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Short Takes
NO OTHER BOOK Randall Jarrell Most critics run on gas and sass. Jarrell, the poet, novelist, children's book author--what didn't he do, and do beautifully?--was a tireless lover of language. He fell in love (and in hate) with the poem or book under review, bringing it alive even as he anatomized it. These essays, selected by Brad Leithauser, open the reader to the Morgan Library of Jarrell's mind, ablaze with a sensible passion and aphoristic wit. "The people who live in a Golden Age," he wrote, "usually go around complaining how yellow everything looks." When Jarrell died in 1965, criticism suddenly looked a lot less yellow.

DICK Directed by Andrew Fleming It's one of the great mysteries of the century: the identity of Deep Throat. Dick's excellent premise is that it might be a pair of kids (Kirsten Dunst and Michelle Williams). They happen upon the Watergate break-in, then on a roomful of men in suits operating shredding machines full tilt. Nixon (Dan Hedaya) buys their silence by making them official dog walkers and unofficial advisers to his beleaguered presidency. They bring it down anyway, in a movie that sells out real satirical possibilities to its marketing potential as teen fluff. Everyone loses--except Hedaya, who keeps faith with his character's nutsiness.

TRICK Directed by Jim Fall Two gay New Yorkers--a struggling composer (Christian Campbell) and a go-go boy (John Paul Pitoc)--meet and seek a place to consummate their attraction. The former's apartment is out, the latter lives with Mom, and alternatives don't pan out. Eventually they make something potentially more lasting than a one-night stand out of their frustration. There's sweetness to this well-played comedy, and a smart edge to some of its observations of the gay demimonde. Tori Spelling contributes a touching turn as a clumsy actress in love with the composer. Trick is an insinuating treat.

MURDA MUZIK Mobb Deep This hip-hop duo, like many other hard-core rap groups, writes songs about urban violence, street bravado, felonious gunplay, "baby fathers" and friends slain young. The music beneath Mobb Deep's lyrics, however, is oddly restful. The contrast between the jagged lyrics and the smooth rhythms that propel them gives the group's new record a thoughtful quality and a hard-to-resist listenability. One feels immersed and insulated.

LENNY BRUCE: SWEAR TO TELL THE TRUTH, HBO, AUG. 9 AND other dates Before Eric Cartman, there was Lenny Bruce, and given the numerous calls today for the South Park brat and his ilk to clean up their act, the TV premiere of this Oscar-nominated documentary couldn't be better timed. Narrated by Robert De Niro, it follows the artistic evolution and downfall through specious obscenity prosecutions of the "dirty" comic. Bruce died of a 1966 drug overdose, but he comes to smoldering, indomitable hipster life here.

August 9, 1999 Vol. 154 No. 6

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