Heavy

Winner of the grand jury prize for best direction at Sundance in 1995, this commendable but relatively familiar low-key drama, written and directed by James Mangold, gives us an overweight pizza chef (Pruitt Taylor Vince) in a roadside tavern trying with little success to pry himself from the influence of his boss and mother (Shelley Winters) while hankering after an attractive young waitress (Stealing Beauty’s Liv Tyler) who’s recently started to work there. The performances are strong (my favorite is Deborah Harry as an older waitress) and the sense of eroded as well as barely articulated lives is palpable. With Evan Dando. (JR)

Published on 22 Jul 1996 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Walking And Talking

A first feature by writer-director Nicole Holofcener, about two lifelong women friends living in New York City and approaching 30. One (Anne Heche) is an engaged therapist in training who’s attracted to one of her patients; another (Catherine Keener) finds herself dumped by a video-store clerk and is living through a trauma about what to do with her cancer-stricken cat. Reasonably lifelike and nicely acted (Keener is especially good), but otherwise nothing special, this is an OK light comedy. With Todd Field, Liev Schreiber, and Kevin Corrigan. (JR)

Published on 22 Jul 1996 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Adventures Of Pinocchio

I don’t imagine the Disney people lost any sleep over this live-action telling of the tale of the famous wooden boy, starring Martin Landau as Geppetto, but it’s a very pleasant version, less cruel and nightmarish than Disney’s cartoon predecessor, lacking a fairy godmother, and probably closer to Carlo Collodi’s original story in other respects as well. (The cricket, voiced by David Doyle, is named Pepe, and most of the effects are charmingly low keythough when Pinocchio lies here his nose grows in yards, not inches.) Steve Barron directed from a script he wrote with Sherry Mills, Tom Benedek, and Barry Berman; with Jonathan Taylor Thomas (as the hero), Rob Schneider, Udo Kier, Bebe Neuwirth, and the delightful Genevieve Bujold. (JR)

Published on 22 Jul 1996 in Featured Texts, by admin

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The Spitfire Grill

Like so many regional melodramas of delayed revelations in the PBS mode, this winner of the audience award at the Sundance festival has characterssuch as the cranky owner of a greasy spoon (Ellen Burstyn) and the young former convict (Alison Elliott) who goes to work for herthat seem fairly potent and interesting as long as their secrets are well guarded. Once the beans get spilled, they come across as cliches. But if one can put up with these cliches, and with Marcia Gay Harden’s overacting, there are some nice compensations here, including most of the other performances and the location shooting. Written and directed by Lee David Zlotoff and set in a small town in Maine; with Will Patton, Kieran Mulroney, and Gailard Sartain. (JR)

Published on 22 Jul 1996 in Featured Texts, by admin

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