With apologies to Chris Hicks, I have a movie column.
People are fond of complaining about the quality of movies today, but when a really good one comes out, you can't talk them into seeing it. Although "Dances With Wolves" is one of the finer movies I've ever seen, with a clear, positive message containing spiritual overtones, great acting and authentic history, I've had a hard time persuading my children to see it. So far only my daughter has, and she loved it.Herewith the comments of three of my sons: "Not my type of movie," grumped David. "Just not interested," said Charlie. "Too long," said Spence.
4 If you saw Richard Dreyfuss' most recent movie, "Once Around," filmed mostly in Boston, you noticed that the theme was borrowed from the New England rotaries - originally grassy circles called "roundabouts" in the middle of rural intersections in 19th-century England.
New Englanders were attracted to this strange British custom partly due to economic reasons. A traffic circle is cheaper than a traffic signal, after all. Also it seemed that a traffic circle implied self-governance, an important ingredient of Puritan politics. If every man was a king, he could have an equal shot at an intersection.
Some have called the rotary the "fuel-injected version of the New England town meeting." At any rate, rotaries proliferated until traffic engineers found them to be "severely capacity restrained."
Anyone negotiating a rotary for the first time runs the risk of becoming hopelessly confused. At first you concentrate on staying in the proper lane, then you begin speed reading the plethora of signs posted at the spokes, the possible escape lanes. The advantage is that if you are not sure which road to take you can continue circling indefinitely.
Which brings me back to "Once Around." In the movie, Dreyfuss loved driving around and around a rotary - but there was only one lane and no traffic whatsoever. It reminded me of one of my favorite old dating practices - instead of driving out of a parking lot we would circle endlessly until everyone was dizzy. Funny for a minute, maybe, but not as dangerous as if it had been done on a highway.
The rotary in "Once Around" is an unfortunate mistake. The Boston scenes are authentic, but the title and the theme had to have been dreamed up by someone who had never lived in Boston.
4 I finally saw "Reversal of Fortune," with Jeremy Irons, the Academy Award-winning best actor. It's the story of the strange coma of illustrious Sunny von Bulow of Newport, R.I., and the charges of attempted murder lodged against her bizarre husband, Claus von Bulow.
Having lived in New England during the unfolding of that story, I can say that Irons really does deserve the Academy Award - he was very believable as Claus, the movie's villain. We thought that since we read long news stories every day about this crime, going to the movie would be too much like reading old news-papers.
We were wrong. It was very well done - interesting, with fast-paced and powerful acting.
But the chief reason we went to see it was to see once more the gorgeous and fascinating city of Newport and its incomparable mansions. Amazingly enough, what we got instead was Long Island, N.Y. The participants in the film apparently never set foot in either Rhode Island or Massachusetts, where von Bulow's defense attorney, Alan Der-sho-witz, lives.
Why do they do that? Why tell a true story about real people in a real place and then fool the audience with the wrong place?
4 Finally, in the wonderful new movie "Defending Your Life," Meryl Streep and Albert Brooks stop off in Judgment City for their trials prior to either moving on or going back to Earth. I loved the idea that the food in Judgment City was delicious, served instantly and would not put on weight or make you feel terrible. Only one thing bothers me - Why didn't they film this in the real Judgment City? . . .