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Flashdance Review


Zero
1983 was a sleepy year in the midst of the first Reagan administration, but it was also the year of Flashdance. What America needed was a healthy dose of off-the-shoulder sweatshirts, leg warmers, and tight butts and inviting crotches gyrating in extreme close up. Barbara Bush and Al Haig must have been plotzing.

Flashdance is an exercise in Cinderellaesque teenage female wish fulfillment so preposterous that it shoots right over the top and is ultimately richly entertaining in spite of its ridiculousness. All you have to do it get past the main message, which is that finding success in life is not just about your talent. It's about your talent plus your ability to snag a rich and powerful boyfriend and put out. With production values courtesy of the legendary Simpson and Bruckheimer and a screenplay co-written by the polymorphously perverse Joe Eszterhas, you know you're in for quite a ride.

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Roseland Review


Good
Christopher Walken's appearance here -- in a very early role, a year before his breakout in The Deer Hunter -- is the primary (if not the only) reason to check out Roseland, which also happens to be an early Merchant-Ivory collaboration, too. Roseland is a movie about the eponymous New York dance hall, set in the 1970s (I'm estimating), and comprising three stories set in its cavernous environs.

Barely connected, the middle segment is Walken's -- cleverly titled "The Hustle" -- as he plays a gigolo working three different women, each with different needs and different issues. Walken hadn't created his signature speaking cadence yet, and it's shocking not only to hear him deliver lines in a relatively normal voice, but also with such a large pompadour. This is also Walken's first film where his masterful dancing is on display (see also 1981's Pennies from Heaven) -- and fans of "Weapon of Choice" will definitely want to check out a little vintage Walken high step here.

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Charly Review


OK
This adaptation of Daniel Keyes' sci-fi novel Flowers for Algernon is slow and very dated, but manages to pull itself together for a fairly powerful ending. Keyes's book took a rather silly premise -- a mentally handicapped adult, Charly Gordon (Cliff Robertson), undergoes an experimental operation to reverse his disability and give him supernormal intelligence -- and created a disturbing psychological study and a complex portrait of mental disability.

The plot is somewhat predictable, but it's what you do with it along the way that counts. Keyes did a lot. Unfortunately, the film version (renamed Charly) doesn't do much beyond the obvious. As Charly gains intelligence, we're supposed to see the world develop through his eyes, but mostly we just see him studying and having boring conversations with love interest Claire Bloom. Robertson won an Oscar for the role, but his portrayal of the mentally disabled Charly seems crude by today's standards and inconsistent in tone - at times he's suspiciously aware, other times unrealistically slow. Robertson does better with Charly the genius, but this part of the film doesn't last that long and feels like an Outer Limits episode, with Robertson talking about the dehumanizing future and walking around in a lab coat narrating silly "scientific" dialogue.

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Lilies Of The Field Review


Excellent
Sidney Poitier eats his fair share of scenery in Lilies of the Field, but the man won an Oscar for doing it, so it's hard to complain too strenuously. Poitier plays a wandering construction worker who picks up odd jobs here and there, only to get reluctantly sucked in to building a chapel for a group of German nuns. Their culture clash comprises both the film's lighter and more serious moments, with Poitier's simple, personal struggle over whether to leave or to stay and finish the job giving this small film a backbone of importance.

House Of Games Review


Essential
"A sucker born every minute, huh?" "And two to take him!" So goes one of the greatest exchanges between con-man (Mantegna) and conned-woman (Crouse) in David Mamet's directorial debut, ten years ago. It might be you that plays the sucker, though (and I mean that in a good way), after indulging in Mamet's triple-crossed tale of "dinosaur con-men" having their proverbial way with a hapless (and wealthy) psychotherapist. Mamet's signature staccato dialogue is nailed to perfection, especially by Mantegna, in the performance that put him on the map. No aspect of the film has avoided a clever touch, from the upbeat-yet-creepy piano music, to the wickedly low lighting, to the irony of Mamet casting his own wife in the role of a woman obsessed with the confidence game. House of Games makes a powerful impact, but, inexplicably, it was completely ignored in theatrical release. Its twists and turns may leave you a little shaken up by the delicious ending, but you'll inevitably take to heart one of Mantegna's principles of conduct: "Don't trust nobody."

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Dev Patel Is A Lost Boy In Touching True Story Drama 'Lion'

Dev Patel Is A Lost Boy In Touching True Story Drama 'Lion'

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