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Crazy in Alabama

Director:Antonio Banderas
Writer:Mark Childress
Columbia Pictures; PG-13; 104 minutes
Release:10/99
Cast:Melanie Griffith, David Morse, Lucas Black

Crazy in Alabama isn't crazy, but it certainly is weird. Perhaps that's to be expected when a Spaniard takes on the American civil rights era. Antonio Banderas' directorial debut stars his wife Melanie Griffith as Lucille, a woman who has just murdered her husband. She's got his head in a plastic container, and spends several scenes having lively conversations with it. On her way to seek Hollywood stardom, Lucille drops off her six kids in deep Alabama. Here her little nephew (Lucas Black) witnesses a horrific racist murder when he and a black friend attend a whites-only swimming pool. In Hollywood Lucille's getting 15 minutes of fame on Bewitched.

These off-key sections don't really cohere; Banderas merely cuts back and forth between them, using slo-motion shots whenever he feels like it (which is often). He's trying to intertwine personal liberty with womens' rights and racial equality and the result is a quirky, ambitious mess.