"Cookie's Fortune," "A Walk on the Moon," "Life" and on video, "Elizabeth" 

Quick Flicks

Cookie's FortuneA Walk On The MoonLifeNow On Video: Elizabeth

"Cookie's Fortune" A less-than-ambitious outing from auteur Robert Altman, this movie still delivers fine performances and a charming storyline. Southerners will immediately recognize the eccentric types that pepper this small ensemble film.

Patricia Neal plays the title character, a matriarch in her waning years. Her relationship with odd-job man Willis (Charles Dutton) has tongues wagging, but she couldn't care less. She's also quite fond of Emma (Liv Tyler), the daughter of her dim, gullible niece Cora (Julianne Moore).

Cookie's other niece Camille (Glenn Close) is a piece of work. Intolerant and self-satisfied, Camille believes herself to be the most important personage in little Holly Spring, Miss.

Despondent over her failing health, it seems Miss Cookie takes her own life. But that is too much for Camille to bear — My heavens, think of the public scandal! — so she enlists Cora's aid in helping the suicide scene appear more like a murder. Well, Camille's version of a murder crime scene, that is. But things get tricky when the fake evidence seems to point to Dutton's Willis as the murderer.

Delightfully written and beautifully acted, "Cookie's Fortune" offers a treasure trove of pleasures for those willing to accept it on its own terms.

"A Walk On The Moon" A film of rare emotional honesty, "A Walk On The Moon" takes place during the pivotal American summer of 1969. Woodstock, Vietnam and the Apollo 11 mission swirl around bored housewife Pearl Kantrowitz (Diane Lane). Stuck in the Catskills for the summer, Pearl and teen daughter Alison (Anna Paquin) while away the hours waiting for something to happen. Although hubby Marty (Liev Schreiber) joins the family on weekends, weekdays seems interminable. Pearl tells her best friend she wishes she were someone else; daughter Alison is champing at the bit to find out "who" she is.

All of America seems to be holding its breath, waiting for some huge enlightenment. For Pearl and Alison, it comes in the guise of sexual freedom. Pearl's earth-shattering awakening is found in the sexy shape of blouse salesman Walker (the very easy on the eyes Viggo Mortenson) and the psychedelic music of the era.

How the family copes with Pearl's awakening and adultery is the heart of the film. And while the plot seems to follow too closely along the lines of a "great moments" of the decade timeline, the actors' honest work more than makes up for the stilted approach to the setting.

"Life" Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence are a wonderful team, and any movie that pits the timing and bad-mouth delivery of these two contenders to the throne of comic great Richard Pryor against each other is worth the price of admission. Yes, no matter how limiting and lifeless the script is.

Cast as two wrongfully convicted men sentenced to life behind bars, Murphy and Lawrence get the run of the yard. Although the start of the movie is harsh, once our dynamic duo begin their confinement, "Life" mellows. A string of characters gets caught in the comic cross hairs of Murphy and Lawrence, and life in stir seems almost bearable. During the span of the movie, Murphy and Lawrence age 60 years and though their looks are unconvincing, their shtick is. Raw and funny as squabbling young men, Murphy and Lawrence are a hoot as older and wiser gents. If only the script could have matched their talents.

Now On Video

"Elizabeth" If you missed Cate Blanchett's Oscar-nominated performance as Queen Elizabeth I during its first run, now's your chance to see what all the fuss was about. Indian director Shekhar Kapur takes this historical drama and turns it into a hot-blooded, sexy thriller full of intrigue, passion and greed. It's history as mystery, and though it's irreverence may turn off scholars, those who appreciate a suspenseful whodunit will find themselves greatly rewarded.


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