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Boom Town (1940)
A chipper oldie ravishes its spectator with a gung-ho complexion
A chipper oldie ravishes its spectator with a gung-ho complexion that is so disarming a benignant viewer might be completely oblivious of its cut-throat capitalistic machination which is attendant with the plot's boom-and-bust vagaries.
Two wildcatters Big John McMasters (Gable) and Square John Sand (Tracy) hit it off quickly (thanks to their mutual instinct of dodging potshots), and bouncily go for it in their oil rigging enterprise, there are hits and misses ongoing, but their archetypal bromance is put into a critical test when they are both besotted with the same dame, Betsy Bartlett (Colbert). The narrative cavalierly pass the buck to Betsy since Big John has no inkling that she is Square John's gal, but Betsy knows Big John alright, which doesn't stop her from jilting a more matter-of-fact Square John for the newly ignited coup-de-foudre (and it all happened one night!). Thankfully, the reunited Gable-Colbert pair knows how to play the flirtatious bonhomie right, and a bluff Tracy makes a rather surprising capitulation to the "she is not that into him" situation but is never able to get over her, instead, he becomes the watchdog of their marriage, a resolute assurer that Betsy's happiness is unadulterated.
Therefore, the years-spanning story extends into a series friend-or-foe games between Big John and Square John, predicated on Betsy's well-being, hopping from places to places, their fortune alternately ebbs and flows. When at its best, an oil wildfire spectacle is surely awe-inspiring through its matted black-and-white expressionism; yet in its worst, the patchy narrative wears thin quickly when the love triangle equilibrium levels out. So an extrinsic force timely arrives in the form of Hedy Lamarr's drop-dead gorgeous Karen Vanmeer, Big John's business adviser and a socialite who is adept at eavesdropping, as an interloper, she is not beyond reproach but for once, she is presented more than a vacuous bombshell, in fact she has the wiles to apply her own counter- moves when Square John tries to buy her out.
Slightly tortuous in its story-line, and 77 years have passed, Jack Conway's BOOM TOWN has sustained to evince a pristine luster in pointing up two of the most peddled attributes of America: the land of opportunity and the propitious everything-will-be-fine motto.
Hidden Agenda (1990)
Mr. Loach masterfully forces us to face a most inconvenient truth with his highly matter-of-fact modality, and its repercussions are here to stay
Ken Loach's controversial Cannes entry in 1990, which won him the Jury Prize, HIDDEN AGENDA is a faction political thriller sets in a powder keg Belfast during the Northern Ireland Troubles.
An American civil rights lawyer Paul Sullivan (Dourif) is crassly murdered along with a Provisional IRA sympathizer by British security force en route to a covert meeting with his secret source, a mysterious Captain Harris (Roëves). Paul's aggrieved girlfriend and colleague, Ingrid Jessner (McDormand), remains in Belfast to seek out the truth, and soon is assisted by the righteous police detective Peter Kerrigan (Cox), designated by the Great Britain to lead the investigation.
Congruent with Loach's rigid, anti-sensational stock-in-trade, HIDDEN AGENDA is, paraphrasing its closing quote from James Miller, a former MI5 agent, "like the layers of an onion, the more you peel them away, the more you feel like crying", a somber police procedural strenuously resorting in verbal sparring to piece together the jigsaw of a conspiracy theory which implicates some insidious maneuvers from UK's Conservative party with regard to Margaret Thatcher's rise to power, then poignantly shades into a hammer blow to those who uphold an idealist view on political subterfuges. At least for once, it is not the usual suspects of IRA who are in the receiving end of the diatribe, but the whole rotten democratic polity of the Great Britain, iniquity operated by the powers that be and they are not ashamed, because they cannot be touched. In Loach's all-fired persistence, the reveal (not so shocking to those who are world-weary or cynical), resounds with a cauldron of self-defeat, angst, exasperation and disillusionment.
As a pacy thriller, Loach circumspectly orchestrates a fringe approach to downplay all the suspense usually default in the genre (no bombastic car-chasing, fistfight or firefight). The truth- seeking process is intriguingly hard-hitting and hardly impeded by any red herrings or devious plotting (a secret tape is the McGuffin), the resistance is brazenly from the bureaucratic backscratching among top brass by way of face-to-face hectoring (a bumptious Jim Norton is a standout among the squadron of supporting players as the head of the constabulary Mr. Brodie) and Brian Cox is redoubtable as a stout rock refusing to budge from mounting pressure, which makes his powerlessness and concession all the more telling in the coda. Yet, in a pivotal scene with Harris, one can manifestly sense his contempt for the latter, whom he summarily deems as a traitor seeking refuge from IRA, no one can conduct disinterestedly where hardened bias and congenital patriotism can penetrate through one's head as easy as falling off a log.
Kerrigan's astute ambiguity is refracted by Frances McDormand's impassioned performance as Ingrid, who is at once ingenuous and intrepid, and doesn't succumb the disheartening reality check solely because she is an outsider, she has nothing else to lose in the purgatory besides her own life, but the film comes to a halt when Kerrigan retreats back from his mission, Loach doesn't want a feel-good deus ex-machina to sabotage his scrutinizing endeavor (otherwise, in a lesser hand, it would be very possible to deploy a secret-recording from Kerrigan of his confab with two high-rank accomplices to turn the table in the eleventh hour), because he doesn't need his films to please everyone, HIDDEN AGENDA is a provocation, but an intelligent one, Mr. Loach masterfully forces us to face a most inconvenient truth with his highly matter-of-fact modality, and its repercussions are here to stay.
Two Mules for Sister Sara (1970)
a boisterous, above-average Hollywood fluff
Don Siegel and Clint Eastwood's second collaboration jocousely teams Eastwood's Leone-sque soldier-of-fortune Hogan (scarcely changing his apparel and paraphernalia from Leone's Dollars Trilogy) with Shirley MacLaine's sister Sara against an extensive western landscape, to fight for a good cause, aiding Mexico's Juarista rebels to assail the colonial French army during 1860s.
Let's just turn a blind eye on the self-conscious revisionist stance about colonialism, the movie's appeal is right on its game when conjuring up the odd pairing of a devout nun and a cynical atheist, from a skin-baring introduction of Sara, on the point of being gang-raped, to the reveal of her votary attire which amusingly takes Hogan aback, until they soften their discrepancy and clearly Hogan is swept off his feet by her prim but valiant defiance. And the cunning machination to keep a lid on the real identity of a heart-of-gold Sara is well-wrought through her unfeigned piety and devotion (including a Christian burial for her assaulters), but Siegel slyly leaves small clues to insinuate there is something iffy in train - Sara's secretive cigar-smoking and she apparently makes no bones about uttering one particular profane word - to keep audience intrigued, and Ms. MacLaine makes Sara a ballsy heroine through and through, she will soon proactively return the favor to save Eastwood's perpetually squinting Hogan, not once but twice, and successfully pulls the wool over his (and our) eyes as a hardened, trestle-climbing partisan who is off-limits to no man but God himself.
Alas, what the film (predictably yet regretfully) fails to make right is the ill-treatment of the Mexican counterpart, it is a story happening in their land, but the movie never for one second, delves into their mindset, Col, Beltrán (Fábregas) is a one-note cipher and his army is a bunch of rabbles, not to mention that the climatic garrison-sallying action pieces are starkly rinky-dink and finish in abruptness, but a grace note is maestro Morricone's lilting and clanging accompaniments, ever so pervasive in a boisterous, above-average Hollywood fluff.
Summer and Smoke (1961)
humble in its material construction but a deep-fish psychological balancing art between two polarized species
A sultry, clammy celluloid adaptation of Tennessee Williams' searing gender study SUMMER AND SMOKE directed by the UK thespian-turned-stage-regisseur Peter Glenville (his third feature film). Living in Glorious Hill, Mississippi in the early 20th century, Alma Winemiller (Page, parlays her stage success into cinema), a minister's daughter, has been carrying a torch for her neighbor John Buchanan, Jr. (Harvey) ever since she was a little girl.
Weaned on a puritanical upbringing and encumbered with a kleptomaniac mother (Merkel, facing off grandly with a full-throttle Page, and is given a career-commemorating Oscar nomination) who is off her trolleys, a maiden Alma dreads that her youth will soon get shrouded into spinsterhood. One summer, when Johnny, now a medical practitioner like his father (McIntire), the prodigal son returns to Glorious Hill, Alma's feelings for him are rekindled, but for a gadabout Johnny, Alma's modesty cannot rival the exotic allure of Rosa Zacharias (Moreno, oozing strangely touching empathy in her feral presence), a wild Mexican girl who revels in their carnal knowledge, and affectionately admits that he smells really good, their liaison is basically corporeal but there is candor in it.
Be that as it may, Johnny is not at all chaste towards Alma, but makes a blunder when he tries to liberate her torrid soul (Alma means "soul" in Spanish) from her prissy manacles. A consequential tragedy further drifts them away (from our vintage point, Alma is quite blameless for its unexpected but vacuous fallout) but subliminally the disparity between them starts to squarely influence their respective perspectives about themselves (although in Johnny's case, his metamorphosis is obviously more associated with his personal loss).
Therefore, emboldened by a trading-places scenario, the drama takes a heart-rending turn in the "right people, but wrong time" finale, which bestows Ms. Page a crowning showpiece of self- liberation mingled with a smorgasbord of emotions, her rejoicing aspiration, segueing to a heart- opening tête-à-tête, then following by revealing dismay and heartbreaking, the karma is holy stiltedly designed, but Ms. Page's flair holds its own when her southern mannerism is sublimated into something like a tenable institution, a flesh-and-blood being. Laurence Harvey, on the other hand, beautifully plays out his raffishness and ekes out sensitive gesticulations incessantly, but most of the time, he keeps Johnny's morality ambiguous.
In company with Elmer Bernstein's bespoke score measuring up protagonists' internal flickers, SUMMER AND SMOKE is humble in its material construction but a deep-fish psychological balancing art between two polarized species inhabiting in the same biome, a bone-fide heartstring-tugger among Mr. Williams' canon.
Xiao shi de zi dan (2012)
THE BULLET VANISHES is wheeled out with decent craft but barely passes muster as a potboiler
Emulating Guy Ritchie's SHERLOCK HOLMES franchise, this Chinese detective mystery directed by Hong Kong journeyman Law Chi-leung, sets in a retro-era, the Republic of China in the 1930s, and pairs a hands-on, whip-smart inspector Song Donglu (Lau Ching-wan) with a justice-seeking police captain Guo Zhui (Nicholas Tse), aka. the fastest gun in the Tiancheng County, together they must solve a series of bewildering murder cases in a bullet factory, apparently carried out by the curse of "phantom bullets".
Turpitude flagrantly sprawls inside the top tier of both the factory and the police department, a whey-faced Hong Kong veteran Liu Kai-chi (under heavy slap) unapologetically takes his showboating and hectoring to the hammiest level as the overbearing factory owner, whilst Chinese character actor Wu Gang countervails him with a more insidious and unobtrusive vibe as the on- the-take police chief. In due time, comeuppance will befall both, but the ace in the hole is that they are not the ultimate boss behind the whole scheme, as we assume that the hubbub reaches a somewhat tepid ending, the plot is leavened with its final twist, the Sherlock-Watson camaraderie swerves into a slipshod Sherlock-Moriarty revelation, only it strikes like an ill-devised move for its own shake value's sake, also the gambit of Russian roulette is exploited to the point of vexation.
Female characters are ill-used here, the sex scenes between Yang Mi and Nicholas Tse is risibly gratuitous, and a protean Jiang Yiyan is pigeonholed more by her role's mystique than any substantial import (although the flashback of a crime re-enactment in pantomime is arguably the takeaway of the whole enterprise), thankfully the two leading actors are game in making do what they are offered, Lau Ching-wan dutifully makes great play of Song's science-abiding credence and personable persona whereas Nicolas Tse strives to ooze a modicum of sophistication through a contrived character arc. In the event, THE BULLET VANISHES is wheeled out with decent craft but barely passes muster as a potboiler catering to the lowest common denominator.
L'albero degli zoccoli (1978)
A Palme d'Or recipient for Italian filmmaker Ermanno Olmi
A Palme d'Or recipient for Italian filmmaker Ermanno Olmi for his humanist depiction of the agrarian life in Bergamo, Lombardy, near the turn of the 20th century, THE TREE OF WOODEN CLOGS, is a 3-hour essayist pastoral only betrays its political agency in the downbeat coda.
Four households living in a farmhouse and their quotidian tenor of lives are peeped through Olmi's perceptive but dispassionate lens, a pseudo-documentary employing non-actors to uphold the performance as natural as possible (resultantly, reduction of expression is its knock-on effect), perfectly re-enacts a verisimilitude of reality regarding his parents' generation concretely imprinted in Olmi's mind.
The families are all sharecroppers and don't own an inch of the land where they are toiling, and receive meager income from the landlord predicated on the productivity. To today's eyes, the film's nostalgic atmosphere (copiously purveyed by organist Fernando Germani's lyrical rendering of Bach's oeuvre), authentic loci and primitive means of life are quite at a remove, but what matters the most (and strikes home) is Olmi's unqualified benevolence towards his subjects, his utmost reverence to humanity flickering through the successive occurrences at once trivial and vital, temporal and sacred, a high note arrives in the pig-butchering sequence where that poor critter's wail reverberates in viewer's head long after its life force is severed, we are forced to see something unsavory on which we are all inclined to turn a blind eye.
Piety, is ensconced in the forefront here, the film opens with a scene in church, where a priest persuades an illiterate peasant that his son is smart enough to go to a proper school (at a time when basic education is still a privilege); a widow with six children is granted with a "miracle" when her livestock is given a death warrant from the vet; a pair of newlyweds gets married in the church on an early morning, visits a convent later and brings back to home a foundling, this segment temporarily dislocates us from the parochial milieu and offers a glance of a bigger picture (commotion and conflicts are hinted), however transient it is. But conspicuously the film has less ambition in highlighting human follies, a country fair is presented, an episode of an inane farmer hiding a golden coin inside a horse's hoof is the closest thing we can get.
A revered ethnographic infotainment permeated with bucolic sublimity, THE TREE OF WOODEN CLOGS - its title referring to the occasion of the harsh punishment received by one of the households in the end, has its own incontrovertible artistic integrity and a rarefied stature matched by few peers, but there is a smattering of monotony and inflexibility is extruded out of its unyielding aesthetic tenet, which may have done a disservice to itself, not least considering its epic length.
Anne of the Thousand Days (1969)
A Tudor costume saga diligently sensationalizes the folie-à-deux of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn
A Tudor costume saga diligently sensationalizes the folie-à-deux of King Henry VIII (Burton) and Anne Boleyn (Bujold), the queen he falls in and (a thousand days later) out of love with, one vacuously succumbs to his hardened promiscuity and the fixation of begetting a male heir, whereas the another tragically falls victim of her own delusional abuse of power.
Hardly as operatic and opaque as Anthony Harvey's THE LION IN WINTER, the movie doesn't mince words in depicting the outrageous predisposition of Henry VIII, a horny, spoilt, reckless, cold-blooded pig might be quite an apt description if one can pay no heed of lèse-majesté and Mr. Burton's rendition is competent more than somewhat, drumming up his sonorous rhetoric with blistering confidence (he acquired his penultimate Oscar nomination), but overtly and uncompromisingly, he is shy of any trace of compassion in portraying a famous monarch, which may deter even the most devout monarchist to concoct rational excuses to his inexcusable wantonness and callousness, a stratagem doesn't seem to be out of sync with the makeup of the movie's targeted audience.
On the other hand, we have the Canadian Francophile actress Geneviève Bujold in her first English- speaking film, a career-making opportunity which earned her an Oscar nomination, her Anne Boleyn is a much complicated character than Henry VIII, her metamorphosis from a headstrong ingénue to a queenship-coveting hard-liner strikes home through the agglomeration of her implacable gaze and intractable ferocity (she only relents when she becomes love-struck, a tangible human touch never materializes in Henry's front), to a point we feel impelled to rally our antipathy to let her be answerable for the ongoing persecutions (both religiously and maritally), and in fact, there is only one man who has the power to allow all those things to happen, that is how good Ms. Bujold's performance is, not to mention her Tower of London monologue, her resounding delivery is quite an unparalleled showstopper in almost every aspect.
The Greek goddess Irene Papas (although miscast for her ethnic looks), brings about ample poignancy as Queen Catherine of Aragon, and British thespian Anthony Quayle circumspectly treads the board as Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, a piteous prey of a king's whims but also eloquently registers that vice is never devoid within his consecrated remit, another Oscar-calibre feat shouldn't go unnoticed. But the same merit cannot be related to John Colicos' Thomas Cromwell, a peripheral but important character marred by Colicos' repugnant haughtiness.
Directed by Charles Jarrott with due mettle and moxie, ANNE OF THE THOUSAND DAYS might be a worthy period drama gallantly grappling with unsavory subjects such as adultery, incest and illegitimacy, but in this day and age, its uncritical overtone jars by testing one's moral line in the sand, even Anne's prophetic revenge of a gyneco-sovereign doesn't really pay off in the end of the day.
The Uninvited (1944)
not a spine-tingling scare-fest one might expect it to b
An atmospheric haunted-house yarn nestled on the coast of Cornwall, Broadway workman Lewis Allen's directorial feature debut THE UNINVITED is not a spine-tingling scare-fest one might expect it to be, but a decorous melodrama seeking out the truth about a past tragedy tinged with a tint of Gothic spookiness owing to Charles Lang's stupendous Oscar-worthy camera work through minimal torchlight and candlelight in the mansion where the London siblings Rick (Milland) and Pamela (Hussey) Fitzgerald dwell.
The mansion is called Windward House, which the siblings buy from Commander Beech (a lumpen Crisp) for a knockdown price. The Commander is very cagey about the history of the house and whose only intention is to get the pecuniary profit to secure the future for his 20-year-old granddaughter Stella Meredith (Russell), he brazenly makes it clear that they don't want anything to do with the Fitzgeralds after the deal is cut and dried, intriguing, isn't it? It is not every day someone is offering to buy a jinxed house. But an impressionable and spontaneous Stella takes a liking for the debonair but expansive Rick, confides in him that she feels a strong yet strange connection toward the house where she has been forbidden to set her foot since she was three, when her mother fell to her death from the escarpment in front.
So, apparently it is the apparition of Mary, Stella's mother who torments the new residents with the nightly wailing, chilling draft and pungent scent of mimosa (a clever olfactory indicator as we have to take the characters at their word), but the plot thickens when more details are disclosed: Stella's father had a gypsy mistress Carmel, and the rumor says that it is her who murdered Stella's mother then died of illness afterward. At this step, the ghosts become plural, the rub is whether it is Mary's benevolent calling or Carmel's malignant hex that draws Stella back to the place? Or, as we are all fully aware, there would be a final reveal to overturn all the previous presumptions, after the fuss of a seance and the intervention of a formal nurse, Mary's best friend Miss Holloway (Skinner), there is something fishy about Stella's real identity.
Not quite often a pair of siblings is put in the center of a household, Milland and Hussey make do with their rivalry-free interaction and instill a patina of sangfroid which doesn't seem to be congruent with the mystical happenings, and willfully gives the movie a jocund vibe, if they are not spooked, how can we, armchair rubberneckers, be startled through vicariousness? Forever remembered by Victor Young's theme strain STELLA BY STARLIGHT, a fresh-faced Gail Russell is pleasant to behold, but couldn't be bothered to register a convincing reaction after receiving the bolt from the blue, which mars this otherwise fairly sustained suspense (along with Rick's half- hearted final smack-down with Mary's misty specter). In fact, the best part comes from a scrumptiously scenery-chewing Cornelia Otis Skinner, flagrantly furnishes the story with the requisite venom which one cannot get enough in the genre of uncanny mysteries, which, if really is your cuppa, bearing in mind that Jack Clayton's THE INNOCENTS (1961) is a far superior achievement to be amazed, transfixed and awe-struck.
It is never too soon to signpost this film as the new landmark in today's queer cinema-scape
French queer filmmakers Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau's seventh feature, Paris 05:59: THÉO & HUGO alludes as much to Agnès Varda's CLEO FROM 5 To 7 in its relation to the real-time plot device, as to Richard Linklater's BEFORE trilogy, where two individuals are trying to build something intimate and meaningful through small talks in a spontaneously perambulating pace.
But, as a testimonial to the filmmakers true grits, the film takes a bold and sensational initiative to instantaneously put off the prudish and conservative alike, by kicking off the movie with a lurid hardcore sex orgy inside an iridescent bar through the eye of a predator seeking his preys, and then setting its focal point to our two titular protagonists struck by coup de foudre and beginning to consummate their libidinous thrusting in the accompaniment of trippy beats and day-glo lights, but with a consequence, which Ducastel-Martineau duo tactfully explores as the brunt of what happens later that night when they exit together from the bar at 04:47 A.M.
The film does a cracking job in establishing the "sex first, love later" scenario in a post-AIDS 21st century, when carnal impulse receding, the two strangers, both are satisfying with their physical encounter, make tentative steps to know each other from the scratch, and their bonhomie hits a halt when a felix culpa pans out, and the duo must re-connect their rhythm and re-consider their possible future within an approximate one-hour time-line as the film finishes precisely at 06:00.
More often than not, a film hyped by unsimulated sex sequences would suffer from being made light of its less grandstanding elements, for example, Ducastel-Martineau duo's apt punctuation of commentaries concerning those socially marginalized: a hospital devolves the night shift to its distaff employees, homophobia vituperation pelted to the sexuality minority, a Syrian immigrant's perspective on freedom and a senior chambermaid's impromptu babbling (and a resultant blooper for the sharp-eyed), all add a touch of political angel but never overstay their welcome.
The two leads are giving a wholesomely winning and empathetic performance (if it sounds like an understatement after their corporeal sacrifice of leaving nothing to imagination), Geoffrey Couët inhabits a somewhat rustic complexion into Théo's wide-eyed-ness, and François Nambot as Hugo, often takes the lead in their conversation with his youthful urbanity and amiability, a smitten, can-do spirit has no affectation and pretension, which makes the ineffable ending such a boon to be appreciated, not just for their hard-earned chance, but also for Ducastel-Martineau's ingenuity and seeming effortlessness (a keen eye of a nocturnal locus under the unadorned lighting arrangement) of conjuring up something extraordinarily honest, heartfelt and aesthetically arresting out of an ordinary story arc, it is never too soon to signpost this film as the new landmark in today's ever-progressive queer cinema-scape, because the battle hasn't been (completely) won yet.
Big Night (1996)
a food-porn interspersed with fraternal clashes
Little seems to know that our beloved screen-chameleon Stanley Tucci has a low-profile director career, with five features under his belt to this day, which all started with BIG NIGHT, a food-porn interspersed with fraternal clashes, co-directed with his high-school friend Campbell Scott.
Tucci is a formidable triple-threat in the picture, apart from taking credit in the script department, he plays the central character Secondo ("second" in Italian), an Italian immigrant in New Jersey in the 1950s, he opens a restaurant called Paradise with his perfectionist elder brother Primo (for sure, it means "first" in Italian, played by Shalhoub), who is a chief par excellence but cannot deign himself to accommodate the eclectic American taste, for him, it is the "rape" of the love of his life. Therefore, the business is gloomy, as the manager, Secondo is equipped with street smart and intent to sink his teeth into making good in the promise land. The titular "big night" is game- changer vouchsafed by their benevolent competitor Pascal (Holm), who runs an eponymous restaurant nearby with success (first you cook what the customers want, and after that you can teach them what to eat!). Financially strapped, the brothers go for broke and organize a lavish banquet to entertain the popular singer Louis Prima as their last resort, but, there is a catch, is Pascal's deed really altruistic, does he have an axe to grind?
Although both Tucci and Shalhoub's strained American accents cannot escape a born-and-raised Italian ear (not this reviewer anyhow), the performances are barnstorming: Tucci turns head in his no-holds-barred incarnation of someone who is at once aspirant and frustrated, self-deceiving and delectably sympathetic (albeit his bed-hopping habit and an eye-rolling treatment of being caught red-handed near the end); Shalhoub, on the other hand, constrains himself to evince a more ambivalent timber of Primo, whose presence is often waffling between being stubbornly selfish (claiming he is unable to make a sacrifice, but the truth is, he just doesn't want to do something degrading his bloated ego, it is never about Italian gastronomy, he is too afraid to be a fish out of water) and so ineptly reticent (with his capacity of English lexicon wavering implausibly in between different scenes, and a bonhomous Allison Janney is criminally underutilized as his possible love interest); but the true unsung hero in the movie is Ian Holm, who gives a fantastically Janus-faced impersonation peppered with either effervescence or stolidness. Unfortunately, the film fails to pass the Bechdel test, yet between Minnie Driver's lackadaisical girlfriend and Isabella Rossellini's sultry lover, Secondo's two-timing subplot cannot outstrip the consanguineous squabble and affinity.
By and large, BIG NIGHT is an effusive ethnographic study of Italians in America garnished with a profusion of music, gusto and humor, also gets to the bottom of the soi-disant American Dream with a bitter-sweet introspection, although with its closing long-take brazening out the life-goes- on truism, the ending seems to make a virtue out of necessity, why not leave us something more concrete to chew over after the rolling credits, or are the filmmakers simply running out of ideas to consummate a less self-aware culmination? The jury is out there.