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

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_large_pyzhflb8qgqszkr4ku8mwrjayfa

The Do-Over

At one point, I checked the time code on Netflix and saw that the movie had over forty minutes to go. I visibly winced.

Thumb_balpko1iwwmmxte0ffzy9fw3jid

Of Men and War

Bécue-Renard brings his own brutality to the topic of PTSD, by putting us at odds with feeling his subjects' pain, or only studying it.

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
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Fools

  |  

How can I possibly describe how awful "Fools" is, and in how many different ways? The task approaches impossibility. The only way to fully understand how transcendently bad this movie is would be to see it for yourself -- an extreme measure I hope, for your sake, you'll avoid. Let me just sort of hint at the depth of my feeling by saying "Fools" is the worst movie in 1971, a statement that springs forth with serene confidence even though here it is only February. Happy Valentine's Day, by the way.



The movie is about love. Now the one thing we all know about love is that it's more important than money, position, respectability, age, anything. When people fall in love, they're supposed to abandon all caution, embrace the moment, be true to Life, run through the park, sing songs, cluck at swans, blow dandelion pods and in general flout convention. "Fools" is a movie like that.

Jason Robards, again, plays the 50ish Free Spirit with a feather in his hat and Spring in his step. He falls in love with Katharine Ross, who has been repressed by her rich, constipated husband, the most successful young lawyer in San Francisco despite the fact that he is a paranoid closet queen with a nasty homicidal streak and a Napoleonic fixation, and likes to play with guns. He's the kind of lawyer that ambulances chase.

OK, so Jason and Katharine fall in love. They are then set upon by cops, the FBI, the San Francisco pornography epidemic, neon signs, smog, hate, bigotry, exhibitionists, fierce dogs and freeways. That's what the middle part of the film is about: how people can't be in love because of our materialistic, capitalist, fascist society, which invades privacy and is not, ever, tender. Then at the movie's end Katharine runs into a church during a baptism and is shot dead by her husband, who drives off in his Rolls-Royce.

By now you should be getting the idea that "Fools" is the most cynically "idealistic" exploitation movie in some time. It is for life and love, against fascism and firearms in private hands. It also has countless songs trying to out-banal each other during at least seven Semi-Obligatory Lyrical Interludes. "Fools" sets a new Semi-OLI ground speed record. When in doubt, throw in a song and a sunset. Right?

On top of all this, we get dialog so inept that I will provide a free ticket to "The Vengeance of She" (the next time it plays town) to the first person who can convince me that any two English-speaking human beings ever talked remotely like these characters at any time during the present century. I commend the dialog, however, to local satirical groups getting up satires on love, if the satires don't have to be too good.

The only mystery about "Fools" is how Tom Gries could have directed it. He is the tasteful director of "Will Penny," where the situation and dialog rang absolutely true, and he demonstrated a genuine narrative gift in "The Hawaiians." Now we get "Fools." How?

Henri Bollinger, the film's co-producer, was in town last week for interviews. I declined the opportunity to save embarrassment all around, but he telephoned me to explain that the film had been made with "absolute sincerity" and the "best intentions." Could be. Nobody sets out deliberately to make a bad film. When I gently suggested to Bollinger that his film was the worst of the year, he gently suggested back that since I was obviously "violently prejudiced" against it, The Sun-Times should provide "the other side." I demurred. I said my judgment was sober, impartial and fair: "Fools" stinks.



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...

Memoirs of a Geisha, Part II: How Are Geisha or Nerd Stereotypes Harmful?

Part two of Jana Monji's essay about the portrayal of Asian characters in cinema.

Back to "Roots" with a Multi-Channel Remake of the Television Classic

A review of the History Channel remake of the landmark mini-series, "Roots."

I believe Dylan Farrow

Separating the artist from the art isn't as easy as it sounds.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus