[— THE DOCTOR
When top surgeon Jack McKee (William Hurt) is diagnosed as suffering from throat cancer, he’s literally given a taste of his own medicine by being on the receiving end of the insensitivity with which patients are treated in the hospital where he works. The experience is to do more than just alter his take on professional standards, however, for the traumatic threat of serious illness forces the father and provider to wake up to his damaging work obsession and face the signiﬁcance of his emotional ties to family and friends. His marriage to long-suffering wife Anne (Christine Lahti) may be rocking, but the courage and good humour of Elizabeth Perkins’ plucky brain tumour victim is to give him a
welcome lesson in the value of communication.
Although it ﬁts comfortably into the current Hollywood obsession with transforming the pater familias from Total Bastard to Caring Human Being— see Regarding Henry, Hook and, to some extent, Cape Fear— Randa Haines’s second ﬁlm mostly avoids the simple- minded mulchiness of the redemption offered in the Spielberg or Mike Nichols offerings. As is usually the case, the film is at its most entertaining when the central character is in his Mr Nasty phase, but while Hurt’s capacity for cool detachment makes the most out of these early scenes, he’s also a smart enough actor not to push the cumulative schmaltz too far.
e Doctor: ‘top surgeon given a taste othls own medicine'
Yes, it’s a terribly Hollywood idea of uplifting entertainment but The Doctor is much more credibly handled than the film’s mushy trailer would lead you to believe. Indeed, the highlight of the whole affair is a moment of supreme dark comedy when the assorted medicos singalong to a Merle Haggard tune before the vital operation, preparing to slice and dice to the soothing lyric ‘Let‘s Get Drunk And Screw’. (Trevor Johnston)
The Doctor (12) (Randa Haines, US, 1991) William Hurt, Christine Lahti, Elizabeth Perkins, Mandy Patinkin. 123 mins. Glasgow: Cannon The Forge, Odeon. Edinburgh: Odeon, UCI. Strathclyde: UCI Clydebank.
RANDA HAlilES: Director oi The Doctor
Born in Los Angeles, raised in New York, studied acting with Lee Strasberg. TV work Includes stint on Hill Street Blues and incest-themed 1984 telemovle Something About Amelia. l-ierilrst theatrical ieature, Children oi a Lesser God (1985) was nominated ior live Oscars, winning Best Actor for William Hurt.
On recurrent themes: ‘People ask me if I’m only interested in illness or something, but I think the connecting thread between my two movies is that we’re fragile as human beings, we‘re all damaged in some internal or external way. With Children of a Lesser God, deafness was a wonderful metaphor for the barriers that exist between people, how hard it is for us to really hear each other. In The Doctor, cancer is a dramatic catalyst which makes someone think about who they are and confront the fact that we’re all in a time schedule we can’t necessarily control.’
On celluloid sentimentality: ‘I hate being in movies where I know I’m being manipulated, and I hope I’m never guilty of it. Sometimes it seems that a certain chord on the strings and an image of a cutesy child is just calculated to make any human being cry. But if people are going to be moved, I want them to be moved because they’re seeing something that’s truthful and that touches them because of its honesty — not because of some filmmaking tricks.’
On William Hurt: ‘We both see things in complex ways, and we’re both interested in the subtle increments of feeling. Bill’s in every scene in the movie, so his emotional journey has to be charted in these delicately graded blocks along the way. ’
E— MY own PRIVATE IDAHO
in this lollow-up to the admirable Drugstore Cowboy, writer/director Gus Van Sant has somehow managed to blend street sleaze, narcolepsy, Shakespearian undertones and spaced-out cinematic experimentation in a movie that’s ultimately aiiectlng precisely because oi its iorthright singularity. in a brave choice oi role, River Phoenix plays Mike, an aimless Portland rent boy aitlicted by a nervous dlsorderthal sends him to sleep at moments at tension, while Keanu Reeves, as slumming preppie iayabout Scott, is the unrequitlng object oi his aiiections.
Into their lives comes rotundly charismatic drug liend Bob Pigeon (brilliantly portrayed by lilm director William iilchert), Falstaliian mentor to the young Prince ital that is Reeves‘s business helr apparent- with the blank verse oil pet to prove it. The scene is now set tor a drama oi mismatched aliectlon across diliering positions oi sexual orientation, iamilial security and social status.
Really, it shouldn’t hang together,
My Own Private ldaho: ‘a drama at mismatched aiiection’
but Phoenix’s wonderiul periormance grounds Van Sant's exhilarating visuals within a moving evocation oi emotional longing, a heart-rendlng quest tor a real sense oi place in a world that’s tailing apart. The result is compelling, idiosyncratic, a Ieit-iield gem. (Trevor Johnston).
My Own Private Idaho (18) (Gus Van Sant, US, 1991) River Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, William Richert, James Russo.104 mlns. From Fri 17: Edinburgh Cameo. From Sun 19: Glasgow Film Theatre.
STOP OH MY MOM WILL SHOOT
Sylvester Stallone's latest ilick only illustrates with alarming clarity the rapid slide at his iortunes since the end oi the Rocky series. A brain-damaged boxer at least seemed a slightly plausible place ior him to show oil his peculiar talents; this sort oi thing is a one-way ticket to nowheresvilie. Stallone plays Joe Bumowski, a tough-guy LA cop alilicted with a New Jersey-based smother-mother, who no soonertouches ground ior an unwelcome visit than she becomes the key witness to a drive-by shooting. It’s not her son’s case, unlortunately, but the proud mother strains every nerve and cliche to make sure her baby gets the credit, the promotion and the lemale lieutenant at the end oi the day. Estelle Getty as Mom reprises almost word ior word, gesture ior gesture, her trademark matemai hectoring seen regularly in The Golden Girls, while Stallone continues to direct his energy into reshaping himseli ior the iamily 90s via one sentimental comedy alter another. This latest is no exception to
J; 1*. '
Stop Dr My Mom Will Shoot: ‘a one-way ticket to nowherasvllle'
the downward spiral: Sly is useless at comedy, and the hammy script raises only the odd tltter. (Andrew Puiver)
Stop Dr My Mom Will Shoot (PG) (Roger Spottlswoode, US, 1992)
I Sylvester Stallone, Estelle Getty,
linger Bees. 87 mlns. Glasgow: Cannon The Forge, Cannon Sauchlehall Street. Edinburgh: Cannon. Central: Cannon. Strathclyde: Cannon. All UCls.
The List 10— 23 April 199217