Daily Archives: May 12, 2024

Raintree County

From the April 1, 1988 Chicago Reader. — J.R.

A memorable if generally unsuccessful attempt (1958) by MGM to bring back the glory of Gone With the Wind, adapting Ross Lockridge’s best-selling novel about the Civil War as a 168-minute blockbuster with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift (who suffered a nearly fatal car accident during the filming and had to have his jaw wired). Edward Dmytryk’s direction gets ponderous over the long haul, but nice visuals (Robert Surtees) and a pretty good secondary cast (including Eva Marie Saint, Lee Marvin, and Agnes Moorehead) help to alleviate some of the slow patches. (JR)

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The Territory

From the April 1, 1990 Chicago Reader (I think). — J.R.


Something of a film maudit for director Raul Ruiz, whose career is already pretty subterranean. Done in English (coscripted by the English novelist and film critic Gilbert Adair), shot in Portugal (though set in southern France), and coproduced by Roger Corman, it concerns a group of Americans who wind up in a small medieval town, get lost when they go on an excursion, remain lost for several months, and eventually revert to cannibalism. In the middle of the shooting, Wim Wenders turned up at the same location to start filming The State of Things, and a good many of the cast and crew members decamped for the Wenders film. That meant Ruiz’s film had to be completed well ahead of schedule, and unfortunately the picture suffers from the haste. But the plot and ambience are still intriguing, and the picture is certainly recognizably Ruizian in both its metaphysical framework and its dark humor (1971). (JR)

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From the Chicago Reader (April 1, 1988). — J.R.

Apart from offering what is likely the best stretch of the late, great Charles Ludlam (of New York’s Ridiculous Theater) on film, Mark Rappaport’s dense and fascinating 1980 independent feature — a tragicomic melodrama designed to stick in the throat (and brain)surely qualifies as one of the wildest and wittiest American movies of its decade. The structure is basically confrontational: gay and/or straight couples, twins and/or lovers, crooks and/or romantic heroes, doppelgangers all, try to ridicule one another out of existence, with enough deadpan bitchy dialogue to choke a horse, and a plot derived equally from The Maltese Falcon and Proust’s Albertine disparue. Rappaport’s ingenious low-budget strategies for suggesting big-budget opulence are particularly disturbing and suggestive. Magic, stolen jewels, jealousy, paranoia, and torture parade through this hysterically convoluted, elegantly mounted tale of wisecracks and woe like a Hollywood funeral procession for American romanticism: the results are nightmarish, hilarious, and indelible. With Michael Berg and Ellen McElduff. (JR)

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