A Woman, a Part
A Woman, a Part mixes passion and ambivalence to create a work whose ambiguities seem earned, and lived in
"He is what we used to call a sympathizer. And he was married to a woman whose brother was active with the Viet Cong."
In a review published in 1984, I wrote that Steve Martin was "an actor who inspires in me the same feelings that fingernails on blackboards inspire in other people." This judgment, sincerely made at the time, was just a tad premature. In a review published later that same year, I was astonished to find that I genuinely admired his work in "All of Me." And in the years since then I have also appreciated his work in such movies as "Roxanne," "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" and "Parenthood" - not to mention two films that hardly any critics liked, "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" and "My Blue Heaven."
Jim Thompson has been dead for 15 years now, and he never got much notice when he was alive, but all of his books are in print again--with covers showing the broads with low necklines, the desperate guys with their cigarettes and three-day beards, and always in the foreground the bottle of booze.
NEW YORK -- Woody Allen found the first ticklings of inspiration for "Alice" (opening Tuesday in Chicago at the Fine Arts) by getting a sty in his eye. One of those annoying little bumps by the tear ducts. That was why he went to the acupuncturist. And then the incident began to grow in his imagination, flowering and folding in upon itself, and finally it became a story about Mia Farrow as a rich New York trophy wife who is compelled to evaluate every aspect of her life after a strange old man in Chinatown gives her special herbs for her tea.
He was a large, genial, thoughtful man who was not quite your picture of a big-time Hollywood director. For one thing, he wore a jump suit everywhere he went. He had a closet full of them, in different colors and fabrics, and there was even a black-and-white "formal" jump suit that he wore with a bow tie to the Academy Awards. He said he didn't like to waste time every morning deciding what to wear for the rest of the day. He had better things to think about.
You always know with a Robert Altman film that you'll get some kind of nudge, a dig in the ribs to wake you up and make you think differently. In the days when he was riding high with "M*A*S*H" and "Nashville," and now in these latter days when his eccentricity isn't fashionable, that hasn't changed. When you ask him why he's working in Paris or on Broadway or cable TV, Altman always grins and says, "I fiddle on the corner where they throw the coins." It's one of his favorite expressions. But he fiddles where he damn well pleases.
London had never seen anything quite like the brothers Kray, the sadistic twins who ran a protection empire and palled around with cafe society. They became celebrities of a sort. British professional criminals followed a more genteel tradition until the Krays came along in the 1950s and early 1960s. You might have gotten bashed on the head or even, after great provocation, shot dead, but until the Krays, it was unlikely anyone would pull out a sword and redecorate your face.
BELEM, Brazil The speedboat came churning too close to the big barge holding the lights and camera, and everyone could see what was going to happen. The wake slapped against the barge and rocked it, and the tall scaffolding swayed back and forth. And then slowly, with an expensive majesty, the $18,000 light toppled over and sank to the bottom of the Amazon.
Francois Truffaut once said that it was impossible to pay attention to a film shot in the house where you were born because you'd always be noticing that they wallpapered the bedroom. I knew I was in for the same sort of problem in the opening scene of "The Hot Spot" (opening Friday in Chicago). Dennis Hopper's new thriller was made in 1990 but its psychic center is 1957, and Don Johnson, who plays a mysterious stranger from out of town, roars onto the screen in a 1957 Studebaker Golden Hawk.
It is one of the oddest performances of recent years, an exercise in mannered behavior that has the audience snickering with disbelief before they realize it's all right to laugh because, in a way, it's supposed to be funny. The performance is by Jeremy Irons in "Reversal of Fortune," where he plays Claus von Bulow, a man accused of attempting to murder his wife.