James Wolcott

Stories

Me Redford, You Streep

Out of Africa is lavishly done up but emotionally dehumidified; Young Sherlock Holmes is more Hardy Boys than Conan Doyle; Revolution is nothing but a megabucks disaster.

Queen of the Rodeo

In Sweet Dreams, Jessica Lange is a dynamo of female gumption; Hail Mary makes the Immaculate Conception an inconsequential miracle; Joshua Then and Now is entertainingly busy and uncouth; Twice in a Lifetime is twice too often.

Missing the Pointe

White Nights is too much cold war, not enough Baryshnikov; After Hours is overwrought Scorcese; Mishima is a mishmash.

Waxy Buildup

Plenty isn’t enough; Year of the Dragon is a yellow-devil hysteria; uncompromised casting makes Compromising Positions click; Volunteers imposes eighties cynicism on sixties idealism.

Restless Itch

Songwriter is like a great party; Kiss of the Spider Woman doesn’t connect; Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome runs out of gas; Key Exchange is too cute; Disney’s Black Cauldron isn’t for kids.

All in the Family

Prizzi’s Honor is a macabre satire of the two-career marriage; Cocoon can’t burst free of its nice-guy limitations; Pale Rider recycles all the wrong western riffs; St. Elmo’s Fire should have been doused from the start.

Boffo Brits

The Shooting Party hits the bull’s-eye; Rambo: First Blood Part II makes Viet Nam the Club Med of mass death; A View to a Kill should have considered suicide.

Fish Story

Alamo Bay gets in over its head; Lost in America finds itself through comedy; The Slugger’s Wife strikes out.

Zombie Heaven

Into the Night leaves you in the dark; The Breakfast Club’s teenagers are out to lunch, Witness is a solemn eyeful.

Liquid Shimmer

In The Purple Rose of Cairo, Woody Allen takes a cold look at movie-fed dreams; the late, great Sam Peckinpah gave us an impassioned view of a violent world.

Wilds of the Soul

Mrs. Soffel weaves a tale of love and damnation; A Passage to India is a smooth, brocaded expedition; The Cotton Club offers pomp by the bale.

Star Dreck

2010: a space travesty; Dune gets mired in pomp and slime; A Soldier’s Story is a murder mystery with soul; even Streep and De Niro can’t save Falling in Love; The Brother from Another Planet is woozily morose.

Double Trouble

Body Double settles for facile thrills; Comfort and Joy offers moments of magical bliss; The Little Drummer Girl is off-pitch.

Downer on the Farm

Country and Places in the Heart both heap on down-home moral uplift; Stop Making Sense is a joyous rockumentary; Amadeus spouts dingdong conceits.

Half of Me

Steve Martin’s new comedy All of Me is half-baked; The Gods Must Be Crazy is an amiable tall tale with giraffes; Tanya Roberts is sexy-heroic as Sheena, queen of the pulp jungle drama; Last Night at the Alamo is a rowdy last stand.

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