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Brennan never better
Walter Brennan set a standard for supporting actors with this perfect equine movie. You actually believe that the 38-year-old Brennan is a wizened 68-year-old track veteran. Young Loretta is equally winning in her starring debut. This is the classic movie that all the cliches copied.
Tennessee Johnson (1942)
Still-relevant Americana well told
The story of the first US president to be impeached gets the Hollywood treatment. It is superbly acted although glossed up quite a bit. Some of Johnson's flaws are exposed, but not nearly as many as are excused. Barrymore's Stevens is terrifyingly brilliant. This is an art that Hollywood used to excel at -- telling history in an interesting and mostly factual matter without the need to flaunt the director's abject cynicism.
Boys Don't Cry (1999)
Wildly overrated cliche'd claptrap
The plaudits given this piece of garbage are 100% politically motivitated. That Sevigny was NOMINATED for an Oscar is a total travesty. Swank's performance IS excellent, but the flaws of her felonious character are totally glossed over and the homophobic cliches are inserted for maximum impact. This is a political diatribe masquerading as a movie.
Exit to Eden (1994)
Whimsical and breezy adult fun
Taken on its own merits, absent of critical harangue and political implications, this is another breezy Garry Marshall serio-comedy which causes some self-examination along the way to many fine laughs. Rosie's fantasy to have her house painted is among the funniest things i've ever seen on film. I thought the contrast of the interplay between Mercurio and Delaney and between Ackroyd, O'Donnell and the crooks was expertly handled. I think Americans aren't used to the S&M subject being so cavalierly and matter-of-factly handled and objected to having it trivialized -- a shame, because most couples I know have enjoyed this comedy on its own merits.
Murder in a Small Town (1999)
A fun made-for-TV period piece
Nothing too heavy, but a wonderful romp into the late 1930's. An A&E murder mystery true to all the marvelous classic conventions with fine performances by all. Plenty of humor, good feeling, and eccentric characterizations more than make up for a rather spartan plot. Just relax and enjoy.
Night Shift (1982)
Even fresher and funnier now than when first released
This was one of Howard's early directorial efforts (he even gives himself a Hitchcockian-style cameo in an alley kiss near the beginning), and one of his straight-out funniest. Many have commented on Keaton's top-notch breakout performance -- and it truly is one of the funniest supporting performances since Matthau's Whiplash Willie Gingrich. But, there are many other wonderful tidbits to enjoy thoroughly -- beginning with an incredibly clever script by Ganz and Mandell -- so many classic lines I almost don't know where to begin. Gina Hecht is also magnificently memorable in her supporting role as Winkler's neurotic girlfriend, and Nita Talbot is a gem as the domineering mother. Winkler is perfect as the understated nebbish lead, and the contrast of the low-income realities and the humor found in the script is marvelously unusual in American movies beyond "Little Shop of Horrors". In fact, the movie deftly blends reality and absurdity in a manner few have succeeded at. Finally, the ahead-of-its-time cast includes Shannen Doherty as a junior girl scout, Richard Belzer as a grotesque gangster pimp, Kevin Costner as a frat boy, Clint Howard (Ron's younger brother who starred in Gentle Ben and a classic Star Trek episode) as Keaton's first limo customer, Murphy Brown's Pat Corley as Hecht's father, and Ghost's Vincent Schiavelli as an obnoxious deliveryman. And, I do disagree with mainstream thought that Shelley Long was miscast -- she actually imbues her character with some underappreciated mannerisms that ring very true for me that transcend the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold cliche. All in all, a funny and harrowing film much better than it is generally given credit for.
Stultifyingly, stupefyingly, incredibly, repetitively boring. Russell Crowe does what he can, but is eaten alive by the film's own scope and special effects. Bigger than life and 100 times more boring. Some clever lines and interesting supporting characters are laid to waste by a singular effort to win a Best Special Effects Oscar. In a word -- boring.
Le voyou (1970)
A whirligig of clever suspense and droll humor
Lelouche and Trintignant combine for a deft, lighter touch than their normal weighty collaborations. Full of wry touches, there is never a pause in the mind's contribution and nothing conventional to help you catch your breath. This is the kind of movie that you wish Hollywood could make but it never does, full of layers of complexity and wit, this mini-masterpiece improves with each repeated viewing.
The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)
Devastatingly True In Its Characterizations and Script
Frederick March has never been better. Harold Russell is devastatingly on the mark. Dana Andrews is heart-rending. When I first saw this I was expecting, rah-rah, go yanks! This movie is anything but, one of the most thoughtful postwar essays ever compiled by Hollywood, hard-edged and blunt at the same time. This should be seen by every teenager who thinks there may be a glamorous aspect to war, or to life for that matter.
The Men (1950)
Great psychological character study
Brando scores big, and Wright matches him scene for scene. The tragedies of post-war disabilities are examined unflinchingly by Zinneman in this no-punches-pulled drama. Paul Stewart and Jack Webb are superb in supporting roles. Brando takes us right inside his character and never lets go. This is a movie that should be seen with and discussed by the whole family as it honestly discusses the horrors of daily life.