Neither Noir [KISS OF DEATH & THE UNDERNEATH]

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http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/1995/04/neither-noir/

Published on 28 Apr 1995 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Black-And-White World [BLACK GIRL]

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http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/1995/04/black-and-white-world/

Published on 21 Apr 1995 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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Kiss Of Death

Apart from its plot structure, there are scarcely any traces left of the Henry Hathaway noir thriller scripted by Ben Hecht and Charles Lederer that this supposedly reprises; but even though it proceeds in fits and starts, it’s still a pretty good crime thriller on its own terms. Director Barbet Schroeder (Reversal of Fortune, Single White Female), a onetime French New Wave producer who’s done a better job of adapting to the Hollywood mainstream than any of his former colleagues, does an able job with Richard Price’s script about an ex-con (David Caruso) who gets pulled back into crime by both the mob and the police, the latter forcing him to become a police spy. The movie never quite discovers a style of its own, but it manages to tell a pretty good story about contemporary corruption inside the law as well as outside, and even if Nicolas Cage’s edgy portrait of a psycho criminal can’t hold a candle to Richard Widmark’s in the original, the secondary castincluding Samuel L. Jackson, Stanley Tucci, Michael Rapaport, Ving Rhames, Helen Hunt, and Kathryn Erbedoes a nice job of filling out the canvas. (JR)

Published on 17 Apr 1995 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Basketball Diaries

A sensationalist grunge festival spiked with dollops of poetry on the sound track, provisionally derived (by Bryan Goluboff) from Jim Carroll’s autobiographical book of the same title. Leonardo DiCaprio does an impressive job as the hero-narrator, but the parade of horrors offered by the script and Scott Kalvert’s direction sheds a lot more heat than light on the problems of a Catholic teenager in New York City who plays basketball, becomes hooked on drugs, and enters a life of crime and degradation. Significantly, the movie keeps the hero’s reformation offscreen as well as unexplained; it’s more interested in shock effects than in candor or elucidation. With Bruno Kirby, Lorraine Bracco, Ernie Hudson, Patrick McGaw, James Madio, and Mark Wahlberg (1995, 102 min.). (JR)

Published on 17 Apr 1995 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Titanica

This 94-minute Imax documentary by Stephen Low (1991) has the same nonaesthetic features of other films in this format–most notably a TV-like lack of precise composition necessitated by the curved screen–but its subject, the risky Canadian-American-Russian expedition to pick over the wreckage of the Titanic, has an inherent fascination and haunted poetry that triumphs over the sometimes hokey, often trumped-up presentation; at times the film becomes a kind of undersea 2001. Oddly, the crew participants are encouraged to relate to the camera like actors and some of the camera angles suggest those of a fiction film (significantly, storyboards are alluded to in the final credits). But a judicious combination of period photographs (some genuine, some composites), a contemporary interview with one of the few living survivors, and views of the ship’s remnants two and a half miles below the ocean’s surface give this the curious, paradoxical feel of a scientific ghost film. There will be a 15-minute intermission. Museum of Science and Industry, 57th Street at Lake Shore Drive, Friday and Saturday, April 14 and 15, 6:30 and 8:30; Sunday, April 16, 6:30; and Thursday, April 20, 6:30 and 8:30; 684-1414.

Published on 14 Apr 1995 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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