Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Pumpkin Eater (1964)
It seems I have always been aware of this movie...it's strange title was one I'd heard even as a kid. But I only recently saw it for the first time, some 46 years after it was made.
This strange little drama, written by Harold Pinter, has a performance by Anne Bancroft that is simply astounding. Beautiful and full of life, she is absolutely riveting in this part. Peter Finch is sly and attractive as her husband, and the two are extremely plausible as conflicted, complicated lovers.
The movie is nicely shot, directed with obvious care and attention to detail, and the writing has an odd, menacing, off-kilter vitality. But it's Bancroft's remarkably strong and beautiful performance that makes this unmissable.
Steel Magnolias (1989)
Schmaltzy saccharine Dragnolias
This movie is a strange piece of work; when you're watching it you can't help thinking what a natural the roles of the women would be for dragqueens! These characters do not seem like real women at all...they exist in some bizarre netherworld between seventies TV sitcom and pure camp. Easily the worst offender has to be Shirley Maclaine, absolutely embarrassing and unwatchable. It's as if she's doing an imitation of the old Ruth Buzzi spinster with a purse routine on Laugh-In. It's an excruciating performance. The movie is poorly written, with Southern clichés in abundance, and that sort of fake life-affirming friendship-conquers-all ending straight out of a TV Disease Movie of the Week. The one bright spot in this muck is the acting of Julia Roberts in an early role; before she was effectively branded as America's Smiling Sweetheart, there was a sweet, natural charm to her. Awful.
Withnail & I (1987)
Throw yourself into the road, darling!
I suppose this movie is indefensible in many ways, but that doesn't mean it's also not one of the most supremely enjoyable comedies ever made. Notorious, deluded and narcissistic Withnail and sweet, passive, hippyish I are one of the cinema's most original odd couples---viewers can sense the attraction between them as well as the hidden antagonism. This film begins in dimness and moves to blackness. It is terribly funny nonetheless, with some of the most brilliant and unique scenes of comedy ever dared. Its status as a cult film is well-deserved, but it holds its own as a statement about self-preservation, hedonism and anarchy. With a dazzling performance by Richard E. Grant. Highly Recommended.
I Know Who Killed Me (2007)
Wonderful Comedy! Like Getting Tickled with a Shotgun
This movie had me rolling in the aisles. I haven't laughed so hard since the bathroom-cleaning scene in "Mommie Dearest." A feel-good family film, with peals galore!!! Lindsay Lohan is an ACTING GENIUS. Watch your back, Meryl! Serial killers are like the Three Stooges and the Keystone Cops rolled into one! With a shot of Ace Ventura on the side! The witty banter really keeps this masterwork afloat. It reminded me of the kind of bon-mots you find in a classic like "I Dismember Mama". And don't get me started about amputee fetishism! Hilaire! I give this knee-slapper 10 Belly Laughs out of 10. I laughed, I cried, I ran the gamut!
The Next Best Thing (2000)
For the love of God, somebody stop her.
Hundreds of years from now, I imagine historians and archeologists, not to mention film preservationists, will spend years and years gazing in puzzled horror at Madonna's body of film. It will evoke feelings similar to the nausea, fear and disbelief we feel now while studying Mayan hieroglyphics of wholesale human sacrifice and ritual slaughter. Only much less interesting, naturally. What is it about Madonna? In movie after movie we have to endure the excruciating process of her struggling with all her might to bring a human emotion to her face. This Herculean labor, brought to its absolute zenith in Evita, but not much abated here, may be great fun for afficionados of porn acting, but for the rest of us: sheer torture. Then there's her voice. She delivers her lines like a tenth-grader playing Hamlet's mother, but with less conviction. Madonna seems entirely incapable of expressing intelligence or emotion, but if she would just let her hair down and act like the good old all-American tramp she is, all might be forgiven. Alas, she seems to have some curious delusions of grandeur. She is the most self-conscious bad actor who ever disgraced a movie screen, and yet she doesn't have the nerve to be camp. Is it possible to be wooden and plastic at the same time? Madonna manages to make Jenna Jameson look like Judi Dench. The movie? Couldn't tell you a thing about it.
À l'intérieur (2007)
This is a horrifying and intense movie, yes, but the fact is that it's subject matter raises it beyond splatter onto a level of tragedy. In Chicago, a similar murder/mutilation took place when I lived there; while these things are not common I don't believe they can be dismissed as wild fantasies. I believe the filmmakers took great care; this is a very shrewdly orchestrated movie. Echoes of "Blowup", "Rosemary's Baby" of course, and "Alien". I believe the future might be quite kind to this thing. What's most interesting about Inside is not the carnage, but the suspense. Besides, it has the best thing a movie could possibly have: it is unforgettable.
William Wyler's finest hour
This movie deserves a broader audience, for its originality and its superior value as entertainment. Written with great care and sensitivity, it chronicles the growing estrangement between a long-married American couple, who embark on a European tour as a sort of reward for their success and an attempt to begin life anew. This plan goes unpredictably awry, as husband and wife find in the Old World very different lives awaiting them. Walter Huston gives a tremendous performance as the industrialist everyman whose affability and boyish enthusiasm seem to know no bounds. He is grumpy and honest and amusing, and yet his character comes across as a very real human being. It's a very endearing performance, with moments of depth, sensitivity and darkness not found much anywhere, in any film drama. Ruth Chatterton is remarkable as well. She turns the thankless role of the shallow and vain aging wife into a tour de force. Her flirtatiousness has a tinge of desperation, and her social pretensions are both funny and pathetic. This is a complex role, as difficult in its way as Hustons, and Chatterton brings a remarkable force to it. She may be crass and unforgivable, but she's unforgettable, as well. This is one of most complete successes of William Wyler's career, and also that rarest of Hollywood specimens: a film for grownups. Not to be missed.
Don't Look Now (1973)
Death in Venice
This 1973 movie may be the most esoteric horror film ever made, in that it quite subtly deals with grieving, and the hold the dead have over the living, in ways that few films do, a notable exception being the Kieslovski film Bleu. Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie lose their daughter in a drowning accident, but the focus is hardly upon the family (the older son is shuffled off to boarding school) as much as it is upon the psychological weight this death brings to bear upon the two adults, who seem to deny it as much as they dwell upon it. Removed to creepy, byzantine, claustrophobic and utterly beautiful Venice, they encounter a pair of English sisters, who may or may not be a psychic link to their dead daughter. (One of the more disturbing moments in the movie is the sequence which cuts between the sisters alone barking with laughter while Christie recalls her initial encounter with them to her doubting husband.) This movie asks: if people have psychic ability, what does it really mean, and what good/evil does it offer those who haven't? Miles beyond most mystery or horror films intellectually, and oddly remote and suggestive, this is well worth watching. Besides, it has Julie Christie!!
Irma Vep (1996)
Dream of Cinema
I suppose this film is by its nature polarizing, because it's a movie about film-making that lacks action, or drama, or a strong plot line. Nonetheless, I think it stands as one of the most charming, and disarmingly original, films of the 90s. A somewhat haphazard production company in Paris, about to remake a silent classic, has a mixed reaction to the casting of an actress from the Hong Kong cinema (Maggie Cheung, utterly delightful) as its iconic French heroine. The movie lazily moves through onset and offset scenes that detail the relationships of the movie's cast and crew, with Cheung, playing herself, employed as the innocent abroad. One of the most interesting movies about movies ever made, with the legendary Jean-Pierre Leaud as the mad, virtually incomprehensible director. Magnifique.
'I Know Where I'm Going!' (1945)
This wartime comedy has the rare distinction of being literate, daffy AND soulful---sometimes within the same sentence. Petulant golddigger Wendy Hiller leaves Manchester for the Hebrides to reel in her sugar daddy but gets waylaid by dashing Scottish laird Roger Livesey. That's amore, people. Along the way she encounters all manner of eccentricity, and a bit of soft-pedalled danger. Imaginative and beautiful, this movie manages to take you far, far away. Wendy Hiller's impudent sass has never been more lovingly captured, and Roger Livesey is both charming and humble. With Pamela Brown (unforgetable) as the ultimate Highlands housewife, and many other fine comic supporting turns. Highly recommended for Anglophiles, and romantics of any stripe.