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Movie capsules

By CATHY BURKE, United Press International

THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK -- The battle of the sexes gets devilishly good treatment in this movie directed by George Miller ('Mad Max') and starring Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer as the powerful, albeit innocent, witches and Jack Nicholson as the rascal demon. It's a quirky tale of power, love and loneliness that is ultimately entertaining. The three witches dream of their version of a perfect man, the devil himself comes to town to try to fit the bill, and all hell breaks loose -- a kind of nutshell of the history of the battle of the sexes. Other than two elongated vomiting scenes involving cherry pits, the movie is both good to look at and fun to listen to. Rated R.

THE BELIEVERS: Santeria, the mixture of voodoo and Christianity that has its roots in the Caribbean, runs wild in the streets of New York in this movie directed by John Schlesinger and starring Martin Sheen. But the mumbo-jumbo is so embellished with witchcraft, devil worship and psycho-babble that you can never quite tell which evil force is really at work. At heart, 'The Believers' is a remake of 'Rosemary's Baby' with none of the wit and twice as much gore. There's plenty of scary scenes, however: Be on the lookout for snakes oozing out of faces and stomachs andlots of blood. Also starring Helen Shaver and Robert Loggia. Rated R.

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THE UNTOUCHABLES: America's love for gangsters has been requited often by the movie industry, but never with such style as in the Brian DePalma movie, 'The Untouchables' -- first a book, then a TV series, now on film. The movie is based on the story of Treasury Department agent Eliot Ness, who dedicates himself to stopping the flow of illegal liquor during Prohibition and to breaking the back of Chicago mob boss Al Capone. But it is really about how Ness, the Puritan conscience of America, must himself be corrupted to bag the corrupt Capone, played by Robert DeNiro. Taut screenwriting (David Mamet) and a superb cast - including a prize-winning performance by Sean Connery as the veteran Chicago cop -- help make 'The Untouchables' a classic. Rated R.

HARRY AND THE HENDERSONS: Directed by William Dear, 'Harry and the Hendersons' owes a big debt to 'E.T.,' which it resembles in almost every way except that the alien is the legendary Bigfoot of the Pacific Northwest. John Lithgow, playing George Henderson, and Melinda Dillon, as his wife, rediscover the wonder of belief in the unbelievable, befriend the huge Bigfoot and then help him to go home to Mount Rainier National Park. While 'E.T.' had tears to spare for everyone in the family, 'Harry and the Hendersons' is strictly for the kids. Rated PG.

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SUMMER HEAT: It's a good title for this latest movie starring former 'Fame' television star Lori Singer: The tale of a steamy and murderous love triangle set in rural North Carolina during the summer of 1937. As directed by Michie Gleason, and based on the novel, 'Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail,' the passion steams along at a sultry pace - but as it turns out, without much help from the script. Primarily, this moody film is a series of snapshots of a rural tobacco farming community in North Carolina that just begs for some cool rationale. Also starring Anthony Edwards, as Roxy's farmer husband, and Bruce Abbott, playing the handsome stranger who changes all their lives. Rated R.

ISHTAR: This big, overblown comedy starring Dustin Hoffman and Warren Beatty is thoroughly likable despite all the hype -- a 'road movie' in the tradition of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. The story line is as silly as those old road movies, but its major flaw is its over-production; there's a desert scene with a blind camel that threatens to throw the whole movie off track. Elaine May's comic genius - she also wrote and directed 'The New Leaf,' directed 'The Heartbreak Kid' and wrote another Beatty film, 'Heaven Can Wait' -- is never far from the surface. Charles Grodin is nothing less than wonderful every time he is on screen, and brings the picture its closest to off-beat perfection. Rated PG 13.

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BEVERLY HILLS COP II - Eddie Murphy is back as maverick Detroit Detective Axel Foley, but 'Beverly Hills Cop II' is no sequel; it's more like second in a series. The chase scenes, wise-cracking and offbeat crimebusting are all in tact, but we find out little else about the Foley character. This time around, he goes back to Beverly Hills to solve the attempted murder of his friend on the force. It all involves gunrunning, but not in any intelligible way. Yet this film is wonderfully fast and action-packed, as directed by Tony Scott ('Top Gun'). Brigitte Nilsen puts in a pretty good female interpretation of a Rambo-like character, perhaps in tribute to her real-life husband, Sylvester Stallone. Rated R.

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