Month: January 2006

The Boys From Brazil (1978), Franklin J. Schaffner, C

I figured that since this was based on a book by Ira Levin this would be fun in a “Stepford Wives” or “Rosemary’s Baby” way. It is not. It has some creepy moments, but it is too silly to take seriously, so why try to play it straight? This is a B movie, and if it was played B it would be a success. Laurence Olivier gives a performance almost as over the top as he does in “Khartoum” (the only time in history Charlton Heston has the furniture out-chewed on him.) I don’t know much about the real Simon Weisenthal but I know that Olivier’s kvetchy, annoying caricature is a disgrace to his...

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Beware the Blue Goo!

We’ve recently gotten back in the habit of putting blue tablets back in our toilet. I used to do this for years, but recently fell off the wagon. I endorse it — it really makes the toilet a borderline pleasant looking object. (Dear Lord, can you believe we actually keep these things in our homes? A backyard privvy may’ve been more civilized in retrospect.) I used to think I was crazy, but I coulda sworn going blue could lead to more toilet stop-ups. Turns out I wasn’t the only one and, indeed, there is some hard science behind...

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Zabriskie Point (1970), Michelangelo Antonioni, A

One of the most openly derided counter-culture 60s classics, I actually prefer this film to “Easy Rider,” “If…,” “Two-Lane Blacktop” and “Medium Cool.” (Though perhaps not “Le Weekend” or “Midnight Cowboy.”) It’s was too boring and arty to excite the intended psychedelic audience back in the day (I mean, shit, “2001: A Space Odyssey” at least has monkeys and space!) and straight audiences could neither get down with its anti-bourgeois sentiments (why destroy such a lovely soutwestern home??) or its extreme earnestness. Anyway, it’s heavy shit, yeah, and there were an awful lot of snickers in the Moving Image audience, both from hipsters and some 15 year old neighborhood girls who wandered in by mistake. The dialogue gets pretty awful at times (but, you know, people on a lot of drugs do talk funny. . .so it’s realism!) and the acting is dreadful. But it is all for real. I mean, the lead actor, the guy you never heard of, gave all of his money from this film to a commune and then robbed a bank. So, you know, this ain’t BS. Nearly every shot is gorgeous — the LA shots packed with signage, the stark naked desert stuff, the color-saturated sleek offices with nifty furniture or the Pink Floyd-enhanced explosions at the end. Dig, man, dig. I love every minute of this pretentious, awful...

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Jordan Hoffman is a New York-based writer and film critic working for The Guardian, Vanity Fair, Thrillist, Times of Israel, NY Daily News and elsewhere.

He is the host of ENGAGE: The Official Star Trek Podcast, a member of the New York Film Critics Circle and challenges you to a game of backgammon.

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