July/August 1989

Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, Jim Jarmusch's Mystery Train, Steven Soderbergh's sex, lies, and videotape, Ted Turner's wishlist, David Hockney, Traci Lords and Cry-Baby, Steven Spielberg's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Brian De Palma's Casualties of War, Cannes 1989

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America’s New Wave
Three filmmakers burn down the playhouse, poke the American underbelly for signs of new life, and put a new lens on love. Marlaine Glicksman lets Spike Lee have his day at the races in Do the Right Thing. Jim Jarmusch mixes aliens and Americana again, and Marcia Pally hails his Mystery Train a gem of simultaneous narrative. And a coupla new sensitive white boys, Harlan Jacobson and Steven Soderbergh, sit around talking about sex, lies, and videotape.

Midsection: The Good Old Days
Ted Turner and his plucky band of entertainment lawyers are the new raiders of the lost archive, paying back the movie purists after colorization by coughing up everything in the MGM and Warners pre-’48 catalogues. FILM COMMENT’S Buffs-R-Us, a.k.a. the two Richards, jump for joy. Richard Jameson blasts off on TNT, Turner Network Television’s film fare, memos Ted himself re: improvements, and submits a Top Ten Wish List for more. He also samples the post-silent era arcana to be found in TNT’S early sound film selection. And Richard Corliss recalls the pride of Warners, reaffirming auteurism in the face of recent critical revisionism that says the Moguls Dunnit All. Finally, Gregg Kilday reviews key mogul manifesto, Thomas Schatz’s The Genius of the System, which venerates the Desk Set.

King of Pools
British artist David Hockney (he of the swimming pool paintings and photo-collages) meditates on the Hollywood Pop Life in his work. David Thomson contemplates the free play of film form and fantasy that imbues the Hockney world, and traces the outline of cinema through key works.

Journals
Casting coup of 1989: Traci Lords gets the Rikki Lake role in John Water’s Cry-Baby. RJ Smith visits Traci, who is no fool’s body. And Marcia Pally appreciates Truffaut’s last film, The Little Thief, realized posthumously by his onetime assistant, Claude Miller.

Jones Toon
Steven Spielberg plays hit and myth with history and pulp adventure in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Armond White is all raves.

War and Repentance
Brian De Palma and David Rabe conspire on Casualties of War—this year’s The Accused crossed with Platoon and My Lai. Gavin Smith considers its strong medicine, muscular moviemaking, and the bold performance by Sean Penn.

Festivals: Cannes
Mary Corliss finds the gap between cinema and real life getting wider even as film tries to bridge it, and Harlan Jacobson files a New Wave report from the plage.

Industry: The Harvey and Bob Show
I scream, you scream , we all scream for Weinstein. The Brothers Miramax ate everything in sight this year. Are their eyes bigger than their stomach?, wonders Anne Thompson.

Orbits: Leone the One and Only
Bernardo Bertolucci co-wrote a film with the maestro of the Spaghetti Western. He recalls Sergio Leone.

Back Page: Quiz #38