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The Salton Sea Review


Weak

A handsomely stylish, semi-punk, drug-culture updating of the wronged-man's-revenge film noir plot, "The Salton Sea" has one of the most enticingly, quintessentially film noir opening scenes I've ever seen.

Picture this: Val Kilmer, dressed as a hep cat who just finished a gig at a downtown jazz club, sits on the floor of his burning apartment. Leaning on a wall, silhouetted against the orange flames, he's playing his trumpet and bleeding -- possibly to death -- from a gunshot wound. A bag full of money lies beside him with wads of bills spilling out onto the floor beside him.

"My name is Tom Van Allen. Or Danny Parker. I honestly don't know any more," he breathes in a honeyed, genre-perfect voice-over. "You can decide -- yeah, maybe you can help me, friend. You can help me decide who I am. Avenging Angel? Judas Iscariot? Loving husband? Trumpet player? Speed freak?"

Continue reading: The Salton Sea Review

Crazy In Alabama Review


Weak

After a 26-year career of coming off like fingernails on a chalkboard, Melanie Griffith has finally begun to mature as an actress.

In 1996 she stood out from the otherwise sorry "Mullholland Falls" in an emotional role as a cheating cop's heartbroken wife. Early this year she was a revelation as an aging heroine addict and ironically motherly, career petty thief in "Another Day in Paradise." And now there's "Crazy In Alabama," an daffy, obliging murder farce set precariously against more serious undertones of 1960s racial strife.

Griffith was the perfect choice to star as Lucille, a dizzy, Southern, '60s sex bomb housewife, on the lam and headed for Hollywood after offing her abusive husband. Of course, the part was hers anyway, since this picture is the directorial debut of her husband, smoldering Spanish sex symbol Antonio Banderas.

Continue reading: Crazy In Alabama Review

Focus Review


Weak

Adapted from Arthur Miller's first novel about social perception and discrimination in 1940s America, "Focus" stars the inimitable William H. Macy as a fretful, fainthearted Brooklynite whose fateful decision to buy a pair of badly-needed glasses opens his eyes to the unchecked prejudice propagating in his immaculate neighborhood of adjoined brownhouses.

A very WASPy personnel officer at a publishing company, Lawrence Newman (Macy) has never been comfortable with his boss's policy of discriminating against any applicants who might be, or might just appear to be, Jewish. His barrel-chested next door neighbor (Meat Loaf Aday) also makes him nervous with his talk of joining the anti-Semitic Union Crusaders and running a Jewish merchant (David Paymer) out of the candy shop on the corner of their block. Newman prefers to mind his own business and go through life with blinders on.

But when he puts on his new glasses -- round accountant-style specs with thick black frames -- Newman suddenly becomes the focus of unwanted scrutiny that changes his entire life.

Continue reading: Focus Review

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