CINEMA: SHORT TAKES: MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL

LOST AMID THE ECCENTRIC FAUNA OF SAVANNAH

John Berendt's nonfiction best seller has yet to appear between soft covers. So the film, directed by Clint Eastwood, serves as the audiovisual paperback version. It is likely to disappoint the book's acolytes and tax the patience of newcomers.

Jim Williams (Kevin Spacey) deals in antiques and other old secrets, with a suavity that beguiles the gentry. When he kills a young punk who was his lover, Williams loses a few friends but attracts the attention of a Yankee journalist (John Cusack) who becomes his fond, skeptical biographer.

Screenwriter John Lee Hancock fuses Williams' four murder trials into one but is...

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