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26 reviews in total 
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11 out of 15 people found the following review useful:
The illicit affair and the trial it spawned., 31 August 2002

Clifford Odets possibly only foray into courtroom drama is a most successful one as evidenced by The Story on Page One.

Anthony Franciosa, (many MST fans will remember him as being the star of the 80's ABC series The Finder of Lost Loves) stars at what first seems to be a similar character to Paul Newman's in The Verdict, a drunk, down on his luck, lawyer getting the case of his career that will either make or break him.

But Odets subverts our initial belief as the story actually focuses on the illicit love affair/murder, whose participants include the ever, great character actor Gig Young and Rita Hayworth, the Lady from Shanghai herself, only to deceptively lull the audience into the intimate details of the backstory, seeing how the bored wife could easily be enticed to look outside of her marriage for the love she sorely needs, and the emotionally scarred CPA who could provide that love.

At the 45 minute mark we get the whole sordid affair in triplicate and one wonders why Odets decided to relate the story in such in way but as the rest of the film plays out at the trial, we see he shrewdly grounded the defendants' sympathies in our hearts whereby every setback and revelation resonates as much for us as for the protagonists.

Coming out in the same year that the topical, yet ultimately sloppily made Anatomy of the Murder, The Story on Page One manages to trump the former just from sheer acting chutzpah and deliberate yet intelligent pacing.

Another facet I found fascinating was Odets use of natural, everyday faces to populate this meller. From the middle-aged insurance seller with his hearing aid, to Katherine Squire's craggy teeth, one sees this is a story that could possibly be culled from a newspaper, relating the plight of the ugly, common man and not some glamorpuss Hollywoodized actor playing him.

Mascara (1999)
4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
Healthy women undone by the unhealthy choices they make., 31 August 2002

Mascara is one of those vanity projects which look and sound good on paper, a movie to be written and directed by a woman, starring three talented women which will explore the trials and tribulations of women...well you get my drift.

Anyway this is a story about three women and the lives they lead and how it affects their family and you know, this is pretty standard, paint by numbers kind of stuff which Ms. Kandell doesn't leave too much new interpretation for.

The most that can said about this venture is that it was shot well but the queasy obviousness of the handheld, 'let me be of the moment' shot compositions torpedoed this overwrought affair even before the credits rolled out.

The songs on the soundtrack had that god awful stench of leftover material that Eric Schaeffer, star, writer, and director Fall, (which Amanda De Cadanet was the lead in), decided to leave on the cutting room floor.

Am I stretching here? Probably but at least I'm admitting it and not pushing it on late night cable viewers in the form of this wispy enterprise.

An American Dingbat in England., 2 April 2002

Emma Brody, ah the lovely, naive, sweet, inexperienced Emma Brody.

A new vice counsel assigned to the American embassy in England must deal with the culture shock of a new country while turning a corner in her life after she catches her fiance cheating on her. Why do we care about such minutia, I don't know. If someone can clue me in, please write.

Coming from Jersey Films I expected this TV offering to have a brain in its head but apparently someone thought that 'Felicity goes to London' would make a helluva show.

What could've been relevant and topical in this day and age, comes off as being hollow, effervescent (and I don't mean that in a good Schwepp's kind of way), and ultimately frustrating for not delivering on its interesting premise.

If not for, cute as a button, Arija Bareikis I wouldn't bother tuning i but then again I thought the human toothpick, Calista Flockhart, was cute too but I never got around to watching a single episode of Ally McBeal.

Lord help my weak ways.

0 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
A man reforms a wayward woman's ways., 30 January 2002

A Sensible Obsession is a piece of Christian propaganda where a man on his death bed reminisces over the love of his life, a once prostitute who becomes a better woman through his all powerful love. The film wouldn't be all that bad if the acting was up to par, the writing tightened so that the wordiness wouldn't seem so obvious, and direction livened up a little.

As it is now, one can feel the fundamentalist fingers behind Mr. Jiha's efforts as he controls everything in this film from the cinematography to the score (one wonders if he had a hand in the craft services as well) without upsetting nary a conservative soul.

One wishes he had the nerve and make the film a comedy of manners ala Shallow Hal where the crudeness of one's person beliefs would give way to sweet, secular conclusion.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
A group of would be jazzsters contemplate life., 4 January 2002

I remember reading the somewhat positive review of this film

about a year and a half ago in Variety and seeing Adam Goldberg's

name attached to it, who I hold a place in my critical heart for his

appearance in Richard Linklater's Dazed & Confused, I wanted to

see this film badly.

I wish I could dampen my enthusiasm a few notches in retrospect.

Scotch & Milk ultimately will remind many of the much better

Swingers, a film I still think was a better screenplay than film, but

even though Milk is more expressionistic and arty, this doesn't

mean its a better film in the long run.

I really do think this film was made for the sole fact to see if the

camera worked. The film rambles from one improvisational set

piece to another, further strengthens the argument against

smoking and drinking, and really doesn't say much that Swingers

or even more to the point, Barbet Schroeder's Barfly, didn't say

better.

I caught this film recently on the Sundance channel and I do agree

with the American Cinematography writer's laudable comments

regarding Milk's look but even some trash manages to look pretty

that doesn't mean it's better. I hope Goldberg has a better film in

him in the years to come.  

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Kowalski needs to get his car to Frisco...fast., 15 December 2000

Just got done watching this early 70's counter culture hit on cable and I must say, in a drollfully respectful way, it is a product of its time. Kowlaski, the lone, burned out, ex-racecar driver must deliver a Charger from Colorado to San Francisco in a few days. Once Kowalski accepts the assignment as it were, something crosses over in him and this job becomes a statement against everything he once believed in. Barry Newman in all his liberal, Jewish, and self serving pride rallies against authority, in all its irrational, bigoted, conservative, and racist forms. We see Kowalski become the cause celebre for many people who urge him on to victory with Cleavon Little's Super Soul DJ being the most ardent and vocal admirer. As the film comes to a crashing (sorry!) yet expected end (which really comes as no surprise since many of the films of the period ended on downbeat but reasonable denouements) Kowalski is heralded as a symbol whose independent spirit will never die.

2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
The short life and times of Reinaldo Arenas., 15 December 2000

Julian Schnabel's second effort after his masterful Basquiat is another portrait of a fallen artist struck down in his prime but instead of the world of art, we journey into the realm of literature. Reinaldo Arenas is mostly unheard of in this country but this film's greatest asset will be to encourage people to seek out his work in order to, on some tangential level, gain access to the man. As with his earlier effort, Schnabel mixes his painterly past with the auspices of the biopic to create one of the most fascinating portraits of a writer put to film. I was privileged to see this film during the last New York Film Festival and this film although linear in telling, following Reinaldo from practically cradle to grave, we are presented with expressionistic episodes of his life as he becomes initiated to sex, finds his calling when he proves adept at writing, and his most important and ironically fatal decision to engage in homosexual liaisons at a time and place where the practice was looked down upon and ultimately his work and life suffered for it. Never demeaning or lurid, Reinaldo's life is looked upon with a untarnished and honest eye where his rich prose overcame his meager surroundings. A remarkable achievement on every level from the use of archival footage integrated into the narrative to the use of an up to the minute soundtrack (the beautiful Lou Reed/Laurie Anderson cello track `Rouge' during a Cuban club scene) in a period piece, Before Night Falls is one of the best films of the year.

3 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Will an overweight teen piano prodigy ever reach his full potential?, 21 April 2000

Flipping through the cable channels, I came across the rotund visage of one Martin Villafana, dancing around a room in a stilted pirouette and not unlike rubbernecking at a traffic accident, I was compelled to watch. I later watched the film, The Planet of Junior Brown, in its entirety and I wished the rest of the film weren't so beholden in tone and mood to that initial scene I was exposed to. While I admittedly still look forward to read the novel on which this film is based, I have many problems with the piece of celluloid I have before me. Instead of grounding its many dreamlike moments with instances which harken to reality, we're given a film which feels like something remembered, forgotten, or indexed from someone's fevered yet bittersweet memories. Although I empathize with Junior's plight since I am a person with a weight problem, I really think some of the choices the director and scenarist made about this piano virtuoso ultimately betrayed what they were going for. What's left is a promising yet still empty afterschool special.

3 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
A pair of friends seek love elsewhere when all they had to do is find each other., 26 March 2000

Whatever it Takes is another teenage comedy which takes place in I guess another of the top ten high schools in America where no one is ugly, no one seems to be lacking financially, and no one of discernible color or race plays a major part in the proceedings. In other words, an utopia for the new century. Even though Whatever it Takes may have been influenced on the surface by Rostand's long nosed romantic miscreant, it really falls in line with John Hughes' two fisted romantic romps of the 80's Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful. All these films deal with the strained relationship between a pair of life long friends when an affair of the heart presents itself. Whatever's problems stem from the fact both leads who are supposedly intelligent can't see the forest for the trees. Sokoloff and West are very engaging and great to look at but to assume old friends will be become new lovers strains the tenets of logic. Love may be blind but does it necessarily have to be dumb as well, even in this day and age?

Rosetta (1999)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
A girl desperately tries to get a job at any and all costs., 4 December 1999

The Dardenne brothers second treatise on the working class, coming on the heels of their similarly themed La Promesse, proves they are becoming the voice of the Belgian working class much the same way Ken Loach is the paragon of the social/realist movement in England. As in Promesse, we follow a young protagonist's attempts to find employment, in this case getting a job selling waffles (how Belgian!), while using her ingenuity to get by as well as being the defacto guardian to her alcoholic and loose mother. Eschewing unnecessary dialogue, the film is reduced to a series of looks, perceptions, and attitudes with Emilie Dequenne's firebrand portrayal of a determined jobless worker's plight is at once poignant, topical, and timeless.


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