'Box of Moonlight' an inspired, fun ride

October 17, 1997|By Michael H. Price | Michael H. Price,FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM

Franz Kafka, that great journalist of alienation, did not write Tom DiCillo's "Box of Moonlight," but DiCillo cites Kafka as an inspiration. "Box of Moonlight" captures that Kafkaesque spirit better than any movie since "Barton Fink" (1992), the Coen brothers' epic encounter with writer's block. "Moonlight" is a thrill-ride designed for the intellect.

Coincidentally, the star of "Barton Fink," John Turturro, plays the lead in "Box of Moonlight," too. He's more of an ordinary guy here -- an arrogant businessman, instead of "Fink's" playwright -- but mundane weirdness stalks him at every turn.

When Al's (Turturro) home office abruptly halts the construction job he's working on down South, Al drives away in search of a cherished swimming hole from many summers ago.

One peculiarity leads to another. But when a near-accident brings out the Samaritan in him, Al finds himself lurching off on a path that will challenge all his cherished beliefs.

DiCillo has grand things in store for Al Fountain -- no fair spilling the outcome -- and getting there is half the fun. No, make that three-quarters.

'Box of Moonlight'

Starring John Turturro

Directed by Tom DiCillo

Released by Trimark

Rated R (language, violence, brief nudity)

Sun score: *** 1/2

Pub Date: 10/17/97

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