Michael Deeley

Michael Deeley

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The Man Who Fell To Earth Review


Excellent
Sorry folks, Labyrinth was not David Bowie's best movie. It's arguably this, The Man Who Fell to Earth, a rambling and haunting science fiction movie unlike any you've ever seen. (Except perhaps 2001.)

Director Nicolas Roeg doesn't exactly clue us in to what's going on through the entire running of the film -- and even the ending has some ambiguity to it -- so the following synopsis is more of a rough guideline based on the acclaimed novel and personal conjecture. Bowie plays Thomas Newton, the assumed name of an alien who has landed on earth in the hopes of finding a way either to save his home planet, which has become a desert wasteland, or to figure out a way to get the rest of the homeland's survivors to earth. His plan is simple: Use his advanced technology to start a company that will instantly dominate most industries, and use the proceeds to further these ends.

Continue reading: The Man Who Fell To Earth Review

Conduct Unbecoming Review


OK
The movie looks hideous: What, was this made for the BBC? The weird lighting and bad camera work (not to mention the music and even the credits) screams Movie of the Week. Good thing the story is far better than its technical pedigree, a case of military justice about a women, ostensibly raped by a soldier in British colonial India. A number of solid performances can be found in the courtroom (especially Michael York's earnest defense attorney), though the machinations of the case border on the absurd. The ending -- the sole part of the film that is visually moving -- almost makes it all worthwhile.

The Man Who Fell To Earth Review


Excellent
Sorry folks, Labyrinth was not David Bowie's best movie. It's arguably this, The Man Who Fell to Earth, a rambling and haunting science fiction movie unlike any you've ever seen. (Except perhaps 2001.)

Director Nicolas Roeg doesn't exactly clue us in to what's going on through the entire running of the film -- and even the ending has some ambiguity to it -- so the following synopsis is more of a rough guideline based on the acclaimed novel and personal conjecture. Bowie plays Thomas Newton, the assumed name of an alien who has landed on earth in the hopes of finding a way either to save his home planet, which has become a desert wasteland, or to figure out a way to get the rest of the homeland's survivors to earth. His plan is simple: Use his advanced technology to start a company that will instantly dominate most industries, and use the proceeds to further these ends.

Continue reading: The Man Who Fell To Earth Review

The Italian Job (1969) Review


Good
Only the British and Steven Soderbergh seem to be able to make funny caper movies. The Italian Job -- the original one, that is -- is a quite funny, minor classic of the genre, elevated from midnight movie fare thanks to the presence of a spot-on Michael Caine.

The film's setup is pretty staid: Caine's Charlie Croker is straight outta prison, and he's right back at the crime game the moment he's released. Thanks to guidance from boss Bridger (Noel Coward, appearing primarily in films given to Caine), the job is meticulously planned and staffed: Ultimately the gig is to cause a giant traffic jam in the city of Turin, steal $4 million in gold from an armored car, and escape using clever non-roadway surfaces so the cops can't follow them.

Continue reading: The Italian Job (1969) Review

Blade Runner Review


Essential
A rare masterpiece in both the sci-fi and film noir genres. Blade Runner makes you think, makes you question reality, and makes you return to watch it again and again. I own both the VHS and the DVD and have seen the movie a dozen times. It gets better with age. The best work of everyone involved with the project, hands down. Harrison Ford is unforgettable as the is-he-or-isn't-he??? cop charged with tracking down a band of "replicants," super-strong and brilliant androids on the loose in a dystopic future. Sean Young might have made her only decent movie with this performance, as well... also playing a replicant who doesn't know she isn't real. Breathtakingly beautiful despite its dour setting, Ridley Scott's moodiness really paid off on this one.

The Deer Hunter Review


OK
In his book Final Cut - the story of the infamous bomb Heaven's Gate and still the best book on Hollywood around - Steven Bach points out that Gate was so deeply reviled upon its release that the backlash extended even to Michael Cimino's previous film, The Deer Hunter. Critics stepped gingerly away from their initial high opinion of Hunter, as if Gate was so bad a movie that its taint made other movies bad too. It's rare to see film critics publicly change their opinion of any movie, but the revisionist history seemed especially odd in this case. Released in 1978 and featuring some stellar performances from Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken, it won a truckload of Oscars in 1979 and marked the arrival of a major filmmaker in Cimino. Yes, Cimino botched his career with Heaven's Gate, but that couldn't be The Deer Hunter's fault, right?

Right. But all the same, the critics were right the second time around. Time has eroded the chief power The Deer Hunter had in 1978, which was to speak to America's anxiety about itself in the wake of Watergate and Vietnam. Stripped of its '70s moment, it looks now like a film that strives for meaning but doesn't know what it wants to say. It gives us both small-town America and war-torn Vietnam, but neither convincingly. It confuses ambiguity with art, blood for drama. But before those flaws set in, it gives us the promise of a great movie about tested friendship. Set in the late '60s, the film opens on the day of a wedding in a Pennsylvania steel town, as the groom Steven (John Savage), Michael (De Niro), and Nick (Walken), all Russian-immigrant working-class stock, prepare to go to Vietnam for a tour of duty.

Continue reading: The Deer Hunter Review

Michael Deeley

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