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  • A Quiet Passion

    A Quiet Passion

    ★★★

    I'll be honest: Terence Davies is a film maker that I respect without much love; but this film tried my patience. It tells the disturbing story of the life of 19th century, Massachusetts-reared poet Emily Dickinson, from her spurning of religious tyranny and male privilege at Mt. Holyoke College, through her spinsterhood, reclusiveness, and final sickness. It is slow paced (I valiantly tried to stay awake); and all the characters (mostly Emily's family and acquaintances) are unlikable. More than that,…

  • Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer

    Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer

    ★★★½

    Have you ever hated a film while it was playing and loved it in retrospect? I'm not saying I'm there yet. Richard Gere, in his most "mature" role, is a wonder of naivety and guile playing Norman, a well-meaning, but delusional New York-Jewish mover-and-shaker (at least in his own head) business consultant. The plot is comprised of Norman's increasingly complicated maneuvers and outright lies about a supposed friendship with the Israeli Prime Minister (Lior Ashkenazi) which just dig him deeper…

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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.