THE IRON LADY (Phyllida Lloyd, 2011)

Ineptly written by Abi Morgan and haphazardly directed by Phyllida Lloyd, The Iron Lady, purportedly having something to do with Margaret Thatcher, the United Kingdom’s first female prime minister (1979-90), is one big—and drearily long—head-scratcher. While it alludes to actual social, political and geopolitical events in which Thatcher participated, it has no sense of period […]

THE DEER HUNTER (Michael Cimino, 1978)

The 1970s constituted U.S. cinema’s most dismal decade, and its Oscar-winning best pictures composed a series of trash (Patton, Rocky, etc.)—with two exceptions: the mediocre Godfather-sequel (Francis Ford Coppola, 1974) and Michael Cimino’s rock-solid The Deer Hunter, a study of war’s impact on three buddies from a Pennsylvania steel town who enlist to fight in […]

MANHATTAN (Woody Allen, 1979)

While Zelig (1983) remains writer-director Woody Allen’s most highly analytical and brilliantly funny film, Manhattan, which was co-written by Marshall Brickman, is his most romantic and appealing one, and is equally hilarious—the closest cinema has come to Astaire & Rogers post-1930s. Visually, it is a dream of the city, gorgeously photographed in black and white […]

ADAPTATION (Spike Jonze, 2002)

Now it’s clear—clearer than even Being John Malkovich (1999) left the matter: Charlie Kaufman is a brilliant comedy writer. Adaptation, another collaboration with director Spike Jonze (pronounced Jones), is curious, audacious and on the mark. It’s all about, on several different levels, adaptation. The premise of the plot is dizzyingly complicated. Being John Malkovich having […]