An EW film critic on good acting in a terrible film -- Tim Curry was deliciously evil in the flimsy fantasy ''Legend,'' says Owen Gleiberman

By Owen Gleiberman
Updated August 19, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT

An EW film critic on good acting in a terrible film

What is one of the greatest acting performances in one of the worst movies? — Joe
Remember ”Legend,” the 1985 Ridley Scott folly? It starred a very embarrassed-looking Tom Cruise in a land of unicorns, but Tim Curry’s gleeful performance as the Lord of Darkness is a forgotten classic of operatic evil.

What are the key elements that make for a compelling documentary? — Gabrielle
The sexy, and obvious, answer would be ”drama”; the responsible answer would be ”truth.” The beauty of movies like ”Crumb” or ”Shoah” or ”The Mystery of Picasso” or ”The Filth and the Fury” is that they immerse us so deeply in the reality of their worlds that the drama becomes a moment-by-moment discovery of truth. Your question is perfectly timed, since 2003 could well go down as the year in which documentaries became the alternative movie experience of choice. ”Spellbound” and ”Winged Migration” are breakout successes, and ”Capturing the Friedmans” has been a singular event, a documentary in which the quest for truth rotates far beyond the screen, creeping into your head as hauntingly as any fiction.