about cops and none about firefighters? The answer is in Backdraft first of the big summer movies The problem is that fireftght-ing itself just doesn't have the drama somehow of chasing crooks — on screen at least Until Backdraft no one had mastered the effects necessary to show what it's like inside a burning building Now someone has The burn sequences in Back-draft are startling and — goosed by sound effects that give the several kinds of fires "voices" of their own — quite terrifying That's the good part The bad part is that the filmmakers apparently didn't trust the firefighting to carry a full-length movie and so there are two unneeded subplots one of which manages to waste Robert De Niro in a supporting role the other of which is so hackneyed you want to torch the script Though he's not on screen much De Niro does play the most interesting character an arson investigator on the trail of a series of otherwise-unrelated fires that kill their victims but in the process explode with such force that they blow themselves out Battling brothers William Baldwin and Kurt Russell play the two least interesting characters battling brothers on the Chicago fire department who are so self-absorbed and so prone to self-pity that they fall to brawling at the drop of a hose Their story is Backdraft's heart and it beats with the plodding measured rhythms of Hollywood contrivance — it's as dull as dust Two romantic subplots involving Rebecca De Mornay as Russell's estranged wife and Jennifer Jason Leigh as a love interest for Baldwin (they grapple on a bed of hoses in the back of a pumper) don't help Ron Howard the director doesn't seem to understand MOVIE REVIEW BACKDRAFT (R) V2 Cast: Kurt Russell William Baldwin Scott Glenn Jennifer Jason Leigh Donald Sutherland Rebecca De Mornay Jason Gedrick Robert De Niro Director: Ron Howard Producers: Richard B Lewis Pen Dertsham John Watson Screenwriter: Gregory Widen Cinematographer: Mikael Salomon Music: HansZimmer A Universal Pictures release Running time: 130 minutes Vulgar language brief nudity violence gore that the fire is more interesting than his stock characters His movie is too long by a good half-hour and all the padding is in the wan grapplings of Russell and Baldwin who snap at the scenery brood and emote The action sequences are so much more interesting — the bustle and clang of the fire-house the rumble of the big trucks the first gung-ho rush to the burning buildings — that when Howard cuts to one or another of the brooding brothers you can almost hear the air whoosh out of the film Fires look real Most of the fire effects have the look of authenticity (though the reverse-action process used to show flames retreating is hardly new) The plot doesn't t attempt to tell us much abortf"" fires though It's far more concerned with animating them which seems to be the only reason for the presence of Donald Sutherland as a crazed arsonist living out his days in prison He talks about fire as "the animal" and does his familiar creep-show turn an eerie parallel to Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lector from The Silence of the Lambs An old-fashioned melodrama which Backdraft otherwise much resembles would at least have invited us into the firemen's world by explaining the terrors Backdraft isn't nearly so careful it just wants to show them It does do that awfully well however One final miscalculation and one that may well keep Back-draft from becoming a blockbuster: Except for a few vulgarisms the film could easily have been rated PG-13 But it's R thus excluding a huge segment of its natural audience the very ones whose fireman dreams are freshest Pretty dumb C2 ALSO OPENING Gabrielle Anwar plays a 1930s stuntwoman who rides diving horses in Wild Hearts Can 't Be Broken based on a true story See review in Saturday Living section Bruce Willis is a in Hudson Hawk See review in Monday Living section

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