[AA-AM] [AN-AZ] [BA-BM] [BN-BZ] [CA-CM] [CN-CZ] [DA-DM] [DN-DZ] [EA-EM] [EN-EZ] [FA-FM] [FN-FZ] [GA-GM] [GN-GZ] [HA-HM] [HN-HZ] [IA-IM] [IN-IZ] [JA-JM] [JN-JZ] [KA-KM] [KN-KZ] [LA-LM] [LN-LZ] [MA-MM] [MN-MZ] [NA-NM] [NN-NZ] [OA-OM] [ON-OZ] [PA-PM] [PN-PZ] [Q] [RA-RM] [RN-RZ] [SA-SZ] [SN-SZ] [TA-TM] [TN-TZ] [UA-UM] [UN-UZ] [VA-VM] [VN-VZ] [WA-WM] [WN-WZ] [X] [YA-YM] [YN-YZ] [Z]
(1939) A fondly remembered adventure. In this predecessor to the Bond films, the paranoia of the times is leavened with a dry comedic spirit. Ralph Richardson and Laurence Olivier star in a story of counterspies tracking down the masterminds responsible for a magnetic ray-cannon that snatches planes out of the air. (RvB)
(PG-13; 97 min.) Far from a dull costume epic, Stephen Frears' film takes place in an age when cable television began to sway the centuries-old traditions of the English monarchy. After the 1997 death of Princess Diana, Queen Elizabeth II (Helen Mirren) insists upon following decorum without making a public spectacle. Rookie Prime Minster Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) tries to convince her to consider her subjects and their feelings but becomes increasingly enthralled with his queen during their many careful tête-à-têtes. Craftily written by Peter Morgan, the film uses archival, pixilated video footage for a newsy immediacy; the characters, likewise, spend a great deal of time in front of the tube. Frears nicely energizes and modulates the film, allowing Mirren to quietly shine. James Cromwell co-stars as Prince Philip. (JMA)
(1933/1926) "Precisely, the story of a woman who grew up in the belief that the world is a place of solitude, then suddenly discovers the power to communicate with its enchantments," writes Tom Milne in his book on director Rouben Mamoulian. Greta Garbo plays Queen Christina of Sweden, the 17th-century monarch who refused to marry. This (scarcely accurate) romance hazards a guess as to why. Recently enshrined in Bertolucci's The Dreamers. BILLED WITH Flesh and the Devil. Prussian military cadet Leo von Harden (John Gilbert) is poleaxed by the sight of a demure, slight girl in a cloche hat, descending from a railway train. He requests a blossom from the bouquet she's holding, and thus takes his first step on the path that nearly destroys him. "When the devil can not reach us through the spirit," rumbles an old preacher, "He creates a woman so beautiful that he can reach us through the flesh." Or else he shows us a movie. Clarence Brown's melodrama contrasts the sacred love Leo has for his dear boyhood chum Ulrich (Lars Hanson), with the profane emotions he has for this temptress who is called Felicitas von Rhaden and who is played by Greta Garbo. Aside from her bewitching qualities as a fatigued, impassive erotic ideal, Garbo brings depth into the part of a passive, spoiled woman. Postcoitum, Felicitas seems to look at Lars as an amusing but potentially unruly plaything; in later years, she becomes an Emma Bovary working herself into a romantic passion out of boredom. Just as Leo pays the full price with 20 percent interest for Felicitas' kisses, so does the audience, waiting for the heated love scenes. The story you always hear is that Brown would yell "cut," and Gilbert and Garbo wouldn't. (RvB)
(1933/1932) "Precisely, the story of a woman who grew up in the belief that the world is a place of solitude, then suddenly discovers the power to communicate with its enchantments," writes Tom Milne in his book on director Rouben Mamoulian. Greta Garbo plays Queen Christina of Sweden, the 17th-century monarch who refused to marry. This (scarcely accurate) romance hazards a guess as to why. BILLED WITH Love Me Tonight, a delightful, risqué musical of the lingerie-and-top-hat genre. Moreover, it's the best film ever of the Sleeping Beauty story, although the film has a few amendments and tunes by Rodgers and Hart. One roguish son-of-a-gun of a Parisian tailor (Maurice Chevalier) is searching for money owed him; thus he intrudes upon the sleepy chateau of bored Princess Jeanette (Jeanette MacDonald). Myrna Loy co-stars as the man-starved sister of the princess. (RvB)
(R; 101 min.) The late pop star Aaliyah stars as a head vampire in a film adaptation of one of Anne Rice's books. Stuart Townsend plays the vampire Lestat.
(PG-13; 105 min.) A scrapper (Jean-Claude Van Damme) from the tough streets of 1920s New York stows away in a tramp steamer while running from the cops. This enforced sojourn makes him realize that his life's ambition is to travel to a secret city in central Asia and fight a host of ethnic stereotypes for possession of a large golden dragon. There's a Japanese sumo wrestler, a kilted Scotsman, a German in a dirigible, a writhing Brazilian capoiera fighter, among others; all of them are pretty fun, really. Director Van Damme is as emotionally ponderous as Van Damme the actor, and for an action movie, The Quest is terribly slow. It does have its moments, though: Roger Moore as a rheumy-eyed roué always on the lookout for a profitable double cross; the deadly ballet of the combat (when they finally get around to it); and a beautifully absurd opening fight with Van Damme wearing stilts and clown makeup.
(G; 83 min.) The quality of Quest for Camelot, Warner Bros.' first full-length, fully animated feature, hardly matches Disney's polish, but despite some occasionally jerky animation and a soundtrack full of mawkish, easy-listening radio songs, the film offers a creatively whimsical fantasy land and some likable principal characters that will appeal to older children (an assortment of fire-snorting beasts might intimidate small youngsters). Quest for Camelot tells the story of Kayley, the tenacious daughter of a knight (Jessalyn Gilsig), and Garett (Cary Elwes), a reclusive young blind man. They seek to save King Arthur's sword, Excalibur, from falling into the clutches of the corrupt knight Ruber (Gary Oldman, who oozes malevolence). The studio rounded up a gaggle of celebrities to voiceand sing forthe characters, and with actors like Oldman and Eric Idle behind the cartoons, the decision pays off. (HZ)
(Both 1952) John Wayne in love, holding flowers. In The Quiet Man, he plays a retired boxer from Pittsburgh, who has come back to Ireland to live in the house he was born in. While there, he spies a country girl herding her sheepshe's Maureen O'Hara, splendidly redheaded in Technicolorand, with typical John Wayne understatement he murmurs, "Hey, is that real?" Unfortunately, what's all too real is the girl's brother (Victor McLaglen, an ex-pug himself), a vicious Dickensenian bully of a squire, with a blackthorn cane and a wicked sucker punch. In John Ford's celebrated piece of Hiberniana, local color abounds ("I'll try one of those black beers," decides Wayne). A flicker of restlessness intrudes on the viewer during every interior scene; you want to get back outside, like a cooped-up kid. And the famous fist fight scene is the kind of dumbness that would become more popular as cinema got older and more decadent. Still, the film is as captivating as it is corny, with Wayne and O'Hara generating sparks as well as a gentle sweetness. Wayne makes you proud of that one unique American virtue: the belief that snobbery is such bad form, though I fear years of jingoism have worn away this trait. And we all know the other side of the coin, our native anti-intellectualism. So, this is probably the movie that the Pogues were thinking about when they wrote that song "The Body of an American." Barry Fitzgerald plays the leprecaunish local fixer; Ward Bond co-stars as a peculiarly hard-boiled village priest. Winton C. Hoch's 40-shades-of-green photography is landmark work"Hoch was a physicist," declared one admirer, noting how difficult it was to get the light right in Galway. Ford was fortunate to get to that part of Ireland in the instant before electricity and automobiles transformed the landscape. The castle seen here is Ashcroft Castle. The Quiet Man is screened there every day for tourists at 4pm. BILLED WITH High Noon. Nice double bill! the question of pacifism gets a (slight) hearing, right before the audience's age-old demand for violence has its way, as it always does and always will. Gary Cooper plays the newly retired Marshall Kane, his back against a wall as three criminals arrive on the noon train. Grace Kelly plays the marshall's Quaker wife. The action unfolds in real time, which adds to the tension. Cooper's ill-at-easeness complements the ideological questions. Note how Dirty Harry borrowed the last shot (in another ideologically tormented time, 20 years later). (RvB)
(1952/1949) John Wayne as an American boxer given a cool reception by an Irish town; courting a maid (Maureen O'Hara) he has to fight the girl's brother (Victor McLaglen) in an epic donnybrook that's still the picture's most famous scene. BILLED WITH She Wore a Yellow Ribbon. One of John Wayne's best; a story of the military in which the blunders and sacrifice of the self are as much a part of the tale as the glory. Wayne is an old man here, a cavalry captain on the verge of retirement just as an Indian uprising is about to break out. The love story (Joanne Dru and the abysmal John Agar) and the comic relief (McLaglen again) dilute the effect of an often somber story. Filmed in Monument Valley. (RvB)