“American Beauty” is a comedy because we laugh at the absurdity of the hero’s problems. And a tragedy because we can identify with his failure–not the specific details, but the general outline.
The movie is about a man who fears growing older, losing the hope of true love and not being respected by those who know him best. If you never experience those feelings, take out a classified ad. People want to take lessons from you.
Q ** 1/2
R, 92 m., 1982
A few days after Q was screened at the Cannes Film Festival (under its original title, The Winged Serpent), the following conversation took place between Samuel Z. Arkoff, the film’s producer, and Rex Reed, the critic:
Reed: Sam! I just saw The Winged Serpent! What a surprise! All that dreck – and right in the middle of it, a great Method performance by Michael Moriarty!
Arkoff: The dreck was my idea.
I believe him. Arkoff has been producing films for thirty years now, and even if he was honored with a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, his heart still lies with shots of a giant flying lizard attacking a woman in a bikini on top of a Manhattan skyscraper. He’s just that kinda guy.
Roger Ebert’s Movie Home Companion, 1989 Edition: Full-Length Reviews of 875 Films on Cassette
This is a great collection. Movies Roger Ebert loved and ones he hated. From the VHS era.
In 1994, Roger Egbert reviewed the comedy “Milk Money”, a film about a prostitute who befriends 3 boys. He hated it so much, that he didn’t give it a conventional negative review. Instead, he phrased his review as a fictional conversation between two studio executives discussing the movie. from movies
B: So the hooker is in the tree house, Dad thinks she’s a math tutor, and meanwhile the gangster is cruising the streets of the suburb with another hooker, looking for her. Dad is fighting against the encroachment of the wetlands and finally chains himself to his automobile so the bulldozers can’t come in. And we throw in some of those cute conversations where one person means one thing and another person means something else. You know, so that all of the people in the town know she’s a hooker except for Dad, who takes her out to eat and scandalizes your standard table of gossiping local biddies.
A: This is nice, this is original.
Roger Ebert, Milk Money review
“The real life of Tommaso Buscetta, the so-called “boss of the two worlds,” the first mafia informant in Sicily in the 1980s.” – IMDB
“In December 1984, he was extradited to the United States where he received a new identity from the government, American citizenship and placed in the Witness Protection Program in exchange for new revelations against the American Mafia. He testified in the Pizza Connection Trial, which took place in 1985 in New York and saw defendants Gaetano Badalamenti and other Sicilian-American mafiosi accused of drug trafficking. He also testified in 1986 at the largest anti-Mafia trial in history, the Maxi Trial in Palermo, arising from the statements made to Falcone, Buscetta helped judges Falcone and Paolo Borsellino achieve significant success in the fight against organized crime that led to 475 Mafia members indicted, and 338 convicted, sentences upheld in 1992.” Tommaso Buscetta, Wikipedia
The look and feel and acting of this movie is different from anything I’ve seen in a while. The beats were different. Hard to describe. Highly recommended.
Fun fact – According to the movie, in 1992 Buscetta was in witness protection in Fort Collins, Colorado. I would have been living there too at the time. Small world.
A lot happened, in other words, over the back half of the 2010s. If there was a comfortable constant, it was that for all the changes to the cinema landscape, movies themselves still delivered. Without fail, people kept making good ones, in stubborn defiance of the bellyaching cliché that they never make ’em like they used to. Whether judged as a whole or as two five-year parts, the 2010s were a terrific decade for film; you just had to be willing to go looking for the best, and to look outside of an increasingly IP-obsessed studio system—not that the multiplex didn’t offer some gems of its own, including the movie you’ll find at the very top of The A.V. Club’s new list of the decade’s best.
The strange ironies of history aside, the star of the show is still the late Joe McCarthy — and what a performer he was! One can recall his jowly menace and five-o’clock shadow, but it is shocking to rediscover his nervous giggle and his showbiz personality. There was a strangely populist appeal working for McCarthy as the last apostle of direct democracy unsullied by all the confidential “arrangements” of the well born and well educated. When Ike plugged up his keyhole after throwing Stevens to the wolves outside the door, McCarthy was finished. Even the Trotskyists, who had toyed with the idea of using McCarthy as their golem against the Stalinists, were soon bored by Joe’s ludicrous inexactitude. Curiously, Joe’s medium was neither television nor radio, and he was hardly a Huey Long out on the stump. With succinctness as his forte and fear as his gospel, McCarthy may have been the first and last demagogue of the wire services.
—Village Voice, January 16, 1964
Andrew Sarris reviewing, Point of Order!, by Emil De Antonio and Daniel Talbot, from the book, Confessions of a Cultist: On the Cinema, 1955-1969
Sneak Previews Season 3 Episode 36 (29:02)
More Guilty Pleasures:
Kill and Kill Again
Massacre at Central High
Invasion of the Bee Girls
Good, fun movie.
Well made B movie. Nifty car chases, parkour, fun music, lively acting.