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People Top 5
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PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- June 26, 1989
- Vol. 31
- No. 25
Picks and Pans Main: Screen
New on Video
Set your phasers on déjà vu. But familiarity in this case should breed contentment, at least for fans of Star Trek the TV series, Star Trek the movie sequels or Star Trek the subculture.
It's true that there's not much new under the suns as the new Enterprise warps around the universe chasing Spock's half brother, a messianic outcast who thinks he knows where to find God. The brother, played with an odd, overearnest grin by Laurence (Cocktail) Luckinbill, is not the most original of characters. The looking-for-the-Ultimate plot raises echoes of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Forbidden Planet as well as the first Star Trek movie.
The camaraderie of the Enterprise's crew, however, still seems refreshing. Shatner, who directed a screenplay by David (Dreamscape) Loughery, downplays the medium-tech special effects in favor of the interplay among his own character, Capt. James Kirk, Spock (Nimoy), Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) and the other familiar faces. In the opening sequence Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley are on a camping trip in Yosemite National Park and end up around a campfire, with Kelley wondering why they're off by themselves: "Other people have families." Kirk replies, "Other people, Bones, not us." The moment is as close to poignant as this kind of thing ever gets.
Shatner's curly-top hairdo is still hard to take, and at times Nimoy acts as if he can barely muster the enthusiasm to keep his eyeliner from smearing. Kelley, on the other hand, seems more of an enjoyable curmudgeon than ever. Spice (Stranded) Williams, as the Klingonette who is an officer on the ship that inevitably stalks the Enterprise, gives a lively performance under lots of makeup and the burden of speaking in a language that sounds like a cross between Arabic and pig latin. (Shatner's daughter Melanie has a small role as an Enterprise crewperson.)
Considering that the ending has to dispose of Luckinbill, the Klingons, a defective transporter room and the always knotty Supreme Being question, it works out pretty smoothly. Anyone who doesn't come to the film with at least a working knowledge of the Star Trek characters might wonder what all the fuss is about, but those who can tell the difference between Chekov and Sulu should go home entertained. (PG)
Sammi Davis, Amanda Donohoe
Back in 1970, Women in Love demonstrated that the sensual music of D.H. Lawrence's prose hath power to charm the savage director Ken Russell. This film, taken from another of Lawrence's novels, includes a lesbian seduction, an attempted seduction into spanking as a sexual activity, considerable naked gamboling, miscellaneous leering and much flirtation. But, by comparison with recent Russell films (Crimes of Passion, Gothic, Lair of the White Worm, Salome's Last Dance), on the scale of perversion and depravity it would be rated just about wholesome—maybe wholesome with an asterisk.
More than that, the film is also coherent and often involving in emotional and intellectual ways that recent Russell films have ignored (though Crimes of Passion had its striking moments). It is a graceful, unsentimental addition to the growing coming-of-age film annals.
Davis, one of the sisters in Hope and Glory, is just completing secondary school in an English village around 1900. Her loving, if tradition-bound, family expects her to stay at home until she gets married, but Davis wants to exert her independence.
That ambition first takes the form of her happily wandering into a sexual relationship with her phys-ed teacher, played with a wickedly ruthless tone by the gorgeous Donohoe (The Lair of the White Worm). Then Davis pursues an affair with a young soldier, played by the impossibly handsome Paul (Withnail & I) McGann, and takes a job as a teacher.
Davis's open face has a Mia Farrow-Hayley Mills innocence in it, but there's some steel and mischief to her too. So she's effective at maintaining high hopes even when she faces cynicism at every turn—Donohoe ends up marrying Davis's uncle, the school is a pit of nasty students and nastier faculty members.
Russell's perverse nature even gets to enjoy an unhappy ending—or what ought to be an unhappy ending. He and Lawrence seem to agree, however, on the integrity of celebrating youthful optimism, at least for those lucky enough to truly believe in their own invulnerability—for a day, a year or a lifetime. (R)
Richard E. Grant, Rachel Ward
If you can't find this movie anywhere nearby—and if it's playing any farther away than your garage, it's not worth the trip—here is how you can get a good idea of what it's about: First rent Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?, the 1957 advertising-business spoof with Tony Randall as an account executive trying to figure out how to sell Stay-Put lipstick, with Jayne Mansfield's help. Then try to find a copy of The Thing with Two Heads, in which mad scientist Ray Milland grafts Rosey Grier's noggin onto his own body. Mix up the crucial scenes from both movies, and there you have it.
What would come out of such a mixture would probably be more entertaining than this cinematic equivalent of a hair shirt. Its target—deception and hypocrisy in the advertising industry-would seem almost impossible to miss. Yet this film ends up tedious and lame.
Grant (Withnail & I), who's onscreen for most of the film's 95 minutes, is a superstar English adman who boasts, "Whatever it is, you can sell it." He is also on the verge of a breakdown. Then a new account—for an antipimple medicine—pushes him over the edge, and he mutters, "I've been living a nightmare—obsessed with other people's acne." So far, so funny, But soon Grant gets a boil on his neck that grows to golf-ball size. Then it develops a face and starts talking to him.
Writer-director Bruce Robinson (he wrote The Killing Fields, directed Withnail & I) took the easy way out and made the talking boil visible to the audience. For one thing, this gimmick attracts too much attention to itself and away from the rapidly receding satirical point of the movie. For another, its talk is neither funny nor relevant, just nasty. Meanwhile, Ward, as Grant's wife, spends most of the movie looking stricken, a not-unreasonable reaction under the circumstances.
Eventually, Grant's more or less normal brain trades places with the boil's and Ward leaves him (it?) to rant on in tiresome fashion.
Robinson may have hoped for an anti-advertising diatribe similar to the Paddy Chayefsky-Sidney Lumet anti-TV treatise, Network. In this case, though, what you'll be mad as hell about and not want to take any more of is not ads and commercials, but the film itself. (R)
>MARIA CONCHITA ALONSO She's such a talented, appealing actress, it's painful to watch her being nagged and mauled by Nicolas Cage in the inane Vampire's Kiss.
JAMI GERTZ Mostly she seems to be hoping nobody will notice her, which is precisely the right attitude for her to take as a gangster's moll who inexplicably turns heroine in Renegades.
SEAN LEONARD Dead Poets Society has all the good guy-bad guy cliches of a Rambo film, but Leonard shows rousing talent as a Robin Williams student.
RODDY PIPER, ANDRE THE GIANT They do not appear with fellow pro wrestler-actor Hulk Hogan in No Holds Barred. Good for them.
>DISPUTE: BIRD Join the debate: Does this film about jazzman Charlie Parker, directed by Clint Eastwood, overdo Parker's dissolute personal life and slight his genius? (Warner)
DISAPPOINTMENT: DIRTY ROTTEN SCOUNDRELS Michael Caine and Steve Martin as dueling con men could be a delight. This film, directed by Muppeteer Frank Oz, is notable mainly for Glenne Headly's comic talents as a woman the pair try to bilk. (Orion)
DISTANT: PELLE THE CONQUEROR Sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger will come out swinging a barbarian shillelagh, but it's just Max von Sydow, trudging through a subtitled Nordic soul-searcher. (HBO)
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