Reviews Archive for September, 2008

How The West Was Won

When it was made, the story in How the West Was Won concluded at a point that reached the lifetime of some of the 1963 MGM film’s oldest viewers (and background extras), so that its own narrative span, depicting in an episodic fashion, the gradual settlement of western America during the Nineteenth Century, could present a…

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Birds of Prey

Too comic booky for the masses, or even the WB subset thereof, the short-lived Birds of Prey TV series, about female crime fighters in ‘New Gotham City,’ has finally been delivered to the medium where it can be the most appreciated, as Warner Home Video has released Birds of Prey The Complete Series, a four platter set…

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The Secret Life of Bees Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood

Fox Searchlight’s The Secret Lives Of Bees actually plays… and not just for girls. It’s in the spirit of Sounder and the Toomer story in The Great Santini and To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s clearly Dakota Fanning’s coming out party as a young woman, a stark contrast fromHounddog, which smelled of her exploitation by a well-intended by overreaching writer/director….

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Confessions of a Festival Junkie: Dayzzzzzz

Following the flood of weekend movie junkets, it seemed an apt time for some serious business. There had been speculation that Steven Soderbergh’s Cannes premiered Che had finally made a deal for North American distribution rights but all players involved kept their cards very close to their chests. There were other murmurings and speculative questions that…

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Blindness Directed by Fernando Meirelles

There’s something a bit daunting about the fact that two of the most acclaimed films coming into the Toronto International Film Festival are titled Hunger andBlindness. Both premiered at Cannes with Blindnessreceiving the prestigious opening night slot and Hungerwinning the Camera d’or award for best first feature. I prefer Blindness, at least the type one encounters cinematically. Based…

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Lovely, Still

There have been some good films so far, but with the talent involved, good shouldn’t be a surprise. But the first “wow, didn’t see that coming” for me is Nik Fackler’s Lovely, Still… a tiny movie about age and love and family, small in scope, but movie stylized, with two home run performances by Martin Landauand Ellen Burstyn. I…

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Rachel Getting Married Directed by Jonathan Demme

Rachel Getting Married is the best Altman movie in 15 years. Of course, this film is not by Robert Altman, but byJonathan Demme, one of America’s great filmmakers, of a generation that came up behind the Altmans and others of the early 70s, who made his first high profile film, Melvin and Howard, one decade after…

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Tears For Sale Directed by Uros Stovanovic

Mike Leigh’s advice was well taken, as Uros Stovanovic has the kind of visual muscle to make him one of the next hot candidates for a Hollywood slot. The film is, essentially, a fairy tale filled with dark jokes, estrogen, sex, and explosions. Simplifying the story is probably a mistake, but I will offer the broadest…

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Ray Pride on: The DVD Wrapup: Founder, Punching Henry, Paris 05:59, Apocalypse Child, Donnie Darko, Woman of the Year, Tampopo, Handmaid’s Tale and more

RAY WEIKEL on: The DVD Wrapup: Founder, Punching Henry, Paris 05:59, Apocalypse Child, Donnie Darko, Woman of the Year, Tampopo, Handmaid’s Tale and more

Carrie Mulligan on: Wilmington on DVDs: The Great Gatsby

estes1963 on: The DVD Wrapup: Drive Angry, Once Upon a Time in the West, Adua & Her Friends, A Clockwork Orange, Undertow, The Joke, Passion Play, Kaboom, Harvest ...

isa50 on: Wilmington on DVDs: Gladiator; Hell's Half Acre; The Incredible Burt Wonderstone

Rory on: Wilmington on Movies: Snow White and the Huntsman

gurley1986 on: The DVD Wrapup: Blood Simple, Cat People, Shallows, Neon Demon, Sirk X 2, Warcraft, Kamikaze '89 and more

Quote Unquotesee all »

“I suddenly couldn’t say anything about some of the movies. They were just so terrible, and I’d already written about so many terrible movies. I love writing about movies when I can discover something in them – when I can get something out of them that I can share with people. The week I quit, I hadn’t planned on it. But I wrote up a couple of movies, and I read what I’d written, and it was just incredibly depressing. I thought, I’ve got nothing to share from this. One of them was of that movie with Woody Allen and Bette Midler, Scenes From a Mall. I couldn’t write another bad review of Bette Midler. I thought she was so brilliant, and when I saw her in that terrible production of ‘Gypsy’ on television, my heart sank. And I’d already panned her in Beaches. How can you go on panning people in picture after picture when you know they were great just a few years before? You have so much emotional investment in praising people that when you have to pan the same people a few years later, it tears your spirits apart.”
~ Pauline Kael On Quitting

“My father was a Jerome. My daughter’s middle name is Jerome. But my most vexing and vexed relationship with a Jerome was with Jerome Levitch, the subject of my first book under his stage and screen name, Jerry Lewis.

I have a lot of strong and complex feelings about the man, who passed away today in Las Vegas at age 91. Suffice to say he was a brilliant talent, an immense humanitarian, a difficult boss/interview, and a quixotic sort of genius, as often inspired as insipid, as often tender as caustic.

I wrote all about it in my 1996 book, “King of Comedy,” which is available on Kindle. With all due humility, it’s kinda definitive — the good and the bad — even though it’s two decades old. My favorite review, and one I begged St. Martin’s (unsuccessfully) to put on the paperback jacket, came from “Screw” magazine, which called it “A remarkably fair portrait of a great American asshole.”

Jerry and I met twice while I was working on the book and spoke/wrote to each other perhaps a dozen times. Like many of his relationships with the press and his partners/subordinates, it ended badly, with Jerry hollering profanities at me in the cabin of his yacht in San Diego. I wrote about it in the epilogue to my book, and over the years I’ve had the scene quoted back to me by Steve Martin, Harry Shearer, Paul Provenza and Penn Jillette. Tom Hanks once told me that he had a dinner with Paul Reiser and Martin Short at which Short spent the night imitating Jerry throwing me off the boat.

Jerry was a lot of things: father, husband, chum, businessman, philanthropist, artist, innovator, clown, tyrant. He was at various times in his life the highest-ever-paid performer on TV, in movies, and on Broadway. He raised BILLIONS for charity, invented filmmaking techniques, made perhaps a dozen classic comedies, turned in a terrific dramatic performance in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” and left the world altered and even enhanced with his time and his work in it.

That’s an estimable achievement and one worth pausing to commemorate.

#RIP to Le Roi du Crazy

~ Biographer Shawn Levy on Jerry Lewis on Facebook