March/April 1987

The Coens’ Raising Arizona,  Woody Allen’s Radio Days, Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle, David Thomson on Film Society of Lincoln Center 1987 honoree Alex Guinness, mainstream depictions of the afterlife, Harlan Kennedy on Stephen Frears, Sundance Film Festival, Grosses Gloss

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Issue Details

CLASS CLOWNS
Seems like everyone is going home again: Rob Reiner, Richard Pryor, and that past master of shmalz, Neil Simon. But, gripes Armond White, either they don’t perceive or remember it well. Not like Woody Allen’s Radio Days, a funny tum away from the inflated seriousness of Manhattan, Interiors, etc. to the pop truth of the Rockaways, or Robert Townsend’s Hollywood Shuffle, a manic debut that limns assimilation and its discontents.

TEMPE FUGITIVES
Are they cinema con men in space? No, they’re the Coens in Tempe, Arizona, following up their smarty-pants debut film, Blood Simple, with Raising Arizona. And along the way, the Coens carom off the walls of genre conventions, winking like crazy. Jack Barth tells how, shot by shot.

SIR ALEC
The man of a thousand faces who never wants to be known as the man of a thousand faces, Alec Guinness, graces the stage at Avery Fisher Hall at this year’s Film Society of Lincoln Center honoree. David Thomson appreciates this gray ghost, who visits, dazzles, and eludes.

MIDSECTION: HEAVEN
Here goes the line between church and stage. Mainstream films have pictured The Hereafter as a sleepaway camp, wings and attitudes adjusted to fit. But Lo!, along comes Diane Keaton, who tells Marlaine Glicksman why she believes in Heaven, her docu-cum-twilight zone talk show and film vault. Next, Jimmy McDonough unearths a family of backwoods filmmakers who emerged from a plane crash to make drive-in films for God. Then there is the Gospel according to Joe Bob Briggs, who says DeMille’s idea of God was a knockoff of Jimmy Hoffa.

OSCAR-TOON
Forward, march! Our battalion of experts (Ansen, Byron, Gigliotti, Harmetz, Jacobson, Kehr, Kilday, Mathews, Sarris, Schickel, Schiff, and Thompson) have seen the Academy and they is us. As Oscar time approaches, this bunch hangs together, few desertions.

JOURNALS
Park City, Utah, site of the U.S. Film Festival, the skiing-est spool-a-thon anywhere. John Powers went and reports the moguls didn’t think the talent had edge. Len Klady profiles the comeback of cinematographer Conrad Hall. And Andrew Horton visited the bayou set of Schlondorff’s A Gathering of Old Men.

STEPHEN FREARS OF GRIT BRITAIN
Bloke looks Britain in the eye and pokes it with sharp movies: Gumshoe, My Beautiful Laundrette, and now Prick Up Your Ears, about Joe Orton. Hard man is good to find and all that, Harlan Kennedy concludes.

FRANKLY FUNNY
Mel Frank, veteran funnyman from the Forties, has either co-written, produced or directed it all. He tells Jonathan Benair how he’s come to Walk Like A Man.

12TH ANNUAL GROSSES GLOSS
After a dead start, the biz rolled up the second highest dollar numbers ever. But ticket sales were flat. As in network TV, the majors are watching their market share slip. Anne Thompson dopes out ‘86’s payout.

TV: HOME SHOPPING CLUB
Come on Down! Naw, stay there in your ratty old robe, call the Home Shopping Club number on your screen, and get an electronic flea collar for your cat or cat-equivalent. Mike Wilkins has the scoop. For only $2.95! Hurry!

ORBITS: CARLOS CLARENS
Mary Corliss recalls her colleague, collaborator, and friend of 20 years, Carlos Clarens, who could charm the silver out of nitrate.

1986 FILM COMMENT INDEX

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