Dennis Schwartz'
Short Reviews 
'U'  6


U-TURN (director: Oliver Stone; screenwriters: John Ridley/based on his book Stray Dogs; cinematographer: Robert Richardson; editors: Hank Corwin/Thomas J. Nordberg; music: Ennio Morricone; cast: Sean Penn (Bobby Cooper), Jennifer Lopez (Grace McKenna), Nick Nolte (Jake McKenna), Powers Boothe (Sheriff Potter), Joaquin Phoenix (Toby N. Tucker), Billy Bob Thornton (Darrell), Jon Voight (Blind Man), Claire Danes (Jenny), Julie Haggerty (Flo); Runtime: 127; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Dan Halsted/Clayton Townsend; TriStar Pictures; 1997)

A bad trip flick. The unfortunate Penn, who is delivering the Russian mob some loan shark money, has a car breakdown in this dumpy little town ironically called, Superior, Arizona. This place is no advertisement for the state's tourist board. Everything that could go wrong for Penn does, as he gets stuck in this town longer than he thought he would. Stone fills the screen with vultures, wild dogs, and many violently ominous symbols that do not really connect with the story; yet they do give the movie a frenetic, hallucinogenic feel; or, as some say, a pretentious arty look. What makes this film click, is the characterizations pulled off by this top flight cast, each one is whackier than the next. Penn is the loner and punk, who just can't do anything right. Jennifer is the town sexpot and troubled young lady. Her husband, Nolte, is a cruel and despicable person, just like most everyone in town. ... Voight and Thornton steal the picture in minor roles. Voight as the blind Indian, dispensing wisdom on the street. Thornton as the crooked car mechanic, riling Penn up. Powers is the always drunk sheriff. This film should be judged for its originality and the beautifully violent look it offers. GRADE: C+

UFO (director: Winston Jones; screenwriter: Francis Martin; editor: Chester Schaeffer; cast: Tom Towers (Narrator, Albert M. Chop); Runtime: 92; United Artists; 1956) ... Reviewed on 9/11/2001.

A unique semi-documentary in that it has actual footage from two sightings of UFO's. They come at the end of this very plodding film, which consists of reenactments of dull interviews with Air Force personnel and newspaper reporters. But the film's aim is to show that UFO's do exist--the main question is where do they come from. For those who are still doubters, the film asks the viewer to at least keep an open mind. The filmed sightings from Montana and from Utah indicate strange cylinder-shaped metallic objects of a silver or a blue-whitish color were spotted by reliable people, whose film is verified as authentic by the Air Force. It was difficult for me to interpret what I saw, but I'll keep an open mind. GRADE: B

ULEE'S GOLD (director/writer/editor: Victor Nunez; cinematographer: Virgil Mirano; music: Charles Engstrom; cast: Peter Fonda (Ulee Jackson), Patricia Richardson (Connie Hope), Christine Dunford (Helen Jackson), Tom Wood (Jimmy Jackson), Jessica Biel (Casey Jackson) Vanessa Zima (Penny Jackson), Steven Flynn (Eddie Flowers); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Sam Gowan/Peter Saraf; Orion Pictures; 1997)

A Florida beekeeper (Fonda), whose wife died 6 years ago, reflects on his failures, his hitch in 'Nam and his bum knee; and, on his criminal son doing time for a bank robbery. He is raising his son's children after their failed marriage. It is a slow moving, stylized film, every word seems to be measured; whereby, Fonda sets a mood of quiet resolve and despair amidst a resilience and strong sense of independence. For the first time in his acting career, he reminds me of his father Henry. The plot involves Fonda being asked by his son to bring back his estranged wife. She is strung out on drugs and is living with the dangerous desperadoes her husband robbed a bank with. Fonda must give these criminals the $100,000 his son took from the robbery, or else they will harm the children. This small scale film works as a realistic look at a family in need of a second chance on life. GRADE: B-

UN CHIEN ANDALOU (AN ANDALASIAN DOG) (director/writer/editor/producer: Luis Buñuel; screenwriter: Salvador Dali; cinematographer: Albert Duverger; music: Maurico Kagel/Martin Matalon; cast: Pierre Batcheff (Cyclist), Simone Mareuil (Young girl), Jaime Miravilles (Seminarist), Robert Hommet (Young Man), Salvador Dali (Seminarist), Luis Buñuel (Man with a Razor); Runtime: 17 minutes; MPAA Rating: NR;  Kino; 1929-France-silent)... Reviewed on 11/3/2001.

An unforgettable surreal classic that is not told in a logical narrative style; Luis Buñuel's first film in his long and distinguished career is made in collaboration with the artist Salvador Dali. Who can ever forget the early scene where a young lady sits composed as the director takes a razor and slits her eye open! The remainder of the film is played like a dream, where numerous images such as ants crawling on someone's hands; a lady who is about to be raped having her underarm hair end up on her attacker's face as a moustache; the attacker carrying a rotten dead donkey on a grand piano with a couple of priests tied to the piano legs, as he drags it across the room to corner the cowering woman; a severed hand on the sidewalk; a transvestite cyclist falling dead on the sidewalk for no apparent reason; and, a multitude of other Freudian sexual  and provocative images to dislodge one's sense of bourgeois comfort and make one think again about what civilization means. A good example of  the symbolic nature of the gifted director's work and the fun he had with creating such images. GRADE: A

UNFAITHFULLY YOURS (director/writer/producer: Preston Sturges; cinematographer: Victor Milner; editor: Robert Fritch; music: Alfred Newman; cast: Rex Harrison (Sir Alfred De Carter), Linda Darnell (Daphne De Carter), Kurt Kreuger (Anthony), Rudy Vallee (August Henshler), Barbara Lawrence (Barbara Henshler), Lionel Stander (Hugo Standoff), Edgar Kennedy (Detective Sweeney); Runtime: 105; MPAA Rating: NR; 20th Century Fox; 1948)

A whacky take-off by Sturges on the musical conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham, as played by Harrison. He suspects his wife of adultery. The mood of this film ranges from comedy to despair. It is Sturges's last Hollywood film, a black comedy unjustifiably ignored by the early critics and over praised by the later critics. There is one memorable scene, that is pure Sturges, of Harrison trying to work a phono-machine that is comedy Buster Keaton would be proud of.

UNFORGIVEN (director: Clint Eastwood; screenwriter: David Webb Peoples; cinematographer: Jack N. Green; editor: Joel Cox; music: Lennie Niehaus; cast: Clint Eastwood (Bill Munny), Gene Hackman (Sheriff "Little Bill" Daggett), Morgan Freeman (Ned Logan), Richard Harris (English Bob), Jaimz Woolvett (The "Schofield Kid"), Frances Fisher (Strawberry Alice), Anna Levine (Delilah), Saul Rubinek (W.W. Beauchamp); Runtime: 135; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Clint Eastwood; Warner Brothers; 1992)

A reformed gunman must wear his guns again. A familiar Western theme, but Clint pulls it off. This picture is the opposite of the biblical call for forgiveness. Here Clint accepts his lot in life and goes after the bad guys with a vengeance. Great picture telling. GRADE: A

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"