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1996 Edition of Roger Ebert’s Video Companion - Titles Under 'A'
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I came upon the 1996 Edition of Roger Ebert’s Video Companion, probably something I picked up at a Library Used Book Sale years ago. Here are the comments on the movies I’ve seen. We start with the entries under A.

Titles in bold letters: Seen by Me; otherwise, not seen or only partly seen

Numbers in parenthesis: Star Ratings by Roger Ebert

Numbers in brackets: My Ratings

About Last Night (4) [2½] – 1986

Given the general state of movies, critics tend to overrate anything halfway decent. David Mamet’s play Sexual Perversity in Chicago is a distillation of attitudes, suitable for the stage centered on dialogue. No wonder then the ‘adaptation’ is more developed(or filled-in) in terms of narrative and personality. But Edward Zwick didn’t so much flesh out thinly conceived characters as graft Mametics onto the Romance formula of love-at-first-sight, tenderness, heartache, and reconciliation. Demi Moore and Rob Lowe, then in their physical prime, are lightweight but have a certain appeal.

Absence of Malice (3) – 1981

The Accidental Tourist (4) – 1988

Only caught parts of The Accidental Tourist, one of those ‘intelligent’ and ‘sensitive’ works catering mainly to the female audience. Based on an Anne Tyler novel and directed by boomer forger of ‘respectability’ and ‘meaning’, Lawrence Kasdan.

The Accompanist (3½)[3] – 1994

I vaguely remember watching this upon release. One of those respectable European Art House films. Good but not very memorable.

The Accused (3) – 1988

Message Movies aren’t my thing, and I stayed clear of this one. It certainly made Jodie Foster transition from a ‘child star’ to an adult actress.

Ace Ventura: Pet Detective (1) – 1994

Jim Carrey, funny guy but unbearably obnoxious.

The Addams Family (2) – 1991

Addams Family Values (3) – 1993

One of the direst trends in the 1990s was the rush to adapt long-forgotten TV shows into movies. But why? That stuff was made for the small screen for a reason: it wasn’t good enough for the big screen. Never saw Addams Family on TV and don’t care to see the movie versions.

The Adjuster (3) – 1992

Before Atom Egoyan degraded into a second rate sensationalist(and third-rate propagandist for whatever is trendily PC), he was one of the quirkiest figures on the Art House scene, comparable to fellow Canadian David Cronenberg. The Adjuster, which I have yet to watch, was made when he was still at the top of his game.

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (3)[2] – 1989

Within his limited but real talents, Terry Gilliam might have made a decent filmmaker, but his oversized ambition to be the next Welles and Fellini(and dozen other masters) led him to delusional projects of increasing monstrosity. Gilliam’s failures are more the products of overweening infantilism than overreaching imagination, thereby lacking in even the nobility of failure. What for Welles was a metaphor(cinema as a train set) has been a literal truth for Gilliam. Cinema is just one big toyhouse. He hankers to be regarded as a misunderstood visionary, even a genius. He’s really a big baby whose childish antics grew tiresome.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (3) – 1993

The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (2½) – 1994

The Adventures of Priscilla was remade, if my memory serves me correctly, into To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar! Both were made when the idea of transvestism ranged from amusing to ridiculous, something to chuckle about rather than buckle under. How times have changed.

After Hours (4) [3½] – 1985

Despite Raging Bulls burst out of the starting gate, the 80s were generally not a good period for Martin Scorsese. The King of Comedy was estimable, at the very least provocative, but many found it too dark for comedy and/or too light for psycho-drama(about a lunatic, the likes of whom nearly killed Andy Warhol and really killed John Lennon). Still, the film was onto something about the porous boundaries between the real and the unreal in a celebrity-saturated culture where famous stars enter into the lives of millions through the TV set, indeed as if every star is a family member and everyone is a star, or at least a friend of one. In this climate, what is real and unreal? (Today, we can’t even tell what a woman is, and the Zelensky spectacle makes Rupert Pupkin seem downright somber in comparison.) Scorsese had more success with After Hours, also a blend of humor and horror, because it is simpler on the responses. We know when to laugh, when to shudder. Besides, the neuroses and pathologies on display are relatively kid-stuff, even self-congratulatory(as in “Aren’t we New Yorkers so lovably off-the-wall crazy?”, i.e., the denizens of a city too batty to fall asleep). Thus, it never gets under the skin like The King of Comedy does. Based on a thesis by a film-student, it’s lightweight Scorsese, more a sparring session than a full engagement in the ring. But nice moves and fancy footwork.

After the Rehearsal (4) – 1984

Still haven’t caught up with this Ingmar Bergman film. But then, he did name Fanny and Alexander as his final work(as director).

Against All Odds (3)[3] – 1984

Act One is one long Mexican travelogue, and Act Two gets lost in a convoluted plot with a double-or-maybe-triple-cross. But then, Phil Collins’ title song(titanic power ballad) plays with the end titles, and the movie doesn’t seem so bad after all on second thought. What a difference a song makes.

Age of Innocence (4)[4] – 1993

1993 was one of the best years in film, and Scorsese’s contribution added to his stellar record for the whole decade(with Goodfellas, Casino, and Kundun; even parts of Bringing Out the Dead). Comparable to Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons, it was Scorsese’s directorial venture into uncharted territory in terms of style and tone. Though Scorsese’s perspective is that of an enchanted outsider(contra Luchino Visconti with The Leopard), what an eye for detail and keenness of duration(of reality as felt in another time and place). Its fatal flaw is Michelle Pfeiffer in the role of Countess Olenska, whose coquettish demeanor had me wondering what exactly about her got the fella’s head spinning. She is even less exciting than Winona Ryder’s character as a socialite dullard.

Airplane! (3)[4] – 1980

If you have a lot of darts, some will hit the bull’s eye. Zucker Brothers and Jim Abrams had a big sack of darts and threw them all(and then the sack and kitchen sink to boot) until the dart board crashed through the other side of the wall. The sheer level of insanity from start to finish is perhaps the most amazing since the Marx Brothers’ Duck Soup, or at least Woody Allen’s Take the Money and Run. Utterly infantile but inspired.

Airport (2) – 1970

Airport 75 (2½) – 1975

Airport(or was it Earthquake?) may have set off the disaster movie craze of the 1970s. Mostly a worthless(and wasteful) genre(though Cassandra Crossing and Towering Inferno are okay), but it did inspire Airplane!(and the overlooked Big Bus, which came out earlier).

Aladdin (3) – 1993

Alex in Wonderland (4)[2] – 1971

Federico Fellini on the set of had seven and half movies under his belt and international renown as an ‘auteur’. When Paul Mazursky embarked on a similarly semi-autobiographical Alex in Wonderland, he’d completed one short and one feature film. In other words, he hadn’t paid his dues to even ponder the crisis of creative exhaustion, let alone his place in the film firmament.

Alice (3) [2½] – 1990

Featherweight Woody Allen pic made on a whim.

Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (4)[3]

A Woman’s Film done raw, short on sentimentality and heavy on vulgarity. As a piece of New Hollywood realism, it surely owes a thing or two to John Cassavetes. I’d rather have Joan Crawford or The Bad News Bears. (Pet peeve: People getting sloppy with food.) The TV spin-off was more fun: “Kiss my grits.”

Aliens (3½) [2½] – 1986

James Cameron’s sequel to Alien is essentially Rambo-In-Outerspace. Not bad for a shoot-em-up but ultimately no less deadening than Stallone’s bonehead outing.

Alien3 (1½) [3½] – 1992

A much underappreciated Alien sequel, the only one I care for in the entire series. Its theme is as fittingly demented as the visuals and further explores the relative condition of alien-ness. David Fincher’s mastery stands far above the rest, all the more impressive as top directors were involved in the franchise.

Alive (2½) – 1993

All Dogs Go to Heaven (3) – 1989

All of Me (3½) – 1984

All the President’s Men (3½) [3½] – 1976

Oliver Stone claims to have been riveted by Alan Pakula’s film of Woodward-and-Bernstein as Holmes-and-Watson hot on the trail of the Watergate Scandal, that is until he learned most of it is hogwash. Being ignorant of the details surrounding Watergate, I can only comment on the film-making, which is terrific. A worthy addition to the Paranoid Cinema of the time, albeit with the advantage of being based on actual events. It’d be nice to believe the film offer a glimpse into a moment in history when journalism mattered and made a difference(as opposed to now with the total corporatization of big media), but Pat Buchanan has suggested that Watergate itself was a deep state coup, in which Washington Post played a less than principled role.

All the Right Moves (3)[3] – 1983

Released in the same year as Risky Business(which made Tom Cruise a household name), All the Right Moves is a lesser work but features the newly minted star expanding his persona and working hard at it. Already, he sensed he could not rest on his laurels and had to fight for every inch. Not much of a role but Cruise gives it his all, good training for bigger challenges down the road, such as Born on the 4th of July. The energy(and earnestness) on display here came to define his entire career.

All the Vermeers in New York (3) – 1992

Altered States (3½) [2½] – 1980

What might Stanley Kubrick, or even David Cronenberg, have done with Altered States? Such promising material about psychedelics and anthropology(which merged in the Sixties), but in the hands of Ken Russell, just batshit crazy. Nancy Reagan was far more economical: “Just Say No to Drugs”. (Like Milos Forman’s Hair, it was a film out of time.)

Always (2)[3] – 1989

Minor Spielberg but nice. As the story goes, Spielberg and Richard Dreyfus discovered to their surprise that their favorite movie happens to be the same: A Guy Named Joe. As remakes go, it’s on par with Warren Beatty’s Heaven Can Wait(based on Here Comes Mr. Jordan). At the very least, a worthy valentine to what Holly Hunter once possessed in spades as an actress, so full of spunk and sparkle… that is until she skanked herself out in the rancid Piano by the flaky Jane Campion.

Amadeus (4)[3] – 1984

There’s much that is wondrous about Milos Forman’s adaptation, but all said and done, it goes for the lowest common denominator in its pop conception of Mozart(and classical music in general). By the evidence of this film, Mozart was the greatest composer of his era(and maybe of all time) because he had a knack for catchy melodies and coy improvisation. It’s been said in the pop music industry that nothing is harder than composing a catchy tune, the essence of hit songs. But surely there’s more to classical music than conjuring instantly infectious melodies; Mozart was more than the Neil Sedaka of his age.

To be fair, the film draws a distinction between the brilliant but frivolous Mozart, capable of cranking out any number of pleasant ditties, and the dark & tragic Mozart haunted by deeper passions. But Tom Hulce isn’t up to the task, what with his Mozart mostly registering as a missing member of the Monkees. And, his performance is as overshadowed by F. Murray Abraham’s(hammy as it is) as Salieri’s music is by Mozart’s. Possibly the biggest flaw of the film is to diminish Mozart’s peers as a bunch of poseurs and mediocrities. Obviously meant to highlight Mozart as a giant among dwarfs, it actually diminishes him as well: He comes across not so much as The Champ among champions but the good over the bad. How better it would have been if Salieri was given his due as an excellent composer but Mozart was even greater.

Amarcord (4)[3] – 1974

Following his crowning achievement with , Fellini wandered into the wilderness of boundless self-indulgence. Characters, plot, themes, and other conventions of storytelling became peripheral, secondary to his dreams and whimsy. So, it was with a sigh of relief that the critical community received(and over-valued) Amarcord as a kind of return to form, with some semblance of a plot with peoples and places. Still, the juice was gone, and Amarcord is at best a piece of dried fruit. The sets look more like artifice than artifacts of memory. The characters don’t rise above caricatures. Sadly, with the possible exception of And the Ship Sails On, it was Fellini’s last notable work. It also proved to be a respite than a return as he reverted to his bad habits on the subsequent works.

Amateur (2½) – 1995

American Dream (4) – 1992

American Gigolo (3½)[3] – 1980

To better appreciate the role of the director and cinema as a cooperative art, consider the problems of American Gigolo. Though Paul Schader was a competent director, he was not a great one. (Also true of John Milius.) Consider what Scorsese was able to do with Schrader’s screenplays. Had Scorsese or a film-maker of comparable talent directed American Gigolo, there would have ensued a back-and-forth dialectic between writer and director as mutual corrective and inspiration. American Gigolo is all Schrader(as Neon Bresson) with his blinders on and succumbs to his narrow obsessions, much like Sam Peckinpah’s Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia. At the very least, it made Richard Gere a movie star.

American Graffiti (4) [3½]

A landmark New Hollywood film(for commercial than artistic reasons) that harked back to the early 60s before the shit really hit the fan. In light of George Lucas’s trajectory with the success of Star Wars, there’s been the question of what might have been had he stuck with personal film-making, the kind that led to THX-1138 and American Graffiti and was preparing for Apocalypse Now? Given Lucas’s choice of the ‘dark side’ of power and fortune, American Graffiti has gathered a certain mythic poignancy of a dream betrayed, not unlike Ben Kenobi’s tragic sense regarding Annikin. Upon closer inspection, American Graffiti, like THX-1138, is better with machines than mankind(and in this sense a logical precursor to Star Wars). It is also spotty and uneven, especially in the pacing, though ultimately the boyish qualities of charm(Paul LeMat), menace(Harrison Ford), and yearning(Richard Dreyfus) pull it through. Despite its ‘radical’ New Hollywood credentials, it coasts on nostalgia and yearning for lost innocence.

American Me (3½) – 1992

An American Tale: Fievel Goes West (2½) – 1992

An American Werewolf in London (2) [2½] – 1981

If old horror movies done in earnest to frighten later came to seem tame and even unintentionally funny, An American Werewolf in London goes full throttle on state-of-the-art gore but for laughs, which makes it a singularly queasy experience. The ‘American’ werewolf is unmistakably Jewish, and maybe it’s an allegory about anxieties surrounding relations with shikses.

An Angel at My Table (4) – 1991

A Jane Campion film I most certainly do not want to see.

Angel Heart (3½)[3] – 1987

In many respects, just awful with its porny penchant for style for style’s sake, a hallmark of Alan Parker, one of the most shameless sensationalists in movie history. Parker griped the critics were insufficiently appreciative because their literary bias blinded them to the power of visual expression, but fireworks are not to be mistaken for the fire. (Equally hyperbolic Adriane Lyne did better with similar material in Jacob’s Ladder.) Still, a mood of diabolism sustained throughout the film is not easily shaken off. It must have gotten something right to linger in the dark corridors of the mind.

Angels in the Outfield (2) – 1994

Angie (2½) – 1994

Annie (3) – 1982

Annie Hall (3½)[3] – 1977

The timing couldn’t have been better for Allen and NY culture. By 1977 New Hollywood had petered out, and the big ‘auteurs’ seemed to be treading water, sidelined by movies like Jaws and Rocky(and, of course, the big movies of 1977, Star Wars and Close Encounters) or undone by excessive habits(often involving cocaine and worse). Allen was always admired for his wit and even intellect(something he disparaged), but he’d opted for the role of comedian, even clown, well into the mid-70s. But just when the personal element seemed to be fading from American Film, Allen stepped up to the plate in the role of “America’s Bergman”. Annie Hall was showered with accolades and awards, more for what it signified than what it delivered. In retrospect, it seems rather thin. Still, Allen’s mature turn did yield some real treasures in years to come.

Another 48 Hours (2) – 1990

I rather enjoyed 48 Hours by master director Walter Hill but not enough to catch the sequel.

Another Woman (4)[2] – 1988

Woody Allen’s somber piece on cold reserved WASPs is one of his most ‘Bergmanesque’ works. It is also insufferable. Some have noted similarities with Wild Strawberries.

Antonia and Jane (3) – 1991

Apocalypse Now (4)[4] – 1979

Only the first hour is truly great, and the rest drifts and meanders(and stalls at times to make obligatory antiwar statements) before finally settling upon the most anticlimactic of conclusions. Still, the first hour is absolutely stunning, among the very best on celluloid, and there are just enough memorable moments in the rest to make this one of Coppola’s most towering achievements.

Apollo 13 (4) – 1995

I hear this is pretty good, but rah-rah feel-good movies aren’t my thing. And I don’t like Tom Hanks in serious roles, and Opie is dopey.

The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (3) – 1974

Arachnophobia (3) – 1990

Aria (3)[2] – 1988

Aria was pure gimmick masquerading as a cultural event. Big-name directors were handed fat checks to make short films based on arias — music videos for connoisseurs? A wholly cynical enterprise for both parties, promoters and creators alike. That said, Franc Roddam’s music video of Liebstod(Richard Wagner) shot in Las Vegas packs quite a punch.

Ariel (3)[4] – 1990

It’s been so long since I’ve seen this film by Aki Kaurismaki, Finland’s most famous director. I recall it being quite good.

Arizona Dream (3)[2] – 1995

Emir Kusterica was one of the greatest directors in the 80s and 90s, but his Serbo-Croantics don’t translate well into Americana. Unlike the versatile and impersonal Ang Lee, a man for all senses and sensibilities, Kusterica is steeped in a peculiar worldview bordering on cosmology, drawn from the culture of his people and the urban folklore of gypsies. To Kusterica, Arizona might as well be Mars, and to Arizonans, he might as well be a Martian.

Arthur (3½) [2½] – 1981

Mildly amusing Dudley Moore comedy. John Gielgud steals the show as Moore speaks mostly drunken gibberish to Liza Minnelli.

At Close Range (3½) – 1986

At Play in the Fields of the Lord (3½) – 1991

At the Max (4) – 1992

Au Revoir Les Enfants (4)[4] – 1988

There’s something disingenuous, even a bit sickly, about Louis Malle’s film about the Occupation period. It’s clearly meant as an act of atonement, or impossibility thereof, given history cannot be undone, especially where death is involved. There are three layers of guilt here. France as a nation in collaboration with the Germans. Malle’s privileged childhood even during years of hardship for many. And the private sense of guilt that, on some subliminal level, he betrayed the Jewish boy who became his friend. A secret Malle had to get off his chest. Like Ingmar Bergman’s Faithless(directed by Liv Ullmann), the contrition reeks of self-congratulation, i.e. “Look how courageously and, of course, artistically I’m revealing myself to have been a real shit.” Still, beautifully done and undeniably heartbreaking.

Autumn Sonata (4) [3½] – 1978

Bergman’s return to bourgeois chamber drama after prolonged entanglements with clinical psycho-drama(Face to Face and the like), political statement(Serpent’s Egg), and social relevance(Scenes from a Marriage). A sign that he finally got it(whatever it was) out of his system and made peace with the basic pathos of life. No use getting all neurotic over life’s problems that are never resolved. As a film about parent and child, it presages the great post-directorial screenplays about his own parents.

Avalon (3½)[3] – 1990

Barry Levinson sold himself and the audience short. What made Diner so special was its cultural specificity, as the viewer is made to rub shoulders with the local Jews and Catholics of the community. It has the pungency and verve of real ethnic America. Avalon is even more culture specific as it tells the story of two generations of Jewish Americans, from immigrant to son to grandson, but it’s awash in the glow of generic Americana. Levinson transposed the golden boy mythologizing of The Natural onto his Jewish forebears, making them the Golden Jews. It’s about how Jews became Americans through Thanksgiving and the like. The problem is they don’t seem very Jewish to begin with. What’s the point of becoming American if you are already Americanish right off the boat? The Golden Jew aspect is accentuated by some very ‘Aryan’ types cast in lead roles. Does Aidan Quinn even remotely look or sound Jewish? It’s a sanitized portrait of Jewishness. Even the family squabbles seem by-the-numbers, oy-vey as oh-boy. But, it’s obviously a labor of love and offers food for thought on Americanism as a blessing but also a curse that inevitably leads to amnesia.

Awakenings (4) [2½] – 1990

A most fascinating subject material, but the treatment goes from feely-good to feely-sad without anything resembling complexity or ambiguity. Penny Marshall directed. She should have stuck with projects like Big(with Tom Hanks in his best role). It would have worked better if Marshall just laid out the incredible facts and attended less to how we should feel at any given moment. When the material is hot, just serve it cold. The heat is already there.

• Category: Arts/Letters • Tags: Hollywood, Movies 
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  1. Notsofast says:

    six thumbs down, crappy reviews, of crappy movies from a crappy past, not worth remembering.

    • Replies: @Daisy
  2. Apollo 13 (4) – 1995

    I hear this is pretty good, but rah-rah feel-good movies aren’t my thing. And I don’t like Tom Hanks in serious roles, and Opie is dopey.

    The movie is indeed “pretty good”. No doubt this author didn’t bother to watch a more recent rah-rah feel-good Hanks movie – Sully – which was also “pretty good”.

    Both Opie and Blondy did a fairly good job, at least in this reviewer’s opinion.

    • Replies: @Liberty Mike
  3. Trinity says:

    Phil Collins was red hot from 1981-1985. Never saw the movie, “Against All Odds” but loved the song by Collins. “No Jacket Required” an album Collins did in 1985 was fantastic. During this period Collins success was equivalent to Elton John’s run in the 1970’s.

    “American Gigilo” was terrible but Blondie had perhaps their biggest hit with the song, “Call Me.”

    No, ” And Justice For All” with Al Pacino?? Perhaps the best movie Pacino ever made imo.

    If you do the movies starting with B, check out a 1988 flick titled, ” Betrayed ” with Tom Berenger.

    And no, “An Officer And A Gentleman” starring
    Richard Gere?

    ” Angel Heart” showed me an easy way to peel boiled eggs.

  4. AceDeuce says:

    About Last Night: It’s Zwick– or (((Zwick))), actually, not Swick.

    King of Comedy: Supposedly, Marty wanted Johnny Carson himself to play the talk show host/Jerry Lewis part and tried to make it so, but JC eventually nixed it. I’d pay to see that version.

    Against All Odds:-Rachel Ward in her prime–SCHWING! Me Rikey Velly Velly Much!

    All the Right Moves:–Lea Thompson in HER post-jaibait prime, stripping down to her birthday suit on camera–SHWING-A-DING-DING!!!!! AH-OOO-GAH!!! Enough to turn Mayor Pete into JFK, “orientation”-wise.

    BTW–All the Right Moves might be the last (not that there ever were that many) film in which a (kind of) sympathetic White character (the coach–Craig T. Nelson) uses the “N” word, consequence free, in front of his players, including some actual negroids. For that alone, it’s a great film in my book.

  5. uses the “N” word

    But sympathetically…. as in “to the rich kids of the other team, you’re a bunch og ni**ers and polac*s.”

    Yes, he used ‘polack’ too.

    • Agree: AceDeuce
    • Replies: @AceDeuce
  6. Franz says:

    American Graffiti

    Lucas insisted somewhere that life was like that for him. If it was I can only assume his dad owned a stretch of the LA strip and Lil’ George had it to himself.

    In 1962, when it was arbitrarily set, most guys just out of high school were competing for jobs at lumber mills and foundries, and learning to do something better in their own time and on their own dime. If they were lucky they had folks with money and went to college — buy barely a fifth of regular people went to college back then. And very soon they were faced with the draft board and all the other crap only working class boys seemed to buried in.

    The rich kids became Yuppies, after playing hippies first. There were lots of obvious Red Diaper babies teaching at college because the institutions were totally infiltrated during FDR’s long and ghastly presidency.

  7. anon[254] • Disclaimer says:

    This is just stupid. Why do they have this guy on here? I could find better and more sophisticated opinions in a bar.

    • Replies: @Pierre de Craon
  8. AceDeuce says:
    @Priss Factor

    That’s correct.

    Still, better than nothing.

    And, yes, I’m aware that Gunny Hartman also used it, also somewhat benignly, in Full Metal Jacket, which came out about 5-6 years later.

  9. @anon

    This is just stupid.

    Indeed. “Jung-Freud” is never good, but here she scrapes rock bottom.

    Why do they have this guy on here?

    As just intimated above, “this guy” is a woman, otherwise known as Andrea Ostrov Letania. She is the same woman who calls herself Priss Factor and routinely comments favorably on her own columns. Nice work if you can get it.

    I could find better and more sophisticated opinions in a bar.

    Even though bars have fallen on hard times—as has the intelligence of the white people, mainly guys, who made them good places to go—the bar is still a better environment and a more companionable one, too, especially if there is no live or recorded music or television to interfere with the drinking and talking.

    • Thanks: Verymuchalive
  10. Dumbo says:

    Alien 3 is boring. Cameron’s is not good either. To my mind the only good one was the first one by Ridley Scott.

    I like Amarcord. Sure, it’s not the best Fellini, but it does have some memorable scenes. Much better than Satyricon and most of the others he did in this period. (And the Ship Sails On has its moments too).

    Scorsese: After Hours was funny at the time, but feels a bit dated and not so funny now (The King of Comedy, strangely enough, aged much better — the recent Joker borrowed from it to the point of plagiarism. Age of Innocence is still pretty good. I like Michelle Pfeiffer in it.

    Annie Hall: has some moments, but is overrated, like many things by Woody Allen and other very Jewish directors. Still, I suppose one of his best films from this time, together with Sleeper and Love and Death (Take the Money and Run and Bananas are a bit too silly).

    Autumn Sonata is good, much better than the silly “Face to Face”. It’s all about mother vs daughter and Ingrid Bergman vs Liv Ullman.

    That’s my 2 cents. But, are you really going to go all the way to Z??? I’d rather have normal (and not too long) columns.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  11. Dumbo says:

    Priss is better when he (she?) links movies to current events, such as his comments on Casino and Goodfellas and the Jewish takeover. In this, he’s much better than Steve Sailer, who seems to have midwit tastes and understanding of cinema.

    But just a list of very short reviews as this one, I don’t really see the point. I hope he/she/they do not go all the way to Z.

    • Replies: @Thomasina
    , @Thomasina
  12. @Dumbo

    Alien 3 is boring. Cameron’s is not good either. To my mind the only good one was the first one by Ridley Scott.

    First one set the template for a new kind of horror sci-fi, which Carpenter’s THE THING did best, but I think its success owes more to Giger’s set designs and Walter Hill’s script. Scott was good at adding the finishing touch. A finesse artist, as with his greatest achievement, BLADE RUNNER, a highly collaborative effort.

    I like the third one because Fincher is an ace director with style to burn. He understands space and angles like few directors. A geometrist among film-makers. Also, more than others, it furthers the question of what is an alien? After all, humans are aliens in outerspace, no less than the alien monster. In part 3, the two alien forms merge and become monstrous mirror opposites.

    I like Amarcord. Sure, it’s not the best Fellini,

    It’s pleasant enough, but it was greeted at the time as a masterpiece. It was really Fellini pulling out old tricks after leaving people less than impressed with this shabby dream spectacles.

    The King of Comedy, strangely enough, aged much better — the recent Joker borrowed from it to the point of plagiarism.

    KING OF COMEDY bombed. JOKER, a far inferior movie, raked in over a billion dollars. What does that tell you?

    Annie Hall: has some moments, but is overrated,

    Well, it was a start. It took some time for Allen to finally arrive at his own style and manner, best of which is maybe MANHATTAN MURDER MYSTERY. With Annie Hall, he takes wobbly confused steps as comedian and art director.

    • Replies: @Dumbo
    , @SunBakedSuburb
  13. Dumbo says:
    @Priss Factor

    KING OF COMEDY bombed. JOKER, a far inferior movie, raked in over a billion dollars. What does that tell you?

    That 90% of people have bad taste?

    That Jews know how to market stupid things for the stupid masses?

    I still don’t really understand the success of “Joker” (except for its connection with the DC Universe.) It is a sort of pointless, nihilist movie. Perhaps it uses some type of subconscious manipulation. Or perhaps it touched something on the psyche of young people today, who see no hope for the future?

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  14. Thomasina says:

    If I could watch only one movie on this list again, it would be “Always”, and just because of Holly Hunter. I haven’t seen Amadeus yet, but I have a feeling I’d like that too.

  15. @Thomasina

    just because of Holly Hunter

    She won lots of accolades with PIANO but that skankass act obliterated what made her special. Indeed, despite her Oscar win, her career pretty much ended with that mooie.

  16. @Priss Factor

    “I like the third one because Fincher is an ace director with style to burn.”

    Absolutely. Aliens is fun, but Cameron, an SFX specialist, is a competent action director and that’s about it. Alien 3 is a return to the haunted house feel of the first film, by a stylist who approaches Ridley Scott’s visual prowess. As you probably know Alien 3 The Assembly Cut (Fincher’s director’s cut) is the version to watch. The original script for Alien 3 by New Zealander Vincent Ward set Ripley’s final encounter with the xenomorph in a monastery rather than a corporate prison. A monastery would’ve been a better fit for a gothicist like Fincher. The prison setting was imposed by Walter Hill.

  17. by a stylist who approaches Ridley Scott’s visual prowess.

    I wonder about Scott. Fincher’s problem has been lack of material worthy of his material. ZODIAC was one of the few exceptions. So, his prodigious talent has mostly been wasted on trash, like GIRL GONE or bullshit movies like SOCIAL NETWORK. Still, even when the material is piss poor and the movie is trash, his directorial mastery is unmistakable. You can despise the movie but still admire the making of it. FIGHT CLUB is truly a case of ‘toxic masculinity’ but what a powerhouse movie.

    In contrast, when Scott makes a bad movie, it’s terrible in every way, even the craft. LEGEND, THELMA & LOUISE, HANNIBAL(could only stomach 20 min), GLADIATOR, much of KINGDOM OF HEAVEN, and etc. (And I don’t want to see CONQUEST OF PARADISE. I heard it sucks and looks it from clips.)

    So, I think Scott’s talent is thinner than Fincher’s. Whatever Scott has, it only comes to life with the proper material and input of other talents. BLADE RUNNER is his only true masterpiece.

    Fincher’s talent is obviously there. Scott’s is more latent and has to be teased out.

  18. @Dumbo

    I still don’t really understand the success of “Joker” (except for its connection with the DC Universe.) It is a sort of pointless, nihilist movie.

    Yeah, connection to DC universe. Had it been just a movie about some psycho loser with zero association with superhero stuff, it would likely have flopped or been only moderately successful.

    It suggests pop culture, esp of the comicbook variety, has become the cultural core. So, even when people seek something different, it has to revolve around the fantasy. Thus, JOKER is a pseudo-art-film mutation from comic book material. It is different from most of its kind but nevertheless linked to the source. (UNBREAKABLE may be deemed similar but maybe not. It is rather a rumination on the power of mythology, now sustained through comic book and the like. Unlike JOKER, it is quite brilliant, probably the best thing Shyamalan will ever do.)

    As people weaned on comic book movies grow older, they want something more mature but aren’t willing to put away childish things but rather want them to provide the ‘depth’.

    Another appeal of JOKER could be that anyone can be a villain whereas no one can be a superhero in reality. Young kids identify with the superhero and cheer him against the baddies, but there is no knight in shining armor in reality. However, there are plenty of villains in the real world, and furthermore, even a total nobody, nonentity, and loser can make a mark in the role of villain. You can’t be superman or batman but you can kill lots of innocent people with a truck, gun, bomb, or whatever. In that sense, while the superhero is a fantasy, the villain is reality. We can’t be angels saving the innocent but we can be demons killing them, like what happened in Uvalde. So, while the superhero beats the villain in the movies, the villain wins in reality because it is really possible for any of us, even the biggest loser, to be a monster(and even assassinate the president).

  19. @Priss Factor

    However, there are plenty of villains in the real world, and furthermore, even a total nobody, nonentity, and loser can make a mark in the role of villain. You can’t be superman or batman but you can kill lots of innocent people with a truck, gun, bomb, or whatever. In that sense, while the superhero is a fantasy, the villain is reality. We can’t be angels saving the innocent but we can be demons killing them, like what happened in Uvalde. So, while the superhero beats the villain in the movies, the villain wins in reality because it is really possible for any of us, even the biggest loser, to be a monster(and even assassinate the president).

    That is a shrewd observation. And it may explain, at least in part, the psychology of the contemporary mass-murdering villain.

  20. Thomasina says:

    Sorry, Dumbo. I must have pressed the wrong button and mistakenly replied to your post.

  21. Dumbo says:

    “Amadeus” is OK but it makes a caricature of both Mozart (the “childish genius”) and Salieri (“the envious mediocrity”). Perhaps this is a defect from the original play it was based on, I wouldn’t know.

    But neither is true. Salieri was not a mediocrity, or jealous of Mozart, nor was Mozart such a buffoon as he seems in the film.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  22. Trinity says:

    It would be nice if Priss goes from A to Z. Perhaps once a month do the next letter. “Badlands” based loosely on mass murderer Charles Starkweather was a good flick, and “Bonnie and Clyde with a young Faye Dunnaway was an excellent film. Of course all films will have to be pre-1996 unless Priss chooses films not listed in the book mentioned. ” Boogie Nights” which could be very loosely based on porn star John Holmes came out in 1997-1998 if my memory serves me right. Already mentioned “Betrayed” with Tom Berenger. “Body And Soul” is a good oldie black and white boxing flick.

  23. Trinity writes: It would be nice if Priss goes from A to Z. Perhaps once a month do the next letter.

    I second that excellent suggestion.

    And let’s not forget, many of Ebert’s movie reviews made good sense. He was not into propaganda at all, and had a great filter for quality work.

  24. @Dumbo

    To be sure, AMADEUS isn’t meant to be an accurate biopic about either man. Rather, like Billy the Kid folklore in US history, the myths surrounding both men were used to dramatize questions about the basic ‘unfairness’ of genius. Indeed, look around, and why are some of the silliest people so talented while some of the most sober without talent?

    For all its faults, AMADEUS is still better than IMMORTAL BELOVED. Now, that was dull.

  25. Trinity says:

    “Animal House” was a big hit in the Seventies.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  26. @Trinity

    “Animal House” was a big hit in the Seventies.

    I suppose for the same reason MASH was in the early 70s. But whereas MASH had pretensions of anti-war satire, ANIMAL HOUSE was just total piggery. Like HALLOWEEN, it spawned tons of terrible imitations. For about 10 yrs, just about every other movie about high school or college ran on similar fumes. STRIPES did it for the military, and that was pretty funny.

    • Replies: @Trinity
  27. Trinity says:
    @Priss Factor

    I think Private Benjamin might have come before Stripes, not sure, both in the same time period. I liked Stripes, Private Benjamin not so much. Same thing happened after Platoon, almost immediately out comes Full Metal Jacket. Platoon was a classic imo, not big on Full Metal Jacket although Gunny
    Sgt. Hartman was hilarious.

    • Replies: @Director95
  28. @Thomasina

    The problem with Amadeus – it has TOO MANY NOTES.

  29. Here are more pre- 1996 movies (beginning with A) that I enjoyed:
    A Bridge too Far 1977_ war movie. ww2. great cast.
    After Dark, My Sweet 1990_ Noirsville.
    American Strays 1995_ A weird one about murder and vacuum cleaners.
    Apartment Zero 1996_ So BAD; it’s good.

  30. @Trinity

    Is Stripes the ultimate Cold War spoof?

    I think the Urban Assault Vehicle, featured in Stripes, became a reality in Iraq. I rode one though Baghdad.

  31. @Director95

    Apartment Zero 1996

    A 1996 movie of that title?

    You mean 1988?

    • Replies: @Director95
  32. @Pierre de Craon

    You really have performed a great service here. I generally don’t read this column, as those articles, which I have read, tended to be tedious, overlong and self-regarding, as well as lacking insight into the subject being dealt with. I will know to avoid in future.

    PS She also goes by the moniker Andrea Daley Utronebel.
    I tend to be suspicious of people who use multiple aliases. I wonder if this woman was also the late and unlamented Raches.

    • Replies: @Pierre de Craon
  33. Ray P says:

    One of the direst trends in the 1990s was the rush to adapt long-forgotten TV shows into movies. But why? That stuff was made for the small screen for a reason: it wasn’t good enough for the big screen. Never saw Addams Family on TV and don’t care to see the movie versions.

    The trend of the nineties is ongoing with a new film version of The Munsters coming out directed by Rob Zombie, and Tim Burton has produced a Wednesday (Addams) mini-series. I thought the latter should be titled See you next Wednesday.

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  34. @Priss Factor

    Yes, you are correct on the date – 1988

  35. @Ray P

    Of course, the current critical consensus is TV is superior to movies.

    I suppose stuff like BREAKING BAD is superior to BATMAN movies, but they’d be much better as mini-series(10 to 15 hrs) than as series lasting 4 or 5 seasons. Not enough material to fill up all that time.

    • Replies: @SunBakedSuburb
  36. @Priss Factor

    “much better as a mini-series (10 to 15 hrs) than a series lasting 4 or 5 seasons”

    Limited series are creatively very attractive to writers and producers: they are stand alone stories, novels for the small screen. But the secondary revenue stream from these cultural products are less lucrative than a series with many seasons.

    “Not enough material to fill up all that time”

    Right. There are very few series that are not based on source material that can remain vital after two seasons. There are exceptions, like The Sopranos and Boardwalk Empire, but most begin to wither on the vine. The HBO series Westworld is based on source material — the Michael Chrichton 1973 feature film, which was thin gruel — but it began dying in its third season due the poor efforts of its two showrunners.

    • Replies: @James J. O'Meara
  37. @Director95

    “Apartment Zero … _So BAD; it’s good.”

    I remember watching Apartment Zero from a VHS cassette and coming away impressed by its suspenseful atmosphere. It’s Buenos Aries location enhanced this quality. It’s now a hard film to find if you don’t want to spend \$5o.oo for a used DVD.

  38. @Verymuchalive

    You have done me a similar service, Verymuchalive. So a deeply respectful tip of the hat to you.

    The Utronebel alias is new to me; thanks. Is this pit bottomless? It sure seems as if it is!

    Like you, I see the point of an alias, indeed the need for one, when one ventures “outdoors” in this nasty cyberworld. But surely one alias per individual ought to suffice, especially when logrolling is an issue—as it plainly is here!

    As for the deplorable Raches, you might just have turned the critical rock over and revealed what’s underneath. The problem is, who has the stomach to go back and read any of that filth a second time to increase the quotient of certainty?

    • Agree: Verymuchalive
  39. @Pierre de Craon

    I agree. Let’s smoke out the crazies.

  40. @Pierre de Craon

    Jung/Priss is Anthony “Tony” Gaza of the Chicago area. He was a presence 25 years ago on Usenet movie groups.

  41. @Pierre de Craon

    I think Jung Freud, like Raches before her, are Mr Unz’s attempts to increase the number of female columnists at UR. There’s Michelle Malkin, whom I do like, Ilana Mercer, who does have her good points, and Whitney Webb, ditto. Also, there is Ellen Brown, who writes a lot of sensible things about America’s financial predicament, but whose solutions, sadly, are 20 to 30 years too late. That’s less than 10% of all contributers. In all probability less than 5%.
    There seem to be even less female commenters as a percentage of commenters, although,obviously, I can not be certain of this.

    I think that, if Mr Unz wants more female columnists – and, hopefully, more female commenters – then he should employ a female journalist, without pseudonym, to do the job. The other female columnists at UR do so, so what’s the problem?

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  42. @Verymuchalive

    Theoretically speaking, this means ALL Germans could be male or female.

    They should do it as a national prank. Next year, ALL Germans declare themselves to be ‘women’.

  43. @Zachary Smith

    Opie can’t be dopie as there is no finer compliment that can be paid to one than to be described as “whiter than Opie Taylor.”

  44. @Trinity

    Re: An Officer and a Gentleman

    One cannot forget about David Keith.

  45. the Zelensky spectacle makes Rupert Pupkin seem downright somber in comparison.

    Zelensky as Pupkin, Biden as Jerry Lewis, Nancy as Sandra B. Now it all makes sense.

  46. @Trinity

    Phil Collins will best be remembered for his contribution to American Psycho:

    “Do you like Phil Collins? I’ve been a big Genesis fan ever since the release of their 1980 album, Duke. Before that, I really didn’t understand any of their work. Too artsy, too intellectual. It was on Duke where Phil Collins’ presence became more apparent. I think Invisible Touch was the group’s undisputed masterpiece. It’s an epic meditation on intangibility. At the same time, it deepens and enriches the meaning of the preceding three albums. Christy, take off your robe. Listen to the brilliant ensemble playing of Banks, Collins and Rutherford. You can practically hear every nuance of every instrument. Sabrina, remove your dress. In terms of lyrical craftsmanship, the sheer songwriting, this album hits a new peak of professionalism. Sabrina, why don’t you, uh, dance a little. Take the lyrics to Land of Confusion. In this song, Phil Collins addresses the problems of abusive political authority. In Too Deep is the most moving pop song of the 1980s, about monogamy and commitment. The song is extremely uplifting. Their lyrics are as positive and affirmative as anything I’ve heard in rock. Christy, get down on your knees so Sabrina can see your asshole. Phil Collins’ solo career seems to be more commercial and therefore more satisfying, in a narrower way. Especially songs like In the Air Tonight and Against All Odds. Sabrina, don’t just stare at it, eat it. But I also think Phil Collins works best within the confines of the group, than as a solo artist, and I stress the word artist. This is Sussudio, a great, great song, a personal favorite.”

  47. @Priss Factor

    You can’t be superman or batman

    Up to a point. But the appeal of Batman (vs. Superman or WW) is that you don’t have to be an alien or a goddess: just have lots of money and enough willpower (fueled by obsession bordering on lunacy). It’s a stretch, but still doable.

    Green Lantern is a bit more of a stretch (“I pledge allegiance to a ring, given me by a dying purple alien” as Ryan Reynolds says in the sadly under-rated movie), but amps up the emphasis on willpower.

    Speaking of the hero/supervillain archetype, Kingsley Amis, in his James Bond Dossier (the first serious critical look at Bond), emphasizes “the Fleming effect” of creating a hero that we can imagine becoming, if given the chance. Bond is not Superman. He can be injured, even appear to die (You Only Live Twice). He’s not the best shot in the service, but the best shot coaches him. He reads up on how to cheat at cards (Moonraker). Like Batman, he’s smart, trains hard, and has the money (from MI6) to have the best gadgets (“Where does he get those wonderful toys?”) Etc. It’s a plausible fantasy for the man reading him on the bus.

    How anyone over the age of 12 could be interested in Superman or the rest of that crowd is beyond my comprehension.

    For more, see my Green Nazis in Space! (Counter-Currents, 2015)

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  48. @SunBakedSuburb

    The “TV miniseries,” despite its cheesy sounding name, might just be the ultimate form of visual entertainment, synthesizing the best of movies and TV. Modern production techniques can bring “movie quality” to TV, while TV can afford to devote hours and hours to a story or subject.

    Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk for our time. Pioneered by Bergman himself (Scenes from a Marriage on Swedish TV)

    Not enough source material? Think of what Orson Welles could have done with 5 seasons to produce The Magnificent Ambersons? And the studio demanded it be cut to less than 90 minutes!

    • Replies: @Priss Factor
  49. @James J. O'Meara

    Think of what Orson Welles could have done with 5 seasons to produce The Magnificent Ambersons?

    The 2 hr 20 min version he completed was probably essential. Nothing more was needed.

    But it was cut down to 87 min. I’m thinking 7 min was shot by someone else, which means 80 min of Welles is left.

    If only they saved what was cut. But those philistines didn’t know what they had.

  50. @James J. O'Meara

    “the Fleming effect”

    Maybe the Bond in novels. In the movies, he has fortune on his side. He somehow manages to squeeze out of the direst situations; thus, he’s indestructible, which is why 007 movies are without suspense. Even when pushed out of an airplane, we know he’ll land on his feet. Not just on his feet but on a yacht full of beautiful babes.

    In this, he is rather like Inspector Clouseau. Though the latter is infinitely clumsier and prone to endangerment, fortune always smiles upon him in the end, especially against Dreyfus.

  51. Here’s a masterpiece.

    Flight of the Eagle by Jan Troell.

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