Gideon58's Reviews

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Montgomery Clift would have been fantastic in this movie, but if he had done it, he might not have been available for A Place in the Sun...it's one of those fates of cinema history created from odd circumstances...like Julie Andrews not getting the role of Eliza Dolittle in the film version of My Fair Lady...if she had done it, she would not have been able to do Mary Poppins and I'm not sure I would like to live in a world without Julie Andrews as Mary Poppins.
That's an excellent point! I'm very glad Julie Andrews did Mary Poppins and Monty Clift did A Place in the Sun
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Cinamaesque Chat-n-Review



"Money won is twice as sweet as money earned."



CAFE SOCIETY
Woody Allen scores a direct bullseye with 2016's Cafe Society, an expensively mounted, multi-layered, story of romance and mob violence that tells interlacing stories that really shouldn't interlace and makes a couple of squirm-worthy detours, including some on target jabs at the place Woody hates more than anywhere in the world...Hollywood.

The film introduces us to Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg), a wide-eyed Jewish youth bored working in his father's jewelry store who moves to Hollywood to work for his Uncle Phil (Steve Carell), a high-powered Hollywood agent. He becomes involved in a romantic triangle with Phil's assistant, who is having an affair with a married man. When that romance goes south, Bobby moves back to New York and begins working at a nightclub run by his brother, Ben, who is a gangster, even though his family is in denial about it, but aren't above to using it to their advantage when need be.

The Woodmeister has once again sucked me in with a story rich with characters who are not what they appear on the surface and there were one or two points in this story where my jaw literally dropped, as I didn't see a lot of the detours that this movie takes coming at all. I have to admit to initially being thrown when the movie didn't end when the Hollywood triangle ended, but when Bobby returns to New York, we do see a growth in this character who learned a painful lesson in Hollywood and learned that its glamour doesn't cover up a lot of the same lousy human behavior he left in New York. And just when we see Bobby settling into a new life, including a new romance, his Hollywood past catches up to him and the story veers off into another ugly direction that we don't expect, but it was classic Woody Allen.

As it should be, Woody's intricate screenplay is the star here and Woody the director serves it well, peppering the story with something we're unaccustomed to seeing in Woody's work...some in your face violence that must be expected with any story rich with mob sensibility as this one is, made more alluring by the fact that the story takes place in the 1930's, when being a gangster was totally cool.

Woody once again has a hand-picked cast that is pretty much perfection...Eisenberg lights up the screen as young Bobby and makes the complicated transitions this character makes completely believable and Carell manages to infuse some likability into what is on the surface a totally hissable character. Though I haven't seen a lot of her work, Kristen Stewart also impressed as the apex of the Hollywood triangle and I LOVED Corey Stoll (so memorable as Ernest Hemingway in Allen's Midnight in Paris) as Bobby's brother Ben.

As per usual, Woody has employed exquisite production values to his story, including authentic recreations of 1930's Manhattan and Hollywood, with stunning cinematography and costumes. This is a cinematic journey that doesn't go anywhere you think it's going to go but the pursuit of the mystery is such a pleasure.



We're worlds apart on Cafe Society...which is OK, I respect your opinion as a movie reviewer. I did like the period piece sets, the scenes in Hollywood and Blake Lively.



We're worlds apart on Cafe Society...which is OK, I respect your opinion as a movie reviewer. I did like the period piece sets, the scenes in Hollywood and Blake Lively.

I thought Blake Lively's performance was the weakest in the movie. Different strokes.



EDDIE THE EAGLE

Eddie the Eagle is the emotionally manipulative 2016 biopic/sports drama "inspired" by the life and career of British Olympic ski jumper Michael "Eddie" Edwards,who eventually went to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. It's not big on originality or imagination, employing every single cliche you've ever seen in a sports biopic and I had trouble believing that a lot of what happened here really happened, but in terms of pure entertainment, this movie worked.

We are introduced to Eddie as a handicapped, bespectacled, simple-minded sweet soul whose life long passion is to go the Olympics, but in a refreshing change of pace for movies of this kind, Eddie hasn't decided what sport he is interested in yet. I found it a little hard to swallow that one glance at a practice ramp clinched the decision for him, but I went with it and found a story that includes the expected peaks and valleys in such a story. We see his parents split on their support of their son's passion, as well as Eddie learning that Great Britain hasn't had a ski jumping team since 1929, accidentally finding the proper coach in an alcoholic former jumper named Bronson Peary and various forms of corporate red tape and technicalities keeping him off the Olympic slopes and even when he makes it, he still has to face discouragement from people who should be inspiring, including some of his own teammates.

Director Dexter Fletcher and screenwriters Sean Macauley and Simon Kelton have constructed an entertaining, if hard to believe story that was probably embellished for entertainment value because the story of Eddie is presented strictly in terms of getting the audience behind this central character, making us fall in love with him and the only way to do that was to make this story irresistibly manipulative. I love the way the film opens with pre-teen Eddie trying out various sports and failing miserably at all of them before he decides what he wants to do, despite his father's declaration that he will never be an athlete, words that haunt our hero throughout. The character is presented as a bit of a paradox because he is directed and acted as the character might have some mental health issues (quick research revealed some time spent in a mental hospital, but he had no real mental heath issues), yet the character is written as being extremely smart and passionate and knowing what he wants...the scenes of him coercing Peary into being his coach reveal a man who knows exactly what he's doing and exactly what he wants. The character does seem to be socially inept and a bit of a social hermit...he doesn't drink, a point driven home for a reason and is a virgin, a point also revealed for a reason, but this guy is no dummy.

As stated, this film is predictable and manipulative and you pretty much know what's going to happen if you watched the 1988 Winter Olympics, but what really makes this movie so much fun is the charismatic, star-making performance by Taron Egerton in the title role and the real movie star turn by Hugh Jackman as Bronson Peary. The onscreen relationship recalled Stallone and Burgess Meredith in Rocky and Hillary Swank and Clint Eastwood in Million Dollar Baby. Keith Allen and Jo Hartley are terrific as Eddie's parents and there are a pair of classy supporting bits from Oscar winners Christopher Walken and Jim Broadbent. Exquisite cinematography and a heart-pumping music score cap off this highly manipulative sports story that probably was more interesting than Eddie's real story, but the manipulation works.



Wasn't that camera shot from on top of the looooong ski ramp, scary looking! Wow, I can't even image doing ski jumping
I know, I was never really into the Winter Olympics, but this is one sport that when you watch it, it looks so much easier than it is really is and this movie really brought that home for me.



THE CHUMSCRUBBER

The suicide of a teenage drug dealer is the springboard for a bizarre black comedy/suburban soap opera called The Chumscrubber, a cinematic acid trip that defies logic, turns the stomach, and had me completely riveted for its entire running time.

The film features multiple storylines with intersecting characters but the primary story revolves around Dean, the best friend of the victim, who discovered the body and walked out of the house without telling anyone. The story also revolves around a botched kidnapping by some kids who want to get hold of the victim's stash, an uptight interior decorator preparing for her wedding to the mayor, who has some "issues". The mother of the victim, who is telling anyone will listen that they are not to blame for her son's death and Dean's parents, a self-absorbed author who wants to put his son on medication and his mother, a woman guilt-ridden because she didn't bring the mother of the victim a casserole.

Director and screenwriter Arie Posin breaks all the rules for cinematic storytelling in a story that requires attention and is rich with bizarre characters who have no idea that they are bizarre. The film sets up characters who are initially sympathetic but then has them do things that make it hard to sympathize with them. We watch other characters who are being manipulated, cuckolded, and hoodwinked and have no idea what is happening to them. We have parents who have no idea where their children are or what they're doing and children who take full advantage of that. This movie had me squirming, gasping, laughing, fighting tears, but never fighting boredom.

Posin also scored with an impressive cast of actors who completely commit to this hot mess of a story. Jamie Bell (so memorable in Billy Elliott) makes an intense Dean and Glenn Close effortlessly walks the line between heartbreaking and creepy as the mother of the victim. Also loved William Fichtner and Allison Janney as Dean's parents and I don't think I have ever enjoyed Rita Wilson on screen more as the tightly wound bride to be or Ralph Fiennes as her dotty fiancee. The camerawork and editing is a little dizzying at times, but it actually seems to fuel this bizarre, nonsensical, yet richly entertaining story. Fans of the movie Alpha Dog and of the TV series Desperate Housewives will definitely have a head start here.



THE FAMILY MAN
Charles Dickens and Frank Capra have to be credited as inspiration for 2000's The Family Man, an elaborate and emotionally charged fantasy about life choices, compromise, second chances, and the road less traveled.

Nicolas Cage plays Jack Campbell, who during the opening scene is at the airport getting ready to board a plane to London for an internship, deserting his girlfriend, Kate (Tea Leoni) who is begging him not to get on the plane, but he does anyway. Flash forward thirteen years and Jack is observed as a high powered Wall Street investment banker keeping his staff at the office on Christmas Eve, primarily because Jack is all about his work and has no reason to go home on Christmas Eve. Kate reaches out to him, but he ignores the call. Finally on the way home, Jack has an encounter with a gun-toting thug (Don Cheadle), who actually turns out to be a guardian angel who offers Jack a glimpse at the life he gave up. Jack goes home and goes to sleep, and when he wakes up, he's in a Jersey suburb, married to Kate for 13 years, with two children and works for his father-in-law, Big Ed (Harve Presnell).

Screenwriters David Diamond and David Weissman have provided a deft variation on It's a Wonderful Life that unfolds so leisurely that we're a good thirty minutes into the movie before we realize exactly what's going on. The opening scene at the airport makes less and less sense during that thirty minutes and then slaps you in the face with its relevance to the story as it finally comes into focus.

If caught in the right mood, this film can really wreak havoc with viewer emotions as we watch Jack fight what's going and we really don't want him to because Kate is awesome and his kids are terrific and though he's not a Wall Street investment banker, his life is pretty decent. The story throws us a wrench we don't see coming when Jack's daughter realizes something's wrong with her father and is convinced he's an alien. Daughter Annie slowly becomes a conduit to Jack's acceptance of what is happening to him and then through a bizarre set of circumstances, Jack is given a chance to merge his Wall Street life with this glimpse at what he missed.

Director Bret Ratner has mounted an expensive and manipulative fantasy that works on all levels. It makes us love the central character and both versions of his life, but is is it really fair that this guy gets to have it all? I did love that the story concluded with this being a possibility and I was OK with that. Cage's slightly hammy performance in the starring role endears us to the character and Tea Leoni nails the role of her career as Kate. I've never enjoyed Leoni onscreen more, and that includes Spanglish. Ratner has surrounded his stars with an impressive supporting cast including Saul Ribinak, Josef Sommer, Jeremy Piven, Mary Beth Hurt, and little Mackenzie Vega is a winner as Jack's daughter, Annie. Effective Manhattan photography and a lush music score by Danny Elfman are the finishing touches to this slightly overlong fantasy that cruises a little too leisurely to a satisfactory resolution.



MARNIE

Alfred Hitchcock was a director who seemed to constantly reinvent himself. Psycho was unlike anything he had done before and became his masterpiece. After The Birds, he was looking for something different and again, shocked his audience with a stylish and sexy psychological thriller from 1964 called Marnie, which has gained a reputation as a cult classic but might deserve a little more respect than that.

This eye-opener revolves around one Marnie Edgar, a psychologically scarred woman who has become a thief and habitual liar. She has issues with thunderstorms, the color red, and wont let a man touch her. As the story opens, she has just finished stealing $10,000 from a businessman named Strutt and has died her hair, changed her identification, and gotten a job at Rutland and Co., where she works just a few feet away from the safe and plans to do the same thing, but Mark Rutland, the company's heir apparent, is on to her and instead of turning her in, wants to help her and finds himself falling in love with her in the process.

Once again, Hitchcock's skill as a cinematic storyteller trumps the problems with this film. Like he did with Vertigo and Psycho, it was his unique vision as a filmmaker that made this story much richer than it appears on the surface. Hitchcock makes us care about a character who is not very sympathetic by quickly introducing us to her roots without giving away everything that is about revealed. We don't understand why Rutland falls for a woman who tries to rob his company blind, but we also see that Rutland sees that this woman is damaged and wants to help her.

Jay Presson Allen's screenplay, based on a novel by Winston Graham, doesn't play all its cards right away and it is Hitchcock's service to this story that makes this film worth the viewers time, despite some problematic performances and lapses into melodrama that test the viewer's patience, which is eventually rewarded.

Anyone who saw the 2013 film Grace of Monaco, knows that Hitchcock wanted Grace Kelly to play the lead in this film and went to her with the script even though she had already married Prince Rainer and retired from films. The Princess eventually turned the film down and Hitchcock turned to his leading lady from The Birds, Tippi Hedren, Hitch's # 2 obsession, to take the role. Anyone who has seen The Birds knows that Hedren's acting skills were, to be kind, limited, but she works very hard to be believable in this extremely complex role, aided by a director who adored her. Hitchcock did score with her leading man though...Sean Connery made a sexy and dynamic Mark Rutland and brought much more to this role than the screenplay provided. Martin Gabel is solid as Strutt and Diane Baker is lovely as Mark's sister Lil. Alan Napier, who would earn his 15 minutes playing Alfred on the ABC series BATMAN, plays Mark's dad and there are brief glimpses of future stars Bruce Dern and Mariette Hartley. It's no Psycho or even To Catch a Thief, but the Masters hand is all over this one and Hitch delivers.



DEADPOOL

From the one-of-a-kind opening credits, we know we are in for something very special with the 2016 action/adventure Deadpool, a logic-defying, endlessly imaginative, undeniably stylish, and fall-on-floor-funny, cinematic acid-trip which floors us when the hero describes the film as a love story, but you know what? That's exactly what it is...it's a love story that breaks every single rule of movie making there is and as a viewer, all you want to do is offer endless praise and thanks.

Wade Wilson is a smart-ass former mercenary and Special Forces operative who has fallen hopelessly in love with a hooker named Vanessa when he learns he has contracted cancer. He is approached by a stranger who offers not only to cure his cancer, but to turn him into a superhero. Not wanting Vanessa to see him die, Wade reluctantly accepts the offer and is greeted by the slick and evil Francis, who now calls himself Ajax, who puts our hero through a series of agonizing and torturous treatments that leave the man horribly disfigured in addition to the promised superpowers and we are blessed with the opportunity to watch this smart and funny superhero hunt down the man who disfigured him in order to get his looks back so that he can return to the woman he loves.

Director Tim Miller has a major triumph here, a superhero movie that breaks all the rules and spends a good deal of screentime breaking the 4th wall, thanks to the imaginative and beyond clever screenplay by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick that has no qualms about reminding us that we are watching a movie. I cannot recall the last time a I saw a movie that breaks the 4th wall and actually refers to it onscreen ("A broken 4th wall of another 4th wall...that's like sixteen walls."). The main character even actually references the actor playing him...absolute insanity! Nothing is sacred here...I also can't recall the last movie where are I saw so many movie characters impaled with steel and/or iron bars and just pull the bars out of their bodies and go on about their business. Yes, the film is rich with "Aw, come on seriously?" moments, but we've been warned from the opening credits that this is just a movie so it's OK.

Reese and Wernick have created a central character who, no matter what he's going through, never forgets his sense of humor and never forgets that he's a human being. There are a couple of great relationships with minor characters that are established but never forgotten. I love the cab driver who is given romantic advice by Wade near the beginning of the film and we learn during the beginning of the final act that the guy has his romantic rival in the trunk of his cab...genius.

Ryan Reynolds proves he still has what it takes to command a movie screen (no matter what Wade says) and Ed Skrein is a perfect combination of sexy and menacing as Ajax. Morena Baccarin was a refreshing leading lady and I loved Wade's two comrades, a politically correct cyborg named Colassus (voiced by Stefan Kapicic) and a teenage human torch called Negasonic Teenage Warhead, played by Brianna Hildreband. Needless to say, Miller's technical team is on the money here, with special nods to film editing, sound editing, and there is some slow motion camera work that has to be seen to be believed. A unique motion picture experience that DEFINITELY lets us in on the joke.



THE 'BURBS

If you thought suburban living was all about who has the best lawn and the best
Christmas decorations, you might want to check out The 'Burbs, the scathing black comedy from 1989 that sheds a bizarre light on suburban living that we don't see coming at all, even if it does play it's cards a little too quickly.

Set in the fictional hamlet of Hinkley Hills, this film takes place in the cul-de-sac of a particular street where the neighbors, who all know each other intimately, are all disturbed by the arrival of the new neighbors, a creepy family called the Klopeks, who have done nothing to their lawn and have not painted the house, but have been observed digging in the backyard at night and putting large piles of garbage out front and beating it into submission before putting the top on the cans.

The residents of the cul-de-sac include Ray (Tom Hanks), who has taken the week off work and wants to be lazy around the house, despite objectionas from his wife, Carol (the late Carrie Fisher), who wants to vacation at the lake; Art (Rick Duccommun) is Ray's lazy, mooching best friend who has been watching the Klopeks and has his own theories; Rumsfield (Bruce Dern) is a slightly demented ex-military man who lives with his much younger wife, Bonnie (Wendy Schaal); Ricky (Corey Feldman) is the teen whose parents are out of town and is our guide through this demented look at suburbia, who considers every night in his neighborhood a show and invites friends over to watch; and there's Walter (the late Gale Gordon, in his final film role), an old man with a toy poodle, whose disappearance kicks the mystery of the Klopeks into high gear.

Director Joe Dante, the man who directed Gremlins, does a clever job of bathing this suburban setting in a gothic atmosphere that is quite intoxicating, thanks to a perfect mixture of disparate cul-de-sac residents, who are all given fun and individual personalities by Dana Olsen's surprisingly deft screenplay, that possibly plays its cards too quickly...one of the first shots in the film is of the Klopeks basement, with strange noise and flashing lights coming from it and it is after that, we see the neighborhood the next day, looking picture perfect with the paperboy riding through the cul-de-sac. That's where I would have started the story, providing a peek into a what is supposedly picture perfect street and then let us in on what's going on. The film also provides an extra ending, which we don't see coming, but it does bring the bizarre story to a satisfactory conclusion.

Hanks makes a perfect straight man, the cynic who doesn't want to believe there is evil going on in his neighborhood and allows Duccummun to garner major laughs without letting him blow Hanks off the screen. Also loved Bruce Dern as the unhinged Rumsfield and Henry Gibson, Brother Theodore, and Courtney Gains were appropriately creepy as the Klopeks. I would have liked to have seen the story unfold a little more slowly, but as it is, an entertaining ride. RIP, Carrie.



PRIMARY COLORS

Despite the professional polish in front of and behind the camera and a fact-based story, the 1998 film Primary Colors still comes up short as a great film. The film follows an idealistic campaign worker, grandson of a great civil rights leader, who becomes part of the campaign staff of a slick-talking governor seeking the democratic nomination for President.

This film is, of course, a thinly disguised version of Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign where the facts have been altered just enough to avoid lawsuits. In this film, Governor Stanton is a warm and gregarious soul who longs for change in the country, even if he's not exactly sure how to create such change and a tireless advocate for the regular Joe, the guy working to pay the rent and put food on the table. Fortunately, Stanton has his wife, Susan in his corner, a smart and politically savvy woman who knows exactly what her husband has to be to whom and at what time.

Unfortunately, Stanton is also a guy with a past that is a reality because Stanton is one of those guys who can't keep his fly zipped and Susan is still in some stage of denial about it and as much as she tries to stand by her man, the more secrets come to the surface making it difficult for her to continue to guide her husband's bandwagon. At one point, Jack and Susan hire a former investigator named Libby Holman to get in front of any further dirt on Stanton, which is the beginning of a slippery slope of political mud slinging that gets very ugly.

The late Mike Nichols and Elaine May were a force in this industry, separately and together, for well over half a century, but their work here as director and screenwriter is a little too self-indulgent, working very hard to make unsympathetic characters sympathetic and fail for the most part simply because these people are politicians and politicians are just not very nice people, no matter how much you try and dress them up. The young campaign worker, Henry Burton, is supposed to be our guide to getting to know these people, but the character is just not that likable, making it hard to invest in a lot of what the character is trying to let us see.

Nichols' direction is overly-detailed and he has a great cast to work with...John Travolta does a great Clinton and there is a impressive supporting cast including Paul Guilfoyle, Maura Tierney, Billy Bob Thornton, Larry Hagman, and Caroline Aaron. Adrian Lester is unconvincing as Henry Burton, but Kathy Bates received an Oscar nomination for her flashy turn as Libby Holman, but the heart of this movie really is Emma Thompson's Susan Stanton, the woman behind the man who can only take so much. This movie is a little overblown and a little too frightened to offend to be what it should be.



RICKI AND THE FLASH
Meryl Streep is an acting powerhouse who has the ability to carry a film on the strength of her talent and her talent alone and that was never more clearly evidenced than in piece of fluff from 2015 called Ricki and the Flash, that despite a problematic screenplay, becomes watchable thanks to the magic of its leading lady.

Streep plays Linda, a woman who abandoned her family many years ago in order to pursue her dream of being a rock and roll star as the lead singer of the title band. Somewhere along the way, Linda/Ricki did actually record an album but clearly never became the next Janis Joplin. As the film opens, the band is headlining a dingy LA bar where the same people come in every night and even though they love Ricki and her band, she is hardly a star. Ricki gets a call from her wealthy ex-husband (Kevin Kline) asking her to fly to Indianapolis because their daughter, Julie (Mamie Gummer) has been dumped by her husband and has tried to commit suicide.

Diablo Cody, who won an Oscar for her screenplay for Juno, provides a story with a vibrant and interesting central character that we love and identify with immediately, despite the way this woman gave up on her family in pursuit of show business success, but the cost of what she did is revealed immediately upon her arrival in Indianapolis and though we feel for Linda/Ricki, we understand where Julie is coming from, who can't even remember the last she saw her mother. Not to mention two sons, one who doesn't want his mother at his wedding and the other who is gay and convinced his mother is a homophobe.

What does ring true here is the relationships between the grown-ups here. The reconnection between Streep and Kline's characters is lovely to watch and we see the struggle it is for Linda/Ricki and just when she and we think there might be a chance for her to pull her family back together, Linda has a fatal confrontation with Kline's second wife (Audra McDonald), who pointedly refers to Julie as "her kid."

There are a couple of very effective scenes of family tension, especially that first dinner out with the entire family where the whole restaurant is watching, not to mention the looks Linda receives when she and boyfriend Greg (Rick Springfield) arrive for her son's wedding. These scenes are rich with tension, that director Jonathan Demme must be credited with, but there several lapses into melodrama that are just a little hard to take.

It was fun seeing Streep and Kline working together again for the first time since Sophie's Choice and McDonald was solid. Gummer, Streep's real life daughter was kind of annoying in a performance that was rather one-note for my tastes and the character's sudden acceptance of Mom near the end was a little hard to believe, but Streep gives a vivid and arresting performance as Ricki of Ricki and the Flash, that makes this movie worth checking out.



RICKI AND THE FLASH
Meryl Streep is an acting powerhouse who has the ability to carry a film on the strength of her talent and her talent alone and that was never more clearly evidenced than in piece of fluff from 2015 called Ricki and the Flash, that despite a problematic screenplay, becomes watchable thanks to the magic of its leading lady.
I love that, well said! and I see we rated it the same too. Meryl Streep is awesomely fun in this otherwise fluffy movie. But I still enjoyed it.



WAIT UNTIL DARK

Now that my heart has returned to its proper position in my chest, I am ready to write about a 1967 classic called Wait Until Dark that despite some minor plot holes, had me riveted to the screen due primarily to an absolutely awesome damsel in distress and an equally awesome villain, the ultimate cat and mouse game. Did this film live up to its reputation? I was holding my breath during the final ten minutes of the movie and literally jumped from my chair twice.

Based on a 1966 Broadway play by Frederick Knott that starred Lee Remick and Robert Duvall, this film introduces us to a mysterious woman named Lisa (Samantha Jones) who is seen boarding a plane to Manhattan with a doll filled with heroin. Lisa discovers someone anticipating her arrival and we see her give the doll to Sam Hendrix (Efrem Zimbalist Jr.). The next time we see Lisa her body is hanging in a wardrobe bag inside Sam's apartment.

Also in the apartment are Harry Roat Jr. (Alan Arkin), Mike Talman (Richard Crenna) and Carlino (Jack Weston), three very shady characters (at least one is a dirty cop I think) who are there looking for the doll which seems to be nowhere in the apartment. Enter Sam's wife, Suzy (Audrey Hepburn), who lost her sight in an accident about a year ago and is attending a special school for the blind to learn how to adjust to her condition. These three thugs convince Suzy that Sam is responsible for Lisa's death and the only way to help him is to give them the doll, but she doesn't know where it is.

In talking about stage to screen adaptations, I have often spoke of the importance of opening up the piece so that it doesn't look like a photographed stage play, but this piece is a rare exception to that rule. The claustrophobic atmosphere that director Terence Young creates setting the majority of the story in the Hendrix apartment works because we see Suzy being slowly manipulated into an extremely tight corner that she might not be able to get out of. Making our heroine blind intensified her vulnerability and likability without her ever coming off helpless. They say when one sense is lost, the others are heightened. This, coupled with the fact that Suzy goes to blind school is what makes her so amazing...even as the danger of what is happening to her starts to come together for her, she never forgets her head, never forgets what she learned in school, and when it comes down to a climactic showdown which she knows she cannot avoid, she brilliantly evens the playing field.

Young creates an absolute chilling atmosphere here and has a pretty perfect cast to work with who make you forget the unexplained plotholes. Mel Ferrer is billed as producer of this film, which essentially means he purchased the film rights of this play for his wife, Hepburn and it was the smartest money Ferrer ever spent because Hepburn gives a brilliant performance, creating a heroine of vulnerability and strength who, though terrified, never stops thinking and makes us frightened for her. The performance earned Hepburn her fifth Oscar nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress.

Alan Arkin was robbed of a nomination for his Harry Roat Jr., possibly the most bone-chilling movie villain I have ever seen...this guy is right up there with Hans Gruber and Hannibal Lecter. Arkin has been quoted as saying the reason he didn't get a nomination is because "you don't get nominated for being mean to Audrey Hepburn." Whether or not that is true, he certainly commits to what the character is asked to do, which is essentially, three different characters and, despite his long and distinguished career, I don't think Arkin has ever been better. Richard Crenna got the role of his career as Mike, the guy whose loyalties are never quite clear and Jack Weston serves the story properly as the oily Carlino. Can't wrap this review without mentioning Henry Mancini for providing maybe the creepiest and most appropriate movie score I have ever heard in a movie...even the music gave me the chills. Turn the lights out, hold onto something, and watch.



THERE'S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY

Peter and Bobby Farrelly, the creative force behind Dumb and Dumber and Me, Myself, and Irene, found middling success with an overblown sexual farce from 1998 called There's Something About Mary that contains everything we expect from the Farrelly Brothers, including scattered laughs and a predictable ending, but it goes on way too long.

Ted (Ben Stiller) is a lonely Rhode Island writer who has never gotten over his high school sweetheart Mary (Cameron Diaz), whose date for the senior prom was derailed by a very embarrassing incident. Thirteen years later, Ted decides to hire a detective named Healy (Matt Dillon) to find Mary. Healy finds Mary in Miami, who hasn't changed a bit in thirteen years, but Healy doesn't tell Ted that, hoping to discourage Ted so that he can have Mary for himself, a mission he begins by eavesdropping on her life to learn things about her that he can use to court her attention.

The Brothers Farrelly, Ed Decter, and John J. Strauss have provided us with a rambling screenplay that starts off promisingly, with a very funny recreation of Ted and Mary in high school and the "incident which put a kibosh on their relationship, but once the story moves to Miami, the story just works very hard to shock and offend, which is expected from the Farrelly Brothers, but two hours and ten minutes of it was definitely overkill. This movie doesn't provide laughs for the entire running time primarily due to some really uninteresting and unfunny minor characters and the expected bathroom humor and sexual smut that has become a staple of the Brothers Farrelly.

What we do have here is a very appealing central character, vividly brought to life by Cameron Diaz, in one of her most charming performances, who makes you care about what happens to her. The initial high school scenes seem to set the character up as this kind of trampy tease who drove all the boys crazy and, even if she did, it wasn't due to any manipulation on Mary's part and that doesn't really change when the story flashes forward. Despite all the over the top shenanigans here, Mary remains a very sweet yet human character who has had an effect on men throughout her life that she really doesn't use for her own purposes or is even aware about it.

Ben Stiller is fun as Ted and Matt Dillon works very hard at keeping Healy likable, but for me, the funniest of Mary's suitors was an architect named Tucker, hilariously brought to life by Lee Evans. The rest of the supporting cast is pretty annoying, especially W. Earl Brown as Mary's retarded brother, but there are laughs to be found here, though there are times you have to really mine for them.