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13 reviews in total 
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solid performances;honest screenplay, 25 July 2014

Great to see Karen Allen again, and Peter Riegert and Stephen Lang! Such good actors. This is a smallish, low-budget, independent film, but the it is carried by a good cast, younger actors included. Nick Thurston manages to avoid hackneyed playing of familiar family dynamics, making his moments very specific to the character of Brian, who emerges as definitely the hero of the story. Both Geoffrey Wigdor and Leslie Murphy efficiently and movingly convey the writer-director's idea of trapped people trying to escape their environment in different ways with varying outcomes. Personally, my favorite parts involved 1) the location in Suffern New York: the old Lafayette revival theater (playing itself!), and 2) the scripting of the final exchange between two of the characters; it was just what I wanted to see happen.

The Circus (1928)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
attention all adults and all children, 20 July 2010

I saw "The Circus" again last night in a newly struck 35 mm print at Film Forum in New York. It is impossible not to laugh out loud at the hapless clown who's not a clown and the hapless clowns who are. The sight gags surprise and delight no matter how many times I see them (how can that be?). A simple story for adults and children alike. The acting is excellent, smooth and convincing and thoroughly modern. And not just the humans. The monkeys, the ducks, the mule, and the piglets all seem to have been trained in commedia dell'arte technique. But best of all was one particular reaction throughout from somewhere in our audience: a little girl of about three or four. The helpless giggle periodically ringing out from her tiny solar plexus filled the little screening room with pure joy. And additional laughter; laughs on top of laughs!

Milk (2008/I)
171 out of 236 people found the following review useful:
Everything comes together in this one, 18 November 2008

Let's get one thing out of the way. Is it entertaining? And how! Sean Penn's best performance to date – Oscar quality; Emile Hirsch riotously perfect (best "supporting?"); James Franco heartbreaking; Diego Luna, devastating; Josh Brolin, flawless. Not one false note in any of the actors – a very complicated story unfolds with absolute clarity. I will be seeing this one again just for the screenplay. I was very gratified that no attempt is made to be "delicate" about Harvey Milk's personality, either his sex life or his out-sized ego, which perhaps ironically for some, makes him all the more heroic. The finest "political" film I think I've ever seen. It does more than dramatize a strong true story, it captures convincingly the truth about a whole political movement. (One that's as freshly active as today's headlines: Prop 6 or Prop 8 — does it ever end?) There is an ease and familiarity to the "scene" — to the historical period and place — with very few, small anachronisms, as far as I could tell. This is also the most assured work of Gus Van Sant, a genuine film artist, who here delivers a complete drama with real visual style and brazen wit. The blending of documentary footage is the most seamless I can remember seeing anywhere. The crowd scenes are remarkable, and all of the location shooting miraculously right. For a couple of fast, fast hours, I felt as though I had spent a couple of days — hilarious, intense, inspiring days — immersed in 1970s San Francisco. This movie does what all movies should do. See it.

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Successful film of the myth and the human drama behind it, 19 November 1999

This is a very fine adaptation from the stage play, and Massey gives the performance of his considerable career. (That one speech-you'll know what I mean-will bring tears to your eyes!) Ruthie Gordon is wonderfully affecting, more than hinting at Mrs. Lincoln's personal tragedy to come while capping the climactic scene that foreshadows Abe's fate. Gene Lockhart's Douglas has dignity and intelligence. The film as a whole manages to present both the myth and the real humanity at its core.

13 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
A great classic that conveys a dark world view, 11 November 1999

I just viewed this film on the pristine Kino video release, having seen a poorish print years ago.

One of the great classics of the German silent cinema, hugely influential, this true work of art not only displays the seemingly limitless resources of the UFA studios, but dares to break constantly with convention, particularly by being a "pure" film and dispensing with intertitles, but most spectacularly in its use of the "subjective" camera--creating as far as I know, the first sustained use of "point of view" in the history of movies, which had hitherto shown us action objectively, as it were: the spectator had always merely "observed," as in a third person narrative. Even Griffith and Bitzer's trucking shots, while including "us" in the action, did not represent another character's point of view. Well, after "the Last Laugh," P.O.V. turns up again and again. (See Abel Gance's "Napoleon.") Today the technique is common (necessary!). The most famous shots in "Der Letzte Mann" include the drunken swaying of the room seen through the Doorman's bleary eyes (cinematographer Karl Freund seated in a large swing and pushed back and forth); the opening shot coming down into the lobby by elevator and exiting the gate; and the astonishing vision of the hotel toppling in slow motion over on the poor doorman after his demotion. And can you believe that first night cityscape with the driving rain was all constructed and shot INDOORS?

However, I must say there is an unfortunate message in this drama, that of the merciless German stereotype: fawning before authority and deriding weakness--humiliating the powerless, admiring, almost worshiping the powerful. This is shown by the doorman's vanity and puffed-up self-image, which hinges, it seems, on a splendid uniform and the deference it alone inspires. Position is everything to him, his family, employers, hotel guests and neighbors. This is a shallow world, indeed, a social mentality that I can imagine, without straining too much, easily leading in a few brief years straight to the all-too-successful Gestapo! (I would add that the ending seems to contradict this, but the ending must be discounted; it is a sheer fantasy, "tacked on," really unrelated to the rest of the film and completely out of character.)

22 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
Brilliant Lillian Gish, surprising Ronald Colman; Catholic melodrama, 28 October 1999

This commendable silent has now apparently been restored by Turner and is available for sale - though not as yet for Netflix rental, so I can't comment on the image quality. Even given the less-than-luminous print I saw some years ago, the film deserves to be seen. Lillian Gish is brilliant. And Ronald Colman gives an emotionally charged, subtle performance unlike anything else I've seen of his work in film. The story is not to my taste: it is old-fashioned, sentimental melodrama, heavily laced with Catholic religious fervor. The real attractions, besides these two glorious stars, are the wonderful Italian locations, and - presumably - some beautiful black and white photography.

King Kong (1933)
Not Harryhausen-O'Brien; Steiner's score and Spivak's sound, 21 October 1999

First of all, let's correct the comment of one "user" above, that Kong's creator was Ray Harryhausen! Mr. Harryhausen must be stunned to read that. The creator of Kong (as well as the entire "Lost World" [1925]) was the great Willis O'Brien.

The more I see Kong the more astonished I am at the SUCCESS of some of those special effects, and the cleverness of them. For example, it took me years to comprehend the two (!) miniature rear projections representing Driscoll (Cabot) and Darrow (Wray) screen right and left while Kong, center, battles that water-lizard-snake thing in his cave. And the blending of the miniature rear projection of Darrow in the giant mechanical hand, almost matching the animated model in front of it, seeming to peel off her clothes (and sniff them!). Endlessly fascinating.

And the musical score--derivative it may be, but at least not of other movie soundtracks, since there had been none to speak of. No, Steiner's sources are loftier: Wagner and Strauss, et al., and the whole is put together with dramatic precision and passion.

Murray Spivak's inventive, beautifully modulated sound effects are an aural accomplishment that stands alone in movie history, a do-it-yourself, seat-of-the-pants triumph at a time when technical capabilities were rudimentary (parts of the monstrous roars and screeches are Spivak's own voice which he monkeyed with, you should pardon the expression).

King Kong is what I call a "pure" film in that it is totally unbelievable, illogical, over-the-top and mesmerizing, like a dream. Pure film carries us along like a dream; it has its own mad logic of imagery and action. King Kong may be the first studio masterpiece of the sound era.

17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:
Good documentary, colorful participants; one bona fide genius, 21 October 1999

This is a good, entertaining and revealing document of the abandonment in mid-production of a film spectacle, begun in England in the mid-1930s, but which happily still saw the light of day thanks to the preservation of several reels of assembled footage in mint condition. Those involved in the production still alive by 1964 are interviewed with their slightly divergent points of view, and they are a colorful lot: Von Sternberg, Oberon, Emlyn Williams, Flora Robson. Dirk Bogarde is impeccable as the host-narrator who observes of Charles Laughton, immediately following a stunning monologue, that he was "kissed with genius." And so he was.

The UFO Incident (1975) (TV)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Well done, refreshingly un-hysterical treatment, 20 October 1999

James Earl Jones gives a memorable, highly sympathetic performance as Barney Hill, and Estelle Parsons as his wife Betty matches him, moment for moment.

This is a harrowing tale, based on a true story (one which heralds the modern era of alien abduction accounts). Barnard Hughes is entirely believable as the psychiatrist who tries to help the couple. The "special effects" are refreshingly not-so-special, the absolutely outrageous events depicted un-hysterically in flashbacks. I loved the entities' eyes: human-seeming, with pupils and whites but magnified, as if covered with big lenses--highlighting one distinction between the Hills' descriptions and all those more recent "grays" with their huge, oval, entirely black eyes. The treatment is intelligently grounded in the reality of the couple's seeking help for their anxieties and sleeplessness ( their initial focus) rather than the "sci-fi" elements of the story.

And not since Edna Mae Oliver bawled the name of her dead husband Barney in "Drums Along The Mohawk" (1939) has there been heard anywhere a more New Englandy pronunciation of that name than Ms. Parsons delivers here!!

Communion (1989)
1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
A major disappointment, 20 October 1999

I found this film to be a major disappointment, especially since the book had a powerful effect on me, and the director is a friend of the author. The character of Whitley Strieber as played by Chris Walken is unrecognizably goofy to me, and the effects photography fail over and over to capture the imagery of the book. Strieber has referred many times to the "high strangeness" of his experiences, but as depicted here they often seem merely silly.

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