Dennis Schwartz'
Short Reviews 
'E'  10

 



E.T. THE EXTRA - TERRESTRIAL (director: Steven Spielberg; screenwriter: Melissa Mathison; cinematographer: Allen Daviau; editor: Carol Littleton; music: John Williams; cast: Henry Thomas (Elliott), Drew Barrymore (Gertie), Robert MacNaughton (Michael), Dee Wallace-Stone (Mary), Peter Coyote (Keys), K.C. Martel (Greg), Sean Frye (Steve); Runtime: 115; Universal; 1982)

A lonely kid from a broken home becomes friendly with an alien. Things here are suburban and oversimplified and too sentimental. The unknowable is glossed over and the emotions are too sweetly manipulated. GRADE: C



EATING RAOUL (director/writer: Paul Bartel; screenwriter: Richard Blackburn; cinematographer: Gary Thieltges; editor: Alan Toomayan; music: Arlon Ober; cast: Paul Bartel (Paul Bland), Mary Woronov (Mary), Robert Beltran (Raoul), Susan Saiger (Doris the Dominatrix), Ed Begley, Jr. (Hippy), Buck Henry (Mr. Leech); Runtime: 83; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Anne Kimmel; 20th Century Fox; 1982)

A deliciously served black comedy about a straight-laced Hollywood couple aptly named the Blands; Mary Woronov is the nurse and Paul Bartel is the wine salesman. They are uptight about hip life, sex, the swingers in their apartment building, and yearn to be left alone in pursuit of the dream restaurant they hope to acquire as soon as they raise enough money. Alas, an accidental murder to one of the many perverts who bothers them, gives them the idea that they can lure these creeps into their apartment with the promises of sex and Paul can fatally hit them over the head with a frying pan and steal their valuables. An Hispanic hustler named Raoul (Robert) figures out their scheme and goes partners with the couple. He starts selling the bodies for dog food. What results is sardonically funny, it is a meal that you could hardly resist even if you know what the ingredients are. GRADE: B


ECHO PARK (director: Robert Dornhelm; screenwriter: Michael Ventura; cinematographer: Karl Kofler; editor: Ingrid Koller; music: David Rickets; cast: Susan Dey (May Greer), Thomas Hulce (Jonathan), Michael Bowen (August), Christopher Walker (Henry Greer), Shirley Jo Finney (Gloria), Heinrich Schweiger (August's Father), Timothy Carey (Vinnie), John Paragon (Hugo), Cassandra Peterson (Sheri); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Walter Shenson;  Atlantic; 1986-Austria/USA)

A trio (an aspiring actress, songwriter, and body builder) lives in a shoddy L.A. area and live only for their big career break. A somewhat quirky look at these characters offering no significant insights, but a lot of chatter and sitcom type of emotions. I can't recommend it. GRADE: C+



EDGE, THE (director: Lee Tamahori; screenwriter: David Mamet; cinematographer: Donald M. McAlpine; editor: Neil Travis; music: Jerry Goldsmith; cast: Anthony Hopkins (Charles Morse), Alec Baldwin (Robert Green), Elle Macpherson (Mickey Morse), Harold Perrineau (Stephen),  L.Q. Jones (Styles), Kathleen Wilhoite (Ginny); Runtime: 117; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Art Linson; 20th Century Fox; 1997)

David Mamet wrote the screenplay for this Alaskan wilderness drama, which should explain the wry humor. Charles (Hopkins) is the older billionaire, married to the scrumptious model Mickey (Elle). Her fashion photographer, Bob (Alec), pursues her. When their helicopter crashes in the wilderness, Charles and Bob must try to survive while being stalked by a man-eating bear. Ironically, Charles suspects that Bob is stalking him and wants to kill him to be with Mickey and all the money that she would inherit. Thinking over brawn is glorified in this adventure story. GRADE: C



ELECTRIC HORSEMAN, THE (director: Sydney Pollack; screenwriters: from the story by Shelly Burton/Paul Gaer/Robert Garland / Alvin Sargent; cinematographer: Owen Roizman; editor: Sheldon Kahn; music: Dave Grusin; cast: Robert Redford (Sonny Steele), Jane Fonda (Hallie Martin), Valerie Perrine (Charlotta), Willie Nelson (Wendell), John Saxon (Hunt Sears); Runtime: 120; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Raymond Stark; Universal Studios Home Video; 1979)

Pollack goes preachy, something he is in the habit of doing. This ruins what might have developed into a sound picture. Redford is the alcoholic rodeo star hankering to leave Las Vegas when he discovers his horse has been drugged. ... Loved Redford's garish cowboy costume! GRADE: C



EL TOPO (THE MOLE)  (director/writer: Alejandro Jodorowsky; cinematographer: Raphael Corkidi; editors: Alejandro Jodorowsky/Federico Landeros; music: Alejandro Jodorowsky/Nacho Méndez; cast: Alejandro Jodorowsky (El Topo), Mara Lorenzo (Mara), Paula Romo (Woman in Black), Robert John (Brontis as a Man), David Silva (Colonel), Brontis Jodorowsky (Brontis), Hector Martinez (First Master), Juan Jose Gurrola (Second Master), Victor Fosado (Third Master), Augustin Izuna (Fourth Master), Jacqueline Luis (Small Woman); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Jodorowsky/Roberto Viskin; Unknown Video; 1970-Mexico-in Spanish with English subtitles)

A cult favorite, especially for the acid heads of the post- '60s scene. A colorful and violent spectacle taking on biblical stories in its own unorthodox fashion, combining it with its own allegorical spin. Jodorowsky dressed as a hip cowboy in the desert, going through a Jesus thing and being in the company of freaks is a sight to behold. In reality, this film is largely the director's ego trip. The midnight audiences that packed in the big city showings of this film, took much satisfaction in the explosiveness of onscreen visually slapdash colors and its anti-film story. GRADE: C


ELEMENT OF CRIME, THE (Forbrydelsens Element) (director/writer/producer: Lars Von Trier; screenwriter: Niels Vørsel/Tómas Gíslason; cinematographer: Tom Elling; editor: Tómas Gíslason; music: Bo Holten; cast: Michael Elphick (Fisher), Esmond Knight (Osborne), Me Me Lai (Kim), Jerold Wells (Police Chief Kramer), Ahmed El Shenawi (Therapist), Astrid Henning-Jensen (Osborne's Housekeeper), Jånos Herskó (Coroner); Runtime: 104; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Per Holst; Kaerne Film; 1984-Denmark-in Danish with English subtitles)

Shot in an amber sulphurous light, this psychological "whodunit" takes on a futuristic, surreal look. Its plot involves the murder of little girls selling lotto tickets, taking place in some distant, war-torn, unspecified northern European town. A Bogart-like, world weary Elphick is called in to the case upon the retirement of his mentor (Esmond). He had written a definitive crime-solving text book, "The Element Of Crime," which Elphick uses to put himself in the shoes of the killer. He undergoes hypnosis to think like the killer does. These methods are ridiculed by Wells, the police chief, who can't stand Elphick or the kind of methods he uses to solve the case. This is an evocatively moody and tightly bound film, that appears visually more important than it literally is. It is the director's ominous debut film. GRADE: B



EPIDEMIC (director/writer/editor: Lars von Trier; screenwriter: Niels Vørsel; cinematographer: Henning Ben; editor: Thomas Krag; music: Peter Bach; cast: Lars von Trier (Lars/Dr. Mesmer), Gitte Lind (Gitte), Claes Kastholm Hansen (Claes), Niels Vørsel (Niels), Udo Kier (Udo), Susanne Ottesen (Susanne); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jacob Eriksen; Obel Films/Vitagraph; 1988-Denmark-dubbed in English)

In this unappealing documentary styled narrative Lars von Trier along with his screenwriter Niels Vørsel, plan to put together a script to get it accepted by the Danish Film Institute. Most of the film is shot in 16-mm, but in the end he uses 35-mm. This film is only a must-see for the most devoted fans of the director. He devises a script about an epidemic, using a courageous Dr. Mesmer as his hero. He lived in the Milan of 1348 when the bubonic plague struck and the city was walled in. He survived by digging a cave and living in it until the plague passed. It took five days to write the script. On the fifth day Claes is a guest in the von Trier house, eating truffles and watching as Gitte is put under hypnosis and brought into the film Epidemic. She gets hysterical at seeing all the suffering and death around her.
GRADE: C+



EVIL DEAD 2, THE: DEAD BY DAWN (director/writer: Sam Raimi; screenwriter: Scott Spiegel; cinematographer: Peter Deming; editor: Kaye Davis; music: Joseph Lo Duca; cast: Bruce Campbell (Ash), Sarah Berry (Annie), Dan Hicks (Jake), Kassie DePaiva (Bobby Joe), Ted Raimi (Possessed Henrietta), Denise Bixler (Linda), Richard Domeier (Ed), John Peaks (Professor Knowby); Runtime: 84; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Robert Tapert; Rosebud Releasing/Renaissance; 1987)

Ash and his girlfriend Linda stumble upon a remote cabin in the Tennessee hills. He comes across a  tape recorder and hears a scholarly voice attempting to chant from what is written in the ancient "Book of the Dead." As the couple stay in the cabin for the night, evil forces are unleashed, turning sweet Linda into a monster who tries to kill the befuddled Ash. He must kill her off just as this flick begins. So the hokum begins, and it gets gory and cartoonishly funny. Our hero, eventually goes back to the 14th century to "sword" things out. A special effect film all the way. A good one for those who go yuk, yuk, yuk, just like when they watch the Three Stooges. GRADE: B-



EXPERIENCED MOVERS (director: Larry Fessenden; cast: Darwich Greer (Jack Sandler), Stephen De Stephano (Johnny China), Fenster Craven (Dr. Geoffrey Crawley), Beverly Donofrio (Maxine), Janet Donofrio (Rickie), Annette Mauer (Alice), David Rieth (Sidney), George Green (The Professor); 1985)

Now this is an independent film. It is based on the play by Evan McHale depicting a group of colorful crooks, living in some mythical place called Boraxville. It sure enough looks like the SoHo section of NYC. The crooks attempt to rob an art museum of  its few masterpieces. The film lacks any pretensions. It's just a silly and entertaining and heartbreaking love/crime film. I loved the entire cast, who I think they had a ball making it. David Rieth was really a Sidney to beat all Sidneys.  GRADE: B+



Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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