Suzanne Pleshette

Suzanne Pleshette

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The Birds Review


Extraordinary
Hitchcock aimed to do for avians in The Birds what he did for showers in Psycho, and by and large he succeeded. The Birds is roughly hewn by comparison to Hitch's more deftly plotted films -- it's much closer to a monster movie than a psychological thriller, moreso than any of his other films. Tippi Hedren makes her screen debut here, and it's a bit of a cold and tricky one, though not a terrible performance. She flubs her lines consistently, though -- including one in her very first scene. The Birds is most notable though for turning something completely harmless into an incredible menace -- all with absolutely no explanation. That's where the terror really comes from in The Birds.

Spirited Away Review


Excellent
Bizarre events unfold with an easy inevitability in the world of Spirited Away, director Hayao Miyazaki's latest anime opus. Miyazaki's heroine Chihiro is a modern-day Alice, trying to make sense of a fantastic and threatening looking glass world. But Spirited Away shares the soul of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, if the chocolate factory was replaced by a giant spa for stressed out ghosts. Like Charlie in Wonka's factory, Chihiro spends two hours navigating a byzantine bathhouse, transcending danger and chaos with innocent courage and naïve common sense. Spirited Away's imagination, visual brilliance, and humanity make this trip one of the most satisfying film experiences of the year.

Spirited Away begins with the young Chihiro reluctantly accompanying her family as they explore a deserted amusement park. The girl's parents are seduced by a feast set up in one of the park's food stands and eventually turn into pigs. At sunset Chihiro is transported into an alternate phantom universe filled with lumbering radish men, the shrill and controlling witch Yubaba (voiced by Suzanne Pleshette in her finest performance since Oh God, Book II), and a trio of bouncing, disembodied heads. Looking for a way to free her parents and find a way home keeps Chihiro exploring this world long enough to uncover enough strange and amazing creatures to keep us glued to the screen for the duration.

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Support Your Local Gunfighter Review


OK
In my world view, westerns should never be rated G, but Support Your Local Gunfighter is as good as any kid-friendly shoot-'em-up could possibly be. This sequel to Support Your Local Sheriff! sets up the congenial James Garner as a man mistaken for a vicious gunslinger (who oddly enough was an expert gunslinger in the original film) -- well, need I say that wacky hijinks ensue? It's reasonably funny as farce, forgettable as everything else.

Spirited Away Review


Weak

Maybe I just don't "get" anime. I've been trying for years, and several movies from this often-mythological genre of Japanese animation have bowled me over: "The Ghost in the Shell," "Akira" and this year's "Metropolis," for starters. The enchanting, fantastic "Kiki's Delivery Service," by Hayao Miyazaki, the Steven Spielberg of anime, is a particular favorite of mine.

But while all my fellow film critics seem to think Miyazaki's new film, "Spirited Away," is one of his very best, the fable-istic story of a little girl trapped in a parallel world of spirits left me unaffected and completely indifferent.

The picture begins with 10-year-old Chihiro (given the voice of Daveigh Chase -- Lilo in Disney's "Lilo and Stitch" -- for the film's American release) reluctantly following her curious, irresponsibly clueless parents into a hidden, abandoned building while looking for a back road to the new house they're just about to move in to.

Continue reading: Spirited Away Review

Suzanne Pleshette

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