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Robert Altman wanted to captured a sense of what life was like in his hometown during the Depression, both in a story about the people who lived there and, more impressionistically, in the jazz that sprouted there before moving to New York. But his plot here is rambling and undramatic: A small-time hood double-crosses a vicious black gangster (Harry Belafonte) and is grabbed by him, marked for death. To save his life, the hood's dim blond wife (Jennifer Jason Leigh) kidnaps a rich politician's wife (Miranda Richardson) and spends the day driving around town with her, on the theory that the politician can convince the gangster to free her husband. Leigh is jittery, Richardson seems bored--and the lengthy jam sessions we see (involving contemporary musicians such as Joshua Redman) serve only to prolong an already slow-moving film. Possibly worth seeing for the silky menace of Belafonte, but there is little else to recommend it. --Marshall Fine
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