Nicholas Kazan

Nicholas Kazan

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Reversal of Fortune Review


Extraordinary
Here's the movie that made Jeremy Irons such a memorable villain. (Well, this and Dead Ringers.) And it's all true: Claus von Bulow was convicted of nearly murdering his ultra-rich wife (Glenn Close), who lay in a coma after a massive insulin overdose. The famous Alan Dershowitz (Ron Silver) handles the appeal: While it initially appears to be a no-contest-he's-guilty-slam-dunk, all manner of evidence comes to light indicating that not only is Claus probably innocent, he almost certainly is. How we change our minds into rooting for this bad guy remains one of cinema's greatest tricks. You may feel different about the voice-over narration, provided by the comatose Sunny, the film's one iffy spot. (As for Sunny, she's still in a coma as of 2005, 25 years later.)

At Close Range Review


Weak
Christopher Walken's hair and bushy mustache almost make the maudlin At Close Range worth watching, but not quite. Sean Penn plays Walken Jr. here in what ought to be a meeting of great Method actors but turns out to be a stillborn dud. Dad's a gangster, son wants to work for pa (and doesn't know he's a crook), and slowly gets pulled into his increasingly violent world. A real mess ensues (as occured in the real-life story on which the film is based), and in the end we all leave the film feeling so depressed we're ready to commit suicide.

Bicentennial Man Review


OK
Robin Williams wants -- and needs -- nothing more than to have his own The Truman Show -- a Hail Mary to ward off permanent stereotyping. Typecast as a goofy loudmouth in throwaway films ranging from Mrs. Doubtfire to Fathers' Day to Flubber, you have to look back all the way to The Fisher King in 1991 for his last great starring role.

Bicentennial Man aims to turn that all around by making Williams something we can relate to once again. Ironically, that's not as a human: It's as a robot.

Continue reading: Bicentennial Man Review

Fallen Review


Grim
It's Denzel v. Demon in this awfully stupid and ultimately pointless thriller. Said thrills are achieved by a mischevious demon named Azazel (it's the battle of the 'Zels) who can jump from one body to the next at will. And you can't kill him. Sounds like a plan, huh? Dull and predictable.

Enough Review


Good
Agh... not another movie where a battered, defenseless chick learns to kick bad guy butt. How many times have audiences endured this sluggish story in the past ten years? But hey, just because it's been done before doesn't mean it can't work again. Michael Apted's "self defense isn't murder" thriller may reek of familiarity like yesterday's garbage, but the intense chemistry between the leading actors actually makes the film work.

Working class waitress Slim (Lopez) finds herself living a dream when she marries a loving, wealthy contractor named Mitch (Campbell). They settle into a flawless suburban life and eventually give birth to an adorable daughter, Gracie. Everything seems to be perfect for Slim.

Continue reading: Enough Review

Homegrown Review


Weak
Movies about marijuana are historically slapsticky, funny romps (see the Cheech and Chong oeuvre). Homegrown probably started out that way, then turned into a typical drug thriller, only set in the northern California hippie community. Message to producers: Hank Azaria is a comedian, not a gun-toting action hero.

Frances Review


OK
This fairly engaging (if over-long) biopic of infamous 1930s actress Frances Farmer is a showpiece for Jessica Lange, who I normally am not a big fan of. Unfortunately though the story glosses over some of the big details in Farmer's life. While we get her incarceration in a mental asylum and lobotomization, her various celebrity weddings barely get a mention. Similarly, her life after release from the loony bin gets covered only in a title card before the credits.
Nicholas Kazan

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