Fri., Sept. 15, 1995
D: Peter Bogdanovich; with Tatum O'Neal, Ryan O'Neal, Madeline Kahn
Paramount Home Video/laserdisc
It's difficult now to imagine that when Paper Moon was released in 1973, Peter Bogdanovich was one of Hollywood's most promising directors. His first film, Targets with Boris Karloff (based loosely on Charles Whitman's horrific shooting spree) had become a cult movie. Given a more substantial budget, he made The Last Picture Show and followed it up with What's Up Doc?, both of which enjoyed critical and commercial success. After Paper Moon however, he made Daisy Miller, At Long Last Love, and Nickelodeon, and the weight of those three consecutive disasters drove his career into an irreversible tailspin.
Paper Moon is the Depression Era story of an orphaned young girl, Addie, and her adventures with Moses, a con-man who may or may not be her father. Bogdanovich knew this was a performer's picture and gave his actors, particularly real-life father and daughter Ryan and Tatum O'Neal, the opportunity to carry the weight of the story. The superb supporting cast is also memorable, particularly Madeline Kahn as Trixie Delight and John Hillerman as an evil small-town deputy. Randy Quaid also has a small role as the farm-boy who'd rather fight than switch automobiles. It's really Tatum O'Neal's show, though, and she delivers. The memorable scene where she demands $200 from Moses is truly hilarious (or not, depending on how much time the viewer has to spend around precocious and tenacious kids) and makes one wonder just where her scene-stealing ability came from.
Paper Moon is part of the Paramount Director Series, and this newly remastered laserdisc features an introduction by Bogdanovich, who briefly discusses how he approached the film. The movie, which was shot in black & white, is presented in its original 1.66:1 aspect ratio and is in CLV format. The video presentation is very good and the audio is solid, if unspectacular. Those who wonder why any studio would give Peter Bogdanovich the money to make At Long Last Love should take a look at Paper Moon. It's as good an answer as there can possibly be.
- Bud Simons
LOUIS CAT ORZE: THE MYSTERY OF THE QUEEN'S NECKLACE
God, but I hate history. I could never sit through it in school, and I find it still to be a painfully dull, if necessary, area of study. Keep that in mind when I say that the leisurely paced historical mystery Queen's Necklace charmed me quite thoroughly. Over the course of a week's worth of several short scenes per day, the plot of the disc involves a necklace which is discovered missing as it is about to be presented by King Henry XIV to young Mary Adelaide. A great deal of knowledge about 17th-century France, the lives of the King and those who surrounded him, and the goings on in the world at the time is required to solve the theft. Fortunately, this information is all presented in digestible (but not insulting) doses throughout the course of the game. And though the main characters, a couple of young royals, tend to become more and more Disney-like as the story unravels, your "host," a sly cartoon cat, is entertaining enough to make up for it. And best of all, the game is geared towards educating you, not punishing you for your mistakes. Ages 10 to adult. - Ken Lieck
The title of the latest from the ground-breaking Emergency Broadcast System unfortunately reflects all too well the problems I had employing the visual portion of this program. Stuttering images and sound made much of the CD-ROM close to useless on one computer, while on another, things ran smoothly, but with the soundtrack running a second ahead of the picture (the Chronicle computer team assures me that the machines in question have all the requirements that the disc demands). Keep in mind that this is a CD album, made to be sold in the audio bin, but with an interactive video wall and three full-length videos (for the Mac and IBM) included gratis, as well as a Macintosh 3.5 floppy with portions of the above for those without CD-ROM capability. The sound portion of Breakdown is a fine wedding of rave-ready dance music and, well, substance. EBN (most widely known as the creators of part of U2's "Zoo TV" extravaganza) specialize in a sonic assault of found sounds from the wilds of television and movies, set to a dance beat and packed through and through with social comment. Their forte, however, is the merging of those sounds with a mind-bending, state-of-the-art video attack on the eyes, and without the full technology to recreate that properly via the CD-ROM, one is recommended to seek out the videotape version of the album instead.
- Ken Lieck