Movies;movie Mini-Reviews

By Arnold, Gary | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), June 20, 1996 | Go to article overview

Movies;movie Mini-Reviews


Arnold, Gary, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


OPENING

* Cemetery Man (1995) (No MPAA rating - adult subject matter, graphic and morbid illustrative details; occasional sexual candor) - An Italian feature by Michele Soavi, said to be a protege of both Terry Gilliam's and Dario Argento's. British actor and memoirist Rupert Everett plays a cemetery caretaker whose corpses insist on rising from their graves. With model Anna Falchi as a trio of doomed lovers and Francois Hadji-Lazaro as a monstrous helper. One week only, exclusively at the Key. Not reviewed.

* Eraser (1996) (R) - Arnold Schwarzenegger's turn as a summer adventure franchise. The title character specializes in obscuring the trail of people being protected as federal witnesses. Vanessa Williams becomes a client when she discovers treachery in the program for a new superweapon called the rail gun. Support includes James Coburn, James Caan and Robert Pastorelli. Not reviewed.

* The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996) (G: Ominous episodes and fleeting comic vulgarity; allusions to sexual obsession in a nightmare sequence) - (TWO STARS). The Disney animation team finally juggles too many irreconcilable aesthetic contradictions while trying to coax a happy-face musical-comedy-tearjerker out of Victor Hugo's imposing, sorrowful classic. Some of the would-be inspirational flourishes here would work better in a spoof. The savage, deformed bell ringer Quasimodo tends to enter every young person's consciousness as a comedy cliche. Nevertheless, Disney's cuddly version seems an exceptionally lightheaded and trifling diminution. Spoken and sung by Tom Hulce, Quasimodo is introduced as a wee foundling in a strong, haunting prologue that also establishes the film's most impressive pictorial element: Notre Dame Cathedral.

* Kaspar Hauser (1994) (No MPAA rating - adult subject matter) - A German film by Peter Sehr, who reconstructs the tale of the mysterious lost boy discovered on the streets of Nuremberg in 1828 with a conspiratorial slant that remains speculative. Mr. Sehr believes the abandoned and abused "Kaspar," killed in 1833 at the age of 21, was the kidnapped crown prince of Baden. Allegedly, a scheming countess switches infants at birth, condemning the true prince to a life of isolation and then brief, enigmatic notoriety as a "wild child," entrusted with a kindly tutor and publicized far and wide as a behaviorial curiosity and object of pathos. In German with English subtitles. One week only at the Biograph. Indeed, this is the theater's final sustained booking at its Georgetown site; closing day is June 29.

* Switchblade Sisters (1975) (R) - Miramax indulges Quentin Tarantino a revival of one of his favorite exploitation movies of the 1970s. Jack Hill directed this alleged "cult classic" about urban molls in 1975. Not reviewed.

* Welcome to the Dollhouse (1996) (R: Frequent profanity and sexual candor; occasional obscene allusions and intimations of violence, including threats of sexual abuse; nevertheless, a satiric comedy about adolescence) - (THREE STARS). This social horror comedy, a low-budget feature by Todd Solondz, excels at deadpan depiction of the humiliating aspects of school and family life. The 11-year-old protagonist, Dawn Wiener, played to puzzled and valiant perfection by Heather Matarazzo, is singled out for contempt as a newcomer at Ben Franklin Intermediate School in a New Jersey suburb. There is scant reassurance on the home front, where Dawn is the odd, middle sibling out. The filmmaker's comic authenticity involves a good deal of shocking and tasteless confrontation between kid antagonists, but Mr. Solondz is ultimately protective and affectionate in ways that spare "Dollhouse" from degenerating into a suburban reprise of "Kids." Exclusively at the Cineplex Odeon Dupont Circle, Outer Circle and Shirlington.

NOW SHOWING

* Antonia's Line (1995) (No MPAA rating - adult subject matter, with frequent interludes of sexual candor and nudity; occasional profanity and graphic violence) - (ONE-HALF STAR). …

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