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11/29/01 The Prince of Central Park,Harvey Keitel,Kathleen Turner,Danny Aiello,Cathy Moriarty
This smells like a re-telling of a classic,perhaps something from the Brothers Grimm....
it has great elements,like those old stories--a 'Troll' that lives under a bridge,(in Central Park)
and demands tribute from all who pass;a wicked step-mother who cares nothing for
her young charge; a magic 'sword'(or keyboard)that the youngster uses with great talent;
and,co-incidently, a mother who's pining away for her lost child.....thus,the McGuffin.Will the boy
elude the wicked old woman,find the girl of his dreams,find his lost blood mother,find success
in his skill,be eaten by the Troll,be turned toward Evil by bad influence.....?
The answers to these and other questions,Ladies & Gentlemen........

.......are pretty much a given,let's be honest.It's a movie.

A very good movie,acted by people who are obviously having a good time with it.
Moriarty isn't over the top,but at the very crest of it...Keitel is just plain chewing the
scenery!! Wheee!!! Turner has no trace of  makeup/glamor,and makes you ache for her pain.
I just can't place which old story this is supposed to be...the credits say it's based on a
contemporary play......whatever the origin,it's good stuff.Check it out,it's a good yarn.

12/10/01The Virgin Suicides,James Woods,Kathleen Turner
Black comedy? Speculative documentary?Indictment of Over-Parenting?You decide.....
I couldn't.There are undeniably funny moments-Woods talking to plants about
"photosynthesizing some breakfast",for example.....Turner isn't shown doing anything overtly
repressive or cruel,but we have the impression that she's choking her family,
just the same. The ambiguity continues until it becomes completely surreal---at one point,
an adult male quaffs off a highball,then throws himself into the pool,shouting
"I'm a teenager,I've Got Problems!!",while others at the party watch through
sequin-encrusted gas masks......A voice-over(by one of the characters)
winds throughout the film,first clarifying,then obscuring the message/meaning
in these odd  happenings.One can't help but watch;the style draws the viewer
into the mood,like a sort of post-David Lynch-reality-on-its-head telling
of a story that never happened,but is entirely within the realm of possibility.
This,interspersed with awkward teenage angst,so very familiar....
Exceeding Strange.
Turner and Woods both rate high on my list for their past work,and this gives
both a chance to escape into new territory.
Directed by Francis F.Coppola's daughter Sofia,which may explain a lot......
You decide.

12/18/01Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai Forrest Whitaker,Henry Silva
OK,I get it....a cinematic joke,like This is Spinal Tap,or maybe Nashville....
told largely in flashback,the plot is thus:A man is beaten on the street,another man
intervenes,and the victim is forever in debt....he becomes an urban 'samurai',
and,incidentally,a paid killer.A killer with code of ethics--who can only be reached
by passenger pigeon,or carrier pigeon,or streetwise pigeon with a mailbag,or whatever.....
at any rate,he kills/fails to kill the right/wrong guy/girl....but hey,wait a minute--
yer kidding,right? Nothing could be this confusing---or take itself that seriously.
This has gotta be a joke---I mean,the guy has daily conversations with his 'best friend',
who speaks only French,while he speaks none.....and,while they say strikingly
similar things,it just bounces off the language barrier.

   One could see how the action/violence/implied cool factor might be appealing to
a segment of the movie-going public.Lots o'gunplay and blood,and even a case given
to justify same....a solemn voice reads captions to us,intoning the tenets of the WAY...
showing us pearls of TRUTH...
'There is Gleat Risdom to be greaned here,Glasshopper...."
   One can also imagine a European audience trying desperately to see past
the translation in the sub-titles---surely there's something here that's getting by,
some MEANING they're not quite catching.......

Unless they've read Rashomon---in which case,it just means what it means......
the Voice-Over of Eternal Wisdom says it all......
" the end ,you still get the same soaking."