Off Limits

Yet another Vietnam picture, set in Saigon in 1968. This one is a mystery thriller about two plainclothes cops (Willem Dafoe and Gregory Hines) assigned to investigate the murders of half a dozen local prostitutes whose babies were fathered by American servicemen; a high-ranking American officer proves to be one of the suspects. Directed and cowritten by TV veteran Christopher Crowe, and shot on location in Bangkok, the film has the singular virtue of giving more vent to Vietnamese attitudes about the U.S. than are usually found in such pictures, and the dialogue is often pungent and lively. One regrets the hokey finale as the film eventually succumbs to overly familiar generic patterns, but before this happens, some of the complexity of the American presence in Vietnam gets touched upon. (Golf Mill, Water Tower, River Oaks, Orland Square, Plaza, Dearborn, Hyde Park, Norridge, Ridge, Hillside Square, Forest Park, Grove, Woodfield, Deerbrook, Evergreen)

Published on 11 Mar 1988 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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The House on Carroll Street

Peter Yates, a craftsmanlike director who is generally at the mercy of his scripts, does a creditable job with a romantic thriller screenplay by former blacklisted writer Walter Bernstein (The Front), set in 1951 during the height of the cold war witch-hunts, which is strong in charm and period flavor but relatively weak in motivations. Aiming for an overall Hitchcockian ambience without the master’s undertow of guilt, the film makes pleasant use of Kelly McGillis as a witch-hunt victim who turns amateur sleuth, and Jeff Daniels (The Purple Rose of Cairo) as an FBI agent who befriends her; also on hand are Jessica Tandy, and an especially effective Mandy Patinkin as the sweet-talking cold warrior villain. Michael Ballhaus shot the film, and Georges Delerue handled the score. Nothing very profound emerges from the mixture, but this is still a rather stylish and sincere entertainment that passes the time agreeably. (Edens, Oakbrook Center, Water Tower)

Published on 04 Mar 1988 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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