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Just Getting Started

Just Getting Started never really gets going. It only kept me thinking, “Is this ever just going to finish?”

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The Rape of Recy Taylor

A documentary with a great subject and powerful testimony, undone by its unnecessarily obtrusive style.

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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…

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Pundits turned critics miss point of film

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Thank God for President Bush's stomach flu. It gave the op-ed pundits something to write about other than Oliver Stone's "JFK." Never in my years as a newspaperman have I seen one subject pummeled so mercilessly and joylessly as this movie that questions the official wisdom on the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

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What is the Cold War good for? A director's career

On the one hand, John Frankenheimer is of course pleased that the Cold War seems to be over. On the other hand, the timing was disastrous for his filmmaking career. After the success of "52 Pickup" (1986), he made "Dead Bang" (1989), an unhappy experience marked by sharp differences with the star, Don Johnson, and then in 1989, began shooting "The Fourth War," a splendid political thriller starring Roy Scheider as a hot-headed U.S. Army officer assigned to a sensitive border post opposite Soviet troops.

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'The Rapture': waiting for the end of the world

In one way or another, I have been waiting for the apocalypse all of my life. Most people, I imagine, never think about it, and those who do probably fear it. Not me. I expect to be filled with joy during the final battle between good and evil, while those fearsome horsemen thunder through the sky - because at least then I'll know for sure that something exists beyond the material universe, and therefore it is possible to escape from death. These days, I no longer really think of the end of the world in literal terms. I envy the faith of those who do. When I was in parochial school, the notion of Judgment Day filled me with a rush of danger, as I imagined the Lord evaluating billions of lifetimes, and then turning a particularly stern eye on a certain fifth-grader from Urbana, Illinois.

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Taking the off ramp to reality

When Sherman McCoy, the hero of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities, took the wrong exit ramp into the Bronx, the result was a merciless flaying of New York's rich and famous. When Mel Brooks, the director of "Life Stinks," took the wrong exit ramp into downtown Los Angeles, the result was a warmhearted comedy about the homeless.

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