January 31, 1998 in Features

134-Year-Old ‘Love Letter’ Blooms Romance

Faye Zuckerman New York Times Syndicate
 

Can pen pals in two different centuries find true love? “The Love Letter” (CBS Sunday at 9) attempts to answer that question.

A young man (Campbell Scott) ambivalent over his upcoming nuptials buys an antique desk and finds a 134-year-old love letter in the secret compartment. He responds to it (with his antique ink-well and pen), mails it at the oldest post office in the region, and then gets a reply straight from the 19th century.

Anyone who’s up for a love story will find this a welcome addition. But you’ll have to put up with slow pacing and lots of scenes of the star-crossed lovers (Scott and Jennifer Jason Leigh) reading and writing across time. Thrown into the mix are friends and relatives giving advice to the lovelorn.

The movie may jump across time, but it’s no different than any other formula romance story down to the jealous fiancee, pushy mom and strict 19th-century father.

Highlights

“News Saturday Night,” ABC Saturday at 10: Infamous chat queen Barbara Walters profiles President Ronald Reagan and talks about his childhood, professional life as an actor and years in the White House. Included are comments from his children.

“Pro Bowl,” ABC Sunday at 3: Honolulu is the setting for the annual NFL all-star match. After the game, you can catch the 1998 TV remake of “The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3” starring Edward James Olmos and Lorraine Bracco.

This tale of terrorism on the subway system never improves on the suspenseful 1974 version. The focus is on how transit authorities spar with terrorists (Vincent D’Onofrio, Richard Schiff and Donnie Wahlberg). The hostages lack much identity, keeping who’s who straight is a chore. You’ll become bored with the transit authority’s posturing and the lengthy discussions on how the subway system works.

“Man of the House,” (1995), NBC Sunday at 7: Chevy Chase is once again upstaged by a kid (Jonathan Taylor Thomas) in this flat comedy about a bratty 11-year-old. He plays dirty tricks on his mother’s (Farrah Fawcett) new boyfriend (Chase). It’s at least a little better than the “Problem Child” movies.

“The Lake” (1998), NBC Sunday at 9: Yasmine Bleeth trades salt-water puff for fresh-water woes in this tale about a demonic lake. Who dredged this implausible thing up from the bottom?

“Inside ‘The X-Files,”’ FOX Sunday at 9: The hour takes you behind-the-scenes of the sci-fi conspiracy show. Series creator Chris Carter is interviewed as well as cast members. Included are outtakes and a look at the upcoming “X-Files” full-length film.

“Masterpiece Theatre,” KSPS Sunday at 9: The manipulations of the folks in this love-lost, love-gained tale, “Reckless,” comes to a conclusion. After Anna (Francesca Annis) discovers Owen’s (Robson Green) role in spilling the beans about her husband’s affair, she sends him packing. Meanwhile, Anna’s husband (Michael Kitchen) learns that his lover has a secret that could greatly affect his efforts to reconcile with his wife.

As in the past two weeks, this comedic-romance story has clever dialogue, unexpected twists and is as enjoyable to watch as “E.R.” or “Chicago Hope.”

Parents’ pick

“Bambi” (1942), DIS tonight at 7: Most children can remember crying buckets of tears over the plight of this poor beloved fawn. The animated tale still remains a coming-of-age story most youngsters can benefit from - if parents are up to explaining the story’s nuances. The topnotch animation is not to be missed.

Cable Calls

“Gia” (1998), HBO Saturday at 9: Angelina Jolie is riveting as the late supermodel Gia Carangi, who died of AIDS at 26. Her story is told through excerpts from her diary and commentary from friends and relatives. Mercedes Ruehl plays her self-centered mother; Faye Dunaway portrays the owner of the New York modeling agency which discovered Gia at age 18.

Gia’s meteoric rise to supermodel status included becoming an intravenous drug user.

Few colleagues shunned her addiction; one even notes “the dead look is in.”

This cautionary tale about the pressures of modeling is not one for all young folks. The story never recoils from showing graphic depictions of Gia’s sex life and drug abuse.

“Blind Faith” (1998), SHO Sunday at 8: This powerful tale insightfully examines racism, family ties and growing up black in America. Courtney B. Vance plays a defense attorney in the 1950s defending his nephew accused of murdering a white boy. The lawyer discovers corruption and conspiracies among the courts and local police.

“Fashionably Loud III,” MTV Sunday at 8: Check out the latest styles from John Bartlett, Antonio Berardi and Todd Oldham. Supermodel Cindy Crawford hosts the show, which features models on the runway displaying the clothes to live performances by Wu-Tang Clan’s Method Man featuring hip-hop artist Redman, The Crystal Method and Death In Vegas.

“Champions on Ice,” TBS Sunday at 6:05: If you haven’t had your fill of ice skating you can enjoy some more. Dorothy Hamill, Oksana Baiul, Viktor Petrenko and Brian Boitano offer up their best.

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