Reviews written by registered user
|12 reviews in total|
Comedy is hard. BEYOND THERAPY is, arguably, Christopher Durang's best play and Robert Altman's worst film. The casting of the film is not terrible -- on paper. But almost every other aspect of the film -- the direction, the look, the sound -- is wrong-headed, -hearted, and every other relevant organ-ed. Still, going on the principle that an artist should be judged by his best work, not his worst, enough about Altman. Even Homer nodded and I don't mean Homer Simpson, but, come to think of it --. Durang's comedy remains incisive and hilarious. From the perspective of 2004 it seems so embedded in its era that it effortlessly transcends its time -- like Restoration Comedy on a good night. This is nigh-on-impossible to see in the film, but it is happily evident in an audio recording made in 2002, featuring a splendid cast of gen-u-ine comic actors, headed by Catherine O'Hara, David Hyde Pierce, Kate MacGregor, and Richard Kind. It's "pure '80s." It's the "me decade" pressed down and flowing over. The peculiar idiocies of idiotic therapists are skewered on Durang's pen as are personal ads, grotesque drama (Eck! Eck! EQUUS!), let-it-all-hang-out personal interaction, and wildly "inappropriate" therapist/patient relationships. It is laugh-out-loud wonderful on CD and may serve to comfort the Durang and Altman fans who are justifiably horrified at the film.
The most humane, funny, believable, unpretentious yet (hell, there's no other word for it) inspiring film Spielberg has made to date. Epic but not self-important, child-like but not -ish, here he puts technology in the service of a superb quest. Who else but Francois Truffaut could bring such authority to the role of the Spielberg stand-in? Richard Dreyfuss has made a career of using a shotgun to release the energy he dispenses here with laser-like precision. One of my top 10 of all time. One caveat: I much prefer the original release to the "Special Edition" where Spielberg made, to me, the error of taking us inside the mother ship. I don't know if the original is even available anymore. Still, superb!
Finally the American cinema has come of age. Though on the surface another moronic teen comedy, this is actually adapted from The Odyssey of Homer and Jethro, a chronicle of the adventures of an heroic young man (slyly bifurcated here into TWO heroically delicious young men) in search of the 21st-Century equivalent of Home -- his car. Though tempted by sirens and attacked by monsters (both earthly and extra-terrestrial, e.g., Fabio) our hero's (heroes') relentless questing is finally rewarded. And so is the audience's.
Michael Cuesta's film was pretty hard to take and I felt spent after seeing it. Picturesque areas of Long Island that I'm familiar with have never seemed so barren. Brian Cox, as just one of the inept/venal father figures in this movie, gives an uncompromising portrayal in a role that most actors wouldn't be caught alive in. As the principal youth in the film, Paul Franklin Dano is innocent, curious, knowing, seductive and lost. I found this film upsetting on many levels, none of which merited its being saddled with an "NC 17" rating from the MPAA. Jack Valenti, give to me a break!
I doubt that I'd ever seen anything resembling a "complete" version of METROPOLIS before, though certain of its scenes were familiar to me, if only as used and abused in such films as Diane Keaton's HEAVEN (1987). In any case, whatever I had seen before had nothing like the clarity and beauty of the Kino restoration. I expected to be distracted by the restoration's technique of concise written descriptions of missing sequences, but the narrative coherence that these provided was definitely worth it. As "exaggerated" as the style of acting seems by contemporary standards, some performances, such as the Master of the city, are amazingly nuanced and layered, and Brigitte Helm is stunning as both Maria and her evil clone. The meticulous design of the film, the unerring camera placement and Lang's muscular choreography of the crowd scenes are breathtaking. I'd thought of METROPOLIS as a curiosity ("important" = "dull") but now I've come to appreciate it as the seminal work it has always been.
Wonderfully cast and thoroughly engrossing, this re-telling of the Othello story works amazingly well -- thanks to a canny script that knows that the power of this story is in the details of the characters' relationships, and to exciting, unfussy direction by Tim Blake Nelson. Martin Sheen's character of "Duke" (the coach) is the most expanded from the original and it is a masterful invention. I hope the delayed release of this film and the press's insistence on a Columbine connection doesn't keep people from seeing it. I found "O" far more interesting than the wan, abridged 1995 version of the original with Fishburne and Branagh.
When the father of a Dublin family is transformed into a rat, the family
dynamic changes not at all! The daughter is still Daddy's Little Girl, the
son -- Pius! -- is piously creepy, his vocation to the priesthood
notwithstanding, and the mother alternates (as usual) between wild-eyed
outrage and sentimental tears. Writer, director and cast all seem to be
making the same movie -- a dissection of some of the more peculiar aspects
of the Irish "character" with some of the insight of Huston's/Joyce's THE
DEAD -- and even more laughs. Imelda Staunton is devastatingly funny as the
mother who views her husband's transformation as just the latest in a series
of crosses she's had to bear.
Certainly this movie is not for all tastes, and I can imagine that some viewers would be simply baffled. It helps if you DO understand (sort of) why anyone would name their son "Pius." But if you're Irish-American and have mixed feelings (are there any other kind?) about your "heritage," just sit back and enjoy!
This film is "The Bridges of Madison County" with a melodrama overlay. Fortunately, it moves along quickly enough so that the viewers' doubts don't intrude until the closing credits start to roll. Tilda Swinton is fine, as is the boy who plays her son, Beau, and it's beautifully photographed, but still ...
I came to this film via Thom Fitzgerald's earlier work, the mostly comic pseudo-documentary "Beefcake," so I was unprepared for the many-layered drama of "The Event." There have been a lot of films about gay men with AIDS, most of which are earnest and predictable, but "The Event" is definitely surprising in its story. It is easy to identify with the various points of view in the film, and that raises the viewer's stakes considerably. And what an indie dream of a cast! I viewed this DVD via NETFLIX which inexplicably -- considering their trove of Grade Z films about gay people -- doesn't stock "Beefcake." Thom Fitzgerald doesn't do the same old same old -- for which, hats off and Thanks!
By some definition, this is a great film. It is as "still" as any movie I've ever seen (rivaled, perhaps, only by BARRY LYNDON), meditative, thoughtful. The soundtrack of pop tunes is part of the content of the film: remembered music, remembered frights, remembered ease. Director Terence Davies, in recalling his youth in Britain in the 1950s, has filmed a metaphor for growing up that resembles TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, plus color, minus the melodrama. This film will definitely not be to everyone's taste, but for those who are of the right age and sensibility, it may be a transforming experience.
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