(Palm Springs Film Festival Reviews)
PALM SPRINGS - Connoisseurs of the offbeat will tumble for "Twister," Michael Almereyda's sly comedy about an eccentric Kansas family. Though this very low-key Vestron production will have a hard time finding a handler, it marks Almereyda as a film-maker of some talent.
Based on a novel by Mary Robison, pic offers Harry Dean Stanton as Cleveland, easy-going patriarch of a household that lives off his wealth from a soda pop dynasty and has never had to deal much with the real world.
Among the undisciplined kids, Crispin Glover is the weirdest of the weird, escalating his mannerisms to a new plateau as Howdy, an art student/musician who wants to marry a girl he's just met at school.
Suzy Amis plays his sister Maureen, who's depressed, confused and trying to avoid her eight- year-old daughter's father who keeps trying to butt back into the family.
The emotionally out-to-lunch kids finally cook up a plan to locate their long-lost mother, which provides some of the scant plot movement in this meandering ensemble piece.
Most of the comedy comes from observing the characters, who consistently misconnect with each other and the world.
This is the kind of house where a horse can wander into the living room and people watch the test pat- tern on the bigscreen TV.
Nothing seems to penetrate until Cleveland's new televangelist bride (Lois Chiles) takes stock of the family and denounces it ("You're all hopeless!") on her way out the door, leaving Cleveland to ponder the stinging truth of her words.
Stanton does a lovely underplaying of his role, evoking subtle comedy and dignity.
Dylan McDermott is: especially appealing as the earnest ne'er-do-well who wants his family back, and Amis is strikingly good as Mo, making her actions ring true within her own screwed-up world.
Glover throws in the wild card, getting most of the laughs with his very deliberate diction and ridicu lous way of moving.
Almereyda, who wrote and directed, demonstrates a strong feel for the quirky rhythms of the material and a fluid knack with a camera. (He is the scripter of the forth-coming Wim Wenders epic, "Until The End Of The World.") There are some very funny scenes in "Twister," such as when a drunken McDennott set his table on fife in a bar. Overall, pic has subtlety more common to European films and maintains a consistently amusing tone throughout.
Producer Schulz-Keil is a West German who has made 60 documentaries for public television in the U. S. and Europe.
Cameos in . 'Twister" by William Burroughs and Tim Robbins should enhance pic's profile.