James Sikking

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Narrow Margin (1990) Review


OK
It was an odd choice to remake a mediocre 1950s noir, but at least Gene Hackman is engaging as ever in the leading role, however slightly written it is. The cat-and-mouse game of the original is largely intact, with mobsters chasing after a woman (Anne Archer) who witnessed a murder, but whom they've never actually seen. Oh... and it's all on a train bound for Vancouver, which is, I guess, what the title vaguely alludes to. The film tragically never generates a lot of suspense, and Hackman and Archer never really generate much chemistry. The best part of the film is the very beginning, when Archer witnesses the murder of an all-too-briefly-appearing J.T. Walsh.

Outland Review


Good
You're stuck as a lawman on a moon of Jupiter, where they do nothing but mine titanium. When the shit goes down, who ya gonna call? This harrowing sci-fi flick has mellowed with age over the years, but Sean Connery's performance is still good, and the first couple of acts are still quite engaging. Too bad the finale ends up being one big shootout. Hell, we could get that back on earth.

Doing Time On Maple Drive Review


Weak
Doing Time on Maple Drive was originally made as a Fox TV movie of the week, but you'll swear it was produced by Lifetime. Talk about a dysfunctional family! There's enough soap here to fill a Palmolive factory.

Mix one part Ordinary People and one part The Great Santini, water it down with TV production values, add a dash of gay-teen after-school special, and you've got the Maple Drive formula. Dated even when it came out, the film's only worthwhile contribution to cinematic history is its casting of a young Jim Carrey in one of his only truly dramatic roles (and by the way, he's actually not bad).

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Morons from Outer Space Review


Unbearable
Wow -- insanely bad, a film which shares much with another film from Outer Space, one known as Plan 9. Mike Hodges' ridiculous tale of white-trash aliens visiting earth isn't just badly made, poorly acted, and simply boring, it's nearly impossible to watch. I wasn't so much drifting off to sleep (it's too loud for that) as I was wishing for a commercial. And alas, they just don't put commercials on DVD yet. Baneful in ever way.

Ordinary People Review


Extraordinary
Before Good Will Hunting turned psychiatry into pop culture and before The Ice Storm made suburban angst into a fashion show, Ordinary People opened the eyes of all of us. A bitter and heart-wrenching tale of teen suicide and alienation, Timothy Hutton takes center stage as Conrad Jarrett, a troubled teenager trying to cope with the accidental death of his big brother -- and not doing a good job of it. In fact, he tried to "off himself" and, having not succeeded, he finds himself the sole exhibition in a virtual and delicate menagerie for his friends and his parents.

We soon see that Conrad's problems run deep, as what should be quaint little interactions between he and doting mom (Mary Tyler Moore, excellent here), or he and imperviously upbeat dad (Donald Sutherland, ditto) turn perverse and creepy. His shrink (Judd Hirsch) doesn't offer any "It's not your fault" platitudes, leaving Conrad's healing process up to himself. The only joy he finds is with his new girl Jeannine (Elizabeth McGovern, in her second role ever), who would be perfectly cast -- except she looks too much like Karen (Dinah Manoff), Conrad's friend from the hospital.

Continue reading: Ordinary People Review

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