Beyond Bush-Bashing [BOB ROBERTS]

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Published on 25 Sep 1992 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Bob Roberts

A rather brilliant if overloaded pseudodocumentary satire in the mode of Real Life and This Is Spinal Tap, Tim Robbins’s first feature as writer-director is an angry catalog of recent media abuses in the realm of politics. (Properly speaking, there are no real characters here, only types and images, which is part of the point.) Robbins plays a folksinging Pennsylvania conservative running for the U.S. Senate against fuddy-duddy liberal incumbent Brickley Paiste (Gore Vidal) shortly before the Persian Gulf war. While it’s certainly true, as most reviewers have been claiming, that this movie does a devastating job on Reagan and Bush’s values and corruption, it offers an equally sharp critique of various liberal politicians. (Robbins may believe everything Paiste says, but even the lampoonish name shows that we’re not supposed to take him entirely straight, and Vidal’s bow ties and improvised oratory add immeasurably to the parody.) The functioning of media itself is Robbins’s true subject, and it’s exciting to see him appropriating some of the ideas of his mentor Robert Altman and giving them more bite than Altman ever did (not only in Tanner ‘88 and The Player, but also in Nashville). Robbins is attempting too much here, but the 70 percent or so that he brings off borders at times on the breathtaking. With Giancarlo Esposito, Alan Rickman, Ray Wise, Brian Murray, and some deadly cameos by John Cusack (in a brutal takeoff on Saturday Night Live), Peter Gallagher, Bob Balaban, Susan Sarandon, Fred Ward, and James Spader. (Water Tower)

Published on 11 Sep 1992 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Muse Abuse [LIGHT SLEEPER]

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Published on 04 Sep 1992 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Looney Tunes Hall of Fame

A highly distinguished and immensely enjoyable selection of 13 Warner Brothers cartoons made between 1948 and 1956, 9 of them by Chuck Jones. Leading off the program is Lumberjack Rabbit (1953), the only Warners cartoon in 3-D, and more a curiosity than a classic. The eyepoppers include two masterpieces of the same year, the modernist Duck Amuck and the wildly futurist Duck Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century, as well as one of the most beautiful Road Runner cartoons (the 1956 Gee Whiz-z-z-z), a Tweety Pie cartoon in which Sylvester loses all nine of his lives (Friz Freleng’s Satan’s Waitin’, 1954), and two hilarious character items from 1951, one starring the underrated Foghorn Leghorn (Robert McKimson’s Leghorn Swoggled), the other featuring the Three Bears on Father’s Day (A Bear for Punishment). There’s also Freleng’s pretty good Curtain Razor (1949), a Porky Pig version of Broadway Danny Rose before the fact. The others are simply OK: Freleng’s Hare Do (1948), Bully for Bugs (1953), Feed the Kitty (1952), Rabbit Seasoning (1952), and One Froggy Evening (1955). (Music Box, Friday through Thursday, September 4 through 10)

Published on 04 Sep 1992 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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