“Cinema is the most beautiful fraud in the world.” —Jean-Luc Godard
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Criterion Challenge #27: Directed by Federico Fellini
An impossibly charming yet sad film. Giulietta Masina delivers an all-time performance as the delightful, heartbreaking Gelsomina, who is essentially sold into the service of performance artist Zampano (a terrific Anthony Quinn). Gelsomina misses home, but tries to make the best of her circumstances by embracing her role as Zampano’s assistant. Unfortunately, Zampano is incapable of emotional attachment, and is often cruel to Gelsomina. The toxic masculinity with which Quinn (appropriately)…
Criterion Challenge #13: 1950s
As Dix Steele (no, this isn't a porno), a screenwriter who finds himself under investigation for murder, Humphrey Bogart is astonishing. He depicts Steele's Jeckyll and Hyde persona with a manic precision that both charms and terrifies. Steele is a creative genius who's his own worst enemy, whose imaginative brilliance for violence seems poised at any moment to manifest into reality (and sometimes does).
Steele is a bit of a sadist even at his…
H20 introduced the second of three timelines into the franchise, ignoring the Jamie Lloyd plot and the silly Curse of Thorn stuff. The characterizations and subplots aren’t terribly interesting, but the pace is brisk and Jamie Lee Curtis gives a strong performance. The ending delivers some suitably brutal justice (or does it?).
Hard to believe that one of the all-time greats of horror cinema was reviled both critically and by audiences at the time of its release, so much so that it basically derailed Carpenter’s career. It may have just been too much for mainstream audiences, as the special effects are shockingly gory even by the standards of today. The paranoia that quickly sweeps over the group creates palpable tension and the high stakes guessing game is edge-of-your-seat stuff. And it’s just plain creepy. Ennio Morricone’s pulsating score deserves special mention as well. I don’t suspect this classic will ever go stale.
The irony of Heathers is that it is actually a more realistic portrayal of high school social dynamics than the John Hughes-ian material it satirizes. The one misstep (and why I’ve docked a star) is the ending, which settled for the Hughes-style conclusion (the social classes finding common ground). Not surprisingly, this was apparently at the insistence of the studio. Evidently, screenwriter Daniel Waters wanted JD to succeed in blowing up the school, and then everyone would be shown getting along in heaven (per JD’s quip). That would’ve been perfect. Oh well.