It has been said that everyone has two careers: a regular job and movie criticism. If you wonder what the towering and expansive critics of our age--Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert--do with their spare time, the answer is obvious: criticize each other. In this month's Playboy Interview (two thumbs up!), the combative kings of film crit tee off on bad movies and on each other, but not in that order. Contributing Editor Lawrence Grobel tossed up the questions and ducked the cross fire.
Playboy, (ISSN 0032-1478), February 1991, Volume 38, Number 2, published monthly by Playboy, 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60611. Subscriptions: $29.97 for 12 issues, U.S. Canada, $43.97 for 12 issues. All other foreign, $45 U.S. currency only. For new and renewal orders and change of address, send to Playboy subscriptions, P.O. Box 2007, Harlan, Iowa 51537-4007. Please allow 6-8 weeks for processing. For change of address, send new and old addresses and allow 45 days for change. Postmaster: Send form 3579 to Playboy, P.O. Box 2007, Harlan, Iowa 51537-4007. Advertising: New York: 747 Third Avenue, New York 10017; Chicago: 680 North Lake Shore Drive, Chicago 60611; West Coast: 8560 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90069; Metropolitan Publishers Representatives, Inc.; Atlanta: 3017 Piedmont Road NE, Suite 100, Atlanta, GA 30305; Miami: 2500 South Dixie Highway, Miami, FL 33133; Tampa: 3016 Mason Place, Tampa, FL 33629
Henny Youngman, 84, first hit the big time on Kate Smith's radio show in the Thirties. Lately, he has received a lot of attention both for his brief appearance in GoodFellas and for a scathing op-ed piece he wrote for The New York Times. It was called "Nem di Gelt" ("Take the Money" in Yiddish) and it was about Andrew Dice Clay. Intrigued, we caught up with the violin-toting comic at New York's Friars Club.
Familiarity with John le Carré's novel may help a viewer grasp what's going on in The Russia House (MGM/UA), an up-to-date, complex tale of espionage that's more cerebral than exciting. Adapted by playwright Tom Stoppard, whose way with words doesn't especially clarify matters, the movie is rescued by star quality. Michelle Pfeiffer, serenely beautiful with an impeccable Russian accent, plays the woman who takes a subversive manuscript to a British publisher and jazz enthusiast (Sean Connery, brilliant as usual), who likes to jam in his spare time. Their slowly evolving love affair gives Russia House a romantic glow, and director Fred (A Cry in the Dark) Schepisi's filming on scenic sites in Moscow, Leningrad, Lisbon and London lets you know this is a class act all the way. Klaus Maria Brandauer plays the Soviet scientist whose volatile, unpublished manuscript could end the Cold War. Roy Scheider is a CIA man and James Fox plays his British counterpart, who tries hard to keep East--West enmity alive. Unfortunately, they spend too much time listening to the action on headsets. Russia House only really grabs when Pfeiffer and Connery are on camera. [rating]3-1/2 bunnies[/rating]
Everybody knows his face, not so many his name, but character actor Barry Corbin, 50, doesn't let that bother him. "I've got the ideal career, because people see me in different ways." He was a sheriff in last year's The Hot Spot with Don Johnson, "a simple-minded deputy" in TV's Lonesome Dove, a cop again in a new movie, Career Opportunities. He is also frequently cast as a millionaire (with John Candy in Who's Harry Crumb?) or as "a big Texas oil man" (in Clint Eastwood's Any Which Way You Can). In the just-renewed CBS-TV series Northern Exposure, he's an ex-astronaut who brings a young doctor (Rob Morrow) to work out his med school tuition in a remote Alaskan hamlet. "I'm a kind of overbearing good guy," notes Corbin. "My wife says I mostly seem to play an eccentric authority figure." Corbin's steady work as a character actor began about 20 movies ago in Urban Cowboy. "I was John Travolta's uncle, who taught him to ride the mechanical bull. I died in a petrochemical explosion--when lightning struck." A cheerful native of Lubbock, Texas, he's doing exactly what he has wanted to do since he was eight. He worked in local theater and attended Texas Tech prior to a stint on stage in New York. "Now I'm on Texas Tech's faculty," says Corbin. "They call me an adjunct professor, whatever that is." He admits to "a soft spot for Westerns" and ropes cattle in charity rodeos in his free time. "I've sort of typed myself, portraying people from my part of the country. When I try anything else, I get letters from all over berating me."
Best Self-Help-for-the-Defense-Department Video:Compulsive Shopping;Kinkiest-Sounding Video:Specialty Strokes;Favorite Vid Couple:The Green Man & the Bearded Lady;Second-Favorite Vid Couple:The Grey Lady & the Strawberry Snatcher;Best Say What? Video:Flak, Jugs and Cobras;Best Thrill-a-Minute Video:About Fallout;Best It's-a-Living Video:Cut-Pile Rug Weaving.
No surprise that when it comes to renting home videos, former New York City mayor Ed Koch sticks with the familiar: "Blood and guts," he says, citing such favorites as The Terminator, Lethal Weapon and Die Heard. ("They're light, entertaining and you don't have to concentrate too hard." (Then again, Koch can be selective: "Rambo was shit.") About the handful of movies in which Koch actually appeared -- including Woody Allen's segment of New York Stories and The Muppets Take Manhattan-- the ex-hizzoner rehashes the classic actor's lament. "I'm typecast," he sighs. "I usually play myself. Now I suppose I'll have to play David Dinkins. Guess I'll have to buy some classy clothes."
One of the gutsiest moves ever made on a motion-picture screen is Woody Allen's use of that final, classic scene from Casablanca as a starting point for his own movie Play It Again, Sam. You feel that same sense of admiration for the audacity of the act when Robert B. Parker quotes liberally from Raymond Chandler's 1939 hard-boiled detective story The Big Sleep as a leitmotif to his new novel, Perchance to Dream (Putnam's).
Chris Hillmanis one of those rare rock musicians who are receiving lifetime-achievement awards and at the same time making new music. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a founding member of the Byrds while "A Dozen Roses: Greatest Hits" from Chris Hillman and the Desert Rose Band hit the stores. A thoughtful songwriter himself, Hillman was impressed by the new album from Michael Been and his band, the Call.
No free speech department: In Berkeley, California, home to the free-speech movement of the Sixties, the school board has considered a measure that would ban rap music from the auditorium at Berkeley High School. Next thing you know, Richard Nixon will be announced as this year's commencement speaker.
Who knows? The nose knows. Let's own up to it, men. For us, there is a Nasal Law of Nature. Surely, you recognize that I am speaking a great truth--a truth that we have been reluctant to share with our women.
Here's what men are like: Men make you believe that if you were just a little prettier, a little thinner, a little less mentally ill, maybe not so pushy, they'd marry you tomorrow. Men make you feel as if you don't quite measure up.
I have been going steady with my current girlfriend for about two years. We have a normal sex life. I love it when she gives me head. The only problem is that she uses her teeth too much. I don't dare say anything to her, because she would never do it again. I don't mean to complain, because getting head is probably a fringe benefit in a relationship and I don't want to sound like I'm looking a gift horse in the mouth. Is there anything I could do or say to help her improve?--G. J., Detroit, Michigan.
"WEA [Warner/Electra/Asylum records] and others: You will either listen to me or you will listen to Luther and Sinead and Axl and Frank, as in Zappa. Government is listening to the parents I have listened to, and you need to know that these parents will use government, through law enforcement and civil litigation, to hit you upside the head unless you use your head.
Lena Olin is complicated and erotic. As Masha, a concentration-camp survivor in "Enemies, a Love Story," she portrays neurotic love. Earlier, as Sabina in "The Unbearable Lightness of Being," she spent several memorable moments wearing mainly a hat. In "Havana," with Robert Redford, she melts through her co-star's famous cool persona. Contributing Editor David Rensin met with Olin, who lives in Sweden, during one of her rare visits to Los Angeles. She greeted him at her hotel-room door. "Although her English was excellent," he says, "she easily resorted to sign language or French to find the proper word. She was as free with her opinions as she was with her cigarettes."
Do you get the feeling that something is bothering David Lynch? While a lot of Twin Peaks is good loopy fun, some parts of the show are downright disturbing. Which can also be saidabout the entire body of Lynch's film work, from Eraserhead to Wild at Heart. We have isolated some themes and images that resonate throughout Lynch's oeuvre and then asked our experts to lift the lids.
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