Deep Rising

The generic elements in this horror thriller from Disney are all quite familiar: jewel thieves, luxury liner, a South China Sea monster that seems conceived as a deep-sea equivalent to Alien’s. But writer-director Stephen Sommers (Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book) is so efficient in placing and executing his cliches that he gives you a chilling run for your money. The monster itself, designed by the estimable Rob Bottin, makes a belated appearance, but there’s plenty of well-timed suspense in the meantime, and Treat Williams, Famke Janssen, Wes Studi, Kevin J. O’Connor, and Anthony Heald make up a highly serviceable cast. Predictably overextended, this is a creepy jaunt that occasionally wears one out but never flags. (JR)

Published on 19 Jan 1998 in Featured Texts, by admin

No Comments >>

Great Expectations

A reductio ad absurdum of the recent trend of idea-starved producers to plunder 19th-century English fictiona movement that to my mind has justified itself only with Clueless, and in this case makes Charles Dickens look like a weak second cousin to John Grisham. In fact, so little of the novel is dealt with in this updated adaptation, and so much of that little is mauled, that it might have made more sense to do a remake of Youngblood Hawke, the sort of wet dream this movie is really craving to approximate. Ethan Hawke plays a young gulf-coast artist (formerly known as Pip) lured to the Big City, Gwyneth Paltrow plays cruel Estella (the only character allowed to keep the same name), and Anne Bancroft can’t be blamed for the incoherent version of Miss Havisham assigned to her by Mitch Glazer’s stupid script (though perhaps Robert De Niro, playing the convict, can be blamed for reminding us of Cape Fear). A horrendous effort all around, though a couple of the locationsnotably a Venetian Gothic mansion on Sarasota Bayare suggestive. Alfonso Cuaron, who did a far better job with A Little Princess, directed. (JR)

Published on 19 Jan 1998 in Featured Texts, by admin

No Comments >>

Oscar And Lucinda

This quirky and watchable but disappointingly overproduced and undernourished period epic from Gillian Armstrong, set mainly in early colonial Australia, is adapted from Peter Carey’s novel about the singular bond between an English minister (Ralph Fiennes) and the owner of a Sydney glassworks (Cate Blanchett), both of whom have a passion for gambling. One reason why it disappoints is that it comes across as more the work of screenwriter Laura Jones (An Angel at My Table, The Portrait of a Lady, A Thousand Acres), who’s lately been specializing in high-minded literary adaptations, than of Armstrong, who tends to do better and more nuanced work with more intimate and domestic material (e.g., The Last Days of Chez Nous, Little Women). With Ciaran Hinds, Tom Wilkinson, and Richard Roxburgh. (JR)

Published on 19 Jan 1998 in Featured Texts, by admin

No Comments >>