Looking for Fun

Also known as For Fun, a title I prefer, this is a delightful comedy from mainland China (1992) about grumbly old men, directed and cowritten by a young woman, Ning Ying, who studied film in both Beijing and Italy, was assistant director on The Last Emperor, and is currently director of the Beijing Film Studio. An old man is obliged to retire from his job as house manager for a local Peking Opera troupe, and after he finds a few opera buffs around his age in a park he organizes a club that meets in an abandoned hall. Working mainly with nonprofessionals, Ning shows a genuine flair for documentary-style shooting and humorous observation, though this is only her second feature. She’s clearly someone to watch. Adapted with Ning Dal from a novella by Chen Jiangong; with Huang Zongluo and Huang Wenjie. To be screened as part of the Silver Images Film Festival. Facets Multimedia Center, 1517 W. Fullerton, Saturday, May 20, 1:15, 281-4114 or 881-8491.

Published on 19 May 1995 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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The Last Good Time

A sturdily made and beautifully acted comedy-drama about aging from Bob Balaban, whose Parents showed him to be an imaginative director who knows what to do with a set and how to enter the worlds of lonely people. The story here, adapted by Balaban and John McLaughlin from a Richard Bausch novel, concerns a retired violinist (Armin Mueller-Stahl) living in Brooklyn who puts up a homeless former neighbor in her early 20s (Olivia d’Abo) and develops an unexpected relationship with her. His only friend–another former neighbor, now dying in a rest home–is played by the late Lionel Stander, one of the juiciest Hollywood character actors who ever lived. His fabulous swan song is reason enough to see this picture, though Balaban’s taste and intelligence and the warmth of the other cast members (including Maureen Stapleton, Adrian Pasdar, and Kevin Corrigan) provide further incentive. This is one of those rare American movies that know what they’re doing and where they’re going every step of the way. Esquire.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Still.

Published on 12 May 1995 in Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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The Last Good Time

A sturdily made and beautifully acted comedy-drama about aging from Bob Balaban, whose Parents showed him to be an imaginative director who knows what to do with a set and how to enter the worlds of lonely people. The story here, adapted by Balaban and John McLaughlin from a Richard Bausch novel, concerns a retired violinist (Armin Mueller-Stahl) living in Brooklyn who puts up a homeless former neighbor in her early 20s (Olivia d’Abo) and develops an unexpected relationship with her. His only friendanother former neighbor, now dying in a rest homeis played by the late Lionel Stander, one of the juiciest Hollywood character actors who ever lived. His fabulous swan song is reason enough to see this picture, though Balaban’s taste and intelligence and the warmth of the other cast members (including Maureen Stapleton, Adrian Pasdar, and Kevin Corrigan) provide further incentive. This is one of those rare American movies that know what they’re doing and where they’re going every step of the way. (JR)

Published on 08 May 1995 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Perez Family

Mira Nair (Salaam Bombay, Mississippi Masala) directed this 1995 adaptation of Christine Bell’s novel about Cuban immigrants in Miami. Consistently pleasurable for its lead performances (by Marisa Tomei, Alfred Molina, Chazz Palminteri, and Anjelica Huston) it concerns a former political prisoner (Molina) who hasn’t seen his wife (Huston) and daughter (Trini Alvarado) in two decades. The circumstances delaying their reunion seem a little contrived in spots, but the details about what Cuban immigrants have to contend with and the actors’ spirited riffs keep this busy and bubbling. With Celia Cruz and Lazaro Perez. 112 min. (JR)

Published on 08 May 1995 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Swimming With Sharks

Originally known as The Buddy Factor, writer-director George Huang’s repulsive low-budget first feature purports to tell us something about the movie business, but all that it actually has on its mind is a plodding S and M scenario about a cruel and crass producer (Kevin Spacey) berating and humiliating his young executive assistant (Frank Whaley) until the latter decides to take brutal revenge. None of the characters is believable or interesting, and despite the imposture that one is being offered an infotainment special a la The Player full of inside smarts, this is too bereft of imagination, detail, and wit to offer much edification to any but the extremely gullible (and aficionados of humiliation). With Michelle Forbes (1994, 101 min.). (JR)

Published on 08 May 1995 in Featured Texts, by admin

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