Movie reviews

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

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.