Movie reviews

Trading Places (1983)

Trading Places (1983) – Review by Richard Schickel

Trading Places is one of the most emotionally satisfying and morally gratifying comedies of recent times. Eddie Murphy demonstrates the powers of invention that signal the arrival of a major comic actor, and possibly a great star.

The Last American Hero (1973)

The Last American Hero (1973) – Review by Pauline Kael

“The last American hero” never goes soft, and maybe that’s why the picture felt so realistic to me; it wasn’t until I reread the Wolfe piece that I realized what a turnaround it was. But we believe the worst now — maybe only the worst.

Body Double (1984) Melanie Griffith and Brian De Palma

Body Double (1984) – Review by Pauline Kael

If Brian De Palma were a new young director, Body Double would probably be enough to establish him as a talented fellow. But, coming from De Palma, Body Double is an awful disappointment.

Blade Runner – Review by Stanley Kauffmann

To enjoy Blade Runner, you need only disregard, as far as possible, the actors and dialogue. (And the score) The script is another reworking of a threat to humans by humanoids —one more variation on the Invasion of the Body Snatchers theme.

The King of Comedy – Review by Stanley Kauffmann

The picture is virtually bare of Scorsese style, such touches, heavy or helpful, as the opening manhole shot of Taxi Driver or the opening prize-ring sequence of Raging Bull. I saw nothing in The King of Comedy that couldn’t have been done by any competent director. Cinematically, it’s flavorless.

Raging Bull (1980) De Niro and Scorsese on set

Raging Bull – Review by Stanley Kauffmann

Seeing Martin Scorsese’s new film is like visiting a human zoo. That’s certainly not to say that it’s dull: good zoos are not dull. But the life we watch is stripped to elemental drives, with just enough decor of complexity—especially the heraldry of Catholicism —to underscore how elemental it basically is.

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971)

McCabe & Mrs. Miller (1971) – Review by Pauline Kael

“McCabe & Mrs. Miller” is a beautiful pipe dream of a movie — a fleeting, almost diaphanous vision of what frontier life might have been. The film, directed by Robert Altman, and starring Warren Beatty as a small-time gambler and Julie Christie as an ambitious madam in the turn-of-the-century Northwest, is so indirect in method that it throws one off base.

Thieves Like Us (1974)

Thieves Like Us (1974) – Review by Pauline Kael

“Thieves Like Us” comes closer to the vision and sensibility of Faulkner’s novels than any of the movie adaptations of them do. Altman didn’t start from Faulkner, but he wound up there. If he did a Faulkner novel, he might not be able to achieve what people want him to. But “Thieves Like Us” is his Faulkner novel.

Moscow on the Hudson (1984)

Moscow on the Hudson (1984) – Review by Pauline Kael

This is a movie in which you are expected to understand the hero when he tries to explain the difference between being unhappy in New York and in his homeland. “In Russia,” he says, “I did not love my life but I loved my misery, because it was mine.”

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983)

Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) – Review by Pauline Kael

I didn’t expect (or want) Twilight Zone—The Movie to be Borgesian, but I did rather hope that John Landis, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, and George Miller—the four young directors who are paying homage to the TV series—would tease us with more artful macabre games than the ones of the old shows.

Kyle MacLachlan and Sting in Dune

Dune (1984) – Review by Pauline Kael

It doesn’t take long to realize that basically this isn’t a David Lynch movie—it’s Dune. Lynch doesn’t bring a fresh conception to the material; he doesn’t make the story his own. Rather, he tries to apply his talents to Herbert’s conception.

A Passage to India (1984)

A PASSAGE TO INDIA – REVIEW BY PAULINE KAEL

The movie version, adapted, directed, and edited by David Lean, is an admirable piece of work. Lean doesn’t get in over his head by trying for the full range of the book’s mysticism, but Forster got to him.