The Magic Flute (1975)

“Somehow he [Mozart] managed to make this preposterous bit of humbug the most profound of all his operas….In the most dazzling feat of his career, Mozart turned the libretto’s creaking assemblage of claptrap, platitudes, and misogyny into a sublime fairy tale for adults.” —from Jan Swafford’s commentary on The Magic Flute in The Vintage Guide […]

Into the West (1992)

Ordinarily, I wouldn’t choose a word such as “gritty” to describe a children’s film. This is not an adjective that sits well with Disney, or with excellent films such as The Secret of Roan Innish, The Journey of Natty Gann, The Black Stallion, or The Secret Garden. Pocahontas might be appalling, revisionist history, but it’s […]

Northern Lights (1978)

“One of these days [the Powers that Be’ll] go too far and, well, you know what I’m talking about. I’m an optimist and I know the good comes out of the bad. Things are gonna change. I’m sure of it. I’ve got time. I can wait.” Henry Martinson, farmer & activist, age 94 Despite what […]

Barton Fink (1991)

GARCIN: Hm! So here we are? VALET: Yes, Mr. Garcin. GARCIN: And this is what it [Hell] looks like? VALET: Yes. GARCIN: Second Empire furniture, I observe….Well, well, I dare say one gets used to it in time. VALET: Some do. Some don’t -from J.P. Sartre’s No Exit Unlike Upton Sinclair, William Faulkner, F. Scott […]

The Grifters (1990)

Dolores protested,] “Surely, you cannot think that—” “Think it?” Toddy shook his head. “I don’t even think that you’re trying to steer me away from my one chance to find the murderer. I don’t even think that I might find myself in trouble if I picked you up on that steer—if I tried to leave. […]

King of Jazz (1930)

While I’m sure that a good number of my readers will at least have heard of Lucille Ball, that may not be the case with Paul Whiteman. He’s the “king” in the King of Jazz, a 1930 multimillion-dollar musical extravaganza that makes Kevin Costner’s Waterworld seem unambitious. It also makes even less sense. This is […]

The Long, Long Trailer (1954)

  Who said nostalgia ain’t what it used to be? Obviously, someone who hasn’t spent three hours with Lucille Ball and Paul Whiteman in two movies from the thrilling days of yesteryear: The Long, Long Trailer (1954) and The King of Jazz (1930). The former is slapstick-in-a-Winnebago, while the latter is. . . well. . […]

The Grey Fox (1982)

“[Bill] Miner and his men, posing as prospectors, fled south on foot, with $17 and a bottle of kidney pills, pursued by a large posse, [Mounties from Calgary], and the B.C. Provincial Police.” First, a caveat. Although this month’s review has nothing to do with Clint Eastwood, those of you out there who have either: […]

Black Narcissus (1947)

Servant: “How do I know what nuns eat!?” The Old General: “Do you see that crate? Sausages. They will eat sausages. Europeans eat sausages wherever they go.” Nuns in the Himalayas! Now there’s a somewhat unusual premise for a mainstream English film from the 40’s. Sounds more like an ad for something Ed Wood Jr. […]

Ed Wood (1994) “This is the one. This is the one I’ll be remembered for.”— Ed Wood commenting on his film Plan 9 From Outer Space “Inspector Clay’s dead. Murdered. And somebody’s responsible! “Future events like these will affect you in the future! ” —from Plan 9 From Outer Space It’s not a big list. I’m talking […]