Rain Man is Dustin Hoffman humping one note on a piano for two hours and eleven minutes. It’s his dream role. As the autistic savant Raymond Babbitt, he’s impenetrable: he doesn’t make eye contact or touch anyone or carry on a conversation; he doesn’t care what anybody thinks of him.
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.
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.
This movie has had the bad judgment to turn Robin Williams into a role model. Good Morning, Vietnam takes a real culture hero and turns him into a false one.
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.
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.
If John Huston’s name were not on Prizzi’s Honor, I’d have thought a fresh new talent had burst on the scene, and he’d certainly be the hottest new director in Hollywood. The picture has a daring comic tone—it revels voluptuously in the murderous finagling of the members of a Brooklyn Mafia family, and rejoices in their scams.
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.
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 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, 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.