"The Godfather Part III" is one of my favorite movies. I admit a personal obsession with the film that would have never existed had it simply been either good or bad. Some fans of the series clearly love to hate it; they equate Sofia Coppola's presence to that of Jar Jar Binks in the "Star Wars" trilogies, but I believe this is an over-simplification. "Part III" is an uneven picture that could and should have been great. That's what's maddening about it.
Sometimes ordinary people becoming evil are more frightening than Dr. Hannibal Lector or Frank Booth. Villains like them are downright scary, but they are basically outsiders with a monstrous nature beyond our common sense. In contrast, the characters in Sam Raimi's crime thriller "A Simple Plan" (1998) are nice, ordinary people we can identify with, at least in the beginning. We can recognize their human wishes, desires, and motives. We can understand why they are driven into the plot while it's getting bloodier and more complicated. As a result, it is frightening to observe them doing horrible things, and one question immediately pops up in our minds - what would I do if I were in their circumstance?
Michael Caton-Jones' 1989 film "Scandal" begins amidst an atmosphere of gaiety and innocence at the start of the 1960s. Bright, resplendent, sparkling visions burst before our eyes. Soon the tones will become darker. "Scandal" chronicles the multi-faceted sex scandal that erupted in the "you've never had it so good" British Tory prime minister Harold Macmillan's conservative government in 1963.
Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" (that's QT's spelling for you) has been greeted with love and hate since it played Cannes last spring. It opens Friday, and to prepare for the occastion, Matt Zoller Seitz, with an able assist from Keith Uhlich, has composed "Quentin Tarantino: Words in Action for L Magazine. It's very well put-together, and it lets Tarantino riff in his own words.
I find QT's work alternately exhilarating (his fluid direction) and exhausting/embarrassing (his cutesy, over-written dialog that all sounds the same -- a monolog divided up among "characters"). You can see and hear the whole range in this montage.
Bottom line: unfair as it probably sounds, Tarantino's still not quite the director I'd personally like him to be -- the Tarantino-influenced South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-Wook, whose movies are equally artificial but more emotionally engaging, is much more my speed. But while re-watching QT's films, I did find myself admiring elements that had previously bugged the hell out of me....
LOS ANGELES Bill Paxton has an Oscar contender and a giant gorilla movie coming out within a couple of weeks of each other, and that's the story of his career. He makes little movies ("One False Move," "Traveller," "Trespass") and big ones ("True Lies," "Apollo 13," "Twister"). In the big ones, he is a stalwart leading man - like his hero, the fellow Texan Ben Johnson, whose every word sounded like the simple truth. In the little ones, Paxton plays regular guys who get twisted into strange traps of crime and guilt.
LOS ANGELES Has any other movie director become this famous after making only two movies? Well, yes - Orson Welles. But Welles was already a star when he went to Hollywood. Quentin Tarantino came out of next to nowhere and became famous because he made two of the most influential movies of the past five years, and because . . . well, because he tickles people.
PASADENA, Calif.--The existentialist hero wonders if life is worth living. The ironic hero is greatly amused by people who wonder about things like that. And there you have the difference between the work of Paul Schrader and Quentin Tarantino, who have had more of an influence over the writing of movies than anyone else in the last 25 years.
Q. After seeing "Forrest Gump," I got into a big argument with my friend Sarah about how they made Gary Sinise's legs disappear. She claimed he just tucked them under, but I contend that if you are going to involve special effects wizards extensively in a film, they are going to be more hi-tech. Which one of us is right? (Lydia Smith, Winnetka)