Abacus: Small Enough to Jail
A remarkable tale of immigrant success, wrapped around a crime story.
Q. Did you hear Dick Armey's remarks about the v-chip? He's afraid that kids will be able to hack into the Pentagon computers with it!! Can you imagine that these guys are legislating this technology that they know NOTHING about? -- Jill Cozzi, Fort Lee, N.J.
A. No one should be allowed to vote on the v-chip or the Internet until he has demonstrated that he knows how to successfully get online and download tomorrow's weather report. The v-chip is a good idea if it helps parents monitor their children's TV-watching. Is Armey afraid it can also tune out violence in the Pentagon?
Q. Re your suggestion of an expanded weekly movie best- seller list, which would name the top foreign, art and documentary films: An interesting idea, but it could have adverse effects. "Art" films rarely make more than $100,000 a week. Mr. and Mrs. Public, looking at the $50 million that "Batman Forever" pulls in, may regard the alternative list as a sort of consolation prize. What some magazines have started, and this may help, is a list of the Top 10 Per Screen. This is fairer to films in limited release. -- David Gerrard, Chappaqua, N.Y.
A. People likely to go to alternative films will not expect Batman-style grosses, but would be interested to learn that "The Postman," "Crumb" and "Kids," for example, are doing susprisingly well. Still, per-screen averages would also get that across. The point is to give equal recognition to films that do not open on 2,000 screens and therefore cannot ever hope to make the first team.
Q. What a year! Clint Eastwood and Sharon Stone have each produced movies taking on each other's stereotypical roles. Here's Sharon shooting up the town in "The Quick and the Dead," while Clint is rolling around on the floor in "The Bridges of Madison County." What's next? -- Bruce Henderson, Newton, Mass.
Q. I can't imagine ANY screenplay with the following attributes ... -- "preposterous dreck" -- "situations in search of a story" -- "the plot ... [is a] series of excuses for the director" -- "This stuff is so concocted ..." -- "scene may seem absurd" -- "not exactly plausible" ... that could be saved even by a Helen Hayes let alone a pedestrian actress such as Sandra Bullock. I'm afraid your favorable review for "The Net" must have been influenced by some organ other than your usually facile brain! -- Richard D. Hyman, Alamo, Calif.
A. I put everything into each of my reviews.
Q. I am wondering if you recognized the sunken city in "Waterworld" as Denver? I thought I caught a glimpse of the distinctive skyscraper known locally as "the cash register building" because of its offset and curved top. Further evidence would be the ski lifts, although they would have had to swim awfully far to reach the nearest ski lift. And if it is Denver, then wouldn't the highest mountain (and thus most likely the fabled Dryland) be Mount Evans to the west and not the south? -- Robert Jones, Tigard, Ore.
A. If the sunken Denver was close enough to the surface for Mariner to take the woman there in a diving bell without her getting the bends, wouldn't that mean the top of the mountain would be visible above the waves? Could all of the problems in "Waterworld" have been solved if they had just looked in the other direction? My favorite "Waterworld" story is the little girl who turned to her mother at the end of the movie and said, "Mommy, they've landed in Jurassic Park!"
Q. Thought you might get a chuckle out of our local news on KNBC in Los Angeles. The anchor, Chuck Henry, did a news story on the "controversial" opening of "Kids" in Florida and said that at one theater they gave away condominiums to all the attendees. When he finished, Kelly Lange advised him that what they gave out were actually condoms. -- Elliott S. Mitchell, Costa Mesa, Calif.
A. Ironic, since the whole movie is about how these kids never use condominiums.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
A look at the entire "Alien" franchise, and a reappraisal of its unloved installments.
A review of the first four hours of David Lynch's "Twin Peaks: The Return".