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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
Essentially, Ran is about color and pattern, the formality and pageantry of warfare, and the fun of melodrama.
The Right Stuff has the happy, excited spirit of a fanfare, and it’s astonishingly entertaining, considering what a screw-up it is.
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.
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.
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.
Now that its title has been changed from Bed of Fear (as it was called when I wrote about Stanley Kubrick’s last picture in Sight and Sound) to The Killing, one need really have no reservations at all. This shrewd, engrossing, complete-in-itself melodrama is the kind of film one had begun to think was no longer possible to make in Hollywood.
The young writer-director-photographer-editor of this unpromisingly titled film has a good deal of talent. He made Killer’s Kiss a year or so ago in New York—on location and in a small studio—and later sold it to United Artists for distribution. He has now directed his first Hollywood film, a melodrama called (also unpromisingly) Bed of Fear.
Fanny and Alexander may be Bergman’s farewell to film, but it is neither a work of pure nostalgia nor of self- pity and lamentation. It is a loving testament to and celebration of the continuity, infinite possibility, and power of art and the imagination.
Lolita has everything it needed to be as brilliant and beautiful as the novel, except great direction. Vladimir Nabokov’s screenplay is a model of adaptation—resourceful, economical, light-bodied.
2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) remains Kubrick’s crowning, confounding achievement. Homeric sci-fi film, conceptual artwork, and dopeheads’ intergalactic joyride, 2001 pushed the envelope of film at a time when Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music ruled the box office.
This story of men at war under the sea has hardly a newly minted plot device or character trait to its name, yet rarely has familiar material been put together with such verve and dash. A very traditional war movie done with the most rigorous attention to both physical and psychological realism, Das Boot is the submarine movie to end all submarine movies.
When I discovered that Pretty Poison had opened without advance publicity or screenings, I rushed to see it, because a movie that makes the movie companies so nervous they’re afraid to show it to the critics stands an awfully good chance of being an interesting movie. Mediocrity and stupidity certainly don’t scare them; talent does.
Only the title of Jean-Luc Godard’s new film is casual and innocent; Weekend is the most powerful mystical movie since The Seventh Seal and Fires on the Plain and passages of Kurosawa. We are hardly aware of the magnitude of the author-director’s conception until after we are caught up in the comedy of horror, which keeps going further and becoming more nearly inescapable, like Journey to the End of the Night.
By taking a book by an author who is at the center of the craze for the supernatural, and turning it into a refusal of and subtle comment on that loopy cultural phenomenon, Kubrick has made a movie that will have to be reckoned with on the highest level