Five Corners | Chicago Reader

Five Corners

It's a pity that producer and onetime actor (Come Blow Your Horn) Tony Bill doesn't have a better sense of history in his direction of this nostalgic piece of exploitation (1988) about a lower-middle-class Bronx neighborhood in 1964, although screenwriter John Patrick Shanley—whose script for Moonstruck exhibits a related sense of New York coziness—is also partially responsible. An Irish working-class kid, the son of a recently deceased cop, believes in the nonviolent principles of Martin Luther King until some disillusioning brushes with the black world and some violent skirmishes with an old pal just out of prison show him the error of his ways. For all I know, some of the local and period details about the Bronx may be deadly accurate, but the exploitative cynicism of the plot and the complacencies about race relations smack more of contemporary mythology, particularly as it's strained through TV sitcom misreadings of the 60s and more bad thrillers than you can shake a stick at. Cinematographer Fred Murphy does his usual fine work, and some of the cute domestic details make this intermittently watchable, but the ideological platitudes are repulsive and false, and the plot manipulations for the sake of “effects”—culminating in an all-stops-out violent finale—are no less tacky. With Jodie Foster, Tim Robbins, Todd Graff, and John Turturro.

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