Category: Film Reviews

Charming Rogues in a New Kind of Western: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford, directed by George Roy Hill

It is a story presented with excellent craft. The film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid has a lot of style, in its cinematography, and in its structure; and its landscapes are gorgeous, musical interludes romantic, and it has well-measured pacing. Its use of silent film and black-and-white photographs, tinged sepia, are a nice touch.

Language, Spirit, and Vision: August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, featuring Charles Dutton and Alfre Woodward

The Piano Lesson, as presented by Hallmark, has some staginess still, but what remain impressive are August Wilson’s language, spirit, and vision. Wilson’s language is more natural than poetic, but it is ever flowing—creating character and music and relationship—and summoned are a particular time, 1936, and place, America (Mississippi and Pittsburgh).

When Angels Become Demons (Passion and Profession): Zoe Saldana in the international action-thriller film Colombiana, written by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen, and directed by Olivier Megaton

Zoe Saldana has appeared in comedy, drama, and science fiction, but her role as a tormented, driven young woman in Olivier Megaton’s Colombiana may be her most dynamic, her freest; and it is an irony that her freedom is exemplified by her astute control. While watching a woman go wild and do forbidden things can be an exhilarating fantasy, when her actions involve crimes that injure others, that is hardly a model for imitation.

Yesterday’s Treasures: The Deep Blue Sea and The Bridge on the River Kwai

The British officer who authorized his men in the Burma camp to give their best in building the bridge has begun to lose sight of his ultimate allegiance, and tries to protect the bridge from the bombers. In a contest of nation against nation, man against man, will against will, good men die for riches, rituals and rules, all in the madness of war. Is any ideal or principle worth the sacrifice of the complex, messy plenitude that is human life?

War Becomes A Man: A Modern Interpretation of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, starring Ralph Fiennes and Gerard Butler

This is a world of economic strife, hunger, mass protests, militant policing, automatic weaponry, great tanks, constant television reportage, rumor and suspicion. Coriolanus stands out in a competitive, hostile world; and whereas others—activists, politicians, and soldiers—come together to converse and conspire in order to achieve goals, Coriolanus is able to act alone.

The Wisdom to Know the Difference: Halle Berry’s Performance of Truthful Depth in Things We Lost in the Fire

Audrey, a homemaker who likes cooking and woodworking, is a woman who expects a certain logic of her life, and, though she knows instinctively and intellectually what decent behavior is, her pain, judgements, and selfishness sometimes make her punishing. Halle Berry’s performance is shaded with anger, dismay, and grief in various combinations and intensities; and it is a deep, truthful, impressive performance.