Bruno Kirby

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Good Morning, Vietnam Review


Excellent
Think back to middle school for a moment. Who was the class clown? What was he like?

If your eighth-grade classroom was like most, your class clown was a guarded, smallish boy who was utterly terrified of being himself for even a moment, for fear of suffering the ridicule of others. So he made cracks all day long, and if your classmates laughed every one in a while, you may have eventually seen this kid in adulthood spitting jokes professionally in the vicinity of a brick wall.

Continue reading: Good Morning, Vietnam Review

Modern Romance Review


Good
If you're at all familiar with Albert Brooks's work, you know exactly what you're getting into here -- another study of neuroses and how they impact (negatively) relationships between the sexes.

Brooks, as usual, plays a riff on himself, with Kathryn Harrold (perhaps best known as Jenny Loud on MacGruder and Loud) as the apple of his eye. Brooks is up to his usual shenanigans here -- wondering whether Harrold is cheating on him, obsessing over every little detail, slamming Quaaludes, and wondering whether he shouldn't have dumped the girl after all. Eventually they'll come back together, only to be torn apart before the end. The question is whether we'll reach an equilibrium here where both parties are happy,

Continue reading: Modern Romance Review

Spy Games Review


OK
Serious-funny-romantic? Irène Jacob as a Russian spy? Well, Spy Games is a rough production, which probably explains why you've never heard of this film. Jacob and Bill Pullman are on opposite sides of the post-Cold War spy game... all while trying to get it on. It's very silly and improbable, but the leads -- and the inimitable Bruno Kirby -- are hard not to like.

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Donnie Brasco Review


Very Good
Well, someone had to wrest the monopoly on gangster movies from the hands of Scorsese and Coppola. So why not Mike Newell, of Four Weddings and a Funeral fame, to direct it? And why not put Johnny Depp in a starring role? And Anne Heche -- you know, Ellen's girlfriend -- as his wife!? It sounds bizarre, but put this group together with Monster of Acting Pacino and Quiz Show scribe Paul Attanasio and you've got a pleasant surprise on your hands, not to mention one of the longest-running films at the box office this year. Long stuck in development because of GoodFellas, Donnie Brasco is in many ways a similar film, and in most of them better. The true story of FBI agent Joe Pistone, who in the late 70s infiltrated his way into the New York mafia to become a "made man" under the name of Donnie Brasco, Depp is surprisingly believable as an earnest father caught up in the mob mentality. Pacino shines as always, though it's not his usual character; here he's a tragic King Lear who just can't catch a break. But as for the iffy pan-and-scan job on the videotape, take a cue from the wiseguys: Fuggedaboudit.

Sleepers Review


Excellent
How on earth did Kevin Bacon get top billing in a cast that includes Robert De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Brad Pitt, and Jason Patric -- just for starters? That's just one of the disturbing aspects of Sleepers (and I don't mean that in a bad way), Barry Levinson's new drama/thriller that finally redeems him for the idiocy of Disclosure and Toys.

Based on the extremely controversial novel, Sleepers tells what is purported to be a true story of revenge in Hell's Kitchen in New York City. Four early-teenaged friends (played as adults by Patric, Pitt, Ron Eldard, and Billy Crudup -- who I have to mention just because I like to say "Crudup") are sent to a juvenile center when a prank goes wrong and almost kills a bystander. The brutality that occurs in the center does not need to be expounded upon, but suffice it's very horrible, and that guard Sean Nokes (Bacon) is the baddest of the bad guys.

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Tin Men Review


Good
Not Levinson's best work, but not his worst either. Very uneven comedy about aluminum siding salesmen who ruin each other's lives. Compare to the virtually identical and similarly titled Pushing Tin.

The Freshman Review


Extraordinary
One of the most savagely underrated films of the 1990s, The Freshman is both touching and hilarious. The increasingly unlikely story has Matthew Broderick as a film school freshman from Vermont who gets caught up in the mob in New York City, where its boss is played by a mush-mouthed Marlon Brando, uncannily similar in appearance to a certain godfather. Strong supporting performances from Bruno Kirby, Frank Whaley, and Paul Benedict -- as Broderick's professor at film school, which is roundly pilloried -- elevate the film to minor classic status.

This Is Spinal Tap Review


Extraordinary
Perhaps the first, and certainly the best, entry into the mockumentary genre. Spinal Tap is responsible for so many American aphorisms (like "turn it up to 11") that it ought to be in the National Film Registry. Insanely funny.

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One Eyed King Review


Bad
Making your first feature film ain't easy. Assemble a decent, if not strong, cast, as writer/director Robert Moresco has done with One Eyed King, and you're already ahead of the game. But rehash old plot lines, tired dialogue, and standard clichés, and a well-intentioned effort such as this one could jeopardize your chance at a second feature film.

How many more movies do we need about a rough neighborhood full of lifelong friends hopelessly turned to crime or worse? The enormous catalog of such movies might dissuade a filmmaker from making yet another, but here we have it. Again. Five Irish kids in NYC's Hell's Kitchen make an overemotional pact over some stolen rings on an anonymous rooftop. With teary music. And slow motion. In the film's first scene.

Continue reading: One Eyed King Review

Stuart Little Review


Weak

Fans of "Stuart Little," the classic E. B. White's children's book about a congenial little mouse with a wind-up red roadster, would be wise to avoid "Stuart Little," the mostly in-name-only big screen adaptation featuring Michael J. Fox's voice emanating from a computer-animated Stuart.

Nearly everything delightful about the book is erased or painted over here with near-plotless kiddie fare, predictably zany adventures and deliberately ham-fisted acting from a wildly talented cast (Geena Davis, Hugh Laurie, Jeffrey Jones, Allyce Beasley, Estelle Getty, Julia Sweeney), entirely wasted on a Saturday morning cartoon script.

Ironically co-written by M. Night Shyamalan (the writer-director of "The Sixth Sense"), the story opens with Mr. and Mrs. Little on their way to an orphanage to pick out a kid for no explored reason. Won over by the home's least likely resident -- a talking mouse named Stuart with a miniature wardrobe and a pithy personality -- they take him home, where his new brother George (Jonathan Lipnicki from "Jerry Maguire") gives him the cold shoulder and the family cat (voiced obnoxiously by Nathan Lane) tries to eat him.

Continue reading: Stuart Little Review

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