Maureen Stapleton

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Reds Review

Audacious and ambitious even by today's standards, Warren Beatty's Reds still retains a certain humble nature to its sprawling, ambidextrous narrative. Just shy of 200 minutes and one of the last films by an American director to feature an intermission, Beatty's sickle-and-hammer romance seems even more sweeping when one consider what passes for "epic" these days (All the King's Men?).

A lecture in 1912 brought together Jack Reed (Warren Beatty) and Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton) and that was beginning of a beau... well, actually, the relationship was more turbulent than beautiful. Though Bryant was married and Reed was a full-time politico, their relationship grew through ebb-and-flow from the days after their meeting till the Red Scare of the late 1910s and early 1920s. The relationship even survives Louise's romance with famed playwright Eugene O'Neill (Jack Nicholson) and Reed's rigorous commitment to the Communist revolution in Russia and in America.

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Heartburn Review

The backstory of Heartburn is infinitely more interesting than its reality: Jack Nicholson took the role after shooting had begun, after Mandy Patinkin was fired for not being funny enough.

Strange then: Nicholson isn't funny at all, and only the quirky charms of Meryl Streep make Heartburn remotely palatable. Heartburn is Nora Ephron's first comedy, based on her novel of the same name -- a thinly veiled expose about her life with journalist Carl Bernstein. The film casts Streep as a New York food writer and Nicholson as a Washington columnist. They meet, fall in love, decide to marry, have kids. Unfortunately, Nicholson can't keep it in his pants -- and all manner of trouble ensues.

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Plaza Suite Review

The Odd Couple excepted, this is the best way to take Neil Simon material: In short, manageable chunks. Plaza Suite was the first of Simon's "Suite" series (follwed by California and London), telling three short stories each of which takes place in the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

Oh, and all of them star Walter Matthau, in three different roles, with three different leading ladies.

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The Last Good Time Review

Er, I'm guessing the last good time is when old fogie Armin Mueller-Stahl gets to bonk hottie Olivia d'Abo. The rest of the movie (when d'Abo is wearing clothes, that is) is unmemorable -- some wandering tale about Armin's tax problems and Olivia's abusive boyfriend. Two ships passing in the night and all that. Written, produced, and directed by character actor Bob Balaban.

Airport Review

With one grandiose entrance, Airport ushered in a genre of moviemaking that is still going strong -- the disaster movie. Filled with high-profile stars and backed by an enormous budget, Airport takes us through one harrowing night at Chicago's "Lincoln" airport, where a stowaway granny, a pregnant stewardess, a freak blizzard, duelling pilot-administrator brothers, various annoying wives... and one distraught passenger with a homemade bomb combine to create one wild ride. Too bad the "disaster" doesn't happen until 2 hours into the 2:15 movie. No matter -- Airport's unending sequels and spoofs are a testament that this film is a true piece of Americana, for good or for bad.
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