2 items from 1997
Filmmaker Bruce Beresford is one of those people who seems to profit during wartime.
After a series of recent screen missteps, the Academy Award-nominated director of "Breaker Morant" (set against the backdrop of the Boer War) has regained his footing with the masterful "Paradise Road", a quietly accomplished work that takes its cue from the real-life exploits of a highly diverse group of women interned in a Japanese prison camp during World War II.
Powerfully executed in every aspect and boasting an exceptional all-female ensemble anchored by a remarkable performance by Glenn Close, this moving portrait of the triumph of the human spirit over adversity deserves, with a little TLC from Fox Searchlight, an audience beyond the specialty arena (HR 4/7).
KEYS TO TULSA
Gramercy's "Keys to Tulsa" might also be titled "Tulsaville". It's a swirling, saucy mix of Southwestern intrigue and turpitude.
Headed by a first-rate ensemble cast, including Mary Tyler Moore and James Coburn, "Keys" roiling dramatics are unfortunately short-changed by an atonal ending and some abrupt shifts in story emphasis.
Thematically and stylistically, "Keys to Tulsa" is Okie Gothic, awash with the dense delirium of yarns one usually associates with the Deep South. Credit goes to producer-director Leslie Greif for infusing "Tulsa" with its musty, murky tones (HR 4/7).
Sony Pictures Releasing
Badly in need of more humor and humanity, such as that found in his best Hong Kong features, Tsui Hark's long-awaited, big-budget debut "Double Team" is doubly problematic.
Beyond a few sequences with some of the Hark magic and the formidable presence of NBA player Dennis Rodman, the Columbia Pictures film is not exactly an airball, but it bounces around the rim and finally fails to go in.
The track record of emergent Hong Kong filmmakers working with Jean-Claude Van Damme and producer Moshe Diamant is anything but inspiring. Hark struggles with the material here, and Van Damme plays another cold, barely articulate hero. Jokes alluding to basketball and Rodman's colorful costumes are the extent of the film's stabs at humor (HR 4/2).
Sony Pictures Releasing
Not since Columbia Pictures released the restored "Lawrence of Arabia" in 1989 has a film classic re-emerged so mightily ex-panded and improved as Wolfgang Petersen's masterpiece "Das Boot".
One of the great war films -- for its unparalleled action scenes and one's emotional involvement with the characters -- the 31Ú2 hour subtitled epic is an unforgettable voyage on a U-boat during World War II (HR 4/4).
Also reviewed last week were "When the Cat's Away" (HR 4/2); "Licensed to Kill" (4/3); and "Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist" and "Little City" (4/7).
Gramercy's "Keys to Tulsa" might also be titled "Tulsaville". It's a swirling, saucy mix of Southwestern intrigue and turpitude. Headed by a first-rate ensemble cast, including Mary Tyler Moore and James Coburn, "Keys'" roiling dramatics are unfortunately short-changed by an atonal ending and some abrupt shifts in story emphasis.
Overall, select-site viewers may savor its thick and saucy atmospherics despite the thick-and-thin narrative.
In this oily saga, Eric Stoltz stars as Richter Boudreau, a self-admitted "black sheep son of a black sheep," who despite his smug outsider sensibility finds himself smack-dab back in the privileged world he so cavalierly disdains. Like "Dallas" and other gushy potboilers, "Tulsa" is aswirl with trouble and outfitted with bigger-than-life characters where everyone not only has hidden agendas but knows how to play them out with the most skilled and cunning virtuosity.
The more "normal" people who keep up the front -- including Richter's mother (Moore), who's on her umpteenth marriage -- are also pretty lethal.
The plot itself gushes around a bizarre and somewhat convoluted blackmail scheme that Richter finds himself embroiled in. Although he prides himself on his smarts, he soon finds he's matched against some crazed and cunning foes. Thematically and stylistically, "Keys to Tulsa" is Okie Gothic, awash with the dense delirium of yarns one usually associates with the Deep South. Credit goes to producer-director Leslie Greif for infusing "Tulsa" with its musty, murky tones.
The look is especially vital: kudos to production designer Derek R. Hill, whose opulently decadent look clues us to the inner beings of the characters, and to cinematographer Robert Fraisse for the harsh hues.
Unfortunately, the narrative's somewhat fractured nature -- vacillating between sardonic humor and soap operatics -- is, alas, an oil-and-water mix.
The acting is, perhaps, "Tulsa"'s strength, with Stoltz delivering a wonderfully conflicted performance as the braggadociousbut boondoggled "black sheep." Moore is a delight as his amoral, high-society, serial-marrying mother, while Coburn flashes his wily menace as a bartender you don't mess with. Dudded up in a neo-Elvis look, James Spader is spookily threatening as a cross-wired wacko.
KEYS TO TULSA
Producers Leslie Greif, Harley Peyton
Director Leslie Greif
Screenwriter Harley Peyton
Based on the novel by Brian Fair Berkey
Executive producers Michael Birnbaum
Line producer Elliot Rosenblatt
Co-producer Guy J. Louthan
Director of photography Robert Fraisse
Music Stephen Endelman
Production designer Derek R. Hill
Editors Eric L. Beason, Louis F. Cioffi
Michael R. Miller
Costume designer Marie France
Casting Fern Champion, Mark Paladini
Sound mixer Lance Hoffman
Richter Boudreau Eric Stoltz
Trudy Cameron Diaz
Louise Brinkman Randy Graff
Preston Liddy Dennis Letts
Cynthia Boudreau Mary Tyler Moore
Billy Josh Ridgway
Bedford Shaw Marco Perella
Harmon Shaw James Coburn
Ronnie Stover James Spader
Vicky Michaels Stover Deborah Kara Unger
Running time -- 113 minutes
MPAA rating: R
2 items from 1997
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