Barry Lyndon is utterly the opposite of the loose, improvised movies which are so popular with many critics these days. Every detail of it is calculated; the film is as formal as a minuet.
A chief trouble with Martin Scorsese’s new film is that it has to strain to be a Scorsese film. Certain graphic qualities have marked most of his work, and as with any director of personality and style, those qualities had become as natural to him as breathing. But in Bringing Out the Dead, the formerly natural seems forced, redemptive, almost salvaging.
Anyone ignorant of Lynch who sees The Straight Story will need an extra mite of patience to allow its beauty to unfold; others will be curious from the start about why this unconventional filmmaker chose this material, and that curiosity will speed up the unfolding.
This latest Star Wars has the same basic effect as the other three: the sense that it was made not only for children but for the belief in many adults that they are still kids at heart.
Eyes Wide Shut is a catastrophe—in both the popular sense and the classical sense of the end of a tragedy. Everything in Kubrick that had been worming through his career, through his ego, and through his extraordinary talent swells and devours this last film.
Films like Top Gun bring out the pharisee in many of us. We deplore the ethos that these films promote at the same time that, somewhere deep in us, we’re glad that at least some people live by that ethos.
Wings of Desire constantly articulates the impossibility of finding any meaning in anything. At the same time, it’s a love-story message movie.
Top Gun is a recruiting poster that isn’t concerned with recruiting but with being a poster.
The Piano, garlanded with Cannes Festival prizes, is an overwrought, hollowly symbolic glob of glutinous nonsense
Fellini discards the twin staples of character development and continuous narrative in favor of a series of set pieces organized around the tension between Rome’s mythic past and uncertain future.
In Fellini’s Roma, the director has totally liberated his obsessions from the discipline of telling a story or developing a character or even maintaining a comprehensible point of view.
We have never been overburdened with movies about electoral politics, probably because the process of running for office in this country is in itself such a highly entertaining pastime, at least for spectators.
In The Candidate, Redford and Ritchie have teamed again to deliver what I think is nothing less than the best movie yet done about politics in coaxial America.
One of the greatest films ever made, “The Sorrow and The Pity” is a contribution to history, to social psychology, to anthropology, and to art. If there’s any justice in the world, Marcel Ophüls’ monumental labor will be studied and debated for years.
The mesmerizing ‘L.A. Confidential’ unfolds in a seductive demimonde where violence and desire, nobility and vice, all intersect.
Woody Allen, to our relief, has decided to embrace the movies—a story, dramatic tension, complications—rather than “art,” with the result that he’s more of a moviemaker and perhaps more of an artist than before.
Spectacular yet severe, violent yet gravely formal, Kagemusha is marked by an overall nobility of style that extends to every gesture, stance, or movement.
Heartfelt and sincere, Ordinary People plods along glumly and finally achieves a moderate degree of emotional truth and power, but it’s far from an imaginative movie.
Coal Miner’s Daughter is a musical bio-pic without hysteria—a sweet-souled movie in a genre known for its flamboyant miseries and luxuriant despairs.
Tarantino serves up low-life characters and situations from old novels and movies, and he revels in every manner of pulp flagrancy—murder and betrayal, drugs, sex, and episodes of sardonically distanced sadomasochism.
Night and the City is based on a Jules Dassin B-movie from 1950 (same title), but its true spiritual antecedent, I suspect, is Sweet Smell of Success, the wonderfully ambivalent melodrama about the pleasures and corruptions of New York night-life in the late fifties, starring Tony Curtis and Burt Lancaster.