March 25, 2002
It’s back. Not that it is ever absent for long, but the present instance is particularly irritating. Here again is the oxymoron—the picture that combines strong execution and a poor screenplay. In this case the screenplay is not merely poor, it is dreadful, but it is more ostentatiously so because the other components are so fine. Harrison’s Flowers (Universal Focus) is a French-financed venture with a French director and with American and British actors in the principal roles.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Sense and Sensibility
October 29, 2001
David Lynch once said: "I don't think that people accept the fact that life doesn't make sense. I think it makes people terribly uncomfortable." This is a truth past question, I'd say, but how is an artist to make use of this truth? Lynch, whose directing and writing career glows with talent, has developed a mode that serves his perception. He devises films that seem sensible, sufficiently so as to engage us, and then he proceeds to subvert sense. Other artists structure their work in an order that itself pleases us and then use their order as an avenue to fundamental disorder.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Unflinching
September 24, 2001
Comparisons and pigeonholes are first aids for critics. Examples: "Mr. A's film treats the same theme as Mr. B's, but it doesn't [or does] surpass it." And: "Mr. A's film is one more of the line that began with Mr.
Styanley Kauffmann on Films: Attitudes, Plus Love
October 01, 2000
Brief Interviews With Hideous Men IFC Entertainment 35 Shots of Rum Cinema Guild David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews With Hideous Men has been adapted for the screen. Well, parts of it have been adapted--chiefly, the four parts that bear the same title as the book and the film. Wallace’s book is a miscellany of prose outbursts, some that soar in known styles, some that fling aside known styles, some of deliberate wildness. The book evokes much the same reaction as does Godard.
November 30, 1998
Here is Meryl Streep again. (And, I hope, again and again.) Only a few weeks ago One True Thing presented her as an American housewife, with Streep struggling bravely to pry her role free of a cereal ad in a women's magazine. She had more success than the banal role deserved. Now she takes on a much more taxing challenge. She joins a cast of foreign actors and performs as one of the foreign group. In Dancing at Lughnasa (Sony Pictures Classics) she is one of five Irish sisters.
TNR Film Classics: ‘Lolita’ (October 5, 1998)
October 05, 1998
Bill Clinton influences the film world. The missile attacks that he recently ordered have revived interest in Wag the Dog. His personal behavior has extended permissiveness in public discussion; so it has, in some degree, affected the atmosphere in which Lolita (Samuel Goldwyn) arrives. Candor passed a milestone in this country with a comment by a man interviewed on a news program last month: “I never thought I’d have to explain oral sex to my eleven-year-old daughter.” And this is only one of the fractures of reticence that have lately been crackling all around us. Clinton is not into pedoph
June 08, 1998
Hollywood and politics have been going together for a long time. Kevin Brownlow showed in Behind the Mask of Innocence that political comment in American films began much earlier than is generally thought.
A Visit, A Voyage
January 12, 1998
As if Emma Thompson weren't enough of a gift from heaven, now we have her mother, too, Phyllida Law. And the two of them in the same film, playing daughter and mother! Law is a highly experienced actress in British theater and TV and film, but The Winter Guest (Fine Line) is the first time she has had a prominent role in a picture seen here, and it's certainly our first chance to see her play her daughter's mother.When she and Thompson are on screen together, it's almost possible to discern what Law was and what Thompson will be.
TNR Film Classics: ‘Titanic’ (January 5 & 12, 1998)
January 05, 1998
Surely someone has counted all the books and films about the Titanic, and I'm glad I don't know the result. A Broadway musical about it is now running. And here is the latest film. Titanic (Paramount-20th Century Fox), reportedly the most expensive picture ever made. Reasons for the story’s interest are not obscure. The luxurious Titanic was called unsinkable, the safest ship ever built; and it went down on its maiden voyage in April 1912, four days after it had sailed from Southampton for New York.
Antonioni: Some Notes
October 28, 1996
The latest work by Michelangelo Antonioni, one of the premier artists in the world history of film, is Beyond the Clouds. I put no distributor after the title because, as yet, it has none for this country, although one is said to be en route. The picture was shown at the recent New York Film Festival. As one who has severely questioned that festival, I must note that it has shown all three of Antonioni's films since The Passenger (1975).