Unhook The Stars

This first feature has been described as school of Cassavetes, because it stars Gena Rowlands and the filmmaker in question is John Cassavetes’s son Nick. But the best that can be said for this fair-to-middling soap opera about a widow (Rowlands) getting a second lease on life is that, apart from being actor-oriented, it isn’t a copy of John Cassavetes’s work at all. It’s something much more conventional and sentimentaldecent enough, I suppose, on its own terms, but not the radical rethinking of art and human personality one associates with Cassavetes pere. With Marisa Tomei, Gerard Depardieu (even hammier than usual), and Jake Lloyd; Helen Caldwell collaborated on the script. (JR)

Published on 14 Oct 1996 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Trees Lounge

Reviewers who called this sincere if highly familiar look at aimless lives in Brooklyn (1996, 94 min.)a first feature written, directed by, and starring Steve Buscemisuperior to John Cassavetes, whom Buscemi has described as a major influence, have done a radical disservice to the modest virtues of this picture, as well as misconstrued Cassavetes’s own multifaceted achievement (which had more to do with close scripting than most people imagine). The title refers to a bar where most of the characters hang out, and though the film occasionally conveys some of the sweetness of early Cassavetes it has none of the mystery: these characters are enjoyable types but not a lot more. Certainly the cast has fun: Anthony LaPaglia, Elizabeth Bracco, Mark Boone Jr., Chloe Sevigny, Daniel Baldwin, and Carol Kane. (JR)

Published on 14 Oct 1996 in Featured Texts, by admin

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Get On The Bus

Like Spike Lee’s much better Do the Right Thing, this 1996 feature about a group of black males from east Los Angeles who travel by bus to the Million Man March tries to present a cross section of contemporary black attitudes, juggling them with intelligence. Here the director is more self-conscious about his didactic aims, which limits him in some respects, but there’s an engaging roughness about his visual approach that keeps this movie footloose and inventive. Written by Reggie Rock Blythewood; with Richard Belzer, DeAundre Bonds, Andre Braugher, Ossie Davis (especially impressive), Charles S. Dutton, Thomas Jefferson Byrd, and Gabriel Casseus. 120 min. (JR)

Published on 14 Oct 1996 in Featured Texts, by admin

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