Dennis Schwartz'
Short Reviews 
'L'  35

 



LADIES OF THE CHORUS (director: Phil Karlson; screenwriters: story by Harry Sauber/Joseph Carole; cinematographer: Frank Redman; editor: Richard Fantl; music: Mischa Bakaleinikoff; cast: Adele Jergens (May Martin), Marilyn Monroe (Peggy Martin), Rand Brooks (Randy Carroll), Dave Barry (Ripple),  Eddie Garr (Uncle Billie), Nana Bryant (Mrs. Carroll ), Marjorie Hoshelle (Bubbles), David Barry (Designer); Runtime: 61; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Harry A. Romm; Columbia Pictures; 1948)

A trivial formula film about burlesque queens and their socialite lovers. This film should be of interest only to those who wish to see all of Marilyn's films. Marilyn and Adele are daughter and mother chorus girls. Mother tries to keep the wolves away away from her naive daughter, especially when she gets to the limelight and socialite Brooks comes courting her with orchids and a marriage proposal. Mother just wants to make sure that daughter doesn't make the same mistake she did. Eddie Garr, who plays a burlesque comedian, is the father of Teri Garr. GRADE: C-



LADY FROM SHANGHAI, THE (director/writer: Orson Welles; screenwriter: from the book Before I Die by Sherwood King; cinematographer: Charles Lawton; editor: Viola Lawrence; music: Heinz Roemheld; cast: Rita Hayworth (Elsa "Rosalie" Bannister), Orson Welles (Michael O'Hara), Everett Sloane (Arthur Bannister), Ted de Corsia (Sidney Broome), Glenn Anders (George Grisby), Erskine Sanford (Judge), Gus Schilling (Goldie), Lou Merrill (Jake), Evelyn Ellis (Bessie), Carl Frank (District Attorney); Runtime: 87; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Harry Cohn/Orson Welles; Columbia Pictures; 1948)

Welles is a sailor with an Irish brogue who accompanies Rita and her crippled barrister hubby (Sloane) on a cruise. He ends up accused of murdering Sloane's associate, and is defended in court by Sloane. The final scene in the the amusement park, in front of all the mirrors that shatter, is just about as good a mise-en-scene as there ever was in movie lore. The innocent Orson walks away from the murdered murderer Rita. The only question that remains, is if this story could have something to do with the break-up of Orson's real marriage with Rita. GRADE: A+



LADYBIRD LADYBIRD (director: Ken Loach; screenwriter: Rona Munro; cinematographer: Barry Ackroyd; editor: Jonathan Morris; music: George Fenton; cast: Crissy Rock (Maggie Conlan), Vladimir Vega (Jorge), Sandie Lavelle (Mairead), Mauricic Venegas (Adrian), Ray Winstone  (Simon); Runtime: 101; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Sally Hibbin; The Samuel Goldwyn Company; 1994-UK)

A sincerely acted true story of a mother (Crissy), who loses her 4 interracial kids to the Social Welfare System because she can't protect them. Leftist Loach paints a grim scene of an untenable system, unable to deal with the very difficult problems they are faced with. Crissy receives gentle support from Vega, a Paraguayan exile she meets in the local pub. They move in and try to raise a family, and are bothered by the insensitivity of the social workers and their rules. Crissy can't control her anger and the story bogs down in human frailities and societal indifference, reflecting a society that is wedded to its own Draconian rules for behavior. A very unpleasant film results, with no particular place to focus on how the needy can be helped. GRADE: C



LADY IN THE LAKE (director: Robert Montgomery; screenwriter: Steve Fisher/novel by Raymond Chandler; cinematographer: Paul Vogel; editor: Gene Ruggiero; music: David Snell; cast: Robert Montgomery (Philip Marlowe), Audrey Totter (Adrienne Fromsett), Lloyd Nolan (Lieutenant Degarmot), Tom Tully (Capt. Kane), Leon Ames (Derace Kingsby), Jayne Meadows (Mildred Haveland), Dick Simmons (Chris Lavery), Morris Ankrum (Eugene Grayson), Lila Leeds (Receptionist); Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: George Haight; MGM; 1947)

Montgomery experimented with the camera shots, shooting the film subjectively through the eyes of his Philip Marlowe character. This makes for a few interesting shots. We see just what Marlowe sees, but soon this gimmick becomes annoying and detracts from this very good Marlowe story. Bogie's The Big Sleep is still tops. GRADE: B



LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, THE (director: Kevin Connor; screenwriters: from the book by Edgar Rice Burroughs/Michael Moorcock/ James Cawthorn; cinematographer: Alan Hume; editor: John Ireland; music: Douglas Gamley; cast: Doug McClure (Bowen Tyler), John McEnery (Capt. Von Schoenworts), Susan Penhaligon (Lisa Clayton), Keith Barron (Bradley), Anthony Ainley (Lt. Dietz), Godfrey James (Borg), Bobby Parr (Ahm); Runtime: 91; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: John Dark/ Samuel Z. Arkoff/Max Rosenberg; AIP; 1975-UK)

A sub par WW1 submarine story from the pen of Edgar Rice Burroughs. It starts out suspenseful enough, as a German sub torpedoes a supply ship and then the survivors heroically overtake the sub and force them to go to a land of prehistoric dinosaurs and ape men. The film runs out of energy; but at its finale it recovers its adventurous mode. GRADE: C +



LA RUPTURE (director/writer: Claude Chabrol; screenwriter: from the book The Balloon Man by Charlotte Armstrong; cinematographer: Jean Rabier; editor: Jacques Gaillard; music: Pierre Jansen; cast: Stephanie Audran (Wife, Helene), Jean-Pierre Cassel (Paul), Michel Bouquet (Ludovic), Jean-Claude Drouot (Husband, Charles), Annie Cordy (Mrs. Pinelli); Runtime: 124; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Andre Genoves; New Line Cinema; 1970-France/Italy/Belgium-in French with English subtitles)

Helen (Audran) is the innocent woman, an ex-stripper, married to a wealthy but psychologically ill man, Drouot. After taking LSD he abuses her and throws the child across the room, resulting in severe head injuries. This is too much for her. She wants a divorce. The evil bourgeois father-in-law (Bouquet) does everything in his power to make sure that she doesn't get control of the child, this includes hiring a real dirt-bag detective to falsify things about her (Cassel). This is first-rate Chabrol. GRADE: B+



LAST CHANTS FOR A SLOW DANCE (director: Jon Jost; cast: Tom Blair, Steve Vooheis, Jessica St. John; 1977)

A drifter, separated from his wife and family, traveling through the wide-open west gets caught up in a macho-like crime spree. Jost supplies his own songs to this modern day Western that he directed with a slow-moving camera, so that you are drawn into the malaise of the character and the spiritual poverty of the towns he finds himself trapped in. Outstanding film. GRADE: A



LAST KLEZMER, THE (director/writer: Yale Strom; cinematographer: Oren Rudavsky; editor: David Notowitz ; music: Leopold Kozlowski; cast: Leopold  Kozlowski; Runtime: 85; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Bernard Berkin; Maelstrom Films; 1994-in English, Polish, Yiddish, and Russian with English subtitles)

Yale Strom directs a conventional but stirring documentary about the 70-year-old Leopold Kozlowski, a gifted Jewish musician and survivor of the Holocaust. The musician looks back at his past in Poland, visiting his former home a small town in the Ukraine called Peremyshlyany and the sites where his parents and brother were killed by the Nazis. Visiting his father's grave, he ironically finds it marked with a cross. He sadly tells about surviving in the death camps, being forced to play tangos for the SS while the inmates were marched to their death. Vividly he recalls his escape to live in the woods and become a partisan soldier. On a happier note, he meets in his home town a camp survivor he hasn't seen in 50 years. The lively and soulful music of the klezmer keeps things moving in an upbeat fashion. After all, as he says, "A wedding without a klezmer is worst than a funeral without tears." GRADE: B-



LAST SUMMER IN THE HAMPTONS (director/writer/editor: Henry Jaglom; screenwriter: Victoria Foyt; cinematographer: Hanania Baer; music: Rick Baitz; cast: Victoria Foyt (Oona Hart), Viveca Lindfors (Helena Mora), Jon Robin Baitz (Jake Axelrod), Andre Gregory (Ivan Axelrod), Martha Plimpton (Chloe Garfield), Brooke Smith (Lois Garfield), Roddy McDowall (Thomas), Kristoffer Tabori (Nick Mora), Savannah Boucher (Suzanne), Roscoe Lee Browne (Freddy), Nick Gregory (George), Melissa Leo (Trish Axelrod), Ron Rifkin (Eli Garfield), Diane Salinger (Marian Mora Garfield), Holland Taylor (Davis Mora Axelrod), Henry Jaglom (Max Berger) ; Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Judith Wolinsky; Rainbow Film Co.; 1995)

A talk-fest on Long Island's Hamptons. A famous Hollywood actress (Foyt), who is insecure, arrives at the house (which is for sale) of a theater family and their student-actors. And they talk and talk, and they have affairs and gossip, some of it is amusing and insightful, some of it is annoying. Take your pick. A typical Jaglom project. GRADE: C+



LAST TANGO IN PARIS (director/writer: Bernardo Bertolucci; screenwriter: Franco Arcalli; cinematographer: Vittorio Storaro; editors: Franco Arcalli/Roberto Perpignan; music: Gato Barbieri; cast: Marlon Brando (Paul), Maria Schneider (Jeanne), Jean-Pierre Leaud (Tom), Maria Michi (Rose's Mother), Catherine Allégret (Catherine), Marie-Hélène Breillat (Monique), Catherine Breillat (Mouchette), Darling Légitimus (Concierge), Catherine Sola (TV Script Girl), Mauro Marchetti (TV Cameraman); Runtime: 129; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Alberto Grimaldi; MGM; 1972-Italy/France-in English and French with English subtitles)

This is Brando's comeback film. Brando tries to come to terms with his wife's suicide and his subsequent relationship with the Parisian sexpot, Schneider. He uses her like he uses butter, and we come away with a film that tries to shock us into feeling his pain. Because of its explicit sex scenes, the film garnished plenty of controversy; but, it now seems more palatable. GRADE: A-



LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST, THE (director: Martin Scorsese; screenwriters: Paul Schrader/from the book by Nikos Kazantzakis; cinematographer: Michael Ballhaus; editor: Thelma Schoonmaker; music: Peter Gabriel; cast: Willem Dafoe (Jesus), Harvey Keitel (Judas), Paul Greco (Zealot), Steven Shill (Centurian), Verna Bloom (Mary, Mother of Jesus), Barbara Hershey (Mary Magdalene), David Bowie (Pontius Pilate), Andre Gregory (John the Baptist), Roberts Blossom (Aged Master); Runtime: 164; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Barbara de Fina; Universal; 1988)

A film based on Kazantzaki's book that depicts Christ's life. The emphasis here is on his humanness (desires, sexual conflicts, and worldly pain) and; of course, his divine mission. It is not surprising that this film was falsely considered to be controversial. The only thing the film lacks is depth. Scorsese is an excellent film-maker, but he does not in this film penetrate what and who Christ is (which might not be possible). Nevertheless, it's a rather good film. GRADE: B+



LAST TIME I SAW ARCHIE, THE (director: Jack Webb; screenwriter: William Bowers; cinematographer: Joseph MacDonald; editor: Robert M. Leeds; music: Frank Comstock; cast: Robert Mitchum (Archie Hall), Jack Webb (Bill Bowers), Martha Hyer (Peggy Kramer), Frances Nuyen (Cindy), Louis Nye (Pvt. Sam Beacham), Don Knotts (Capt. Little), Harvey Lembeck (Sgt. Malcolm Greenbriar), Joe Flynn (Drexel), Del Moore (Ostrow), Richard Arlen (Colonel Martin), Robert Strauss (MSgt. Stanley Erlenheim); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Jack Webb; United Artists; 1961) ... reviewed on 6/18/03.

A harmless sitcom comedy that was hardly funny. It's about enlisted men during WW11 and their adventures with con man Robert Mitchum and his pal Jack Webb. The script is based on screenwriter William Bowers' Air Force days.The men are in a Civilian Pilot Training program and date Martha Hyer and Frances Nuyen.  Mitchum and Webb think Nuyen's a Japanese spy, while the enlisted men in their squadron are awed by the goldbricking ability of Mitchum and go along with his schemes. The non-coms think he might be a general in disguise because he's after a spy ring and give him all the passes he wants. Webb directs and stars and narrates as if he were comatose. GRADE: D



LAST TRAIN FROM MADRID, THE (director: James Hogan; screenwriters: story by Elsie Fox & Paul Harvey Fox/Louis Stevens/Robert Wyler; cinematographer: Harry A. Fischbeck; editor: Everett Douglas; music: Boris Morros; cast: Dorothy Lamour (Carmelita Castillo), Lew Ayres (Bill Dexter), Gilbert Roland (Eduardo de Soto), Lionel Atwill (Col. Vigo), Karen Morley (Baroness Helene Rafitte), Helen Mack (Lola), Robert Cummings (Juan Ramos), Olympe Bradna (Maria Bonda), Anthony Quinn (Capt. Ricardo Alvarez), Lee Bowman (Michael Balk), Evelyn Brent (Woman); Runtime: 77; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: George M. Arthur; Paramount; 2004)

The Spanish Civil War is filmed in a most disconcerting fashion. A terrible, cliche-ridden film. The characters await for the last train out of Madrid. I think they are still waiting there. GRADE: D



LAST YEAR AT MARIENBAD (director: Alain Resnais; screenwriters: Alain Robbe-Grillet/from the novel The Invention of Morel by Adolfo Bioy Casares; cinematographer: Sacha Vierny; editors: Henri Colpi/Jasmine Chasney; music: Francis Seyrig; cast: Delphine Seyrig (A/Woman), Giorgio Albertazzi (X/Stranger), Sacha Pitoeff (M/Escort/Husband); Runtime: 93; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Raymond Froment/Pierre Corau; Fox Lorbor; 1961-France/Italy-in French with English subtitles)

A deliberately unclear story about guests in a luxurious classical hotel, involving a man pursuing a woman he said he met last year in possibly a spa called Marienbad. We will call him X (Giorgio), and the woman we will call A (Seyrig). She is confused by his attention to her. Then there is a man we will call M, who might or might not be the husband (Sacha) of A. I have no idea what the true situation is, as the director filmed four different ways for the film to end. So I guess you can fill in your own ending. This work was scripted by Alaine-Robbe Grillet and gorgeously photographed by Sacha Vierny. It is deceptively puzzling, enabling you to be free of any sense of time or reality. This smells to me like a game of high kitsch, but was intelligently done and is most enjoyable. GRADE: A



LAST WALTZ, THE (director: Martin Scorsese; cinematographers: Michael Chapman/Laszlo Kovacs/David Myers/Bobby Byrne/Hiro Narita/Michael Watkins/Vilmos Zsigmond; editor: Yeu-Bun Yee/Jan Roblee; cast: Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Muddy Waters, Emmylou Harris, Eric Clapton, Neil Diamond, Dr. John, Ringo Starr, Paul Butterfield, The Staples, Ronnie Hawkins, Ron Wood, and The Band: Robbie Robertson (leader & guitarist), Richard Manuel (piano), Rick Danko (bass violin), Garth Hudson (Organ), Levon Holm (drummer); Runtime: 117; United Artists; 1978) ... Reviewed on 1/21/2001.

A great concert documentary film about a legendary Sixties rock band, thanks to the non-intrusive effort of Scorsese as director and interviewer. It covers the The Band's final concert on Thanksgiving in 1976, after being on the road for 16 years and finding that lifestyle to be impossible to continue. After first playing in dives, then barnstorming with Bob Dylan, and finally reaching stardom -- retirement looks good to The Band. Most of the footage took place in the arena where they started, San Francisco's Winterland. The songs ranged from "Up on Cripple Creek" to "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." Special guests range from Van Morrison to Bob Dylan. The music was outstanding, it couldn't have been filmed any better. GRADE: A



LATCHO DROM (director/writer: Tony Gatlif; cinematographer: Eric Guichard; editor: Nicole Berckmans; music: Alain Weber; Runtime: 103; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Michele Ray; New Yorker Video; 1993-France-in French and Romany with English subtitles)

Latcho Drom, "safe journey", has a non-professional cast and no dialogue. It is an unusual documentary, tracing the path of Gypsy musicians in India, Egypt, Turkey, Hungary, Slovakia, France and Spain. This film through song and dance, conveys the persecutions and joys of these neglected people. They are a people who have been made scapegoats throughout history by tyrants such as Hitler. And, by Christians, who condemned them as pagans. A rare look at these folks. It is worth checking out, even if you are just interested in their lively music. GRADE: A-



LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (director: David Lean; cast: Peter O'Toole, Claude Rains, Alec Guinness, Omar Sharif; Runtime: 222; Horizon; 1962-UK)

This film is about the legendary T.E. Lawrence, a British officer who leads an Arab uprising against Turkey during WW1. It romanticizes Lawrence as Lean fills the desert with beautiful camera shots, but fails to reach into the soul of Lawrence who still remains an enigma. GRADE: B+



LAWS OF GRAVITY (director/writer: Nick Gomez; cinematographer: Jean de Segonzac; editor: Tom McArdle; cast: Peter Greene (Jimmy), Edie Falco (Denise), Adam Trese (Jon), Arbella Field (Celia), Paul Schulze (Frankie), Saul Stein (Sal); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Bob Gosse/Larry Meistrich; RKO Pictures; 1992)

How about a derivative, but well-done flick about tough white kids in Brooklyn! Well, you got it here. These neighborhood kids do petty larceny and gunrunning. It's a protoype of cinema verite. The characters seem so real, that this film could be mistaken for a documentary. The action is dramatic, and there is an unmistakable  non-judgmental air toward any of the participants. GRADE: B+



LE DOULOS (THE FINGER MAN) (director/writer: Jean-Pierre Melville; screenwriters: from the book by Pierre Lesou/Elisabeth Rappeneau; cinematographer: Nicolas Hayer; editor: Monique Bonnot; music: Paul Misraki; cast: Jean-Paul Belmondo (Silien), Serge Reggiani (Maurice Faugel), Monique Hennessy (Therese), Michel Piccoli (Nuttheccio), Daniel Crohem (Police Inspector), René Lefèvre (Gilbert Varnove); Runtime: 110; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Georges de Beauregard/Carlo Ponti; Pathé Contemporary Films; 1963-France-in French with English subtitles)

A tough hood (Serge) gets out of prison and plans a jewel robbery. The cops are aware of his operation. He suspects a snitch. The obvious one being Belmondo, who has a history of being one. Ultimately, this is a film about style and loyalty and friendships, played out against the backdrop of the criminal underworld. Melville has a light touch that lifts this film above the ordinary crime caper movie. GRADE: A-



L'ENFER (TORMENT)(director/writer: Claude Chabrol; screenwriter: Henri-Georges Clouzot; cinematographer: Bernard Zitzermann; editor: Monique Fardoulis; music: Matthieu Chabrol; cast: Emmanuelle Beart (Nelly), Francois Cluzet (Paul), Nathalie Cardone (Marylin), Andre Wilms (Doctor Arnoux), Marc Lavoine (Martineau), Dora Doll (Mme Chabert), Jean-Pierre Cassel (M. Vernon); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Marin Karmitz; Canal Plus; 1994-France-in French with English subtitles)

A typical tightly wound story from Chabrol, reflecting on the hang-ups of the bourgeoisie whom Chabrol loves to poke fun at. He shows their faults and miseries. Paul (Cluzet) owns a luxurious lakeside hotel. His attractive wife, Nelly (Emmanuelle), helps the hard-working owner run the place. But Paul is jealous, extremely jealous of her, questioning every move she makes. He tells her that he couldn't bear to lose her. They seem to be in love, and have a young son whom they are devoted to. But in Chabrol's world, this is not enough. As we follow the couple in their daily routines, we see Paul's imagination become more insanely active with jealousy. This film is a study in psychological perversion done with a taut, razor-sharp style, that is chilling. GRADE: B+



LE SAMOURAI (director/writer: Jean-Pierre Melville; screenwriter: based on the novel The Ronin by Joan McLeod; cinematographer: Henri Decaë; editors: Monique Bonnot/Yolande Maurette; music: François De Roubaix; cast: Alain Delon (Jeff Costello), François Périer (The Inspector), Nathalie Delon (Jan Lagrange), Cathy Rosier (Valerie), Jacques Leroy (Gunman), Michel Boisrond (Wiener); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Raymond Borderie/Eugène Lépicier; Artificial Eye; 1967-France/Italy-in French with English subtitles)

Delon coolly plays a contract killer, living by his own code. He takes on a job where he has an airtight alibi. This job turns into a deep seeded need he has to get revenge, even over his own safety concerns. This film succeeds with scant use of dialogue. It, supposedly, influenced many other gangster films. This is a good one. A really good one. GRADE: A



LES BONNES FEMMES (director/writer: Claude Chabrol; screenwriter: Paul Gégauff; cinematographer: Henri Decae; editor: Jacques Gaillard; music: Pierre Jansen/Paul Misraki; cast: Bernadette Lafont (Jane), Clotilde Joano (Jacqueline), Stephane Audran (Ginette), Lucille Saint-Simon (Rita), Claude Berri (Le copain de Jane); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ralph Baum; Kino Video; 1960-France-in French with English subtitles)

One of the great early films of Chabrol (his fourth feature). Some critics maintain this neglected film is his most disturbing and best. It is a searing look at four Parisian shopgirls who work in an appliance store, Jane (Bernadette Lafont), Ginette (Stephane Audran), Jacqueline (Clotilde Joano), and Rita (Lucile Saint-Simon), whose uninspiring dreams of love and monotonous routine life overwhelms them. The girls try to do something to break away from their hum-drum existence they feel trapped in. Ginette longs for stardom as a singer in the music halls, Rita craves for security in marriage to a store owner, Jane is a loose woman who pursues a hedonistic existence and, the last, the most sensitive and vulnerable of the girls, Jacqueline, seeks romance with a biker. What is beautiful about the film, besides the cinematography of Henri Decae, is the caring yet brutally unsentimental manner of Chabrol's direction. He touches on how the world has influenced the girls with so many dreams that are really someone else's. That murder is part of the bargain comes as a shock, but does provide a fitting ending to Chabrol's scathing commentary on bourgeoisie values, complicity and guilt. GRADE: A



LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES (THE STRANGE ONES) (director: Jean-Pierre Melville; cast: Nicole Stephane, Edouard Dhermitte, Jacques Bernard, Renee Cosima; 1949-Fr.)

Adapted from a Jean Cocteau novel ... Melville had to work with the ever persistent and domineering presence of Cocteau on the set; yet, he is able to work around Cocteau and come up with a very airy touch to this film. The only stiffness in the production is in the casting of Edouard as Paul, at the insistence of Cocteau. A sister to Paul, marvously played by Nicole, nurses him after the 16-year-old is hit by a snowball with a rock in it. The family doctor diagnoses that Paul should stay home from school and rest. The fear is that Paul might be dying. The adolescents lock themselves into their own fantasy world, staying in their own room and taking care of their dying mother while playing erotic games. Their friends, Jacques and Renee, are tricked by Nicole into marrying when she discovers Paul and Renee are in love with each other. This results in tragedy. GRADE: B+



LIFE AND NOTHING MORE (director/writer/editor: Abbas Kiarostami; cinematographer: Homayun Piever; editor: Changiz Sayyad; cast: Farhad Kheradmand (Film Director), Buba Bayour (Puya); Runtime: 95; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ali-Reza Zarrin; Facets; 1991-Iran-Farsi with English subtitles)

A father and son leave Tehran by car and find the road congested on the way to northern Iran's small-town called Koker, following the devasting earthquake there in 1990 which killed 50,000. They search for two young boys who were actors in their film, Where  is the Friend's Home?... .This simple plot serves the film well, as they question earthquake survivors and try to figure out why God lets some survive and others die. There is, also, a World Cup football match taking place. The events of those games are still important to the survivors, even as they dig out from their troubles. An amazing film that never fails to hold your interest. GRADE: A



LITTLE AMERICAN, THE (director/writer/editor/producer: Cecil B. De Mille; screenwriter: Clarence J. Harris/story by Jeanie Macpherson; cinematographer: Alvin Wyckoff; cast: Mary Pickford (Angela Moore), Jack Holt (Karl Von Austreim), Raymond Hatton (Count Jules de Destin), Hobert Bosworth (German Commander), Lillian Leighton (Angela's Great Aunt), Walter Long (German Captain); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; Grapevine Video; 1917-silent)

Basically a WW1 propaganda film. Mary's love of Jack is interrupted by the war. Jack is German. He must leave America to fight for his Germany. Mary goes to France by boat to see her dying aunt, but her boat is sunk by a German U-2. Mary survives and ends up in her dead aunt's house, which she inherits. A silent-classic love story. GRADE: C+



LITTLE BUDDHA (director/writer: Bernardo Bertolucci; screenwriters: Mark Peploe/Rudy Wurlitzer; cinematographer: Vittorio Storaro; editors: Pietro Scalia/Daniele Sordoni; music: Ryuichi Sakamoto; cast: Ying Ruocheng (Lama Norbu), Alex Wiesendanger (Jesse Conrad), Keanu Reeves (Siddhartha), Chris Isaak (Dean Conrad), Bridget Fonda (Lisa Conrad); Runtime: 123; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Jeremy Thomas; Miramax Films; 1993-United Kingdom/France)

A nine year old Seattle child is taken to India to see if he is the reincarnation of a Tibetan Buddhist Lama. The parts of this epic that are riveting involve the performance of Lama Norbu (Ying); he is the chooser of the next reincarnated lama. For the most part, the film is too flat and not moving enough to stay focused on its subject matter. The picture could have been more captivating especially since its subject matter, the Tibetan culture, is something audiences are very responsive to at this particular time. GRADE: B



LITTLE COLONEL, THE (director: David Butler; screenwriters: from the book The Little Colonel by Annie Fellows Johnston/William Conselman; cinematographer: Arthur C. Miller; editor: Irene Morra; music: Thomas Moore; cast: Shirley Temple (Lloyd Sherman, the Little Colonel), Evelyn Venable (Elizabeth Lloyd Sherman), Lionel Barrymore (Colonel Lloyd), Bill "Bojangles" Robinson (Walker the butler), John Lodge (Jack Sherman), Sidney Blackmer (Swazey), Hattie McDaniel (Mom Beck); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Buddy G. DeSylva; 20th Century Fox; 1935)

Who could forget "Bojangles" dance on the stairs? This is the South, post-Civil War. The story is about Shirley being so adorable that she can bring about a reconciliation with her warring mother (Venable) and grandfather (Barrymore). An entertaining film. GRADE: A



LOCAL COLOR (director/writer: Mark Rappaport; cinematographer: Fred Murphy; editor: Mark Rappaport; cast: Jane Campbell (Andrea), Bob Herron (Fred), Dolores Kenan (Lil), Michael Burg (Alvin), Tom Bair (Andrew), Barry De Jasu (Brian), Randy Danson (Viv), Temmie Brodke (Debbie); Runtime: 116; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Mark Rappaport; Planet Pictures; 1977)

Mark Rappaport' ("Rock Hudson's Home Movies"/"From the Journals of Jean Seberg"/"The Scenic Route") failed indie attempt at a campy soap opera parody, with an off-screen  narrator telling how all of the eight screwed-up intertwining characters are searching for romance to pep up their dispirited lives. Brutally overlong, heavy-handed and with a dry humor that's obtuse and weird, it becomes a heavy slog just getting to know the names of the neurotic characters. The indie absurdist comedy is filled with sketches of various characters (gays, twins, a married couple and a hostile family trio) interrelating with each other, in a plotless film that seems to be taking forever to go nowhere. Its most profound statement has an unlikable character (Michael Burg) telling his resentful teenage daughter (Temmie Brodke) and his sullen mistress (Dolores Kenan) that "life isn't long enough to insist on perfect relationships." GRADE: C


LOCAL HERO (director/writer: Bill Forsyth; cinematographer: Chris Menges; editor: Michael Bradsell; music: Mark Knopfler; cast: Burt Lancaster (Felix Happer), Peter Riegert (Maclntyre), Fulton Mackay (Ben), Peter Capaldi (Danny Oldsen), Jenny Seagrove (Marina), Denis Lawson (Urquhart), Christopher Rozkcki (Victor), Jennifer Black (Stella), Rikki Fulton (Geddes), John Gordon Sinclair (Ricky); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: David Puttnam; Warner Brothers; 1983-UK)

A comic and heart-felt attempt to comment on a Texas oil tycoon buying up incredibly beautful Scottish coast land. This film is not unlike the great Michael Powell film, I Know Where I Am Going. Lancaster is magnificent. GRADE: A



LOLA (director/writer: Jacques Demy; cinematographer: Raoul Coutard; editor: Anne-Marie Cotret ; music: Michel Legrand; cast: Anouk Aimée (Lola), Marc Michel (Roland), Jacques Harden (Michel), Alan Scott (Frankie), Margo Lion (Jeanne), Catherine Lutz (Claire), Elina Labourdette (Mme. Desnoyers), Annie Duperoux (Cecile), Gerard Delaroche (Yvon); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Carlos Ponti; Unidex; 1961-France/Italy-in French with English subtitles)

Demy's beautifully, visually stylized homage to the great director Max Ophuls. This appears to be on surface, a slender love story involving a cabaret dancer called Lola (Anouk). She has three suitors: Michel, her true love, who left her pregnant to roam the world; an American sailor admirer named Frankie; and, an old friend who is smitten with her and reappears in her life after 15 years, Roland.This love fable goes way beyond what might have been an ordinary tale of love, with its intertwining coincidences and all its Hollywood references. It sensitively touches on the vagaries and the blind luck and the good timing one has when love strikes gold.The hurts are very real and moving for those who succumb to love's stings, and their vulnerabilities are further exposed to a feeling that their life is wasting away. A brilliant and heart throbbing film. GRADE: A



LONDON BRIEF (director: Jon Jost; Music: Erling Wold; 1997-UK)

Jost's "accidental film" is an engaging, effortless, non-narrative work about a day spent in London. It starts and ends with the subway ride of commuters. Some of the things seen are a shopping mall, Hyde Park, a hair salon, the Stock Exchange, and TV commercials. It is a critique of the coldness of urban life, but it's mostly played as a lark. Not for everyone, but could suit those not interested in mainstream films. It was shot on a Sony Digital DX 700 & DX 1000. GRADE: B-



LONDON TOWN (director/producer: Wesley Ruggles; screenwriters: from a Wesley Ruggles story/ Siegfried Herzig/Val Guest/Elliot Paul; cinematographer: Erwin Hillier; editor: Sid Stone; music: Tutti Camerata/Jimmy Van Heusen; cast: Sheila Bligh (London Town' Dozen & One Girl), Kay Kendall (Singer) Greta Gynyt (Peggy Sanford), Mary Clare ( Mrs. Gates), Claude Hulbert (Belgrave), Sid Field (Jerry Sanford); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: NR; J. Arthur Rank Productions/United Artists; 1946-UK/USA)

This one is a turkey. The story is tacky, the music is forgettable, the comedians are not funny, the stars are not appealing, the direction is mediocre, and the romance angle is lame. The only reason for seeing it, is for historical reasons. It was made towards the end of WW11 when rationing was still in effect. But this was a most lavish production, the first major British Technicolor musical; and, it was directed by an American, on the insistence of the film's star, Sid Field, who had clout at the time because of his recent success on stage. The story centers on an understudy to a London play, whose daughter schemes to get him to take the place of the comedian he is understudying. The Songs in 'London Town' include: 'You Can't Keep a Good Dreamer Down', 'The 'Ampstead Way', 'Any Way the Wind Blows'/ 'So Do I ' (performed by 1940's Dance Band singer Beryl Davis), 'My Heart Goes Crazy', and a medley of cockney songs: 'Knock 'em in the Old kent Road'/'Any Old Iron'/(My Old Man said) 'Follow the Van'. The music and lyrics were by Bing Crosby's regular collaborators, Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke.
GRADE: D



LOSS OF SEXUAL INNOCENCE, THE (director/writer: Mike Figgis; cinematographer: Benoît Delhomme; editor: Matthew Wood; music: Mike Figgis; cast: Julian Sands (Adult Nic), Johanna Torrel (Nic's Wife), Saffron Burrows (Twins/Italian Woman), Stefano Dionisi (Lucca), Kelly MacDonald (Susan), Gina McKee (Susan's Mum), Femi Ogumbanjo (Adam), Jonathan Rhys-Meyers (Nic (age 16)), Hanne Klintoe (Eve), John Cowey (Nic (age 5)); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Mike Figgis/Annie Stewart; Sony Pictures Classics; 1999)

I don't know what Mike Figgis was thinking when he made this pretentious art flick. Through various sketches we see the Garden of Eden, where twins are separated at birth and then later on are eyeing each other at an airport without ever meeting. There are raw comments made about Third World countries. Perhaps, to shock viewers, he has a black Adam and a red-headed teen play Eve. Their role is to show how innocent was their sexual curiosity. For all their prancing around in the nude, there was nothing worth noting about what they symbolized. The film seemed as if I was supposed to pretend to like it rather than to actually like it. The growing up in Kenya teen date scenes had little dialogue and not enough engagement in them to know what to really make of the life of a white settler in the jungle country. Julian Sands had little to do but act as the filmmaker starting his career as a soundman, trying desperately to flesh out the part he was supposed to be playing. The theme becomes one of recognizing that there is evil in sexual relations that bring on jealousy, betrayal and possessiveness. If anything, Friggis tried too hard to paint the world into a corner. GRADE: D



LOTTO LAND (director/writer/producer: John Rubino; cinematographer: Rufus Standefer; editor: Jack Haigis; music: Sherman Holmes / Wendell Holmes; cast: Larry Gilliard (Hank), Wendell Holmes (Milt), Barbara Gonzalez (Joy), Suzanne Costallis (Nini), Jaime Tirelli (Papi); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Michael J. Rubino; Cinepix Film Properties; 1995)

Brooklyn ghetto residents react wildly to the news that someone in their neighborhood is holding a winning lottery ticket for $27 million. The film is about dreams - "If you can buy a dream for a dollar, that's all it's worth" says the alcoholic, who is the neighborhood sage. An independent film, showing city life as it is for those who are absorbed in its sub-culture. So-so fare. GRADE: C



LOW LIFE, THE (director/writer/producer: George Hickenlooper; screenwriter: John Enbom; cinematographer: Richard Crudo; editors: Yaffa Lerea/Jim Makiej; music: Bill Boll; cast: Rory Cochrane (John), Sean Astin (Andrew), Kyra Sedgwick (Bevan), Ron Livingston (Chad), Christian J. Meoli (Leonard), Sara Melson (Suzie), James LeGros (Mike, Jr.), J.T. Walsh (Mike Sr); Runtime: 96; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Donald Zuckerman/Tobin Heminway; Cabin Fever Entertainment and Cinepix Film Properties; 1995)

The title of the film should have been The Searchers. This is not a film about low lifes, but about some confused but overly educated young men who refuse to believe they are at a dead-end. They are unable to deal with how pointless their lives are and how they are wasting away in an empty environment. Some might be taken aback by the glumness of the laid-back performance of the protagonist wannabe writer. He is named John and is unsettlingly played by Cochrane. That this indie film is not always on target, should not deter you from seeing it. GRADE: C+



Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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