The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida on August 19, 1995 · 213
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The Miami Herald from Miami, Florida · 213

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Miami, Florida
Issue Date:
Saturday, August 19, 1995
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213
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SATURDAY AUGUST 19 1995 fin THE MIAMI HERALD INTERNATIONAL EDITION dD Usual Suspects bewilder as it grips fascinates AT THE rlCVIES By RENE RODRIGUEZ Herald Movie Critic The Usual Suspects is so fiendishly clever you’ll spend most of the movie trvmg to figure out what the hell is going on It’s a relatively simple tale of cops and robbers made infinitely complicated in the telling The screenplay by Christopher McQuarrie is an exercise in sleight-of-hand exposition Nothing is told in a straightforward manner The puzzie-box construction is original enough to have earned the movie a lot of positive pre-release buzz including comparisons between director Bryan Singer and Quentin Tarantino The movie has lots of poetically hardboiled dialogue unpredictable tw ists and a fine ensemble of tough-guy actors doing their best to out-cuss and out-threaten each other What I he i sual Suspects lacks is a narrative thread to hold onto Characters have long conversations about people and events you know nothing about Flashbacks and flash-forwards ricochet you along without warning The storyline coils into itself so densely it’s downright impenetrable Singer and McQuarrie are so in love with their material’s complexity they forget to leave you a way in It's too bad because there’s a doozy of a crime drama in 7 he L steal Suspects that’s struggling to get out The movie opens the night after a spectacular explosion aboaid a tanker where a Message there but Jeffrey unconvincing By RENE RODRIGUEZ Herald Movie Critic “Sex wasn’t meant to be safe or negotiated or fatal ” So says the title character in Jeffrey a single gay man in New York paralyzed by the labvrinthine rules in the era of AIDS All the fretting has taken the fun out of sex So Jeffrey swears off it rechan-ncltng his energy into his work (waitcr-unemploved actor) and his body (the gvm) But it’s at the gym that he immediately meets the man of his dreams a prototypical tall dark and handsome stranger — who reveals that he is HIV-positive Oh the irony Jeffrey is an unernngly faithful adaptation of Paul Rudnick’s award-winning plav — not surprising smee Rudnick wrote the screenplay His uproarious onc-liners and comic flights of fancy work hilariously as movie material mining the gay milieu with a brashness and swagger rare for mainstream Hollywood But as funny asJelfux gets the story must eventually deal with its serious undertone and it’s there that the movie falters In the play Rudnick pulled off the seemingly impossible mixing belly laughs with poignancy as the characters attended funerals grieved for lovers and pondered whether a relationship with an HIV-positive person was worth the seemingly inevitable heartbreak On the screen however the changes in tone feel clumsy Director Christopher Ashley MOVIE REVIEW THE BABY-SITTERS CLUB (PG) Cast Schuyler Fisk Bre Blair Rachael Leigh Cook Zelda Harris Larisa Oleynik Tricia Joe Stacey Lmn Ramsower Peter Horton Director: Melanie Mayron Producer: Jane Startz Peter 0 Almond Cinematographer- Willy Kurant Editor: Christopher Greenbury Music: David Michael Frank A Columbia Pictures release Running time 90 minutes Playing at area theaters Baby-sitters two sweet for words By JACKIE POTTS Herald Staff Writer Adolescent girls so rarely see themselves on the big screen that it seems unfair to begrudge them anv chance they get But the fresh-scrubbed girls of The Bab-sitiets Club are so sickly sweet they'll give anyone over the age of 12 a toothache And wholesome0 Why they make wide-eyed Alicia Sil-verstone and her Clueless pals look like Courtney Love and Hole The movie is based on the bestselling TV and paperback MOVIE REVIEW ThE USUAL SUSPECTS (R) Cast: Gabriel Byrne Kevin Spacey Chazz Palminteri Stephen Baldwin Bemcio Del Toro Kevin Poliak Dan Hedaya Giancarlo Esposito Pete Pos-tlethwaite Suzy Amis Director: Bryan Singer Producers: Bryan Singer Michael McDonnell Screenwriter: Christopher McQuarrie Cinematographer: Newton Thomas Sigel Music: John Ottman A Gramercy Pictures release Running time 106 minutes Vulgar language violence gore adult themes botched heist has taken place The fire has left a pile of charred carcasses floating in the water and only two survivors: Verbal Klint (Kevin Spacey) a shifty-eyed wormy loser with a lame leg being interrogated by a US Customs Special Agent (Chazz Pal-mintenjwho is convinced Verbal knows more than he’s saying and a Hungarian gangster horribly burned in the blast lying near death in a hospital bed speaking in horrified tones of a legendary killer named Keyser Soze reputed to be so evil even the meanest thugs quiver Under questioning Verbal relates the events that led to his presence on the boat beginning with the night he and four other felons were brought in for a MOVIE REVIEW JEFFREY IRIV Cast Steven Weber Patrick Stewart Michael T Weiss Bryan Batt Sigourney Weaver Nathan Lane Olympia Dukakis Kathy Najimy Robert Klein Director: Christopher Ashley Producers Mark Balsam Mitchell Maxwell Victoria Maxwell Screenwriter: Paul Rudnick Based on his play Cinematographer Jeffery Tufano Music: Stephen Endelman An Orion Classics release Running time 92 minutes Vulgar language sexual situations adult themes gives the movie a light bouncy feel that makes it hard to shift emotional gears when the story requires it What’s worse the drama unintentionally borders on camp at times making for an uneasy mix Jeffrey boasts a cast studded with more stars than any incarnation of the play but that turns out to be a mixed blessing Steven Weber (TV’s H ins’ s) plays Jeffrey the befuddled fellow torn between caution and his libido and Michael T Weiss ( Days of Out I nes) is the guy he falls for but they’re woefully unconvincing as a couple Jefltey is supposed to be romantic but there’s little chemistry between the two leads Weber's discomfort is particularly obvious You never believe there’s any real attraction Much better is Patrick Stewart (Sjar Irek's Capt Picard) as Jcf- series by Ann M Martin about a group of apple-checked preteens who live in well-to-do Stoney-brook Conn It's a warm happy place with two-story houses immaculate lawns and a Volvo m every driveway Judging from the serene self-satisfied smiles on cvcrvone’s faces Stoneybrook must be located somewhere in Prozac Valley In the grand tradition of Saturday morning escapist fluff the THE GANGSTERS: Kevin Poliak police lineup There’s the bitter Keaton (Gabriel Byrne) trying to go stiaight with the help ot his lawyer girlfriend there’s the "hardware specialist” Hocknev (Kevin Poliak) the cockv McManus (Stephen Baldwin) and the sublimely odd Fenster (Bemcio Del Toro in a marvelously subtle bit of comic acting) Overnight the five reluctantly FRIENDS: Cast members from left Steven Weber Michael T Weiss trey’s best friend a spectacularly flambovant interior designer w ho encourages Jeffrey to break his vow and start dating again Stewart has undergone an amazing transformation His character is foppish and mannered yet never a caricature and he steals every scene he’s in with a flick of the wrist and a toss of the head In smaller roles Sigouincv Weaver is effective as a mean-spirited New Age evangelist who gives Jeffrey some bittei advice Nathan Lane is hilarious as a sex-crazed priest who hangs Broadway show posters inside seven girls of The Baby-sitters Club never have anything more traumatic than a low grade in science or a crush on an older boy to ruffle their dainty brows Mostly they sing songs hug and admire each other's outfits Director Melanie Mayron admirably tries to beef up thi- treacly stuff by chronicling the girls’ efforts to run a homcgiown children's summer tamp In a small subplot fellow 1 hirtx some left Stephen Baldwin Bemcio Del Toro Gabriel Byrne and Kevin Spacey agice to pul! a job together — essentially scaling their fates Through an amainglv complex sci'csot events thev willeventu-allv nttnet the attention ol Kev-ser Soe limisUI But the stoiv untolds in such a convoluted maimer it s nearly impossible to keep up with it ultimately the performances aie unitoimly gieat the actors Bryan Eett Patrick Stewart the confessional booth and Olvmpia Dukakis camps it up as the pioud mother of a transsexual lesbian son Thou h designed primarily to attruu a moic mainstream audience into ihe theater the cameos woik well enlivening the- movie and add rg to the I uig h quotient Laut liter is ultima! Jv what Jet ficx is test at and it the drama CiOc'sp t w oi k i’s oven idiilg mes-si c — to trulv eniov life vou're going to have to take emotion il risks — sldl sloncs thiough And pioves uinvu al 1 i I I i SUVD'DR FUN I Clockwise from bottom left Stacey Lmn Ramsower Rachael Le'gb Cook Cre Blair Schuyler Fisk Tricia Joe Zelda Harris and Larisa Cleyn k i thing alum Peter Horton appears as the eitrand lither ot one of the gnls But tl s movie touted as a modern h H omen ows none of I1 e Kminist spirit or cure n jabties of that film Fven n t e cumber ome bonne the March elan seemed much more hip and self-assured In comparison I be Bui i sitters C hth fit's 1 ke fodder for a new generao m of Stepfird wives working off each other with generous ferocity The underrated Spacey is probably the best of the lot though his character gets the most screen time since he’s the one telling the tale Pete Postleth-waite (In the Same ol the I athet) deserves special mention as Kc-ser’s demonic pioloundly creepy lawyer Duector Singer who has made MOVIE CAPSULES Herald movie reviewers rate movies from zero to four stars Excellent Very Good Good Worth Seeing Fair Poor 0 Worthless These reviews were written by Herald Movie Critic Rene Rodriguez Jackie Potts and Fernando Gonzalez A Kid in King Arthur’s Court (PG) A Thomas Ian Nicholas the gawky ballplayer from Rookie of the Year plays a timid Little Leaguer who is catapulted back to the days of yore to help the disillusioned monarch reclaim his former g'ory Directed at a frantic pace by Mannequin s Michael Gottlieb this comedy jumps so haphazardly from gag to gag that there s little time for character or story development AndCamelot such a splendid Utopia in storybooks here looks forlornly like a cardboard cutout perched on a hill — Potts (violence) A Walk in the Clouds (PG) A A A: This gorqeously crafted love story about an American Gl (Keanu Reeves) and the daughter ( Aitana Sanchez Gijon) ot a Mexican vineyard owner is a vigorously old-fashioned romance surprisingly compelling in its simplicity and directness Director Alfonso Arau ( Like Water For Chocolate) never sacrifices emotional honesty tor postmodern hipness and the result is an enioyably corny and innocent movie that will leave romantics in a state of bliss — Rodriguez (mild sexual innuendo brief violence) Be'le de Jour (R) A : Once considered risque oven shocking this 1967 sexual satire about an ennui-filled housewife who escapes to a brothel in the afternoons seems almost quaint today This hirhbrew romp by the late surrealist director Luis Bunuel stars a young Catherine Deneuve as Severine a beautiful but frosty surgeon s wife who has wild masochistic fantasies It s Burtuel at his best satirizing middle-class conventions — Potts (vulgar language brief nudity violence sexual situations) Clueless (PG-13) AAA: That rare breed of high school comedy one that gently skewers its adolescent subjects while harboring a knowing affection for their plight Alicia Silverstone (Aerosmith video queen) stars as Cher the most popular girl in Beverly Hills High As she did in Fast Times at Ridgemont High director Amy Heckerlmg shows an understanding ol today s youth The emotions between the gags — many hilarious and surprisingly sophisticated — ring true — Rodriguez (vulgar language sexual innuendo adult themes) First Knight (PG-13) AAA This big-budget spectacle about the traitorous affair between Sir Lancelot (a woltish Richard Gere) and Guinevere (the poised Julia Ormond) is sweeping romantic and undeniably grand In a winning piece of casting Sean Connery is a gentler kinder King Arthur For action fans there s sworoplay swarthy villains and no shortage of dastardly deeds For romantics there s white kn ghts and the glistening spires ot Camelot It s a most satisfying romp — Potts (violence adult themes) The Incred bly True Adventure of Two Girls in Love(R) AAVr:Two teenage gels — one a devout tomboy the other a popular rich kid — fall in love and embark on an affair Though the movie is one step away from formula and never nearly so wild as its title implies writer-director Maria Maggenti treats the bud-d ng romance with tenderness insight and not the least whit of sensationalism and that low-key demeanor is the movie s most appealing trait — Rodriguez (vulgar ijniaqe nudity sexual situations themes) Kids (unrated) A A A A- Renowned pho'ographer Larry Clark takes a stab at filmmakipg with tremendous results Tb s look at 24 hours in the lives of a gro pot Vw York street kids is raw profane 'o'ejorg and simply unforqettah'e Watrhir p cannot be described as a pleasjrJole experience Punishing is in a lineup one othei film (the 1993 Sundance film Festival hit Public he ess) is undeniably talented J he I sun! Suspects looks great and is inherently watchable even at its most muddled But bv the time the pas ot 1 is unveiled vou’ll be moie 1 1 ustrated than sur-pnsed I he I sual Suspects flirts with greatness but attempts too much it’s a fascinating failuie more like it Clark doesn t sermonize or judge these sex-crazed drugged-out kids He simply shows capturing behavior and attitude with an impassive eye and the soullessness in these teens growing increasingly horrifying Kids might be the scariest movie of the year but it s more than that It sabonatideworkof art — Rodriguez (considerable vulgar language implicit sex brief nudity violence drug use adult themes) No one under 18 admitted without adult guardian Love and Human Remains (R) A A: What starts olf as a hip comedy-arama about Xers and their quest for love in all its persuasions — sort ot a bisexual Melrose Piece — becomes a thriller about a serial killer st liking women Director Denys Arcarid ( Jesus of Montreal) lets his story get away from him and the fact that the characters are initially so engaging in a trashy sort of way makes the film s ultimate faikre all the more annoying — Rodriguez (vulgar language nudity sexual situations violence adult themes) My Family (R) AA'A: This sprawling look at three generations of a Mexican-American family in Eat Los Angeles sports a thick coating of suqar and fondness tor melodrama But if director Gregory Nava s relentlessly romanticized view of his characters seems a bit false the uniformly tine cast a mixture of familiar laces and talented newcomers (including Jimmy Smits Esai Morales and Edward James Olrnos) makes it easier to go along with the hokum — Rodriguez (vulgar language brief nudity sexual situations violence) The Net (PG-13) A A: This thriller serves up Hollywood s reiqning sweetheart Sandra Bullock as a babelicious computer analyst who can work miracles with a PC and look great in a bikini When she stumbles onto a mysterious floppy disk that gives her access to sensitive government files Bulloc k becomes marked for murder Although the story touches on relevant techno paranoia issues the movie is ultimately more interested in formula chases and cliches than exploring its slate of-the-art ideas — Rodriguez (vulgar language brief violence) SomethingTo Talk About (R) AA' As an overworked mother in a small Southern town who suddenly realizes her husband has been routinely cheating on her Julia Roberts gives such a multifaceted performance you wonder if she hasn t spent the last year in acting school Director Lasse Hallstrom (What s Eating Gilbert Grape) returns to his favored subject ol familial relations and screenwriter Callie Khouri leavens the movie s laughs with genuine pain but it s Roberts who holds this bitter comedy s disparate elements together — Rodriguez (vulgar language exual situations) Unzipped (R) A A 'A This lighthearted (and mostly faltering) look a' fashion designer Isaac Mizhan unfailingly celebrates the world ot runways and flashbulbs Mizhan turns out to be quite the engaging tel ow an outspoken driven artist fond of impersonating people he s just met and given to spouting meaningless but quotable observations on life But the best part of the movie is the star-studded fashion show that closes it showcasing thp f!achy allure and party-like atmosphere ot a near-surreal industry — Rodriguez (vulgar language brief nudity) Virtuosity (R) a Packed with sterile futuristic sets and cheap video-game special efects this virtual reality thriller hasevery'hmg — butapuhe Denzel Wishmcton is an ex cop on the trail of Sid 6 7 (Russe'l Crowe) a sarcashc baby faced ryber maniac vno escaped from his VR playpen and is slashing his way through L A Althcjgh Crowe plays an andro d programmed with the murderous mental hes of ki'lers from Charles Manso" to John VSai aGdC he looks and ac's more like a g Jiowhost — Potts (vu'gar language viuence) 68Sa®S5BBt£ESsg5SCT8233 rj-asKaraaBi

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