Showing posts from April, 2024

Your Friends & Neighbors (1998)

Writer/Director: Neil LaBute Stars: Jason Patric, Amy Brenneman, Aaron Eckhart, Catherine Keener, Nastassja Kinski, Ben Stiller This film follows the interrelations of six "friends"  as they grope for self-fulfillment, usually at each other's expense.   This is a grim, often ugly exploration of selfishness, featuring characters that somehow never developed the sense of empathy or generosity that enables one human being to connect with another on more than a superficial level.  They equate being happy with being in a position of power over others wherein they can gratify their urges of the moment.   When their behavior fails to make them happy, they become more jaded and sad and convinced that happiness is only a fantasy.   A possible exception is the chilling sociopath played by Jason Patric, who appears to be entirely satisfied with his reprehensible conduct.  In a cast of dislikable characters, he emerges as one of the most loathsome figures I have ever seen in a film. 

Run Lola Run (1998)

Writer/Director: Tom Tykwer Stars: Franka Potente, Moritz Bleibtreu, Herbert Knaup, Nina Petri, Armin Rohde, Joachim Krol, Ludger Pistor, Suzanna von Borsody An entertaining, high-energy film in which characters  crash off each other like balls in a pinball game, spinning each other's lives into new trajectories.  This film tackles some serious issues but refuses to take itself seriously, thereby remaining light and entertaining at all times.   To what extent are our lives ruled by chance, and to what extent are our fates determined by personality?  Watching the different versions of Lola's run through town, we can see that the lives of various secondary characters take dramatically different turns depending on such apparently innocuous details as whether Lola runs by at a certain point in time or five seconds later.   Yet the fate of Lola and her boyfriend, Manni, always seem to be the same.   This is a rewarding film whether you or in the mood to ponder such issues or just to

Stagecoach (1939)

Director: John Ford Writers: Dudley Nichols, original story by Ernest Haycox Stars: John Wayne, Claire Trevor, Andy Devine, John Carradine, Thomas Mitchell, Louise Platt, George Bancroft, Donald Meek, Berton Churchill A disparate group of people travel through perilous  Apache territory together.   Their characters are revealed as they face a series of adversities.  This influential film showed that the Western was capable of presenting more than singing cowboys and sneering villains.   These characters are three-dimensional people with believable flaws.  The entire cast, including John Wayne in the role that made his career, is exceptional.   The action scenes hold up well; the Indian attack, in particular, features some outstanding stunt work.   The influence of "Stagecoach" can be seen in films as varied as Citizen Kane, the Airport films, and Mad Max II (The Road Warrior).