1984 (1984)

Is What It Shows It is a pet peeve of mine to discover films whose point is undermined by its container. Most of these are the trivial case of movies about taking chances and being unique, but the form of the movie is the complete opposite. What we have here is similar, but in an… Continue reading 1984 (1984)

Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple: 4:50 from Paddington (1987)

Missed Train The Marple stories — many of them — are lessons in narrative placement. We start with the basic notion of the mystery narrator shuffling through multiple created realities looking for what makes sense. Marple turns that into the clever notion of detection as gossip: the constructed realities of small town busybodies imposing a… Continue reading Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple: 4:50 from Paddington (1987)

36 Fillette (1988)

Evenings of Cabiria In the late seventies, actress/writer Breillat made a film (“Young Girl”) about the nearly suicidal angst of female sexual discovery/fantasy. It is worth watching for the raw honesty, but it misses being a whole film. Five years later, she wrote a Fellini film, not a good one. It was during the period… Continue reading 36 Fillette (1988)

Bloodsport (1988)

No Bruce Lee Bruce Lee invented a genre; Jackie Chan invented a genre; Sly Stallone invented a minigenre, all with various approaches to personal combat. But these guys deeply understood how film works so they could tap the relevant pressure points. Van Damme did not invent a genre here, despite the best efforts of his… Continue reading Bloodsport (1988)

The Jazz Singer (1980)

No Jazz I like to see remakes, because in many cases you experience two films at once: the film you are watching of course, and the one you recall. Usually that prior one is pretty good. In this case, it IS pretty good, and historically important too. It was the first popular talkie, and not… Continue reading The Jazz Singer (1980)

As Tears Go By (1988)

Streets of Mean No better one day film school can be found in watching “Mean Streets” and then this. Superficially they seem the same and Kar-Wai has told us that he patterned this, his first feature after Scorsese’s first. Here’s the lesson: Scorsese belongs to a school of thinking where actors create characters, real extreme… Continue reading As Tears Go By (1988)

Field of Dreams (1989)

Mann’s Book Odd how you remember movies. My memory is of the sickly sweet score and Costner’s obnoxious fawning manner. All that sentimental BS about baseball that is intended to trap the casual viewer. But in re-seeing this, I remember how very clever it is. It is a movie of a book about a book… Continue reading Field of Dreams (1989)

My Favorite Year (1982)

Drinkin and Humpin with Many I especially appreciate films that fold reality — that somehow build parallel layers of reality and illusion. Here is the oldest formula for folding, but done better than anywhere I know. On the first layer, we have the reality of O’Toole, a once-energetic actor brought low (and nearly killed) by… Continue reading My Favorite Year (1982)

Thirteen at Dinner (1985)

Suchet Sachet Suffers A new batch of old TeeVee Christie adaptations have become available on DVD. I’ve been marching through them valiantly, looking for anything of value. Here it is. This one is good. The story on which it is based is one of Christie’s more interesting experiments in playing with the mystery form: moving… Continue reading Thirteen at Dinner (1985)