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  • Pennies from Heaven

    Pennies from Heaven

    “Dreamers”

    PENNIES FROM HEAVEN is the most emotional movie musical I've ever seen. It's a stylized mythology of the Depression which uses the popular songs of the period as expressions of people's deepest longings—for sex, for romance, for money, for a high good time. When the characters can't say how they feel, they evoke the songs: they open their mouths, and the voices on hit records of the thirties come out of them. And as they lip-sync the lyrics their…

  • Secret Honor

    Secret Honor

    “Arf”

    Robert Altman has more sheer stubborn effrontery than any other great American director, as he proved in the string of recklessly original movies he made in the first half of the seventies: M*A*S*H (1970), MCCABE & MRS. MILLER (1971), THE LONG GOODBYE (1973), THIEVES LIKE US (1974), CALIFORNIA SPLIT (1974), and NASHVILLE (1975). He has always been erratic, and he has an equally long list of bummers and valiant efforts that failed, but when he's working in top form there's…

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  • Something Wild

    Something Wild

    "Doubling Up"

    For seven decades of romantic screwball comedies, sexy, smart, funny women have been waking up heroes who, through fear or shyness or a stuffy educational background, were denying their deepest impulses. The women perform a rescue mission. Sometimes, in earlier eras, they did it in the guise of dumb blondes (like Marie Wilson) or dizzy dames (like Katharine Hepburn in BRINGING UP BABY), but mostly they were wisecracking broads, like Mae West and Joan Blondell, and Jean Harlow…

  • 1900

    1900

    “Hail, Folly!”

    At a certain point in their careers—generally right after an enormous popular success—most great movie directors go mad on the potentialities of movies. They leap over their previous work into a dimension beyond the well-crafted dramatic narrative; they make a huge, visionary epic in which they attempt to alter the perceptions of people around the world. Generally, they shoot this epic in what they believe is a state of super-enlightenment. They believe that with this film they're literally…