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Destry Rides Again

The most famous of the many adaptations of Max Brand’s story of a shy sheriff who tries to tame a wide-open town without using his guns (1939). The material makes no demands on the talents of James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, but they enter gamely into the farcical tone set by director George Marshall. Singing […]

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Doomed Love

Andrew Horn’s independent feature uses distorted, Caligari-like sets and a score by Evan Lurie of the Lounge Lizards to tell the tale of a suicidal English professor who falls madly in love with his psychiatrist’s nurse. Horn aims for an operatic expansion of the modest material, attempting to fuse camp detachment and melodramatic grandeur (1983).

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Oliver!

Carol Reed’s careful if passionless adaptation of the musical was mounted handsomely enough to win the best-picture Oscar back in 1969. In retrospect, it seems emblematic of the triviality Reed descended to in the last years of his career. The Third Man it’s not. With Mark Lester, Oliver Reed, and Ron Moody. 153 min.

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Gregory’s Girl

Very, very modest whimsy from Scotland, about a gangly teenager’s first crush. The only ambition of writer-director Bill Forsyth is to beguile—he has no insights worth mentioning—and I guess he succeeds, though it’s hard to warm to a film as intentionally slight and safe as this. With Gordon John Sinclair and Dee Hepburn.

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My Way Home

Captured by the Russian army in its 1945 advance across Hungary, a boy is put to work herding cows with a young Russian soldier. The two become friends, but when the boy is released at the end of the war, he is punished for collaboration. A 1964 film by Miklos Jancso (Red Psalm), it’s said […]

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Cantata

An early (1964) film by Hungary’s Miklos Jancso, made between his documentary and experimental phases. A young doctor wanders the white corridors of a hospital, searching for human compassion in what seems to be a wholly impersonal system.

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Love Crazy

Jack Conway’s lowbrow propensities turn this 1941 William Powell-Myrna Loy comedy into more of a slapsticky affair than usual. Powell pretends to have gone insane in order to lure back his estranged wife Loy, which leads to a lot of falling down elevator shafts, etc. Beer instead of champagne, but still bubbly. With Gail Patrick […]

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Foul Play

Director Colin Higgins plays foul with the audience, constructing some of the most dishonest suspense sequences ever filmed, and ends with a thriller that is obnoxious and manipulative in the extreme. If it were exciting, I suppose it wouldn’t matter, but it’s not: Higgins can’t be bothered to bring the slightest bit of conviction to […]

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L’ange

Patrick Bokanowski’s experimental animated feature takes as its framework a man ascending an apparently endless flight of stairs toward a zone of light. On each landing, he encounters various characters obsessed with tiny tasks—a man taking a bath, a maid filling a water jug, a group of librarians who jerk through their rounds like robots. […]

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Splash

Not for nothing did Ron Howard grow up on television: even as a filmmaker, he’s got TV in his blood, slipping smoothly and instinctively into the chatty rhythms and open-ended sitcom plotting. This mild 1984 comedy about a mermaid (Daryl Hannah) who falls in love with a New York City yuppie (Tom Hanks) isn’t at […]