The New Yorker

Day for Night (La Nuit Américaine, 1973) – Review by Pauline Kael

Day for Night has the Truffaut proportion and grace, and it can please those who have grown up with Truffaut’s films — especially those for whom Jean-Pierre Leaud as Antoine Doinel has become part of their own autobiographies, with Antoine’s compromises and modest successes paralleling their own.

Serpico: The Hero as Freak – Review by Pauline Kael

What could be a more appropriate subject for a 1973 movie than the ordeal of Frank Serpico, the New York City policeman who became a pariah in the Department because he wouldn’t take bribes? Serpico, whose incorruptibility alienates him from his fellow-officers and turns him into a messianic hippie freak, is a perfect modern-movie hero.

THE KILLING FIELDS (1984): UNREAL – Review by Pauline Kael

The Killing Fields, which is based on Sydney Schanberg’s 1980 Times Magazine article “The Death and Life of Dith Pran,” is by no means a negligible movie. It shows us the Khmer Rouge transforming Cambodia into a nationwide gulag, and the scenes of this genocidal revolution have the breadth and terror of something deeply imagined.

BLOW OUT (1981) – Review by Pauline Kael

De Palma keeps our senses heightened that way all through Blow Out; the entire movie has the rapt intensity that he got in the slow-motion sequences in The Fury (1978). Only now, De Palma can do it at normal speed.

RAMBO: FIRST BLOOD PART II (1985) – Review by Pauline Kael

Rambo: First Blood Part II explodes your previous conception of “overwrought”—it’s like a tank sitting on your lap firing at you. Jump-cutting from one would-be high point to another, Rambo is to the action film what Flashdance was to the musical, with one to-be-cherished difference: audiences are laughing at it.

PURPLE RAIN (1984) – Review by Pauline Kael

As a movie, Purple Rain is a mawkish fictionalized bio […] It’s pretty terrible; the narrative hook is: will the damaged boy learn to love? There are no real scenes—just flashy, fractured rock-video moments.

GREMLINS (1984) – Review by Pauline Kael

Gremlins isn’t dull; there’s always something going on. In one scene, we discover that Giz can reproduce musical tones; nothing comes of it. The picture is an unholy mixture—a whimsical pop shocker—and finally nothing comes of any of it.

CRIMES AND MISDEMEANORS (1989) – Review by Pauline Kael

Crimes and Misdemeanors, written and directed by Woody Allen, is a sad, censuring look at the world-famous doctor and other crooks in high places who (in Allen’s view) have convinced themselves that they can do anything, because they don’t think God is watching.

HELL IN THE PACIFIC – Review by Pauline Kael

Lee Marvin and Toshiro Mifune are the stars of Hell in the Pacific, and there’s nobody else in the movie — just this American soldier and this Japanese soldier stranded on a Pacific island during the Second World War, and neither speaking a word of the other’s language.

KAGEMUSHA (1980) – Review by Pauline Kael

A new epic film by Kurosawa is an international event, especially when it’s the only film he has made in Japan in ten years, after he had just about given up hope of ever working there again.

POPEYE (1980) – Review by Pauline Kael

Sometimes the components of a picture seem miraculously right and you go to it expecting a magical interaction. That’s the case with Popeye. But it comes off a little like some of the Jacques Tati comedies, where you can see the intelligence and skill that went into the gags yet you don’t hear yourself laughing.

Tess (1979) – Review by Pauline Kael

Polanski’s Tess is Hardy’s Tess of the D’Urbervilles under sedation. The film has a penitential attitude toward the suffering that men inflict on women. This Tess becomes a tribute to women’s dear weakness.

2001: A Space Odyssey

BEYOND THE STARS – by Jeremy Bernstein

We are happy to report, for the benefit of science-fiction buffs—who have long felt that, at its best, science fiction is a splendid medium for conveying the poetry and wonder of science—that there will soon be a movie for them. We have this from none other than the two authors of the movie, which is to be called Journey Beyond the Stars—Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke.

THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE: ANARCHIST’S LAUGHTER – Review by Pauline Kael

The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is a cosmic vaudeville show —an Old Master’s mischief. Now seventy-two, Luis Bunuel is no longer savage about the hypocrisy and the inanity of the privileged classes. They don’t change, and since they have become a persistent bad joke to him, he has grown almost fond of their follies—the way one can grow fond of the snarls and the silliness of vicious pets.