A soldier’s daughter never cries

This winning Merchant-Ivory production proves that the filmmaking team is capable of bringing their trademark sensibilities to something more contemporary. Longtime screenwriting collaborator Ruth Prawer Jhanvala and director James Ivory have transformed Kaylie Jones’ autobiographical novel into an absorbing, thoughtful novel about the time she spent with her father, famed writer James Jones (From Here to Eternity, The Thin Red Line). Set in Paris during the turbulent 1960’s and early 1970’s, the film explores the relationship between Kaylie (Leelee Sobieski, absolutely brilliant) and her father (Kris Kristofferson) and free spirited mother (Barbara Hershey).


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Together with her adopted brother (Jesse Bradford), young Kaylie learns first hand how fame can destroy someone. When the family is forced to return back to the United States, Kaylie and the rest of the family learn that they have become strangers in their own land. Excellent performances, intelligent writing and strong direction make this low-budget effort look and sound like solid gold. (Universal)

BASIL (R)

basilEven though it premiered on cable, this sumptuous tale of a young man who falls victim to a scheming woman has enough going for it to recommend it on video. It features a handsome, young cast and a twisted tale of love and loyalty that eventually runs its course. Jared Leto is engaging as Basil, a young man who has been raised by his iron fist father (Derek Jacobi) to take over the estate when he dies. Basil loves his father, but has also fallen in love with a mysterious young woman (Claire Forlani), whom he secretly weds. Much to his father’s dismay, Basil also befriends common man John Mannion (Christian Slater). Unbeknownst to Basil, his new bride and John are in cahoots to rob him of his fortune, which he forfeits when he confronts his father about his marriage. It all ends rather badly, but there’s plenty of life lessons to be learned during the course of events. Gorgeous production design and cinematography makes it all watch-able. (Miramax)

DETROIT 9000 (R)

detroit 9000Quentin Tarantino admired this 1973 blaxploitation film so much that his Rolling Thunder label released it theatrically last year, and now on video. Tarantino even used the film as a reference in “Jackie Brown,” his tribute to film of the same genre. Director Arthur Marks’ film is a cocky concoction of blaxploitation and exploitation film fare, with Alex Rocco as a white cop who is forced to team up with a black detective (Hari Rhodes) in order to solve a robbery. Tensions run high as the cops close in one the robbers, who stole $400,00 from a black congressman’s fundraiser. The cast more than rises to the challenge, while director Marks never underestimates the intelligence of his audience. (Dimension)

MEET JOE BLACK (PG-13)

meet joe blackDespite the star presence of Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins, this remake of “Death Takes a Holiday” lacks the emotional punch it so deserves. At three hours, “Meet Joe Black” is way too long to matter, an exercise in indulgence that sabotages the film’s pacing and patience. Director Martin Brest takes his time to tell this story of a 65 year old media tycoon named William Parrish (Hopkins), who has led a decent life and raised two wonderful daughters. His seemingly perfect life is interrupted by the mysterious Joe Black (Pitt), who is actually Death and has come to collect Parrish. Instead, Black decides to spend some quality time with Parrish in order to learn why it is so hard for him to give up everything. When Black meets Parrish’s daughter Susan (Claire Forlani), he’s instantly smitten. There’s actually a pretty decent two hour movie trapped in this three-hour behemoth, and you actually feel sorry for the cast, who bust their hump to make this film special, only to have their performances sabotaged by a running length that would make almost anyone annoying. (Universal)

ALSO AVAILABLE THIS WEEK:

AMBUSHED (R/HBO Home Video)

BLACK CAT RUN (R/HBO Home Video)

BUG BUSTER (R/DMG Entertainment)

MOTHER AND THE WHORE, THE (NR/New Yorker Video)



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