A film that sentimentalizes and softens what was clearly a very difficult situation, turning something that should be effective and honest into something that too…
Life, the director Krzysztof Kieslowski once said, is like visiting a cafe: "We're sitting next to strangers. Everyone will get up, leave, and go their own way. And then, they'll never meet again. If they do, they won't realize that it's not for the first time."
On the morning of the day when he won the Academy Award, Dr. Haing S. Ngor was a busy man. Just after dawn, outside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, he was clicking off TV interviews, one after another: "A.M. Los Angeles," "Good Morning America." The fans in the bleachers, who had waited all night huddled in their sleeping bags, chanted "Haing! Haing!" He waved to them like a kid at his first prom.
The images in movies are countless, but only a handful have become part of our collective memory. Gene Kelly created one of them by singing in the rain. Delirious with love, he splashed through puddles and twirled his umbrella, he hung from a lamppost and flung open his arms, and sang: "What a glorious feelin'! I'm happy again!"
John Malkovich for Mr. Hyde, yes. But Gary Sinese, surely, for Dr. Jekyll? That's sort of the way the two actors positioned themselves a week or so ago, at a benefit for Steppenwolf Theater. Actors don't often like to talk publicly about their techniques; their typical answer is that they have no idea what they did in a performance, and not a clue about how they did it.
NEW YORK I went to the screening of Oliver Stone's "Nixon" expecting to see Atilla the Hun in a suit and tie. What I saw surprised me as much as anything this unpredictable director has ever done: a portrait of Richard Nixon that inspired a certain empathy for who he was, how he got to the highest place in the land and how he fell from it. The movie does not apologize, nor does it forgive, but it helps us understand. Oliver Cromwell asked that his portrait be painted "warts and all." Nixon had more warts than most, but what Stone has done with his portrait may amaze Nixon's enemies more than his friends.
Howard Higman, who liked to be part of a good conversation, died last week in Boulder, Colo.
I'm analyzing Jack Nicholson's career for him. He's frowning behind a cloud of cigarette smoke and trying to look interested. We're sitting in a room at the Excelsior Hotel at the Venice Film Festival, the day after the premiere of "The Crossing Guard," his new movie which was directed by his pal Sean Penn. Nicholson plays a man who wants to kill the drunk driver who ran over his little girl. The irony is, he's a drunk, too. It's a very serious picture.
Louis Malle, who died last week at 63, was a director whose movies caused scandal sometimes for their content, sometimes for their style, sometimes for both. The respected French filmmaker, married since 1980 to actress Candice Bergen, died Thursday at their home in Los Angeles, from lymphoma.
Elisabeth Shue played the girlfriend of "The Karate Kid." And the girlfriend who got marooned in time in the second and third "Back to the Future." And the baby-sitter in "Adventures in Babysitting." And Tom Cruise's girlfriend in "Cocktail" (Leonard Maltin wrote: "Shue is cute, but that can't redeem the junior-high-school-level dramatics.") Nothing in her 10-year career to date would even remotely suggest her for the role of a Las Vegas hooker who falls in love with a man who has come to town to drink himself to death.
It's the morning after the world premiere of "Leaving Las Vegas" at the Toronto Film Festival in September, and I am still under the spell of this remarkable film. It stars Nicolas Cage as a man who loses his family and his job, and moves to Las Vegas with the intention of drinking himself to death.