Hard hitting drama about a dysfunctional relationship between an alcoholic, hot-tempered father (James Coburn, who received an Oscar for his role here) and his son, a police officer (Nick Nolte) in a small town in New Hampshire. The set piece is the investigation of a hunting death, but that's really the background for the disintegration of the son's life, filled with tragedy and violence. Co-stars Sissy Spacek, Willem Dafoe and Mary Beth Hurt.
Director: Paul Schrader. Stars: Nick Nolte, Sissy Spacek, James Coburn, Willem Dafoe, Mary Beth Hurt, Jim True. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 114 min.), Drama, 1999, Box office gross: $5.612 million, (Universal), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/6, DVD: Day & Date.
Insipid comedy aimed at the under-10 crowd, built on the premise that babies are born with the knowledge of all the secrets of universe, as well as their own language, which disappears at the age of two when they crossover and use grown-up language. The silly plot revolves around a sinister scientist who wants to make super-intelligent kids but is thwarted by a baby rebellion. Selling point is the sight gags, with babies mimicking adult actions (such as disco dancing, martial arts, etc.) Stars Kathleen Turner, Christopher Lloyd, Peter MacNicol, Dom DeLuise and Kim Catrell.
Director: Bob Clark. Stars: Kathleen Turner, Christopher Lloyd, Peter MacNicol, Dom DeLuise, Kim Catrell. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 95 min.), Comedy, 1999, Box office gross: $24.455 million, (Columbia TriStar), $23.95 SRP, Available: 7/27, DVD: No.
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Comedy about a young man (Brendan Fraser), raised in a bomb shelter since the 1960s -- his father thought WWIII had started -- and what happens when he resurfaces in 1999 and meets up with modern culture, including a hip Eve (Alicia Silverstone). Despite poor reviews and a weak boxoffice, the film has plenty going for it, including sweet performances by Fraser -- as the naive, eternal idealist -- and Silverstone -- as a jaded yet pure of heart L.A. Woman -- and a good natured script that juxtaposes optimism against cynicism, with the former winning out (how refreshing in today's anti-anti-hero, anti-romance, thrill-noir filmic climate). Give this one a good look.
Director: Hugh Wilson. Stars: Brendan Fraser, Alicia Silverstone, Christopher Walken, Sissy Spacek. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 106 min.), Comedy, 1999, Box office gross: $26.494 million, (New Line), No SRP, Price for rental, Available: 7/27, DVD: Day & Date.
Captivating film about a lonely older woman, an ex-teacher who makes a living scamming commuters in Rio de Janeiro's Central Station by writing letters for them that she never mails, and a 9-year-old boy she takes under her wings when his mother is accidentally killed. Together the pair set off on an eventually heartwarming search for his dad, allowing the woman to rediscover herself. Fabulous performance by Fernanda Montenegro. In Portuguese with English subtitles.
Director: Walter Salles. Stars: Fernanda Montenegro, Vinicius de Oliveira. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 106 min.), Drama, 1998, Box office gross: $5.444 million, (Columbia TriStar), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/13, DVD: Day & Date.
CIVIL ACTION, A
Based on actual events, this gripping courtroom drama follows the trials and tribulations of an "ambulance chasing" personal injury attorney (John Travolta) who sues two giant corporations -- W.R. Grace and Beatrice Foods -- on behalf of eight families in Woburn, Mass., who claimed the companies caused the death of their kids by contaminating the town's water supply. The straightforward case turns nasty when the lawyer faces off against the corporations' attorneys (headed up by a sleazy Robert Duvall), bankrupting his small law firm and altering his view of the law -- and justice. An absorbing drama with a fine performance by Travolta
Director: Steve Zaillian. Stars: John Travolta, Robert Duvall, William H. Macy, John Lithgow, Kathleen Quinlan, Tony Shalhoub. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 118 min.), Drama, 1998, Box office gross: $56.615 million, (Buena Vista), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/13, DVD: Day & Date.
Nicolas Cage plays a skilled surveillance expert hired by the estate of a powerful industrialist to track down the truth behind an apparent pornographic snuff film found among the dead magnate's possessions. The seemingly routine investigation turns nasty when the detective becomes obsessed with the girl and he tracks her -- and the filmmakers -- into the sleazy world of sex and sadism in the underbellies of New York and Los Angeles. At times crude -- and violent.
Director: Joel Schumacher. Stars: Nicolas Cage, Joaquin Phoenix, James Gandolfini, Peter Stormare, Catherine Keener. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 123 min.), Thriller, 1999, Box office gross: $36.283 million, (Columbia TriStar), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/20, DVD: Day & Date.
HILARY AND JACKIE
Touching, insightful story of Jacqueline and Hilary du Pre, gifted musical sisters who grew up in England in the 1950s. Sharing a love of and gift of music, the sisters forged an unbreakable bond. But while Jackie's career soared, Hilary took a simpler road to family life. Eventually, constant touring took a toll on Jackie's life and, close to a nervous breakdown, her relationship with her sister begins to deteriorate. Great performances by Rachel Griffiths and Emily Watson.
Director: Anand Tucker. Stars: Emily Watson, Rachel Griffiths, David Morrissey. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 124 min.), Bio-Drama, 1998, Box office gross: $4.874 million, (PolyGram), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/6, DVD: Day & Date.
KING AND I, THE
Animated version of Rodgers and Hammerstein classic about an attractive English widow who travels to Siam in 1862 to become the proper governess for the king's royal children. Though this could have been a great introduction to one of the great musicals of all time, it's dragged down by silly animated characters (a mango-throwing monkey, for one, as well as martial arts not in the R&H repertoire). Still, there are the great songs -- "Shall We Dance" and "Getting to Know You" -- to turn kids on to the classics.
Director: . Stars: Voices of Miranda Richardson, Martin Vidnovic, Ian Richardson, Darrell Hammond. CC, (MPAA rating: G, 87 min.), Animated, 1999, Box office gross: $11.000 million, (Warner), $22.95 SRP, Available: 7/6, DVD: Day & Date.
Uplifting story about a young man who realizes his dream of breaking out of his goal-mining hometown by reaching for the sky with homemade rockets. Set against the dawn of the Space Race in 1957, this lively drama follows the real-life story of Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal) as he struggles against his coal-miner father's wishes and builds rockets in the hopes of winning first prize at the National Science Fair -- eventually leading to a career at NASA.
Director: Joe Johnston. Stars: Jake Gyllenhaal, Chris Cooper, William Lee Scott, Chris Owen, Laura Dern. CC, (MPAA rating: PG, 108 min.), Drama, 1999, Box office gross: $26.654 million, (Universal), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/27, DVD: Day & Date.
Mel Gibson plays a no-holds barred tough guy out for revenge -- he wants $70 thousand that was taken from him by his disloyal partner and wife after they pulled off a successful hold-up and left him for dead -- and will stop at nothing in this maxed-out violence fest that owes a big debt to film noir (the movie is shot in washed out blues). Set in an unspecified city at an unspecified time and mixing past and contemporary technologies (modern cars, rotary-dial telephones), the film builds Gibson into the ultra anit-anti-hero, a remorseless murderer and thief who won't let the Chinese Mafia or the Syndicate get in his way. A finely crafted work, if a tad crude. Directed by Brian Helgeland and co-starring Deborah Kara Unger, Gregg Henry, David Paymer, William Devane and Lucy Liu.
Director: Brian Helgeland. Stars: Mel Gibson, Deborah Kara Unger, Gregg Henry, David Paymer, William Devane and Lucy Liu. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 102 min.), Action, 1999, Box office gross: $80.906 million, (Paramount), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/27, DVD: Day & Date.
SHE'S ALL THAT
Romantic-comedy high-school take on "My Fair Lady" has two senior "gods" betting whether or not one of them (Freddie Prinze Jr.) can transform the school free-thinker, dweeb and all-around loser (Rachael Leigh Cook) into a queen on Prom Night. Naturally, Prinze falls for his "guinea pig" and events get more complicated -- especially when Leigh Cook gets wind of the bet. Lackluster story line is hampered by white bread setting in Palisades, Calif., where everyone sings clean rap and the cars are all new and shiny.
Director: Robert Iscove. Stars: Freddie Prinze Jr., Rachael Leigh Cook, Paul Walker, Anna Paquin, Kieran Culkin. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 95 min.), Romantic Comedy, 1999, Box office gross: $60.850 million, (Miramax), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/13, DVD: Day & Date.
The crew of a small salvage tug encounter a deserted Russian intelligence ship that has been taken over by an alien life form that considers humans to be a virus and is out to destroy humankind. The alien -- an energy force that first manifests itself in the disabled ship's computer and mechanical systems -- starts harvesting body parts to build a hybrid being. Naturally, the remaining humans -- headed up by Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin and Joanna Pacula -- fight back in the ship's dark corridors. Typical horror gore in the encounters between the monster and humans, but the film's predictability obviates any real or original shocks.
Director: John Bruno. Stars: Jamie Lee Curtis, William Baldwin, Donald Sutherland, Joanna Pacula. CC, (MPAA rating: R, 95 min.), Sci-Fi Horror, 1999, Box office gross: $14.010 million, (Universal), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/20, DVD: Day & Date.
This "Top Gun" meets "Starship Troopers" is all crash and burn, with terrible acting laid over a hokey story about rocket fighter pilots -- somewhere and sometime in the future -- who have to fend off an attack on Earth by a vicious alien race, called the Kilrathi. There's some mind-bending special effects but overall the plot lacks credibility and has more holes than a collapsing solar system. A very lame outing. A sweeping musical score (suitable for "Star Wars") at the beginning only sets the film up for failure: it's supposed to highlight the epic nature of this venture but only heightens its banality. Stars Freddie Prinze Jr.
Director: Chris Roberts. Stars: Freddie Prinze Jr., Saffron Burrows, Matthew Lillard, Ginny Holder, Jurgen Prochnow, David Warner. CC, (MPAA rating: PG-13, 100 min.), Science Fiction, 1999, Box office gross: $11.538 million, (Fox), No SRP, Priced for rental, Available: 7/6, DVD: Day & Date.
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