LA Weekly from Los Angeles, California on March 29, 1979 · 9
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LA Weekly from Los Angeles, California · 9

Los Angeles, California
Issue Date:
Thursday, March 29, 1979
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4 . LA WEEKLY 9 movie has its own authority, its own thoughtful voice. In fact, its the unexpected classic of the year. The pod people, zombie creatures as repellant as we sometimes think ourselves to be, invade not only our culture but our character with chilling ease. They promise a stress-free life grounded in the twin luxuries of logic and security and few have the courage to resist. This is not campy horror; director Philip Kaufman is too smart and too skillful to play cheap tricks or rely on quick thrills. His horror taps the fears we live with, not the ones we have fun with. (GV) Selected theatres NORMA RAE I can't cheer this movie enough. The everyday hassles of everyday working stiffs are treated with realism and humorous sympathy neither soap-opera nor the grim tension of Blue Collar. Director Martin Ritt has sympatico his laughter and tears ring true. Some claim Norma Rae's characters are goody-goody -partly true (it's a fairy-tale ending), but also due to the accusers' lack of understanding that urban angst is provincial . . . there are many neuroses out there in the sticks, but angst isn't one of them. Nor is union rhetoric dated -industrial workers may often misuse their power, but most office and service workers still live at the whims of their employers. All that aside, the film Jives on its fine performances -a sweatshop of unknown, expressive faces, and the gentle authority and fine timing of Ron Leibman's organizer. Best of all is Sally Fields - this may be her finest performance, the most exuberant and the most intelligent. (A difficult, and gratifying, combination.) She'll get an Academy nomination next year if there's any justice (and there isn't much). Hyperbole aside: this is simply a good film, refreshing for its concerns, but relying on nothing more than human sympathy, good nature, and an optimism that doesn't come off as ridiculous. (MV) MURDER BY DECREE A fine Gothic mystery, rich in atmosphere and peaking in cogent moments of horror -for when you're made afraid of.the look on someone's face, thats realistic horror. Its minor disappointment is that the intelligent, manylayered, suggestively gay and very watchable people played by Christopher Plummer and James Mason have nothing but a violin in common with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson not once is a classic Holmsian analysis used. But this is more than made up for in the emergence of Bob Clark as a director. He has something to say and, more, something to see: visual and verbal asides; loving attention to minor characters (the whore who brags "Oiy got all me own teeth"); an astonishing scene with Genevieve Bujold in an insane asylum; and the way Clark lets his film slow to a crawl so that Plummer can say his say at the end all are the mark of a first-rate film artist, capable of great things. (MV) ONCE IN PARIS This movie tries very hard to please with its swanky settings, frisky sentimentality, and appealing characters. Especially appealing is Jack Lenoir, He's the rascally. Frenchman who goads Wayne Rogers' innocent abroad into an affair with the sultry Gayle Hunnicut. . Everybody's married to somebody else, of course, but this is Paris and that's sophisticated. It's also healthy. Or so says Lenoir who gets to . deliver the movie's message with such lines as "I still remember a girl I didn't speak to 20 years ago," and "If you wait to win, you miss a lotta good celebrations." Rogers takes these pithy wisdoms to heart, though an audience might reasonably consider them little more than a pleasantly put cluster of cliches. (GV) STARCRASH The worst sci-fi movie I've ever seen 20 minutes of . . . it's unbelievable how bad the direction, acting and editing are. I only stayed as long as I did thanks to a body belonging to Caroline Munroe parading around in leather straps that were supposed to cover the fact that she was damn-near naked. The very small boys who came to see this rip-off were delighted at her, and some of them may remember it for the rest of their lives as their first sexual experience. (MV) SUPERMAN When Superman takes his new lady love Lois (Margot Kidder) Lane on a flight over New York, we're treated to the loveliest, most tender, and funniest love scene in a long, long time We should all make love m the sky For the rest this is a grandiose tongue in cheek adventure yarn, full of sight gags and invokes, all the fun you can get for 45 million dollars Margot Kidder has lonqbeen one of the most original actresses around, and proves it, while Christopher Reeve days pristine Superman and fumbling Clark Kent like a worthy understudy to Cary Grant. Two disappointments some of the flying isn't believable, and for 45 mill ion it shouldTiave been; and poor Marlon Brando is only poor - he looks like hes doing an imitation of Lome Greene playing Captain Adama. (MV) TOURIST TRAP Chuck Connors runs what remains of a motel-museum now by-passed by a major highway. He's a lonely sort and welcomes whatever company wanders his way, particularly luscious young ladies who remind him of his dear, dead wife. They rarely wander anywhere else once Connors gets them in his courtly clutches but that's all part of the fun. The script falls somewhere short of perfection, but art director Robert A. Burns (he was profiled in issue 8) mounts sufficient thrills to please even the picky hard-core shock fan. (GV) THETOY The kind friend who sat through this movie with me said on leaving the theatre, "Perhaps if we knew French the poetry of the language itself , would somehow make the picture seem less trite." . Perhaps, but that's putting it much too gently. Pierre Richard is the man who lets himself become a rich child's toy. We know Richard is not comfortable with this situation because he walks into many more walls than usual and steps up the pace of his mugging from hectic to frantic. That apparently constitutes the movie's much bally-hooed "charm," but the equally well advertised "delight" is less obvious. Maybe it springs from the shallows of all the single-minded satire. (GV) VOICES First there was the paraplegic skier in The Other Side of the Mountain then the blind skater in Ice Castles, and now a deaf dancer in Voices. Not only do all these lovely ladies overcome horrible handicaps to prove themselves professionally, they find true love in the process. Makes you wonder what's next perhaps the romantic saga of a beautiful brain surgeon only slightly burdened by the fact that she's a basket head ' with no body. (GV) THE WARRIORS If Bruce Springsteen were a filmmaker he might have directed The Warriors, for its rhythmic, vivid camerawork is a visual rock 'n' roll. "There's a ballet being fought out in the alley," Springsteen has sung, and that's The Warriors in one line. Not the street as sociology but the street as fantasy: the very fantasy a gang-kid might have as he primps in the mirror -that's the integrity of the film, and that's its dangerous energy. For it never cops out, never injects into its street-fantasy any values, hopes or visions that have no place there. That's why in the theater or on the street it's the most exciting film in America right now so exciting that Paramount may be forced to call it back and lock it up, like the juvenile delinquent it is. Something that should compliment director Walter Hill, cinematographer Andrew Laszlo, and editor David Holden. One more name: Deborah Van Valkenburg - who probably wasn't born when "The Rose of Spanish Harlem" was written, but who looks and acts like she walked out of the song. (MV) THE WICKER MAN When Scotland was a pagan place, its people took the names of fruits and trees and flowers; they worshipped old gods, new seeds and sex. Here the residents of a privately-owned Scottish island have returned to that religion, and Britt Ekland (as Willow) is their love goddess. In one of the strongest scenes she dances nude, and as she beats her blooming flesh against the walls of a dark room, some splendid stirrings rumble through the theatre. The movie's end is equally affecting. It's only then that we finally see the Wicker Man, and the spectacle of religious possession that surrounds that image is startling. This movie won't win any prizes for -cinematography, and it never overcomes the problems of the mis-cast Christopher Lee or the priggish principal character, but it's one of the more thoughtful films you're likely to see this 'ear, (GV) WIFEMISTRESS Marcello Mastroiannis washed-out dude never seems strong enough, complex enough, charismatic or energetic enough to lead the life the film ascribes to him -a Casanova as might have been written by Dickens. Laura Antonelli's transformation from his bed-ridden neurotic wife to a first-rate businesswoman who is also political, bi-sexual, daringly and efficiently sensual (Jane Austen as written by Anais Nin) would be equally unbelievable, except that just looking at Antonelli is belief enough. I can understand the females who applaud this fantasy and can hope against hope that their own fantasies will also be their inspirations. (Though I'd be more comfortable with their applause if there were one man on-screen with any strength at all.) I can't understand the males who applauded -unless they did it to keep peace with the females. If the character suggested on the screen had actually been on the screen, the male applause might have made some sense. As it was, they saw a weak-willed, watery-eyed aristocrat whose heterosexuality is so homosexual that he cannot learn the lessons of life till he watches his wife wrap her legs around another man. There's no doubt a deep sexual lesson there, but I doubt if it's the one the men thought they were applauding. (MV) THEWIZ All that money and all that talent, and nobody really knew what to do with it except the art direc tor The whole thing is little more than 2 hours of song and dance self help therapy in Dolby stereo (GV) Boulevard Nights Good Guys Wear Black FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL, featuring new films being shown for the first time in the U.S. Eileen Norris Cinema Theatre, USC. Free. Fri., March 23 -La Femme Qui Pleurex ( ("The Crying Woman"), by Jacques Doillon; & Adieu Voyages Lents ("Farewell, Slow Voyages"), by Marie-Genevieve Ripeau. Sat. , March 24 -La Chanson de Roland ("The Song of Roland"), by Frank Cassenti; & Les Feux de la Chandeleur ("The Lights of Candlemas Day"), by Serge Korber. Sun., March 25 Raphael ou le Debauche ("Raphael or the Rake"), by Georges Wilson. Mon., March 26 La Traque ("The Track"), by Serge Leroy; Q Le Sucre ("Sugar"), by Jacques Rouffio. All films in French with English subtitles. Call 741-2779. THE TAMING OFTHE SHREW, directed by Franco Zeffirelli, starring Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor. Part of the Shakespeare Festival at the Monica Twins, 1332 Second St., Santa Monica. Sat. -Sun., March 24-25. 11 a m.) $3. THE HOUSE ON CHELOUCHE STREET, the story of family life and relationships during the period just before the War of Independence in Israel. Directed by Moshe Mizrahi, nominated for Best Foreign Film in 1973. Part of the Israeli Film Festival at the Royal Theatre, 11523 Santa Monica Blvd., W.L.A. In Hebrew with English subtitles. 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. $3.50. Call 477-5581. MEmva.uatfKfe I THE AFRICAN QUEEN A splendid adventure picture starring no less than Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, whose crotchety courage and rousing optimism made most Americans think they, too, would be that brave and classy under similarly difficult circumstances. That this film really works as action, comedy and a character study is a tribute to the talents of those off-screen as well as on. Director John Huston and writer James Agee posess the kind of minds that make first-rate efforts seem a simple, spontaneous matter rather than the rare achievements they are. First released in 1951 . (GV) Fox-Venice, March 27 COBRA When women still swooned over screen stars, it was the romantjc Rudolph Valentino who most frequently caused the swollen emotions. His was a soft, dreamy sensuality that never really suggested sex so much as spiritual surrender, and sometimes that surrender was down-right lethal. Nita Naldi, the alleged "Queen of the Vampires" (Vampires being long for vamps), plays Valentino's lover, and is literally consumed . with passion when she perishes in a hotel fire. Cobra was made in 1925, the year before the great star's death, and is a rare opportunity to continued iruMirv THE FILM .MILOS FORMAN., RAGNI, RADOMacDERMOTS "HAIR JOHN SAVAGE TREAT WILLIAMS BEVERLY DANGELO ANNIE GOLDEN DORSEY WRIGHT DON DACUS CHERYL BARNES MELBA MOORE ttSSX GEROME RAGNI .JAMES RADO wonftd A conduct! 0 GALT MacDERMOT Auooatr Produce) ROBERT GREENHUT OfKtDl of ftttDfrtpDt MIROSLAV ONDRICEK Vocal arrani 4 conductor TOM PIERSON ..MICHAEL WELLER c .TWYLA THARP .LESTER PERSKYm MICHAEL BUTLER . MILOS FORMAN A CIP Feature Paniyiston Technicolor 0ntnl fctoton ftctu Sound track Album on RCA Records 4 Tape POtgaysTj- four track Smo -7 TUrtrthtKts PACIFICS STARTS THURSDAY at the OtlN.BRA'MA nilMP 63t0 SUNSET BLVD.. (AT VINE) HOLLYWOOD 4K-3401 AZfvfj; a 1973;

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