12 MONTROSE VOICE/JANUARY 10, 1986
Wrapping Up Some '85 Films
Robert Redford and Meryl Streep star in "Out in Africa"
By Scott Cutsinger
Montrose Voice Film Critic
In one amazing sweep, I'm going to try
and wrap up the few remaining 1985
releases showing in this area. While there
are still a few releases like Ron and Twice
in a Lifetime that have only played in big
cities, we'll count those for '86 and close
out *85 with these.
Out in Africa is the first offering. A
beautifully photographed and gracefully
executed film staring Meryl Streep and
Robert Redford. The true story of Karen
Blixen's attempt to build a coffee farm in
Kenya should truly have some spot on the
Best of the Year.
Sci-fi fans will either be delighted or
baffled by the bizzare Enemy Mine. Louis
Gossett Jr. is quite an oddball as the
reptile-like Droc who is disgusted to find
himself on a deserted planet with an
enemy fighter pilot (Dennis Quaid). Das
Boat director Wolfgang Peterson creates a
strong world where anything can happen.
The remaining two films fall into the
foreign or "art" category. Dim Sum is a
touching look at a Chinese-American family. Dangerous Moves is a more complicated film about two men in a battle of wits
during an international chess game. The
later was named "Best Foreign Film" last
year at the Academy Awards, but we're
just seeing it. Better late than never, I
□ Out of Africa
On the surface, it's easy to compare Out of
Africa with similar grand productions like
Ghandi or Passage to India. Lush scenery,
powerful acting, and a long running time
seem to be standard for this type of epic
Africa differs from both of those other
films mainly because it has two superstars, namely Robert Redford and Meryl
Streep. They happily hold ourattention as
we plow through Karen Blixen's "Not
always so exciting" life on an African coffee plantation. Blixen (who later wrote
under the name Isak Dinesen) unfortunately did not live a life like Ghandi or
I_awrence of Arabia, which is the stuff
spectacles are made of.
The makers of this film had a break
when researchers discovered recently that
Blixen had a secretive, intimate affair
with a dashing British adventurer named
Denys Fench Hatten. Their friendship/
romance has been hyped up into the centerpiece of the film, letting the rest of the
"true" story serve as surrounding place
settings. This gives the audience a sort of
"love story" to spice up the long African
Actually Blixen is first married to a
Baron Bror Blixen. a brother to her former
lover that she married for conveniens.
The Baron (superbly acted by Klaus Maria
Brandauer) loves his wife, but also loves
the ladies. He leaves her alone on the plantation for weeks, romps around the country on safaris, and is constantly
When Blixen contracts syphillis from
her husband, a chain of personal tragedies
begin that brings her sorrow and finally
bankruptcy. The main thing that keeps
her sane during this period is her odd
affair with Dennys Fench Hatten.
Dennys pops up sparsely through the
first half of the film, but becomes important as the romance blossums. Oddly
enough, the love between these two never
really blooms because they can't seem to
understand what the other needs. Denys
wants her to be there waiting when he
returns from frequent safaris. Blixen
wants a man who will be there when she
needs him. But still give her room to grow.
It's a typical problem that they never
Meryl Streep is more than stunning as
Blixen, and could nab another Oscar. Her
voice-over narration is soothingly perfect,
and her accent (Danish) is marvelous.
Streep does a lot less "modeling" and posing here than she did in films like Plenty
and French Lieutenant's Woman, and it's
Robert Redford has the right weather-
beaten look for Deny's part, but British he
is not. I guess no attempt at an accent is
better than a bad attempt. Still, he looks
good with Meryl, and the two make a nice
Out of Africa is well worth seeing, but be
ready for two hours and 40 minutes of
solid film. There are some lax points, but
Meryl manages to hold it together and
keep us entranced. For Hollywood entertainment,, you can't really afford to miss
"Meryl in Africa."
d Enemy Mine
This mega-buck epic from the director of
The Never Ending Story and Das Boat is
too weird to be a big box office draw, and it
is probably the biggest holiday bomb.
However, the movie shouldn't really be
ignored, because it really has a lot of neat
things to offer to the right filmgoer.
First off, you have to accept Louis Gossett Jr. in this far out reptilion attire. Once
you get over that and the strange sounds
that he makes, you can settle back and
enjoy the plot. At least the first half of it.
Ol* lizard face (actually a Droc from the
planet Drocon) crashes on a deserted
planet and finds that the only other person there is an enemy space pilot. Dennis
Quaid is the bearded Davidge, a stubborn
but resourceful man who attempts and
succeeds in becoming friends with his
enemy. The two are fascinating to watch
as they exchange languages, ruHun
ideas and become like brothers.
Then something really strange
happens. Well, Droc sort of gets pregnant
and has a baby boy. Evidently, these guys
have a body that's half man/ half woman
and they just "have" children when it just
happens to occur. The new little Droc looks
just like Daddy (Mom?) and grows a lot
faster than normal children.
Unfortunately, at this point the film
shifts into high adventure gear, totally
abandoning the delicate bonding relationship built so carefully in the first half. Little Droc gets kidnapped by some renegade
slave drivers, and Davidge spends the rest
of the film doing Indiana Jones escapades
to rescue him.
Obviously, someone thought that the
film couldn't stand on its own as a story of
two enemies working together towards a
goal. Gotta give the kids a little action or
they'll get bored. That's why they stayed
away from Iceman a few years back (the
two films often complement each other).
Personal drama is just not interesting
anymore, because TV movies have
covered all the angles.
Still, it's difficult to recommend Enemy
Mine because it's such an erratic film.
Sometimes the special effects by the
Industrial Light and Magic Company
(George Lucas) are mystifying, and other
times they are downright embarrassing.
The screenplay by Edward Khmara is
excellent the first half and very poor the
second. The saving grace is Gossett, who
gives the oddest performance of his career.
I would recommend this movie to lovers
of oddities like Silent Running or maybe
Dune. It's too bad they spent so much
money on a film that could have been a
neat "little" film about two people coming
□ Dim Sum—A Little
Bit of Heart
Last year, Chinese-American filmmaker
Wayne Wong attracted attention with his
hit Chan is Missing. Wong returns with an
even better, more personal effort that concentrates on a girl and her aging mother.
The Tom family consists of 62-year-old
Mrs. Tom (Kim Chew), her daughter Ger-
aldine (Laureen Chew), and Uncle Tom
(Victor Wong) who supports the family
with a bar. Conflicts occur because the
mother wants Geraldine to marry because
she thinks she's going to die. The daughter
loves her mother and is afraid to leave her,
but also must contemplate living her own
The culture clash between old Chinese
customs and the American way provides
conflicts, anger, and even laughter. Mother's reaction to her daughter sleeping with
her boyfriend, and the various American
ized attitudes of many Chinese seem to
show how tradition can mix with modernization. The push for young ladies to get
married is still there, but now they have a
little more choice in the matter.
Like many Chinese films, Dim Sum is
paced very slowly, with many quiet and
personal moments. Sometimes Wong gets
a little too arty and symbolic by lingering
his camera much too long on a curtain
blowing or some rippling water. It's not
really necessary, because the actors do a
fine job of being almost pure art themselves.
Laureen Chew and Kim Chew are real-
life mother and daughter, and their roles
here are full-bodied and beautiful. Their
conflicts are simple, but they have little
affect on the love they have for each other.
The mother really misses her daughter
when she does leave, because she's happy
for her but lonely herself.
"Dim Sum is a good independent film
that should be appreciated for its close
examination of family cultures and their
role in the eighties. Many will find it slow
and distracting, but those who know
cinema will see that this film has "a lot of
d Dangerous Moves
This film won the Oscar for Best Foreign
Film last year, and will be playing tonight
and Saturday only at the River Oaks. All
chess fans are alerted—all others can best
spend time elsewhere.
Dangerous Moves was a bit of a disappointment because I expected a much better film. »The plot is very simplistic, and
overall it appeals to a very small group of
people. An international chess match
between an aging Russian master and a
rebellious Soviet dissident tries to beabat-
tle of wit and power, but it never seems to
grab our attention.
Thankfully, the political aspect is kept
to a minimum, although both sides resort
to dirty tricks to help their man win. A
guru and a psychotherapist both try to
"psych-out" the players. Even the players
try to annoy each other by showing up late
or getting up and down out of their chairs.
Michel Piccoli is good as the dying patriarchal champion, but Alexander Abbott
is a bit high strung as the violent, young
opponent. Leslie Caron (as Piccoli's wife)
and Liv Ullman have small but affecting
roles that could affect the outcome of the
Dangerous Moves is too full of chess
maneuvers to make it interesting to those
who know little of the game. At times, the
characters rise above the game and
become interesting. But for the most part
they just seem to be like pieces on the
Ijnirs Qosmrttl -ir flcfti and Dennis Quaid star in "Enemy Mine