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Kiss and Tell: 'Spider Woman' spins a clever yarn

by  John Powers

"Opposites are cure for opposites," said one of those philosophizing old Greeks. This sage notion is the theme of the summer's most pleasant surprise Hector Babenco's "Kiss of the Spider Woman". Glittering with post modernistic spangles, this movie has a crowd-pleasing soul that recalls an older style of film making. Engrossing, touching, and rich with satisfying moments, it's like a Hollywood film of the '40's made by people with an '80's consciousness...Though many may disagree with me (including Babenco himself), I think the film is much better than the book. Screenwriter Leonard Schrader (Paul's brother) has done a superb job culling what's good in Puig while improving or scuttling what's not. Without larding the story with sentimentality and melodrama, he's given flesh to the novel's emotional and narrative skeleton.