Rude Awakening

Two hippies from the 60s (Eric Roberts and Cheech Marin) emerge from a Central American jungle, where they’ve been smoking dope and hiding from the feds, come to New York, and discover what the U.S. in 1989 is all about. Aaron Russo (Bette Midler’s former manager) and David Greenwalt codirected this comedy from a script by Neil Levy and Richard LaGravenese; Julie Hagerty and Robert Carradine play the heroes’ now-yuppified friends who are gradually inspired to return to their former values. As disheveled in some ways as its leading characters are, this movie is still something of a rarity: a sincere, somewhat nuanced, relatively uncliched, and actually judicious look at both the 60s and 80s and what they mean in relation to each other. A far cry from the more reductive treatment of these issues in various sitcoms, this movie is genuinely interested in the question of what happened to 60s ethics, and in spite of an occasionally awkward plot that weaves in and out of comedy, it manages to come up with a few answers. The costars include Louise Lasser, Cindy Williams, Cliff De Young, Andrea Martin, and Buck Henry; the latter two are especially funny in the one extended sequence in which they appear. (Lincoln Village, Oakbrook Center, Chestnut Station, Evanston, Norridge, Webster Place, Deerbrook, Harlem-Cermak, Bel-Air Drive-In)

Published on 25 Aug 1989 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Published on 18 Aug 1989 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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The Navigator

The virtues as well as the limitations of this bizarre fantasy from New Zealand, winner of half a dozen Australian Oscars, stem from its literary conception. Though the story is an original (by director Vincent Ward), and Ward’s use of both black and white and color gives it a very distinctive look, it feels like an idea translated into cinematic terms rather than a cinematic conception. In a remote English mining village threatened by the Black Death in 1348, a visionary boy (Hamish McFarlane) has a troubled dream that spells out possible salvation, which involves digging through the center of the earth to a celestial city and placing across on the spire of a cathedral. He sets out with four miners to fulfill this mission, and they eventually wind up in a modern (i.e., 1988) metropolis. Rather than play this conceit for satire, Ward and his cowriters Kely Lyons and Geoff Chapple stick pretty close to the funereal rhythm and doom-ridden mood that they establish at the outset. What emerges is not entirely successful; the switches between black and white and color often seem more mechanical than integral, and the hallucinatory atmosphere is occasionally diluted rather than enhanced by the blocky narrative continuity. But the originality of the whole conception and its gradual unfolding still make this a compelling and novel experience. With Bruce Lyons and Chris Haywood. (Fine Arts)

Published on 11 Aug 1989 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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