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6 reviews in total 
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2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
You either get it or you don't., 28 November 2004

I can't decide if this is an in-joke or a put-on.

If it's an in-joke I'm definitely not In. I watched 30 minutes of it and turned to the "Making of..." feature hoping to find some meaning, any meaning. That didn't really help either.

Listening to the straight-faced telling story of the famous cinematographer from Argentina who was brought in to teach the director of photography how to use a home-movie camera smeared with vaseline--I thought, my God, it's *all* a put-on.

So I read all the literati telling me what a profound work of art it is, I guess they know what they're talking about. Me? I guess I'm too unsophisticated, and all I can see is there's a good chance the king ain't wearing clothes.

The whole thing has a smell of hostility to it. Like who's laughing at who here?

173 out of 191 people found the following review useful:
A thoughtful film for thoughtful viewers., 25 November 2004

Perhaps more than many films, this one is not for everyone. For some folks the idea of slowing down, reflecting and allowing things to happen in their own time is a good description of their personal hell. For others an approach like this speaks to some deep part of themselves they know exists, some part they long for contact with.

I suppose it's a function of where I am in my own life these days, but I count myself in the camp of the latter group. I found the meditative pace of this film almost hypnotic, gently guiding me into some realm almost mythological. This is indeed a journey story, a rich portrayal of the distance many of us must travel if we are to come full circle at the end of our days.

Much as been written of Mr Farnsworth's presentation of Alvin Straight, though I'm not sure there are words to express the exquisite balance of bemused sadness and wise innocence he conjured for us. Knowing now that he was indeed coming to terms with his own mortality as he sat on that tractor seat makes me wish I had had the opportunity to spend time with him before his departure. I hope he had a small glimmer of the satisfaction and truth he had brought to so many people, not just for "acting" but for sharing his absolute humanity with such brutal honesty.

Given the realities of production economics, I'm not sure full credit has been given Mr Lynch for the courage he showed in allowing the story to develop so slowly. An outsider to film production, I nonetheless understand there are few areas of modern life where the expression "time is money" is so accurately descriptive. Going deep into our hearts is not an adventure that can be rushed, and to his credit Mr Lynch seems to have understood that he was not simply telling a story--he was inviting his viewers to spend some time with their own mortality. No simple task, that.

If you'd like to experience the power of film to take introduce you to some precious part of yourself, you could do worse than spending a couple of hours with The Straight Story. And then giving yourself some time for the next little while simply listening to its echoes in the small hours of the night.

20 out of 20 people found the following review useful:
A film for the ages., 18 October 2004

This is a movie about the kind of people most of us spend our lives trying to avoid: drunks, whores and cripples of every description. The setting is seamy, mostly taking place in an old neighborhood bar; no ferns here, no clever reparte between beautiful people. The is a story of loneliness and not a little darkness, leavened with gentle, often self-effacing humor.

The miracle here is the degree to which you wind up truly caring about what happens to these folks. The action in the movie is simple. The people are not, and it is a remarkable feat of storytelling to bring this ensemble to such rich, moving life.

This is truly a sleeper, Steinbeckian in its evocation of the common humanity in us all.

Gideon (1999)
3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
Touching moments, worthwhile theme, hackneyed., 17 October 2004

A young man of apparently limited abilities finds himself living in a retirement home, unwittingly showing how being smart ain't all it's cracked up to be and being "slow" isn't the worst handicap in the world.

As someone who has worked for years with folks who qualify for Special Olympics (and been soundly beaten at bowling with them on more than one occasion, I might add) I found Christopher Lambert's portrayal realistic and truly touching. I've enjoyed his quiet subtlety in the Highlander series, and here I found myself smiling again and again as he captured the details, the movements, exactly the right tones in showing us this man Gideon. A great performance, I believe, and it makes me want to know more about Lambert--especially considering his role as producer of this film.

The film has a stellar ensemble cast with nothing but A-level performances from each, but I could never find my way past the shallow portrayal of life in a retirement home--every person, even the depressed, bright-eyed, every room highly personalized. I kept waiting for Ward and June Cleaver to show up. This place doesn't smell like any "retirement" home I've ever been in, and I've been quite a few over the years. The failure to establish a credible "world" made it impossible for me to accept the story, and this limitation was only supported by the extremely one-dimensional nature of the characters. An ex-boxer? Well, he doesn't read, he just practices shadow boxing in his room.

In all, it's a film I'm glad I saw, but can't imagine sitting through it twice.

8 out of 19 people found the following review useful:
Average treatment of a fascinating topic., 19 February 2004

The Medici family dynasty ruled one little corner of Italy for over two centuries. How it came to define the course of western civilization is a story of immense complexity, and this series attempts to tell it in everyday language.

The production can't seem to make up its mind whether to be a history lesson or a well-told story, and that is both its strength and its weakness. Fortunately the characters in the story are of such overwhelming interest that it doesn't really matter which approach the production takes, the student of history will find here a treasure trove.

Any given fifteen-minute segment of the production could easily be produced as its own freestanding film, and this is as much a comment on the potency of this family and community as it is on the film that has been created to describe it. I found it all spellbinding, and am heading now to my public library to follow up with my own reading. That's a pretty good recommendation for a film of modest production values.

Z (1969)
12 out of 17 people found the following review useful:
Recently released on digitally remastered DVD, it is a film for our times., 5 January 2004

Winner of two Academy Awards, the story is told in a timeless time as a nameless country slides into a police state where lies are rewarded, truth is punished and good people are hurt.

The visuals are so compelling one wants to slow everything down and simply watch them unfold, unsettling for a movie with subtitled French. There is no slack time when the dialogue is so crucial and the images are so perfect. In spite of this challenge, the characters become people you believe in, hope for, despise, resent.

Excellent DVD extras, especially thoughtful for a film 35 years old: how the originals were digitally improved, with many examples; scene selection; interesting and insightful commentary track; and pertinent, informative conversation between the director of the film and the author of the novel on which it was based.

Most importantly, for those who wish to hear, this film has an important story to tell us in our times, particularly when you realize, as the titles most specifically spell out, that "any similarities between this story and actual people and events is intentional."