Cinema (101): The Man in the Moon *** (1991, Drama)
Aspect ratio 1.85 : 1
Summary: A jewel of a sleeper, The Man in the Moon comes off as a nearly perfect short story of two sisters' first competition in the field of love. In a 1950's small Louisiana farm town, 14-year-old Dani falls for Court, a 17-year-old engaging neighbor boy. The two become great friends, but Court is more interested in Dani's 17-year-old sister, Maureen, who is blossoming. Dani will look for any justification why she should be with Court, but as human law dictates, there is no cure for a 14-year-old with a crush.
The film is another winning portrayal of small-town adolescence from Robert Mulligan (To Kill A Mockingbird). His eye for casting is impeccable, with Sam Waterston and Tess Harper as the earnest parents and newcomer Jason London as the dreamy Court. The real find, though, is Reese Witherspoon as Dani. Her timeless work here is magical. The PG-13 rating is a bit heavy-handed--although the film does not shy away from its look at budding sensuality, or a horrific and emotional accident. Mature 10-year-olds may find one of their favorite films here. --Doug Thomas
HD Cinema (104): Postcards From the Edge *** (1990, Comedy)
Aspect ratio 1.85 : 1
Summary: As its title might suggest, this movie based on Carrie Fisher's Hollywood struggle works better as a snapshot than as a complete film. Meryl Streep plays Suzanne Vale, a successful actress who is lost in her addictions. Her episodes are never as bombastic as Clean and Sober or other antidrug movies of the 1990s, however. Vale's a more lovable person, and as with all lovable people in Hollywood, other Hollywood people care for her: an understanding director (Gene Hackman), a philandering boyfriend (Dennis Quaid), and a bemused doctor (Richard Dreyfuss). But if you are going to talk about Fisher, you are going to mention her mom, Debbie Reynolds. And here Vale's mom is the die-hard Doris Mann, played with appropriate virtuosity by Shirley MacLaine. The love-hate mother-daughter relationship takes over the film in an entertaining way, with Fisher's sharp comic writing coming into play. You nearly forgive Vale's troubles for having to live under a hurricane like Mann (who goes into her nightclub act at the drop of a hat). The film's sweetest pleasure is seeing Streep loose and modern, nary a drab outfit or an accent in sight. Streep and director Mike Nichols make a risky--and rewarding--finale (fueled by the Oscar-nominated "I'm Checking Out" by Shel Silverstein) work effortlessly. --Doug Thomas --