Slim Pickings

After the glut of new releases in December, when studios and independent distributors stuff the theaters with Oscar-nomination qualifiers, January and February seem downright dietetic. Among the meager studio pickings, many open at Christmas. Richard Benjamin directs the improbable but fetching combo of Cher, Bob Hoskins, and Winona Ryder in Orion’s Mermaids, ominously described as a “feel-good” movie about women coming of age. Fox’s Edward Scissorhands, directed by Tim Burton (Batman), stars Johnny Depp as an inventor’s creation who’s human except for the sharp metal shears he has for fingers. He’s helped by Dianne Wiest playing an Avon lady—honest. In Warner’s Guilty by Suspicion (directed by Irwin Winkler), Robert De Niro stars as a workaholic filmmaker whose career is threatened by a HUAC investigation. De Niro also plays a man who’s unable to speak or move for thirty years and is restored to the world by a doctor (Robin Williams), in Penny Marshall’s Awakenings. for Columbia. For those who haven’t yet tired of gangster movies, there’s some improbable genre-splicing in Columbia’s Men of Respect, an adaptation of Macbeth set in the New York underworld. Directed by William Reilly, it stars John Turturro (Miller’s Crossing) as Mike Battaglia (get it?), a mobster driven by his ambitious wife to violence, betrayal, and terminal paranoia, whom Turturro plays as an oddly compelling schlemiel.

Ella Taylor is chief film critic of L.A. Weekly.