1 item from 1997
A solidly entertaining drama that stays true to the independent spirit of its filmmakers, including the casting of heavyweights Sylvester Stallone and Robert De Niro in less-than-glamorous roles, Miramax's "Cop Land" has a good shot at leggy boxoffice success based on upbeat word-of-mouth and critical support.
Writer-director James Mangold ("Heavy") wrangles an impressive cast working for scale -- including Harvey Keitel, Ray Liotta, Janeane Garofalo, Peter Berg, Robert Patrick, Michael Rapaport and Annabella Sciorra -- and spins a compelling tale of cancerous corruption within a secretive group of New York's finest who have settled in the fictional New Jersey burg of Garrison.
With solid production design by Lester Cohen and costumes by Ellen Lutter, the editing by Craig McKay is also on the nose. Howard Shore's fine score is assisted by songs from Bruce Springsteen, Robert Cray and Boz Scaggs (HR 8/11).
"Career Girls" is Mike Leigh lite. Coming off the much-lauded, emotionally taut "Secrets & Lies," the acclaimed filmmaker cleanses the artistic palate with another tale of two women, only this time the seemingly slight story -- about two former roommates who are reunited six years later -- generates more laughter than tears.
But while humor abounds, the reflective piece nevertheless carries an emotional heft that tends to sneak up on the viewer after the fact. It's a testament to Leigh's tremendous skills as a storyteller and the splendid performances of his leads, Katrin Cartlidge ("Breaking the Waves") and newcomer Lynda Steadman (HR 8/7).
Buena Vista Pictures
A Tom Cruise movie without Tom's magic smile, an Arnold Schwarzenegger adventure without the muscular machismo, Sharon Stone crossing her legs: Imagine more of the same, star vehicles with the star's best assets not used.
Thus marches out Hollywood Pictures' "G.I. Jane", Demi Moore as a Navy S.E.A.L. trainee with her head sheared bald and her body completely covered in military gear. Although there is novelty in seeing the one spot of Moore's anatomy we haven't been exposed to, this formulaic movie is not likely to detonate more than mediocre boxoffice for Buena Vista.
Basically "Top Gun" without the high-flying acrobatics and the good-old-boy charm, "G.I. Jane" is an ultra-serious tract about an underdog's battle against the big bad establishment, in this case, the first female Navy S.E.A.L. vs. the institutional harassment of the military machine.
Special praise to cinematographer Hugh Johnson for the charged scopings and Trevor Jones for the ear-blasting score (HR 8/8-10).
Also reviewed last week were "Def Jam's How to Be a Player" (HR 8/6) and "Free Willy 3: The Rescue" (8/8-10).
1 item from 1997
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