Wired

He made us laugh, wrote Bob Woodward in his book about the death of John Belushi, and now he can make us think. Unfortunately, there are only a few laughs in this interminable screen adaptation, about half of which seem unintentional, and no thoughts at all. Although Michael Chiklis does a creditable job of impersonating Belushi, the lack of any discernible raison d’etre behind this lame replay of All That Jazz and Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Callingmovies that were at least motivated by their status as confessions and auto-critiquesmakes for a peculiarly rudderless biopic bound for nowhere. There are no insights offered into either Belushi or his milieu, and all that keeps this movie going is its arsenal of hand-me-down arty conceits: a very square-looking Woodward (J.T. Walsh) walking around with a notepad, Belushi visiting his own past under the custody of a Puerto Rican guardian angel (Ray Sharkey), and some faltering attempts to juice things up with various kinds of disjunctive editing. Earl Mac Rauch’s script and Larry Peerce’s direction are equally uninspired. This is the movie that Hollywood didn’t want you to see; now you know why. With Patti D’Arbanville, Lucinda Jenney, Alex Rocco, and Gary Groomes. (JR)

Published on 01 Aug 1989 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Viva La Muerte

Spanish surrealist playwright Fernando Arrabal loosely adapted his own autobiographical novel Baal Babylon, about a 12-year-old boy growing up during the Spanish civil war, into this violent, scatological, blasphemous, and extremely tiresome phantasmagoria, with very little filmic sense. If you like this, you might think it has something to do with Bosch, but it looked like bosh to me back in 1971, when misogynist visionary romps of this ilk were all the rage. In French with subtitles. 90 min. (JR)

Published on 01 Aug 1989 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Uncle Buck

A comedy written and directed by John Hughes about a disreputable bachelor uncle (John Candy) assigned to take care of two nieces and a nephew (Jean Kelly, Gaby Hoffmann, and Macaulay Culkin) in the suburbs while their parents are away (1989). Candy manages to be both funny and likable as a kind of updated Fatty Arbuckle in the lead part, and the treatment of the teenager in his care (Kelly) seems a bit less formulaic than usual for Hughes. But don’t be fooled; heaping gobs of the usual fake sentiment eventually come crashing down, defeating even Candy’s ebullience in the process. Even so, Hoffmann and Culkin both manage to project a certain cuteness without being too sickening about it, and Amy Madigan isn’t bad as Candy’s beleaguered girlfriend. 100 min. (JR)

Published on 01 Aug 1989 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Tango Bar

Raul Julia, Valeria Lynch, and Ruben Juarez star in this rather enervating 1988 musical about the tangoa Puerto Rican-Argentine coproduction directed by Marcos Zurinaga from a script that he authored with Jose Pablo Feinnman and Juan Carlos Codazzi. Set in Buenos Aires, the film centers on a cabaret show and its three stars, who form a menage a trois offstage. The main problem is that, as in many low-budget backstage musicals, the narrative is so slight that it barely seems to justify its own existence. Some of the actual tangos, however, are well executed and nicely photographed, and there is a series of enjoyable clips from American, European, and Latin American films in which tangos are featured. (JR)

Published on 01 Aug 1989 in Featured Texts, by admin

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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. (JR)

Published on 01 Aug 1989 in Featured Texts, by admin

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