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Reel World 

Wednesday, May 17 1995
Magnificent Obsession
Perhaps it's time, I humbly submit, for the Chronicle to update and redraw the 52-year-old Little Man. Instead of his position in a stiff-backed chair, show us the angle of his erection, since that's the measuring rod favored by movie reviewer Mick LaSalle. In the May 5 Datebook, LaSalle devoted his opening four paragraphs (fully a third of his review) to Meg Ryan's knack for movie kisses. His capper was equally hormone-driven: "Ryan's comic talent continues to delight, while [Kevin] Kline is touchingly heartfelt as a man doing what is evidently all too easy to do -- fall in love with Meg Ryan." But when LaSalle isn't aroused, watch out. Eight pages later, he spews bile all over Pandora's Box (the 1929 silent that pitilessly reveals the weakness and venality of men in lust, by the way). Louise Brooks, LaSalle writes, was "a minor star best known for her Moe-in-the-Three-Stooges haircut" -- certainly not the stuff woodies are made of. (Film buffs still admire Brooks today; does LaSalle seriously think anyone will even recognize Ryan's name in 65 years?) LaSalle's an affable, intelligent man, but his wet-dream approach to film criticism is way off-target for San Francisco's populace of cinema-literate readers. Of course, it is consistent with the Chronicle's skewed pursuit of younger readers -- who just might dig a rating system based on the Little Man's state of excitement.

Paths of Glory
Congratulations to one nice guy, Wayne Wang, who received an honorary doctorate of fine arts at SFMOMA Friday night from his East Bay alma mater, the California College of Arts and Crafts. The director of The Joy Luck Club and Smoke earned his BFA in film arts from CCAC in 1972 and his MFA in film the following year. Wang was flattered and moved to join an exclusive club of honorees that includes the late Marlon Riggs ... Werner Herzog is revving for another 15 minutes of fame; he's shooting a new film in San Jose while plans take shape at the Castro for a retrospective of his remarkable career ... Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman are picking up the pace in order to make the fall festival circuit with The Celluloid Closet, prior to its HBO broadcast in early 1996 ... Local indie filmmaker Tim Jones (First Takes) was accepted for the next Sundance Writers Lab ... Producer Henry Rosenthal is schmoozing with the mavens at the Cannes Film Festival, where his short film, The Beast, is in competition ... If daily newspapers reported every time a spec screenplay wasn't acquired, there'd be no room for anything else. So why the buzz about Joe Eszterhas' unsold Otis Redding script? Maybe because he claims the soul great didn't die in a plane crash after all, but was killed with an ice pick.

By Michael Fox

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Michael Fox


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