Once Upon A Time . . . When We Were Colored

A warm and likable chronicle (1995) about growing up black in Mississippi between 1946 and 1962, shortly before the end of jim crow laws, adapted from a memoir by Clifton Taulbert and directed by first-timer Tim Reid. Even as a southerner and near contemporary of Taulbert, I can’t vouch for the accuracy of every detail here, but on the whole this feels right (even the colors employed in the decor smack of the 50s), and it certainly puts to shame the egregious nonsense of Mississippi Burning. The film has its hokey moments but also a good many quiet virtues and strengths, which is perhaps why it was rejected by the trendy Sundance festival: there’s hardly an ounce of hyperbole in it. The excellent cast includes Al Freeman Jr., Phylicia Rashad, Isaac Hayes, Taj Mahal, Polly Bergen, and Richard Roundtree. PG, 115 min. (JR)

Published on 23 Jan 1996 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Juror

Demi Moore plays a sculptor and single mother serving on the jury in a dangerous mobster’s trial who is forced to campaign for a not guilty verdict in order to save her son’s life. Brian Gibson directed this terrible psychological thriller from a script by Ted Tally (The Silence of the Lambs), based on a book by George Dawes Green; Alec Baldwin costars. While trying to distract myself from everything that seemed cliched, unbelievable, stupid, and/or mean-spirited about this useless exercise, I ruefully reflected that, just as an obviously guilty mobster gets off scot-free, this bad movie probably garnered as many rave blurbs from reviewers as a good one would. The reason isn’t that producer Irwin Winkler threatened to kill anybody’s loved ones, but some miscarriage of justice occasioned by heaps of money. With Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Heche, and Lindsay Crouse. (JR)

Published on 22 Jan 1996 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Antonia’s Line

I didn’t much take to this humorless, Oscar-winning 1995 feminist fable from the Netherlands by Marleen Gorris (A Question of Silence, Broken Mirrors), set in the Dutch countryside and spanning four matriarchal generations of a single family over the second half of the 20th century. But if you’re looking for a movie that expresses feminist rageGorris’s specialty, to the exclusion of most other concernsyou shouldn’t pass this up. With Willeke Van Ammelrooy, Jan Decleir, and Els Dottermans. In Dutch with subtitles. 102 min. (JR)

Published on 22 Jan 1996 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Bed Of Roses

Reasonably sincere and decently scripted, this love story between an investment banker (Mary Stuart Masterson) and a florist’s delivery boy (Christian Slater) is such familiar stuff that you probably won’t have sharp memories of it afterward, but it’s not bad on its own modest terms. A first feature by writer-director Michael Goldberg; with Pamela Segall, Josh Brolin, Kenneth Cranham, Ally Walker, and Mike Haley. (JR)

Published on 22 Jan 1996 in Featured Texts, by admin

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