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Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Wolf (1994)

The chief editor (Jack Nicholson) of a major New York publishing house is bitten by a wolf that he hits with his car on his way home from Vermont. He begins to feel ill for awhile but suddenly he notices that his sense of smell and his eyesight are improved and that he feels more vital than he has in years. Directed by Mike Nichols from an original screenplay by Jim Harrison and Wesley Strick, the narrative may sound like a horror movie but that's not what Nichols gives us. He holds back as if giving us a true horror movie is beneath him so he gussies it up with swank and good taste. Jim Harrison, a novelist, hated what Nichols did with his script and vowed never to work in Hollywood again and kept his word until his death early this year. Nichols' "good taste" works against the film in just about every way and watching a paunchy Nicholson growing face hair and growling and snarling as he runs in the woods after a deer is more silly than terrifying. On the other hand, James Spader (in the film's best performance) as Nicholson's backstabbing nemesis doesn't need the wolf make up to make our skin crawl. The cinematography by Giuseppe Rotunno is top notch and Ennio Morricone's score tries to whip up some suspense to no avail. With Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Plummer, Kate Nelligan, Richard Jenkins, Eileen Atkins, David Hyde Pierce, Allison Janney and David Schwimmer.

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