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'Ordinary People': The Truth Will Set You Free

In thinking back on those salad days through rose-colored glasses, Dave's pretty Mom looks just like Mary Tyler Moore's Beth Jarrett, the female lead in Robert Redford's "Ordinary People," a beautifully embroidered opus about the tragic chink in the armor of a family of privilege. She likes things just so. Well, gosh, who doesn't?

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'Planes, Trains and Automobiles': Conveys Friendship

What Hughes so passionately delves amidst the slapstick, cacophony and nutty incongruity of two vastly diverse men tossed into screwball circumstances is that, while you rarely make new friends in adulthood, if you do it is a blessing.

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'My Man Godfrey': High-Class Struggle

What's actually funny is that conversations like the following might very well be taking place inside the mansions you survey on a Sunday drive. Y'know, those exurban castles that make you dizzyingly ponder, who lives there?

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'My Favorite Year': Vintage Laughs

The pairing makes for a heartwarming, soulful commentary about the human condition, wonderfully evoked in a series of deliciously memorable moments, stitched together with notable comic savvy.

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'Hoosiers': A Tale of Two High Schools

To the backdrop of provincial America, circa 1951, playing counterpoint to Myra and Norman's pithy, running contemplation of the human condition, Shooter's tragicomic interjections win the camera's favor with the near imperceptible finesse of a shooting guard stealing the ball.

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'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington': When the Good Guys Win

We anguish, laugh, smile and are put on tenterhooks as Mr. Smith, going through every mental and physical contortion, pleads before the Congress his case for truth, justice and the American way with a fervor perhaps only equaled by Daniel Webster's petition before the Devil.

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'Peggy Sue Got Married': Life, on Second Thought

While the usual moral lessons about the 20-20-hindsight, a la "It's a Wonderful Life" (1946), integral to tales of time travel counsel us not to beat the horse that brought us to our present circumstances, there is a refreshingly delivered, stardust quality in Peggy Sue's genre update.

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'Fatso': The Diet of Pagliacci

Alas, mixed into each laugh-evoking whimsy about the rituals and idiosyncrasies that play into pigging out, there lies in wait the dark truth. And while you're feeling terrible about what society erroneously labels a lack of willpower, thoughts about the impoverished, starving millions not blessed with your curse of overabundance doesn't help.

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'The Last Hurrah': Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Politics, But Were Told Not to Ask

It's cheap, divisive, and keeps two levels of the underclass in tow. Inequitably overtax the bourgeoisie and there you've funded your dominion. It's old school. When you're the minority that's been in power since time immemorial, you get rather canny at controlling the majority.

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'The Last Picture Show': End Credits in a Texas Town

Yet, for all the adult themes set against this backdrop of fatalism and resignation, sure as a tree grows in Brooklyn, a coming of age tale in rural Texas won't be denied its albeit brief day in the sun.

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'Friendly Persuasion': Love, Quaker Style

Now, Jess Birdwell, a handsome, strapping fellow who could probably lick many times his weight in such misguided naysayers, feels no need to prove his fearlessness. Real heroes never do.

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'The Wild One': Wandering Rebel

Everything else about the film inspired by the so-called Hollister Riot of 1947, wherein all hell broke loose when 2,000 members of the American Motorcyclists Association descended on that California town, Fourth of July Weekend, is up for conjecture.

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'Dave': Would Totally Wear a Mask

The beauty of the parable at the heart of director Ivan Reitman's "Dave" (1993) is that the title character isn't beholden to the moneyed scourge that features itself the ruling class. He is the sorcerer's apprentice but with a conscience and a moral purpose, free to right the wrongs that have preceded his ascendancy.

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'Being There': On the Square

What we sense in Chauncey is an aura and impetus totally bereft of such crass dynamics. But whether he is just as advertised or the genius prophet essentially adopted and taken in by Melvyn Douglas' industrial giant, Ben Rand, trusted advisor to Jack Warden's president, his naivete, or what passes for it, invokes a refreshing purity.

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'Auntie Mame': 'Life is a Banquet, and Most Poor Suckers Are Starving to Death'

Combine equal parts love, dreams, farcical folderol, a smartly elegant cascade of splendor and you have the feel-good potion that is "Auntie Mame."

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'Moonstruck': Like a Big Pizza Pie

It's schmaltz Italian style, an homage to what makes the world go 'round, lovingly evinced through an ensemble of wonderfully affable characterizations. And while it may seem at moments that you've been at long last entrusted with the secret of love, "Moonstruck" is but a wisp of joyous tantalization, perhaps meant to inspire your own, firsthand investigation.

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'The Big Lebowski': When Dudes Abide

Their hapless good intentions make us laugh. Whereas in real life, the slough off at your place of employment is a derelict who expends more energy avoiding labor than it would take to just do the job.

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'The Sunshine Boys': 'All the Men & Women Merely Players'

A nostalgic and loving peek into the whys, wherefores and wiles of a lifelong relationship, "The Sunshine Boys" imparts a golden glow that will have you rolling and sighing in the aisles. And if you don't have aisles, the couch will do.

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'The Remains of the Day': What the Butler Didn't See

The question that must follow then, with Mr. Stevens the embodiment of detachment from what may or may not affect the commonweal, is does he really believe that such matters are better left to swells like his employer, or is his personal acquiescence a form of cowardice?

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'The Petrified Forest': Diners, Disillusionment & Diva

Each twitch of a facial muscle, a glint in an eye, half-hopeful smile, momentary sadness and deep, abiding concern are evoked in a phenomenal amalgam of technical and method acting that cannot be attributed to anything but natural talent.

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'Eight Men Out': Say It Ain't So, Joe

Inspired art direction that turned minor league stadiums into yesteryear's baseball emporiums, terrific period costumes and jauntily choreographed hitting, running and fielding romanticize the era while providing rollicking counterpoint to the sad sense of betrayal.

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'The Great Gatsby': Class Distinction by the Book

Everyone in "The Great Gatsby" is of their time, proof positive and point of reference for anyone who cares to peer into the ebullience of the post WWI, Prohibition era of glitzy presumptiveness, and what Fitzgerald declaimed, through narrator Nick Carraway, as careless.

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'Rain Man': If We Only Used Our Brain

Opportunists might speculate what riches could be gleaned from harnessing the paradox, whereas altruists might venture that unlocking the secrets might lead to a cure for cancer, and perhaps along the way a vaccine against the current plague.

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'I Remember Mama': Motherhood: All Love Begins and Ends There

Irene Dunne's wonderfully etched title character esteems truth, morality and respect not just because it is proper, but because her DNA knows that such are the indispensable building blocks of a civilized society.

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