The New Yorker

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.

JULES AND JIM – Review by Pauline Kael

Jules and Jim is not only one of the most beautiful films ever made, and the greatest motion picture of recent years, it is also, viewed as a work of art, exquisitely and impeccably moral.

PALE RIDER (1985) – Review by Pauline Kael

As an actor, Eastwood never lets down his guard. His idea of being a real man is that it’s something you have to pretend to be—as Sergio Leone put it, he’s wearing a suit of armor. This actor has made a career out of his terror of expressiveness. Now here he is playing a stiff, a ghost. It’s perfect casting, but he doesn’t have the daring to let go and have fun with it. Even as a ghost, he’s armored.

BACK TO THE FUTURE (1985) – Review by Pauline Kael

What keeps Back to the Future from being a comedy classic is that its eye is on the market. Despite Zemeckis and Gale’s wit in devising intricate structures that keep blowing fuses, the thinking here is cramped and conventional. I wish that moviemakers and their designers would stop using old Life magazines for their images of the American past.

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND: THE GREENING OF THE SOLAR SYSTEM – Review by Pauline Kael

Close Encounters of the Third Kind is the most innocent of all technological-marvel movies, and one of the most satisfying. This film has retained some of the wonder and bafflement we feel when we first go into a plan­etarium: we ooh and aah at the vastness, and at the beauty of the mystery. The film doesn’t overawe us, though, because it has a child’s playfulness and love of surprises.

BERNARDO BERTOLUCCI’S 1900: HAIL, FOLLY! – Review by Pauline Kael

Bertolucci is trying to transcend the audience appeal of his lyrical, psy­chological films. He is trying to make a people’s film by drawing on the mythology of movies, as if it were a collective memory. 1900 is a romantic moviegoer’s vision of the class struggle—a love poem for the movies as well as for the life of those who live communally on the land.

THE AMERICAN FRIEND – Review by Pauline Kael

Angst-dark primary colors—reds and blues so intense they’re near­psychedelic, yet grimy, rotting in the thick, muggy atmosphere. Cities that blur into each other. Characters as figures in cityscapes or as exiles in rooms that are insistently not home. And, under it all, morbid, premon­itory music.

PADRE PADRONE: THE SACRED OAK – Review by Pauline Kael

The Taviani brothers have learned to fuse political commitment and artis­tic commitment into stylized passion. Their film Padre Padrone has the beauty of anger that is channelled and disciplined without losing inten­sity.

QUEST FOR FIRE (1981) – Review by Pauline Kael

Eighty thousand years ago, on broad primeval plains, Naoh (Everett McGill), the bravest warrior of the spear-carrying Ulam tribe, and two fellow-warriors, Amoukar (Ron Perlman) and Gaw (Nameer El-Kadi), are sent out on the sacred mission of finding fire and bringing it back to the Ulam.

Mean Streets: Everyday Inferno – Review by Pauline Kael

Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets is a true original of our period, a triumph of personal filmmaking. It has its own hallucinatory look; the characters live in the darkness of bars, with lighting and color just this side of lurid. It has its own unsettling, episodic rhythm and a high-charged emo­tional range that is dizzyingly sensual.

THE COLOR PURPLE (1985) – Review by Pauline Kael

If you’re among the millions of people who have read the book, you probably expect the actors to be more important than they turn out to be. The movie is amorphous; it’s a pastoral about the triumph of the human spirit, and it blurs on you.

THE GODFATHER: ALCHEMY – Review by Pauline Kael

A wide, startlingly vivid view of a Mafia dynasty, in which organized crime becomes an obscene nightmare image of American free enterprise. The movie is a popular melodrama with its roots in the gangster films of the 30s, but it expresses a new tragic realism, and it’s altogether extraordinary.

Dirty Harry

Dirty Harry: Saint Cop – Review by Pauline Kael

Dirty Harry is obviously just a genre movie, but this action genre has always had a fascist potential, and it has finally surfaced. Since crime is caused by deprivation, misery, psychopathology, and social injustice, Dirty Harry is a deeply immoral movie.

Excalibur (1981) – Review by Pauline Kael

Boorman doesn’t bother with episodes that don’t stir him; there’s no dull connective tissue. The film is like Flaubert’s more exotic fantasies—one lush, enraptured scene after another.

The Elephant Man (1980) – Review by Pauline Kael

The Elephant Man is a very pleasurable surprise. Though I had seen Eraserhead, which is the only other feature directed by David Lynch, and had thought him a true original, I wasn’t prepared for the strength he would bring out of understatement.