Dennis Schwartz'
Short Reviews 
'J'  6


JE T'AIME, JE T'AIME (director:Alain Resnais; screenwriters: Jacques Sternberg/Alain Resnais; cinematographer: Jean Boffety; cast: Bernard Fresson (Bernard Hannecart), Anouk Ferjac (Wiana Lust), Olga Georges-Picot (Catrine), Claude Rich (Claude Ridder), Yvette Étiévant (Germaine Coster); Runtime: 94; 1968-France)

In this puzzling but very absorbing sci-fi drama, poetically presented by Alain Resnais, a writer named Claude (Claude Ridder) wakes up in a hospital after an attempted suicide and is taken by two men to a research lab in the suburbs. He figures he has nothing to lose by agreeing to undergo an experiment that he was chosen for because he is the perfect subject. He will be drugged with a chemical called T.5, which induces him to talk in his sleep, as he will go back in time a year and test his memory; but, the time machine he is placed in to transport him is only effective for one minute. The experiment has only worked with mice, and a mouse who made a previous trip accompanies him on this journey. But the lab people lose track of him as he gets lost in time. Fragments of his past year begin to surface for this married man, starting with an affair he is having on the beach in the Riviera with a beautiful mystery woman named Catrine (Olga). When they get to Scotland, she is unhappy to be there and clues are dropped that Claude might have killed her. The audience is never given enough information to know exactly what happened. It is beautifully done in a slow and arresting manner, that eerily shows both the man and the mouse dramatically being retrieved from the past: the man is found unconscious on the institute's grounds and the mouse is seen tragically trying to escape from its caged dome. Time seems to be the trap man has gotten himself into. A fascinating idea. GRADE: B

JERICHO (director: Thornton Freeland; cast: Paul Robeson, Wallace Ford, Henry Wilcoxin; Runtime: 77; 1937-UK)

Robeson was pleased with the script and that the film was shot in Egypt, where blacks were in charge of the country. Robeson plays an American deserter who is falsely charged with murder, escaping to Africa. This is not the strongest of stories, but Robeson is a presence on the screen. GRADE: C+ 

JEW, THE (O JUDEU) (director/producer: Jom Tob Azulay; screenwriters: Geraldo Carneiro/Millor Fernandes/Gilvan Pereira; cinematographer: Eduardo Sarro; editors: Jose Manuel Lopes/Pedro Ribeiro; music: John Neschling; cast: Filipe Pinheiro (Antonio Jose da Silva), Edwin Luize (Gusmao), Cristina Ache (Leonor); Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Antonio Vaz da Silva/Claudio Kahns; First Run Features; 1996-Portugal/Brazil-in Portuguese with English subtitles)

There was nothing pleasant about this competently told based-on-fact drama, which has political overtones to it as well as a study of religious intolerance. Its subject matter is the Spanish Inquisition, something that lasted in Portugal for a few hundred years only ending in 1821. The story starts in the Lisbon of 1715 and follows the life of Antonio Jose da Silva (Pinheiro), whose nickname is "The Jew."  He was burnt at the stake in 1739, denounced as a heretic. He is a Marrano (Jews who were forced to convert to Christianity but like many other Marranos, secretly followed Judaism). Those who didn't convert were executed. As a brilliant Brazilian/Portuguese playwright, he had a successful career in his adopted country of Portugal and even married into nobility. But the church never trusted those who converted as being real Christians-so he was tortured once and set free. But then he was accused again of heresy and tortured again, this time he was killed. A very grim tale, indeed. GRADE: C

JOHN GRISHAM'S THE RAINMAKER (director/writer: Francis Ford Coppola; screenwriter: based on the novel by John Grisham; cinematographer: John Toll; editors: Melissa Kent/Barry Malkin; music: Elmer Bernstein; cast: Matt Damon (Rudy Baylor), Claire Danes (Kelly Riker), Jon Voight (Leo F. Drummond), Mary Kay Place (Dot Black), Mickey Rourke (Bruiser Stone), Danny Devito (Deck Schifflet), Danny Glover (Judge Tyrone Kipler), Teresa Wright (Miss Birdie), Virginia Madsen (Jackie Lemancyzk), Roy Schieder (Wilfred Keeley), Randy Travis (Billy Porter), Johnny Whitworth (Donny Ray Black), Andrew Shue (Mr. Riker), Randy Travis (Juror), Dean Stockwell (Judge Harvey Hale); Runtime: 130; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Michael Douglas/Steven Reuther/Fred Fuchs; Paramount Pictures; 1997)

Rubbish. An old formula story of the poor hopeless slobs against the rich big boys. There's the big play at the end using the old chestnut of whether the underdog can win. Surprise! surprise! the big boys lose. Coppola should be ashamed of this film: it lacks integrity, suspense, and conviction. If you think you are learning something new about lawyers and how they operate, well, do I have some swampland to sell you in Florida. GRADE: C

JOHNNY COOL (director: William Asher; screenwriter: Joseph Landon; cinematographer: Sam Leavitt; editor: Otto Ludwig; cast: Henry Silva (Johnny Cool/Giordano), Elizabeth Montgomery (Dare Guiness), Marc Lawrence (Johnny Colini), Telly Savalas (Mr. Santangelo), Sammy Davis, Jr. (Educated), Joey Bishop (Used Car Salesman), Brad Dexter (Lennart Crandall), Jim Backus (Louis Murphy), Mort Sahl (Ben Morrow), Elisha Cook, Jr. (Undertaker), Gregory Morton (Jerry March); Runtime:101; 1963)

If Johnny Cool is a cool dude, then I'm from Mars. This ridiculous revenge picture made absolutely no sense. It was one big glorification of violence, humorlessly done, with the lamest romance I have seen on the silver screen in quite a long time. The acting couldn't be any worst than it is in this film, even the violent scenes (the film's reason for being) are poorly done. The story opens in Sicily, where local crime boss Giordano is killed by police but his death is faked by Johnny Colini. He is the American Mafia boss who was betrayed by his own men and deported to Italy. He teaches Giordano to become Johnny Cool, hit man, so he can go to America and bump off the men who betrayed him. He promises to leave him his empire when he dies. The bulk of the film shows Johnny taking on the Mafia in California, romancing a naive girl (Montgomery) from middle-class Westchester County, and eventually getting betrayed by her when she panics after he dynamites a gangster in his swimming pool and leaves her alone.The funniest line is when she tries to seriously explain why she loves Johnny Cool: "When I saw him, I found something deep inside me." Grade: D

JUDE (director: Michael Winterbottom; screenwriters: Hossein Amini/story based on the novel Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy; cinematographer: Eduardo Serra; editor: Trevor Waite; music: Adrian Johnston; cast: Christopher Eccleston (Jude Fawley), Kate Winslet (Sue Bridehead), Liam Cunningham (Phillotson), Rachel Griffiths (Arabella), June Whitfield (Aunt Drusilla), Ross Colvin Turnbull (Little Jude), James Daley (Young Jude); Runtime: 122; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Andrew Eaton; Gramercy Pictures; 1996-UK/USA)

A film based on Thomas Hardy's last novel. It is about a stonemason's ambition to rise above his current circumstances through the route of academia in 19th-century England. Winslet plays the attractive cousin who acts as Eccleston's lover and a rebel in society. Ultimately, the couple's integrity and courage is challenged, leaving them little choice but to question their fate. Great performances, especially by Winslet. GRADE: B

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"