William Hickey

William Hickey

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Wise Blood Review


Excellent
John Huston's Wise Blood isn't bold-faced Americana. Rather, it is an alien planet of such thick perversity and everyday grotesqueries that one has to take pause and consider how close Mr. Huston's dystopia is to the American South. It is adapted from the fine first novel by Flannery O'Conner of the same name and it is the only time an American director has successfully translated the late O'Conner's haunting prose. Completed in 1979, it is also perhaps the most ballistic of Huston's late-period films.

Hazel Motes, played by Brad Dourif in a brilliant, physical performance, is a character John Huston would have had to create if O'Conner hadn't already written him. Aggressive and hissing like an angry cobra, Motes slithers his way into town from a stint in the army and begins yelling about a "Church Without Christ" that he will begin. He finds a believer in the young, brainless Enoch Emory (Dan Shor) who tells Hazel about the "wise blood" in his veins that tells him things no one else can hear.

Continue reading: Wise Blood Review

Prizzi's Honor Review


OK
Widely considered a black comedy classic, Prizzi's Honor is dated today and, tragically, finally revealed as a middling work that wanders aimlessly and ends abruptly. The premise is simple: Jack Nicholson (doing a rare role with an accent) is a hitman, Kathleen Turner is a hit-woman. They fall in love, find out they're working for opposite sides, and are eventually ordered to kill each other. Will love conquer all? You be the judge. The film takes half an hour to finally get rolling, while a serious of side plots interfere with the narrative until the movie suddenly just stops. Anjelica Huston won an Oscar for her part as Nicholson's jilted ex-lover, and while it's good, her five minutes of screen time don't merit an Academy Award. What was wrong with Bill Hickey, as the ascerbic Don in one of his best roles ever?

The Producers (1968) Review


Extraordinary
Mel Brooks' directorial debut occurred in 1968. It was his gift to the world. And, you might ask, what was his gift originally titled? Springtime for Hitler. Springtime for Hitler, re-titled The Producers (probably for reasons of political correctness, which the film appears not to give a damn about), was a movie about two theatre producers who take it upon themselves to make a fortune off of a flop.

This unlikely scam features the seduction of old ladies for financing, the purchasing of a script titled: "Springtime for Hitler: A Musical Romp with Adolf and Eva", the hiring of the worst director and actor possible, and, of course, setting it all to music.

Continue reading: The Producers (1968) Review

Happy Birthday, Wanda June Review


Grim
Slaughterhouse-Five excepted, Kurt Vonnegut has had rotten luck with movie versions of his books. Happy Birthday, Wanda June is no exception: It's actually one of his few plays (or possibly his only play, memory fails me...), and it's pedestrian work at best. The story concerns a soldier (Rod Steiger) who returns home after seven years on the front, only to find his family's moved on. He gets a bit uppity about this, with presumably hilarious consequences. Too bad Steiger doesn't do comedy, the acting is stilted and terribly stagey, and overall this mess just collapses within the first 15 minutes.

The Producers Review


Extraordinary
Mel Brooks' directorial debut occurred in 1968. It was his gift to the world. And, you might ask, what was his gift originally titled? Springtime for Hitler. Springtime for Hitler, re-titled The Producers (probably for reasons of political correctness, which the film appears not to give a damn about), was a movie about two theatre producers who take it upon themselves to make a fortune off of a flop.

This unlikely scam features the seduction of old ladies for financing, the purchasing of a script titled: "Springtime for Hitler: A Musical Romp with Adolf and Eva", the hiring of the worst director and actor possible, and, of course, setting it all to music.

Continue reading: The Producers Review

The Nightmare Before Christmas Review


Excellent
Just in time for Halloween and Christmas, the reissue of The Nightmare Before Christmas couldn't be more appropriate. With all of the attention thrown to "family films" in recent years, namely those starring pocket monsters and Nickelodeon characters, it's high time we raised the intellectual level of children's fare as well as the animation achievements of the movie studios. With that in mind, it was refreshing to revisit an animation classic on the big screen that still retains the originality and freshness it had seven years ago.

Nightmare is the story of one man's quest to discover his true purpose in life -- to look beyond the accolades of his peers, the achievements of his years, and the praise of his ego. Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloweentown, is the main dude behind the Halloween holiday for kids everywhere. But during his reign as pumpkin king, Jack has somehow lost his understanding of his place in the world and the magic he creates with his Halloween holiday. After the completion of one particular Halloween season, Jack walks with a heavy heart and ends up discovering in the woods outside Halloweentown a grove of trees with doors to all of the other holidays in the world. Imagine his surprise to discover Christmastown, a far more impressive and uplifting holiday than Halloween, surrounded by happy elves making toys, and with good cheer all around.

Continue reading: The Nightmare Before Christmas Review

Forget Paris Review


Good
It's a shame that so many romantic comedies are in current release, because inevitably, something good is going to be overlooked due to the cinematic glut of warm fuzzies. As the third of its type in about as many weeks, Forget Paris is one of the strongest entries of the genre.

Billy Crystal directs and stars in this Baby Boomer romantic fable about a pair of star-crossed lovers (Crystal, as Mickey, and Debra Winger, as Ellen) who can't seem to get their relationship right. Going through a dozen iterations of "boy meets girl, boy loses girl," the couple's story is told through a narrative from their friends over dinner.

Continue reading: Forget Paris Review

William Hickey

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