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Five Corners Movie Review

john shanley foster story

If you're looking for a pattern in the career of Oscar-winning screenwriter John Patrick Shanley, try to figure out what Moonstruck, Five Corners, The January Man, Joe Versus the Volcano (which he also directed), Alive, We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story, and Congo have in common. That isn't a trick question, because heck if I know, either. Shanley is capable of writing sequences of both heartfelt realism and mind-boggling mediocrity (contrast the first and second halves of Joe). Most of the story line of Five Corners, which played at the Mill Valley Film Festival in the fall of 1987, is strong and clear. At one point in this story about teens in 1964, though, violence occurs without warning, and the sequence is like “a stun gun to your brain,” as Angela Chase, a teen from a later era, might say. Are these completely gratuitous moments really necessary? What do they give the narrative that it doesn't already have? Don't they, in fact, take away from the other 90 minutes that have already established the psychosis behind the violence? It is this lack of balance that would topple other Shanley screenplays. On the plus side, the acting by Jodie Foster (who won an Independent Spirit Award), Tim Robbins, and John Turturro is excellent, and so is James Newton Howard's score.

1988 (R) 92m/C Jodie Foster, John Turturro, Todd Graff, Tim Robbins, Elizabeth Berridge, Rose Gregorio, Gregory Rozakis, Rodney Harvey, John Seitz; D: Tony Bill; W: John Patrick Shanley; C: Fred Murphy; M: James Newton Howard. Independent Spirit Awards ‘89: Best Actress (Foster). VHS

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