Monthly Archives: May 1997


Most of this arty crime movie by writer-director-costar Gene Mitchell, heretofore mainly an actor and writer, is clumsiness and excess in search of post-Tarantino stylishnessdeveloped (read: underdeveloped) from a one-act play, which means that stagy actor’s shtick tends to crowd out logic and meaning in almost every scene. (A notable exception is Keith David playing the cool gang leader, at least when he isn’t defeated by the hectoring script.) Although the emergence of a couple of gay relationships among the hoods promises a certain freshness, the rhetoric of gory violence and other show-offy moves quickly takes over. With David Amos, David Proval, Shant Benjamin, Barry Primus, Paul Klar, Tony Burton, and Mike Starr. (JR) Read more

The Picture Of Dorian Gray

The underrated Albert Lewin (Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, The Moon and Sixpence), a sort of Val Lewton who had the run of the MGM backlot, adapted Oscar Wilde’s novel and directed his own script in a skillfully somber and haunting version of the metaphysical fable about a man whose painting ages and records his moral corruption while he retains his youthful appearance. With Hurd Hatfield memorably playing the title part, this 1945 film also includes juicy performances by George Sanders, Angela Lansbury, and Donna Reed. Deeper and creepier (that is to say, better) than anything turned out by Merchant-Ivory, this is both very Hollywood and very serious in a manner calculated to confound the Hey, it’s only a movie! crowd. (JR) Read more

My Name Is Ivan

Andrei Tarkovsky’s powerful 1962 first feature, also known as Ivan’s Childhood and The Youngest Spy, is his most conventional as narrative, though it contains some remarkable dreamlike interludes that anticipate his later work. Shot in black and white, it follows the adventures of a boy serving as a spy on the front lines during World War II. In Russian and German with subtitles. 94 min. (JR) Read more


Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s second feature (1969) is something like the decanted essence of his work. There’s less plot than usual, but the portraiture already seems firmly in place. Based on his own play, the film consists largely of a lot of deadbeats standing around on the street in a Munich suburb, abusing women and showing one another how macho they are. (The title is Bavarian slang for stud.) Eventually a Greek immigrant (played by Fassbinder himself) turns up and becomes the target of their xenophobia. Hanna Schygulla is also present in one of her earliest roles. In German with subtitles. 88 min. (JR) Read more