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Jeff Simon

Jeff Simon is a semi-retired critic and columnist for The Buffalo News. Before that he spent a couple decades as the News' arts and books editor.


HIS IDEA of a neat little joke is to advocate the legalization of ALL drugs on the air. He tells friendly black callers that they're "Uncle Toms" and tells vile white racists that they're "pinheads." No one is spared his bile -- not even those who call in to say they're dedicated fans. His job, after all, is to insult people, get their blood and their words flowing an…

FOR THE last half-hour of Garry Marshall's "Beaches," the sound of audience sobbing and nose blowing may resemble the gathering roar of Niagara. If there's a dry eye in the house, it probably belongs to a potato (or a human being who's a reasonable potato facsimile).It's an old-fashioned women's picture, wiseguy division. One heroine is named C. C. Bloom, comes from t…

"Say, what is it that killed him? You don't suppose. . . "I MIGHT as well tell you. It was Her Ladyship, a snake-vampire who worships a giant worm and runs topless around the countryside. She invites young male victims to her own lair for dinner. When she invites you for dinner, she really means it.She has a way of dispatching young male victims by biting them in a si…

On a June night in 1964, James E. Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner were jailed, fined, released and murdered in Philadelphia, Miss. It was a crime that defined its era -- the ritual murder of idealism.You hear a lot about missing and murdered "civil rights workers" in Alan Parker's "Mississippi Burning" but not the actual names of Chaney, Schwerner and Goo…

"I made you some tea.""That's very nice of you, Sarah."THAT IS not an exchange between a happily married husband and wife. It's a light and quick toe-dance over eggshells, the kind of tiny, grotesquely polite and considerate exchange that only occurs between a husband and wife who have far too much to be grotesquely polite and considerate about. Sure enough, those egg…

What was it? The Year of the Actor?Perhaps so. When no one else does anything especially prepossessing in movies, it's the actors who shine like beacons in the fog. It's a law of American movies and television that when everything else turns to oat bran, actors can function fully as artists and get away with it.It was a year profligate with powerful performances -- se…

IT WAS ONLY a matter of time before the delights of being Bobby McFerrin came to be known to the world at large. Jazz people have been excited about him since before his first record came out. The world at large took a little longer.It suspected something was up when it first got a look at McFerrin's 501 Jeans commercials. But as soon as people got to listen to Simple…

IN THE SUMMER of 1983, director Barry Levinson, producer Mark Johnson and star Robert Redford turned Buffalo topsy-turvy by filming "The Natural" here. Here are the films Levinson and Johnson have made since "The Natural":"Young Sherlock Holmes," a soggy Spielberg hireling job with a nevertheless terrific premise in Chris Columbus' script."Tin Men," the successor to "…

A COUPLE OF rough looking boys in dark suits call on Gino, the shoemaker."A friend of ours would like to speak to you this evening," they say."I just-a shine shoes," says Gino in quiet agitation.A long pause. "There'll be shoes there."The opening seconds of David Mamet's "Things Change" tell you exactly where you are -- in a writer's movie. And not just any old writer…

A COUPLE OF rough looking boys in dark suits call on Gino, the shoemaker."A friend of ours would like to speak to you this evening," they say."I just-a shine shoes," says Gino in quiet agitation.A long pause. "There'll be shoes there."The opening seconds of David Mamet's "Things Change" tell you exactly where you are -- in a writer's movie. And not just any old writer…

ON'T YELL at me," pouts the heroine. "I've just had a fainting spell."It seems that her suave, elegantly macho lover Ivan has just left her for another woman and she's on the verge of well. . . something. She attracts other women on the verge until something like farce happens.According to the title of Pedro Almodovar's wildly acclaimed Spanish comedy, she's on the ve…

MILES DAVIS never recorded a more beautiful or concentrated or haunting blues than the title music for Louis Malle's 1959 movie "Elevator to the Scaffold." It is desperate jazz for the Age of Anxiety, a musical statement of less than three minutes that no one with any musical sense whatsoever could hear as anything less than musical Art (capital A, with all that it im…

Tess' hair just isn't "serious" and she knows it. It's such a huge puff of absent-minded wisp that it barely seems to exist at all. She wears dark fishnet stockings and says ungrammatical things like "he don't" sometimes. Her live-in boyfriend reads Motor Trend in bed.Tess does not, shall we say, project that power image. All she has is savvy -- by the acre. Far more …

"I feel the need . . . the need for speed." -- Tom Cruise in "Top Gun"TOM CRUISE saunters in wearing a narrow-brimmed fedora, the kind that street punks in Hell's Kitchen or South Philly used to wear in 1965. It never leaves his head.His anti-fashion statement is probably the only particle of punk about him. He is an exceedingly polite and reasonably thoughtful youn…

THE BEST THING about Bill Murray's new movie "Scrooged" is the neatly satiric opening. It does -- perhaps for all time -- what many think should be done to network television's idea of Christmas programs. It goes like this: a bunch of network geniuses are sitting around the conference room scoping out the promos for the December onslaught of seasonal slush -- nifty f…