Scanlines

If These Walls Could Talk

D: Nancy Savoca, Cher; with Demi Moore, Sissy Spacek, Cher, Catherine Keener, Anne Heche.
VHS Home Video



If These Walls Could Talk
received more press for its controversial presentation of the abortion issue than it did for the merits of the work itself. In actuality, the film is about pregnancy and the options that three women -- unknown to one another but all residents of the same house over the course of 40 years -- explore as they come to terms with their own positions on abortion. Directed and written with sensitivity and a fairly uncommon level of objectivity given the subject matter, If These Walls is one of the few films that leaves us wanting to know more about its characters and their stories. Demi Moore stars as a widowed nurse facing the consequences of a grief-inspired liaison in "1952." Sissy Spacek plays a loving wife and mother of four children who suddenly finds herself pregnant just when she thought it was time for her own living to begin in "1974." As a college student pregnant with her married lover's child, Anne Heche fights her roommate's conflicting beliefs and her own indecision in "1996." Three stories, three women, three decisions, yet they all remind us of the significance of a woman's right to choose, no matter what that choice implies. -- Alison Macor


The First Wives Club

D: Hugh Wilson; with Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton,
Maggie Smith, Dan Hedaya,
Sarah Jessica Parker, Stockard Channing, Bronson Pinchot, Marcia Gay Harden, Elizabeth Berkeley.
VHS Home Video

How is it that this story of three middle-aged women exacting painful revenge on their husbands comes off as a genuinely funny film, despite the fact I'm not a bitter divorcée? The First Wives' Club is really just an overgrown sitcom (with a simple plot, wacky high-jinks, and celebrity cameos), but the antics of Keaton and Hawn are always a refreshing change from an otherwise lackluster selection at the video store. While some men may cry foul at Wives' cheap shots, the real irony of the film is that everyone behind the scenes is male. So here's a chance for all you guys to swallow your pride and rent a selection that your s.o. will appreciate, and you may have a good time in the process.

-- Christopher Null


The Hudsucker Proxy

D: Joel Coen; with Tim Robbins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Newman, John Mahoney, Charles Durning.
VHS Home Video

This is the Coen Brothers work that folks either love or hate. With its kooky tale of a small town boy being set up as a patsy for big business, and a plot that allows his situation to work despite the odds, The Hudsucker Proxy does seem a departure into feel-good land for the guys who created Blood Simple and Fargo. It is not surprising that fans of these other films might not appreciate this warm portrait. Crisp visuals and great performances (watch out for a glimpse of a svelte Anna Nicole Smith) make this film shine, although Jennifer Jason Leigh's characterization, while a good idea, can irritate the most stoic of video renters. But this work, which kind of feels like a much more positive Brazil, is very engaging, and at the same time maintains the sharp humor and slick design for which the Brothers C. have become known.

-- Adrienne Martini


Star Wars Holiday Special

D: Steve Binder; with Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Art Carney.
Bootleg

Hey, where's the "special edition" of this lost epic? Technically, this is the second Star Wars movie, as it clocks in at full-feature length (96 minutes) and features all the original cast members except Alec Guiness (Obi Wan Kenobi decided to stay dead for this one). Call it Star Wars: Lifeday, as it concerns Han Solo's attempt at getting Chewbacca the Wookie back to his home planet in time for his race's most sacred day. On the way, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and the two 'droids from the first film are all called upon for help (via interplanetary video phone calls from Chewey's family, which must've cost a hairy arm and leg!), but those stalwarts play second fiddle to the likes of Bea Arthur, Art Carney, and Harvey Korman (three roles, including one in drag!) as the saga slo-o-o-wly proceeds, intermittently stalled by musical appearances by Jefferson Starship and Diahann Carroll and a Boba Fett cartoon adventure. If you've never seen this, you think I'm kidding you -- and George Lucas certainly wishes I was -- but it exists. And yes, Carrie Fisher even gets to sing in character (if off-key) at the end!

-- Ken Lieck


(We found Stars Wars and If These Walls Could Talk at Vulcan Video,, and First Wives Club and Hudsucker Proxy at Encore Movies & More.)

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