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  • If Beale Street Could Talk

    If Beale Street Could Talk

    ★★

    This is a stirring indictment of the failure of the legal system for African Americans, based on a '70s novel by James Baldwin. It is set in Harlem in the early 1970s; but it could likely just as realistically apply today. However, for all its important message, I was profoundly disappointed by the film itself, which had stock characters played primarily by actors who just failed to convince me. That's all I feel like writing in this review.

  • On the Basis of Sex

    On the Basis of Sex

    ★★★

    This is a mildly disappointing, pro forma biopic about the early career of women's rights activist and pioneering female attorney (and future Supreme Court justice hero) Ruth Bader Ginsburg. One can't fault the cast, although Brit actor Felicity Jones seemed somewhat miscast as the youthful Ginsburg. It's also hard to fault the writing, which managed to invent some stirring dialog for her first, important appearance in appellate court on an important case (in Q&A the screen writer, a nephew of…

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  • El Topo

    El Topo

    ★★★★★

    The New York Times contacted me today for background about my review of El Topo that was published in the L.A. Free Press on April 23, 1971. They provided me with a scan of the article, and I'm reposting it here. Maybe 43 years later its verbiage is a little embarrassing; but I stand by what I wrote back then. How often do we get an opportunity to view what we thought about films through the prism of the far…

  • Joy

    Joy

    ★½

    David O. Russell's popularity and reputation for enlightened whimsy eludes me. I can't blame the actors in what has become his "stock company" for my dislike of this film. Rather it must be Russell's mechanistic, by-the-numbers script filled with neurotic characters acting nonsensically. I know I'm out of step with audiences here; so forget that I ever tried to review this film.