Brain surgeon Tomas (Daniel Day-Lewis) lives a Bohemian lifestyle in Prague. He meets and romances a waitress Tereza (Juliette Binoche) who moves in with him, but is confused by his multiple lovers, including Sabina.
When Sabina gets Tereza a job as a photographer, she inadvertently photographs Soviet tanks invading Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring and, realizing their importance, smuggles them to the west.
Sabina, Tomas, and Tereza flee to Switzerland where Sabina has an affair with a married professor in Geneva, but when he abandons his family for her, she ends the relationship. Unhappy, Tereza returns to Czechoslovakia and Tomas follows.
I’m a fan of Daniel Day-Lewis’s work, but this fell flat. I’m unclear if the film was arguing commitment and monogamy are useless and antiquated notions or trying to affirm them. It casts their various sexual escapades as protest against communist oppression, but then suddenly reinterprets them as selfishness. The movie wants to do and say so much, it winds up saying nothing.
Desperate for money, Terry (Mark Ruffalo) temporarily moves in with his sister Sammy (Laura Linney) and her young son Rudy.
The three of them form a happy family until Terry takes Rudy to visit his biological father. When Rudy Sr. is dismissive of his son, Terry attacks him and Sammy is left to bail him out of jail.
Not long after this, Terry leaves, but the two siblings are more aware and accepting of each other. They may not live similar lives or have similar goals, but will respect each other’s decisions.
Kenneth Longeran’s debut film is a quirky, messy film about a dysfunctional family which resonates because of the incredible performances of Linney and Ruffalo amd Matthew Broderick, channeling his work in Election (1999), as Sammy’s demented boss and lover, Brian Everett. Linney is an underrated actress and one of the highlights of every film she’s in. Ruffalo has finally gotten some mainstream attention as Hulk in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and Now You See Me (2013), but he’s more at home in small independent films like this.
When drug addict Crown kills a man, he flees Catfish Row, a small fishing community in South Carolina. Desperate for a place to stay, his girlfriend, Bess (Dorothy Dandridge) movies in with the crippled beggar Porgy (Sidney Poitier). They live an idyllic domestic life until Crown returns and rapes Bess when she refuses his advances. Later during a confrontation, Porgy kills Crown.
After this murder, the drug dealer Sportin’ Life (Sammy Davis Jr.) convinces Bess to leave with him. The film ends with the despondent Porgy pledging to find and bring her back.
Poitier would explode into super-stardom in the 1960s, becoming the most critically acclaimed black actor of the era. This movie propelled him to those heights.
Dorothy Dandridge was the first black woman to receive an Academy Award nomination for her work in Carmen Jones (1954). Poised to become a huge star, she let others influence what roles she would take and died in 1965 at the age of 42
The story of Samuel Goldwyn’s effort to bring this musical to the screen despite numerous setbacks would make a fascinating film. He badgered the Gershwin estate for years before they allowed the film to proceed. He fired the first director, Rouben Mamolian, who had directed the original, commercially unsuccessful Broadway production. The film’s second director, Otto Preminger had a prior relationship with Dorothy Dandridge which contributed to the on-set tension. The Gershwins were opposed to casting Sammy Davis Jr., but immense pressure from Davis’s friend, including Frank Sinatra, forced Goldwyn to include him in the film. A fire during production ruined many of the sets and cuase a massive delay in filming. Many of the eras leading African-American actors were unwilling to star in the film because they felt it perpetuated stereotypes. Sadly, the film’s financial failure ended Goldwyn’s career.
The finished product is a fascinating look at black experience in early 20th century America. By adapting the tropes of Italian opera to a downtrodden and disrespected class of people, Gershwin makes the black experience in the United States universal, and by fusing classical musical concepts with jazz, he brought new respect to the genre.
Unfortunately, this important piece of American film, musical, and racial history is rarely seen because of lingering disagreements with the Gershwin estate.
This film chronicles the brief life of John Dillinger (Lawrence Tierney) who rose from humble origins to become public enemy no. 1.
Following his arrest for a small robbery, Dillinger befriended several more hardened criminals in prison and joined their gang after his release, but his insatiable ego lead him to take control of the group and kill its leader, Specs, who had served as his surrogate father in prison.
Eventually, Dillinger was located by police and shot coming out of movie theater in Chicago.
This is a decent movie about one of America’s most famous and mythologized mobsters, but by the mid 1940s, America’s fascination with mobsters was waning and Tierney doesn’t have the charisma of James Cagney or Edward G. Robinson, who made us identify and root for the bad guy. This lack of emotional investment makes the film bland and forgettable. Dillinger’s notoriety deserves a better movie.