Set over a two-year period, Hannah and Her Sisters follows the numerous exploits of three sisters living in New York and their various friends and family. Hannah (Mia Farrow) seems to have her life most effectively in place. She is an actress, getting back into her work after taking time to raise her children, and is married to her financial adviser husband Elliot (Michael Caine). Elliot however has been harbouring a long-standing infatuation with Hannah’s younger sister Lee (Barbara Hershey), who is in a relationship with standoffish artist Frederick (Max von Sydow). At the apex of Elliot and Lee’s joint feelings of dissatisfaction with their partners, the pair sleep together, and must deal with the ramifications. Meanwhile the third sister, Holly (Dianne Wiest) is a recovering drug addict turned aspiring actress and restaurateur, self-employed as a caterer alongside her friend April (Carrie Fisher), a colleague and competitor for both acting roles and eligible men. Finally Hannah’s ex-husband Mickey (Woody Allen) is a stressed out hypochondriac, whose latest imaginary malady might turn out to be his most serious, and his last. Continue reading →
Clay Gregory (Bill Pullman) has successfully acquired $700,000 via a dodgy drug deal, but he wasn’t expecting his wife Bridget (Linda Fiorentino) to run off with it whilst he was in the shower. She flees New York City and lays low in the small town of Beston in Buffalo, aware that if she spends any of the money and her husband catches up with her he’ll legally own half of her belongings, and she can’t go back to New York or he’ll find her. So instead she settles down in Beston with the unassuming Mike (Peter Berg), a local man back in town after something went wrong with his recent marriage in Florida. Mike wants out of Beston, and Bridget knows just how they can help one another out. Continue reading →
Karl Childers (Billy Bob Thornton) was sent to a correctional facility at the age of twelve. He grew up living in a shed out the back of his parents’ property, sleeping in a hole in the ground he’d dug himself and being picked on by pretty much everyone, especially his father and a local boy named Jesse Dixon. One day, Karl saw Dixon apparently trying to rape his mother, and killed Dixon with a sling blade but, when his mother seems distressed and angry, Karl kills her too, and is thus locked up. Some years later, Karl has grown up and served his time, and is due for release into the world. The only problem is, he doesn’t know anyone willing to take him in. His doctor sets him up with a minimum wage job and limited accommodation, but can Karl make it on the outside, and does he even want to? Continue reading →
Barry Levinson can’t work out whether he’s Oliver Stone or Jerry Zucker in this Vietnam-based Robin Williams vehicle. Heavy handed politics and imagery of riots, fire and explosions doesn’t tend to gel with zany antics and improv riffing from one of the world’s leading fast-talking funnymen, but fortunately Williams is on fine enough form to just about rescue the material from an uneven mess, as his radio DJ Adrian Cronauer is brought in to perk up the on-air talent of 1965 Saigon. The troops love him, but his superiors, including the late, great Bruno Kirby’s put upon aggressive peon Lt. Steve, are less keen on his refusal to play approved material and pre-programmed songs, opting for rock and roll over Perry Como. Some storylines seem forced and contrived – Cronauer repeatedly infiltrating an English class just to meet a girl, her entire family accompanying them on a date – and you get the feeling that this is only loosely based on a true story.
Where it shines though is the comedy. Though some of the references are now very dated and probably worked a lot better back in the States (Ethel Merman, Walter Cronkite, Mr. Ed), Williams knack for voices and repartee with a crowd is unparalleled, though a young Forest Whittaker as station lackey Edward Garlick gets his share of decent lines too: “A man does not refer to Pat Boone as a beautiful genius if things are alright.”
The film tries too hard to make a political statement where none is wanted, and the failed attempts at poignancy leave a bad taste in the mouth. Had the serious side been toned down – difficult, I know, given that it’s about war – and the directionless plot been reined in a little this could have been a classic.