On Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, IMDb Asks brings you a livestream Q&A and online chat with Lisa Edelstein. Tune in to Amazon.com/LisaEdelstein to participate in the live conversation and even ask a question yourself. Plus, catch up with Christina Ricci, star of new Amazon pilot "Z." The livestream is best viewed on laptops, desktops, and tablets.
The younger son of a working-class Jewish family in Montreal, Duddy Kravitz yearns to make a name for himself in society. This film chronicles his short and dubious rise to power, as well ... See full summary »
A young widower moves with his daughter into a North Carolina mountain town in 1934. He quickly takes up with a young woman with an illegitimate baby. First he must prove himself to her ... See full summary »
Mystery abounds when it is discovered that, one by one, the greatest Chefs in Europe are being killed. The intriguing part of the murders is that each chef is killed in the same manner that... See full summary »
When someone gets killed during a bank robbery by Deans, half-breed Billy Two Hats and their partner, the robbers flee. Sheriff Gifford tracks the robbers, killing one of them and capturing... See full summary »
An idealistic rookie cop joins the LAPD to make ends meet while finishing law school, and is indoctrinated by a seasoned veteran. As time goes on, he loses his ambitions and family as police work becomes his entire life.
George C. Scott,
Young man is sucked into an unnamed religious cult by beautiful girl and gets increasingly under the mind control of the cult leader. After his parents fail in their efforts to talk him out... See full summary »
This movie creates a real and engaging feeling for the title character's life -- his ridiculous childhood, with seedy parents each pretending in their own perverse ways to give him wholesome roots, followed by his self-led path into adulthood and sincere, anti-authority liberalism. That it creates an authentic and engaging world is the best I can say for the movie as a whole, because the story lacks a real "hook" (the fake scandal that's meant to hook you and anchor the story never amounts to much and it's not even interesting), and the plotting of that misfired story sort of ambles wherever it feels like going, without any belief in itself. The acting is good (often very good), so there's never any question that the characters themselves care about the story, but they rarely reach through the screen and make you care too.
It's only when the movie stops narrating a story and instead admits to being simply a pastiche of one man's big house of a life, that it really pulls you in and make you glad to be ambling through its comfortably unconventional rooms.
At the heart of this film's big house of a life is not Joshua (he's too busy thinking the story is important) -- no, the real heart of this movie, when it's honest, is Alan Arkin's thoroughly delightful, effortlessly expert, full incarnation of Joshua's father. Reuben is a mid-level crook who breezes through his shady life with a flashy white suit, a profound love for his son, a Talmudic view of the big picture, and an interpretation of the Bible that sounds like the treatment for an old boxing movie. He is an absolute treat every moment he's on screen. I'm tempted to quote some of his best lines here, but it's not the lines that do it; it's Arkin's subtly hilarious and fully human expression of this completely original character that makes you want to rewind after each of his scenes and watch it again.
In fact, if the story doesn't hold your interest (and it probably won't), I recommend giving up and simply forward-searching from one Arkin scene to the next, maybe stopping to watch the bizarre strip-tease Bar Mitvah party scene.
Michael Sarrazin is the second gem in this movie, but his brief screen time is only enough to show you that he is one brilliant actor. His delivery of a two-word line ("Excuse me," in tennis whites) fully conveys an entire character -- privileged childhood, screwed-up adolescence, class arrogance that he wears with perfect grace over his complete failure as a grown-up, and all of this in just two words. His other moments are just as good; I wanted more of them.
Now, about James Woods. Critics said he gave a "creditable" performance as Joshua, but I don't want "creditable" in the lead role -- I want to care about him, and I never once cared about Joshua (except in childhood scenes, played by more likable actors). The adult Joshua is supposed to be a charmer, and Woods' Joshua might charm the other characters, but that's only because the script says he does. He never charms the viewer, and this is the film's biggest flaw.
I recommend this movie not for its story or lead performances, but for its ambiance and especially for Arkin. This may be his finest comic performance on film.
4 of 7 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?