Chinese Box (1998)

Last week's crop was a crap-fest.  Sandra Bullock smiles.  That's 
the plot of HOPE FLOATS, director Forrest Whitaker's first project 
post-WAITING TO EXHALE.  An hour was more than enough for me...  I 
lasted half as long in ALMOST HEROES, Chris Farley's final film.  
The less said about that one the better...  As for Wayne Wang's 
CHINESE BOX, well, I fell asleep.  What can I say?  Sometimes im-
provish drama works for me.  Sometimes it doesn't.  And, geez, such 
a lukewarm performance from Gong Li...  At least A PERFECT MURDER 
(screened at last Saturday's sneak) has enough plot to hold your 
attention.  Not much in the way of characterization, tho.  Douglas 
and Paltrow play high-society stick figures, while Viggo Mortensen 
skulks around in a grubby artist's 'do as the love interest-turned-
hired killer.  They go through their motions till the end credits 
roll and though a fair amount of blood gets spilled, it's not an 
entirely pulpy pleasure.  In the wake of mysteries more elaborate 
and intricate-- notably THE GAME and David Mamet's THE SPANISH 
PRISONER-- such old-fashioned plotting is almost... unsatisfying.  
Or, as one audience member muttered, "I wish the wife had been be-
hind it all."

Grades:  W/O (HOPE, HEROES), C (BOX), B- (MURDER)

Copyright 1998 Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

Originally posted to triangle.movies in MOVIE HELL: June 7, 1998

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