James Wolcott

Stories

Prince of Wails

Prince’s Purple Rain is short on plot and dialogue but long on fancy anguish; The Bostonians is a namby-pamby treatment of Henry James’ biting novel.

Getting Slimed

Ghostbusters is funny but flawed; Streets of Fire is not the place to spend a care-free afternoon; plus three films from abroad.

Temple of Excess

Indiana Jones bashes us with unthinking cruelty: The Natural is a balk; Sixteen Candlesis lit up with tickling teenage talk.

Cheetah! Fetch Tarzan New Script

In Greystoke, neither Tarzan nor the audience gets to have any fun; Moscow on the Hudson takes a wonderful comedy and runs; Racing With the Moon is nostalgic and sure, but the plot comes undone.

Bait and Switch

Against All Odds promises love, delivers yawns. Entre Nous repels rather than attracts. Footloose and Reckless aren’t. This is Spinal Tap is painless.

Mermaid Love

Ron Howard’s Splash is a refreshing frolic; Broadway Danny Rose gives us the old soft shoe; And the Ship Sails On is out to sea; Reuben, Reuben is a dark but funny double-decker.

Silkwood’s Blight

Dread is the main character in Silkwood; To Be or Not to Be can’t make up its mind; The Dresser is a fussy failure; The Man Who Loved Women doesn’t.

The Godfather Goes Slumming

Al Pacino carries on the gangster tradition in Scarface; the mystery in Gorky Park is not whodunit but who'll survive the investigation; Tentl is a Barbra Streisand tour de force.

Terminal Endearment

Terms of Endearment features a Houston setting but also drab cinematography and cramped direction. The sickening Star 80 goes too far; the impressionistic Rumble Fish reaches too high.

Terminal Endearment

Terms of Endearment features a Houston setting but also drab cinematography and cramped direction. The sickening Star 80 goes too far; the impressionistic Rumble Fish reaches too high.

Cool Minds in a Hot War

Nick Nolte is a journalist dodging bullets and political involvement in Under Fire. The Right Stuff is about Americans, space, and manifest destiny. The Big Chill is a warm look at the cooling of sixties idealism.

Cool Minds in a Hot War

Nick Nolte is a journalist dodging bullets and political involvement in Under Fire. The Right Stuff is about Americans, space, and manifest destiny. The Big Chill is a warm look at the cooling of sixties idealism.

Daniel’s Lot

In Daniel the hero has to bear the burn of his parents’ treason, while the audience must endure a lot of misery. The Moon in the Gutter is a film in search of eclipse. Education Rita is an enjoyable elective.

Daniel’s Lot

In Daniel the hero has to bear the burn of his parents’ treason, while the audience must endure a lot of misery. The Moon in the Gutter is a film in search of eclipse. Education Rita is an enjoyable elective.

History’s Nebbish

The tale of schlemiels schlemiel, Zelig is as funny, endearing, and slight as Woody Allen himself. Staying Alive is suicidal. The quick Grey Fox jumps nimbly the pitfalls of making a western.

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