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Design for Living

Pre Code Elegance
Delightful even if more Ben Hecht than Noel Coward. The "menage a trois" has real brains, wit and magic. All due to the sensational chemistry between Gary Cooper, Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins and, of course, the unmistakable Lubitch touch. I was going to say that the film seems written today but the sad truth is there is nobody today that could write with this extraordinary elegance. Frediric March is masculine and volcanic, Gary Cooper feminine and irresistible and Miriam Hopkins, a sensational modern comedienne. As if this wasn't enough, Edward Everett Horton as Mr Wrong. The scene in which Hopkins compares Cooper and March to hats is one of my all time favorites.

The Blind Side

Sandra Bullock as Saint Sandra Bullock In A Terrific TV Movie
I must confess I was weeping 5 minutes into the movie and that's unusual for me. I had read the book and in the book nothing is that black or that white for that matter, but this is as movie and as a movie it works. I was expecting commercial interruptions every few minutes, the film felt so much like a TV movie. But that is not necessarily a bad thing. The Michael Oher story had to be told even with the poetic licenses that the film takes, shamelessly. Sandra Bullock plays herself beautifully as always and her character with all her saintly stern, southern modern American woman could not move away too far from "Miss Congeniality". But it works and at the end of the day, after paying the prices one pays at the box office, it's almost enough. Why they had to ruin it with an Oscar nomination? The nomination makes you look for something in her performance that clearly isn't there. If you go to a Sandra Bullock movie, the quality of the movie may vary but she is always terrific, playing that Sandra Bullock character. Good for her.

American Psycho

Cruelty and Christian Bale
A very funny horror flick. A worthy companion piece to its literary roots. A phenomenal, fearless performance by Christian Bale that, in a way, cleared up my questions about this versatile British actor. I could never quite warm up to him. Not even in "Little Women". Now, Bale as Patrick Bateman, revealed the reason. It is the cruelty around his mouth. His smiles are chilling and they work to perfection in this, his yuppie modern monster.His actions have the pristine shallowness of his business cards and the disgusting taste of his self awareness. You don't feel sorry for him, the way one did for Norman Bates. No, his character is unredeemable. His rough sex with two women while he rides one of them looking at himself in the mirror is one of the most disturbing film moments I've ever seen. I wonder if Bale will ever be able to play goodness, convincingly.

The Dying Gaul

Darkest Dark Or Maybe Darker
Hollywood is always a sinister setting, even for a comedy and "The Dying Gaul" is no exception. I don't intend to divulge the ins and outs of the story because that should be your job, but I feel compelled to talk about it because it kind of stacked all over me like some kind of alien jelly. I always loved Campbell Scott and I suspect I always will. He plays the devil - The "I'll give you a million bucks if you abandon completely yourself, your principles, your loyalties" - kind of devil - He is married to the splendid Patricia Clarkson ( part Meryl Streep part Wayland Flower's Madame) and the object of his temptation is Peter Sarsgaard, one of the best creepiest actors ever to appear on film. It may be a personal thing but he gives me the willies. The film is an uncomfortable journey through a strangely familiar landscape that becomes darker and darker. I will take my chances and recommend it.


Click Off, Please, Now!
The idea was great, I grant you that, it always was. From "Faust" to "It's A Wonderful Life" The what if, the second chance, the realization and all the rest. So, can anyone explain to me why the new moronic turns of this perennial tale. The Jerry Springer sensibility that corrodes, diminishes and ultimate destroys what it should have been a lovely movie is what I took with me as I rushed out of the theater. I think that we should all know by now that technical wizardry is not nearly enough and that audiences are smarter than what the smart ass marketing experts seem to think. Is this movie making money? I don't know but I don't think so not even with a million copy opening week end. How sad really. How sad.


The Legend And The Temp
I had such a thrill watching the unsinkable Jane Fonda making a wonderful fool of herself that I've actually saw it twice. The second time with my thumb on the fast forward. I've watched Jane's Viola interview that Brittany Spears clone many, many times. It's outrageously close to the knuckle and Fonda goes for it, body and soul. The problem resides elsewhere. I hope Jennifer Lopez has someone around her who can tell her the truth. She is so bad that the film can't recover from the heaviness of her romantic turns. She is the iceberg to this particular titanic. There is not a moment of sincerity in her entire performance and the fact that she is standing opposite one of the most truthful of actresses in the history of acting makes her appearance all the more jarring. Jane please, gives as more, Jennifer, go back to school.

A Delicate Balance

The Gentle Terror
There is no music in this superb autumn melody. The words in the mouths of the characters are by Edward Albee and that is music enough. Katharine Hepburn plays Agatha, a close relative of the actress if I ever saw one, Paul Scofield is amazing playing the mild volcano of a husband promising eruptions that when they come they are so civilized that, irrigate rather than decimate. Kate Reid, took over from the extraordinary Kim Stanley and as sensational as Miss Reid is I can't help wondering what Stanley would have done with "a" alcoholic like Claire. Lee Remick is the perfect offspring for Hepburn and Scofield. Selfish, tenuous, childish, rich failure. Joseph Cotten and Betsy Blair are the catalysts, they and their fear, their plague coming to contaminate the contaminated. For film and stage gourmets this is an unmissable treat.

Sons and Lovers

The Amazingly Beautiful Dean Stockwell
Jack Cardiff, the director of "Sons and Lovers" was one of the greatest cinematographers ever. Just think of "Black Narcissus" but as a director he lacked that extra something, call it egomania, single mindedness or whatever you want. "Sons and Lovers" is beautifully crafted but it doesn't have a real center and by that I mean, no real point of view, no personality. What a feast however. Trevor Howard got an Oscar nomination for his role here and he is truly wonderful. The marvelous Wendy Hiller manages to give a soul to the monstrous mother and make her sympathetic without betraying the misogynistic nature of DH Lawrence's vision. But the film belongs to Dean Stockwell. His truth and his beauty is what I took away with me and stayed with me, always.

State of Wonder

A Fairy Tale About War, Peace And Religion
A small intimate epic. A film like no other. And where in heaven's name has been all this years. It was made in 1983! Very rarely a film will take a child's point of view and never betray it. This is one of those rare cases. Pichirica (the other side of Forest Gump, the real side)tells us a few heavy duty truths without preaching. The androgynous presence of Nigel Court gives the tale the strange other worldliness that rings so familiar. I saw the film in a badly damaged VHS but the impact was sharp, pungent and pristine. Martin Donovan (the director)plays Father Daniel a young parish priest with musical aspirations and the one ready to take a stand regardless of the consequences. Annie Chaplin (Charlie's younger daughter and a dead ringer for her father) plays the local girl who doesn't intend to leave her birth place " You leave places when you're bored or lonely or unhappy, I'm none of that" she tells Russell the mysterious journalist played stoically by James Telfer (Vanessa in "Apartment Zero")The entire film seems told in Pichirica's language so the grown ups and intelligent speak a little bit like him. I found myself with tears running down my face. I loved the film and I can't wait to see it on a big screen as was intended.

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