March 23, 1988 |
Louis Malle's Au revoir, les enfants (Goodbye, Children) begins and ends with a farewell. At the outset - in a platform scene replayed in World War II by countless sundered families and parted lovers - a mother puts her deeply unhappy 12- year-old son aboard the train that will take him from Paris to the safety of a provincial boarding school. By the time that Au revoir, les enfants reaches its heartbreaking last goodbye, we understand that this is a journey that has actually lasted 40 years for Louis Malle.
June 21, 1986 |
In one of the most chilling scenes in the landmark Holocaust documentary Shoah, Claude Lanzmann interviewed a group of now-aging Polish farmers who had plowed their fields up to the barbed wire of the concentration camp at Treblinka. The intervening years had done nothing to diminish their almost jovial anti-Semitism. Lanzmann's incomparable and monumental film went beyond the victims and their Nazi persecutors to ask some very pertinent questions of the bystanders. Namely, what - if anything - did you do while your neighbors were being loaded onto the trains?
March 27, 1990 |
Every so often, like shooting stars, a few Oscars tumble from the firmament of Hollywood's glib production values and huge salaries onto small pictures and their unpretentious casts. Last night, such awards fell to Daniel Day-Lewis and Brenda Fricker for their exquisite performances in the Irish import "My Left Foot," and the two lit up the sky briefly with their open surprise at being chosen best actor and best supporting actress. Those categories usually belong to America's rhinestone royalty, those insta-faces who show up on "Entertainment Tonight" and in the supermarket tabloids, whose bodies are draped in finely cut evening clothes from only the best designers.
October 6, 1986 |
In the middle of The Men's Club, Stockard Channing bashes one of the members on the head with a frying pan. No gesture could be more fitting for a film that is, in every sense, consciousness-lowering. Before Channing strikes a blow for the audience, Leonard Michaels, here adapting his novel, regales us with the kind of speeches you dread hearing from the next bar stool near closing time. After it - in a suitably crack- brained development - the men adjourn to a brothel, where they are greeted with solace and understanding as well as sex. Michaels even calls it a "house of affections.
August 6, 1986 |
It had to be fun to be a Hollywood mogul when movies were king. In the Old Hollywood, cigar-chomping guys, most with pot bellies and Jewish names, ordered scripts written, stars hired and fired, whole cities built. In the New Hollywood, guys like Lucas and Spielberg and Coppola shun the limos, the Beverly Hills mansions, the hot and cold running servants. The Old Hollywood was Big Name Stars and Exotic Locales and Expensive Sets and a Cast of Thousands. The New Hollywood is Good Actors and Literate Scripts and High Tech and Appeal to Imagination.
February 22, 1986 |
There is, believe it or not, something even dumber than watching professional wrestling and its fake brutality. It's a movie about professional wrestling and its fake brutality. The title is Grunt! The Wrestling Movie, and the question it poses to a concerned America is as follows: If the heavyweight champion loses his head - literally - during a title bout, does he forfeit his crown? In the beginning of an enterprise that would tax the patience of an idiot, there is an attempt to raise this issue humorously.
May 12, 1992 |
Spalding Gray begins Monster in a Box by confessing to a case of writer's block. The chances of a similar problem overtaking his voice remain happily remote. When he made the independently produced Swimming to Cambodia five years ago, Gray was going against an undertow in movie tastes that has since become a raging current. The idea of a film in which a man simply sits at a table and talks for 90 minutes would be greeted with stunned silence in Hollywood. But just one of Gray's words - delivered with a quizzical lift of the eyebrow and perfectly calibrated inflection - really does seem worth a thousand pictures.
November 9, 1991 |
"Strictly Business" is strictly routine. It's a formulaic comedy about a goof-off and a go-getter who spend enough time together to learn a few things from each other. By the end - sorry to spoil the surprise - the goof-off has learned some responsibility, and the square has learned how to loosen his tie and enjoy life a little. That makes for a trite tale, and the fact that most of the characters are black doesn't give it any particular freshness. Hard-working Waymon Tinsdale III (Joseph C. Phillips)
May 20, 1988 |
Cathy Moriarty and Donald Cammell are a couple of people who haven't been heard from lately. Cammell is a native Scot who, until now, has directed two films. The first was "Performance" (1970), which he co-directed with Nicolas Roeg and which marked Mick Jagger's first film role, and "The Demon Seed" (1977), which, you may recall, had a novel premise: a giant computer impregnates Julie Christie. Moriarty is the blonde with the indelible New York accent who made such a striking debut as Jake LaMotta's wife in "Raging Bull" (1980)
January 22, 1986 |
Fulvio is a revolutionary, and, like many a rebel in any age, he finds his commitment and ardor waning with the passing years. His is a thrice-familiar syndrome, and his plight has made him a staple presence in this century's fiction. It takes a master's touch to find something original to say about a man like Fulvio - and that is exactly what one finds in virtually every frame of Allonsanfan. If there is an ideal film about idealism and its cost, this is it. Although it just recently arrived in the United States, the film - jointly written and directed by the most gifted brothers in movies, Paolo and Vittorio Taviani - was made in 1974.