In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_zqamxwv5mxkk6w0xulw7pwsteof

Keanu

Keanu is fun, and even sometimes outright hilarious, but it doesn’t live up to the skills of its central performers.

Thumb_large_duksgz4wurypn9yyqplujgsjfrn

Ratchet & Clank

At some point, the movie has to rely on the things at which it previously poked fun.

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives

Reviews

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?

  |  

Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?



The notion behind another new Depression film, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" was a good one: Why not put together a feature-length montage of the central images of the Depression? And so here they are, from King Kong to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, but somehow the movie never quite knows what to do with them. There are songs and production numbers from the great 1930s musicals and newsreel footage of the rioting strikers at Ford, and animated sequences, and Will Rogers kidding FDR and Rudy Vallee singing the title song. But to what purpose? 

The movie's only method seems to be ironic juxtaposition. If we see bread lines and then a production number like "We're in the Money," we're supposed to get the message. And we do, all right (just as we got it in 1967, when Bonnie and Clyde went to the movies and saw the same scene). But this same knee-jerk response is expected again and again in the film, until finally we get tired. The director, Philippe Mora, doesn't seem to have ordered his material or thought much about it. Some footage seems to have been put it just because it was there. And for moviegoers who didn't grow up during the Depression or aren't terribly familiar with its greater or lesser personalities, the movies offers little help. It's not a coherent documentary statement, but just a series of images. 

We get a great deal more of Roosevelt than we really need, and James Cooney is also used as a motif throughout the film - turning up with one-liners wrenched from context to work as cheap gags. At the movie's end, Mora has Cooney watching "Citizen Kane" with a girl friend and wisecracking. And on the screen, Kane whispers "Rosebud," which thus serves for the second, not nearly so worthy time, as the symbol of a film's impenetrability.



Popular Blog Posts

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

427: Ten years without Jen, twenty-six with

Reflections on a marriage, and what came after.

"The Hateful Eight" vs. "Pulp Fiction": The Devolution of Quentin Tarantino

FFC Gerardo Valero discusses the devolution of Quentin Tarantino by comparing The Hateful Eight to Pulp Fiction.

A Deeper Look into Sam Mendes' "Spectre"

FFC Gerardo Valero reexamines the 2015 James Bond film "Spectre" after the dust has settled.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus