Blood sisters

Nell and Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle invoke mythological American women

The voice is most effective when Leigh is the elderly Parker, attending awards functions drunk, letting her pet spaniel eat from her plate, snapping guttural one-liners at the audience and the press. All the advertising hype that insists Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle "turns the legend into a woman" is hooey, because Alan Rudolph and Jennifer Jason Leigh are enough in touch with their own excesses to know a fitting tribute to Dorothy Parker is one that burnishes her reputation as a beautiful loser.

Nell. A 20th Century Fox/Egg Pictures film with Jodie Foster, Liam Neeson, Natasha Richardson. Written by William Nicholson and Mark Handley. Directed by Michael Apted. Opens Dec 25.

Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. A Fine Line Features film with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Campbell Scott, Matthew Broderick. Written by Alan Rudolph and Randy Sue Coburn. Directed by Alan Rudolph. Opens Dec 25.

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