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Sharma and Beyond (1984)
Beguiling Installment of 1st Love
Stephen Archer teaches English as a Second Language (ESL), yet longs to become a famous science fiction writer. His favorite author is Even Gorley-Peters, the "Shakespeare of science fiction," so Stephen takes his ESL class on a field trip to the country and stops at the author's estate. While there he meets his hero's daughter, Natasha Gorley-Peters, who's recovering from a broken heart. Soon love blossoms between Stephen and Natasha, yet Stephen seems somewhat more preoccupied with her father, who turns out to be a curmudgeon.
This is a quirky and appealing little film that offers interesting characters as well as sublime scenery of the English countryside. Most of all, it's enjoyable to watch as Natasha wonders about the intentions of Stephen and whether he's more interested in getting closer to her or getting her father to read his manuscript.
The Quiet Earth (1985)
I still remember this film fondly nearly thirty years on....
I believe I'm now the third reviewer (here on IMDb) who caught this film at the old, wonderful Balboa Theater back in 1985. I haven't viewed the film since and, not being a sci-fi fan, I don't believe that I'm qualified to say if it's among the best of the genre; however, I still have strong memories of enjoying this production and of it being very entertaining. In other words, it grabbed my attention quickly and kept it throughout via an intriguing and beguiling storyline. Too bad that old theater is long gone--they showed so many terrific art-house and classic films (but that's another story for another time). "The Quiet Earth" is definitely worth a look-see.
Overnight Sensation (1984)
Terrific adaptation of an excellent Somerset Maugham story
"Overnight Sensation" is a terrific short film that reworks a Somerset Maugham story ("The Colonel's Lady") and updates it from England of the late 1930s to 1980s Southern California, while still managing to faithfully convey the essence of the original Maugham text. In this version Robert Loggia plays a successful, hotshot photographer (the part of the Colonel in the text) and Louise Fletcher his devoted wife (the Colonel's Lady). Just as in the original story, the wife begins to experience success and her husband struggles to acknowledge or believe it. What makes the film work so well is the combination of excellent performances by the actors, a solid & inventive updating of the original storyline, and assured direction (it makes me wonder why this is Jon Bloom's only director credit). Finally, the denouement (while different than Maugham's original) is creative, yet effective & bittersweet. Highly recommended viewing that's much more satisfying than that other Somerset Maugham adaptation from around the same time (the one starring Bill Murray).
The Artist (2011)
Worth every wonderful accolade it receives (ignore the detractors)
Seeing this film was one of the highlights of my movie-going life. It's perfect: not a shot or sequence wasted or forced. And the acting is uniformly superb. In addition, the cinematography is glorious. Moreover, the finale is stunning. Unfortunately, as with any great success, this film has attracted naysayers. Sadly, their comments are typically rants that essentially ignore the work itself such as "I hate silent film" and "This is not what life in the 1920s was really like." I will admit that I've been an incurable fan of silent film since I witnessed my first non-talkie in the mid-1980s (Chaplin's "City Lights"), so much so that my view of film as a medium has never been the same. However, ignore the baseless negative commentary, go see this masterpiece (this wonderful homage to all that was silent cinema), and be completely spellbound and enraptured in a darkened theater like you never have before.
Silver City (1984)
Good, but not great film with interesting historical context
Overall, this is a pretty good, but not great film. What really caught my attention is the part that focuses on the migration of Poles to Australia following World War II. Prior to viewing "Silver City" I was not familiar with this occurrence and I found this aspect fascinating. However, the creators of the film decided to focus upon an illicit love affair between two immigrants, so the Polish migration aspect fades rather quickly and had me wondering why they selected this title since the characters don't spend much of their time in Silver City (I would have preferred to see more of this). Also, the husband (Julian) leaves his wife (Anna) for another woman (Nina) and...his wife is the better (and better-looking) person. Anna is a faithful spouse and friend who's imbued with a radiance (albeit world-weary) throughout and this undermines the plot (why would Julian leave her, even if only for a while?).
Love Streams (1984)
A powerful work of beauty and wonder
I just had the good fortune to view this beautiful film. It's a shame it isn't widely available (it's never been released on DVD in Region 1). As for the cast, the acting is outstanding, especially Gena Rowlands performance, which is sublime, and John Cassavetes himself, who commands the screen throughout. Moreover, it's very entertaining and watchable, so if you're wary of Cassavetes reputation for creating obtuse, difficult films you needn't be concerned here. As for the plot, what struck me most is how the film begins (Robert's house as a chaotic location filled with sex, yet devoid of anything resembling love) and ends (Robert all by himself - except for the menagerie Sarah brought home for him - after he's finally awakened to a real love--his Platonic love for Sarah). In other words, Sarah's mantra of love as a constant stream comes to pass. She may be mad, but her perceived insanity is really a beautiful vision at odds with our modern world and it's power offers the potential to save Robert from a life of despair.