Movie reviews

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

DAVID LYNCH: 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. He doesn’t conquer this Goliath—he submits to it, as if he thought there was something to be learned from it. He’s being a good boy, a diligent director.

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.

Empire of the Sun (1987)

EMPIRE OF THE SUN – REVIEW BY PAULINE KAEL

Empire of the Sun begins majestically and stays strong for perhaps forty-five minutes. It’s so gorgeously big you want to laugh in pleasure. Steven Spielberg takes over Shanghai and makes it his city. And then, first in brief patches and then in longer ones, his directing goes terribly wrong.

The Man Who Would Be King

THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING – REVIEW BY PAULINE KAEL

John Huston’s The Man Who Would Be King, based on the Rudyard Kipling short story, is an exhilaratingly farfetched adventure fantasy about two roughneck con men, Danny and Peachy (Sean Connery and Michael Caine), in Victoria’s India, who decide to conquer a barbarous land for themselves.

The Killer Elite (1975)

THE KILLER ELITE – REVIEW BY PAULINE KAEL

Peckinpah’s “The Killer Elite” is intensely, claustrophobically exciting, with combat scenes of martial-arts teams photographed in slow motion and then edited in such brief cuts that the fighting is nightmarishly concentrated—almost subliminal.

Little Big Man (1970)

LITTLE BIG MAN: AMERICANA

In Little Big Man, Arthur Penn uses the mode of comic elegy in order to sustain a reverent feeling for the American past without falling into sentimentality

Little Big Man (1970)

LITTLE BIG MAN: THE RED AND THE WHITE

Jack Crabb is 121 years old. His eyes are agate chips; senility seeps through the cracks in his voice. But Crabb is not your average superannuated former Indian fighter. He is Little Big Man, sole survivor of the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Charlotte Rampling and Woody Allen in "Stardust Memories" (1980)

STARDUST MEMORIES (1980) – REVIEW BY PAULINE KAEL

In ‘Stardust Memories’ we get more of the same thoughts over and over—it’s like watching a loop. The material is fractured and the scenes are very short, but there was not a single one that I was sorry to see end. ‘Stardust Memories’ doesn’t seem like a movie, or even like a filmed essay; it’s nothing.

Brazil (1985) directed by Terry Gilliam

BRAZIL (1985) – REVIEW BY PAULINE KAEL

Brazil is the kind of ornery, intellectually fuzzy labor of love that is bound to strike some people as just about “the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” and perhaps it will affect others as a picture they want for their VCRs, so they can look at it over and over.

The Dead (1987) Anjelica Huston

THE DEAD (1987) – REVIEW BY PAULINE KAEL

The movie is a demonstration of what, in Huston’s terms, movies can give you that print can’t: primarily, the glory of performers—performers with faces that have been written on by time and skill, performers with voices.

The Deer Hunter - Confontation between Mike and Stan

THE DEER HUNTER – REVIEW BY DAVID DENBY [NEW YORK MAGAZINE]

After the early acclaim, The Deer Hunter has been subjected in recent months to an extraordinarily coarse and brutal hazing. Everywhere one encounters people convinced that the movie is racist or fascist, while in the press indignant critics compete with one another in manic overstatement.

Prince of Darkness (1987) by John Carpenter

QUANTUM CREEPS: JOHN CARPENTER’S ‘PRINCE OF DARKNESS’

John Carpenter’s ‘Prince of Darkness’ is an often strange, sometimes terrific but in the end flawed movie that defies broad categorization in a genre known for occasionally creating rigid protective boundaries between what constitutes a horror film and what is science fiction, despite obvious crossover between these forms.