From the Chicago Reader (August 20, 2001). — J.R.
John Carpenter at his most enjoyable generally means ‘Scope, working-class sass, kick-ass antiestablishment heroes, typecast villains who individually suggest quiet serial killers and collectively resemble hordes of whooping savages, a minimalist music score by Carpenter himself, and an overall affection for the way action movies looked and sounded 50 years ago. This movie — an action romp in which cops and prisoners go up against vengeful martian spirits on a colonized Mars in the year 2176 — adds a few more likable ingredients: a flashback structure with several overlapping points of view, great use of Ice Cube and Pam Grier, lap dissolves, and a notion of shifting alliances that keeps things hopping. (Natasha Henstridge as the head cop is pretty lively too.) As in many other Carpenter movies both good and bad, a lot of the cramped settings can be traced back to the original version of The Thing. With Jason Statham, Clea DuVall, and Joanna Cassidy; Larry Sulkis collaborated with Carpenter on the script. 98 min. (JR)
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This review originally appeared in the March 28, 1997 issue of the Chicago Reader.-— J.R.
The Graduate **
Directed by Mike NicholsWritten by Buck Henry and Calder WillinghamWith Anne Bancroft, Dustin Hoffman, Katherine Ross,William Daniels, MurrayHamilton, Elizabeth Wilson,and Brian Avery.
If I feel myself as the producer of my life, then I am unhappy. So I would rather be a spectator of my life. I would rather change my life this way since I cannot change it in society. So at night I see films that are different from my experiences during the day. Thus there is a strict separation between experience and the cinema. That is the obstacle for our films. For we are people of the 60s, and we do not believe in the opposition between experience and fiction. –- Alexander Kluge, 1988
The Graduate opened in December 1967, the same month the first successful human heart transplant was performed. It was a few weeks after the premiere of Bonnie and Clyde and about three months before the launching of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Among the albums that came out the same year were the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the Rolling Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request, and the Mothers of Invention’s Absolutely Free.… Read more »
From Film Comment. In a few slight particulars, I’ve taken the liberty of editing my 30-year-old self 47 years later. I’ve also omitted the remarks about several recent French film books (apart from Benayoun’s) that concluded this column. — J.R.
The admiration of French cinéastes for Jerry Lewis continues to be in evidence everywhere. In an interview in the current Time Out [in London], Jean-Pierre Gorin pays his own respect to Lewis’s greatness – over the protests of his interviewers – for the “experimental” and “scientific” ways that he deals with sound and image, cutting and plot construction, adding that Godard has seen WHICH WAY TO THE FRONT? (which “is almost mathematical if you look into it deeply”) five times. And in DOCTEUR POPAUL, Chabrol’s latest film, Mia Farrow is furnished with eyeglasses and buck teeth to make her resemble Julius Kelp in THE NUTTY PROFESSOR, while Jean-Paul Belmondo is run through a series of sight-gags that are clearly Lewis-inspired.
To my mind, Chabrol’s pastiches are vastly inferior to Lewis’s originals, and DOCTEUR POPAUL is less worthy of American release than Chabrol’s earlier OPHÉLIA, LA RUPTURE, or JUSTE AVANT LA NUIT (the last-named, a perverse and elegant companion-piece of LA FEMME INFIDÈLE, is probably the best of the lot).… Read more »