skimpole wrote: ↑January 8th, 2023, 3:25 am Last week I saw six movies. Alex in Wonderland is Paul Mazursky's attempt to remake 8 1/2, the sort of movie that hurt Fellini's reputation more than it helped Mazursky's. The attempts at surrealism don't work and come off badly, but Donald Sutherland and Ellen Burstyn do a good job as the couple based on the Mazurskys (their marriage was noticeably long and apparently harmonious.) Payment Deferred's most attractive feature is a good performance by Charles Laughton as an increasingly desperate bank clerk who thinks murder might be a good solution to his problems. Dorothy Peterson is also good as his alternately trying and loving wife, though the movie itself all too clearly shows its stage origins.
I remember the ad campaign for Sphinx when it came out early in 1981, and it had an oscar-winning director Franklin J. Schaffner. It also has what should be a strong cast, with John Gielgud and Frank Langella playing Arabs, as well as John Rhys-Davies. But after a beginning in which we see a tomb raider ripped apart by horses, this is an amazingly bland and uninteresting movie. There is just no reason to care about Lesley-Anne Down, let alone wonder whether she will fall in love with Langella. When Knighthood was in Flower was shown as part of Marion Davies spotlight and tells a tale that, oddly enough, Disney would remake three decades later, about the sister of Henry VIII who was forced to marry the king of France, but eventually ended up with her less regal true love. As such, the movie is OK.
Glass Onion: A Knives out Mystery boasts strong performances with Daniel Craig in the lead, followed by Edward Norton, Kate Hudson and Janelle Monae. The movie starts out amusingly and there's an intriguing twist about halfway through the movie. It certainly benefits from the fact that Elon Musk was the first person to lose $200 billion. But like its predecessor, it hasn't fully thought out things. Trying to avoid spoilers, but for a start, the good guys' basic plan should fall apart the moment everyone arrives on Norton's private Greek island. And second, the last dramatic gesture is likely to have one of the few characters the audience likes lose every penny and face a life sentence in prison. To rephrase the late Meatloaf, I would do anything to bring Musk or Trump down, but I certainly wouldn't do that.
Lost Illusions is the movie of the week. While not showing the auteurist strengths of other 19th century film adaptations as Barry Lyndon,Mysteries of Lisbon or Doomed Love, it does show a certain flair as it makes it way through its two and a half hour running time. Benjamin Voisin is engagingly feckless as the lead. Xavier Dolan and Vincent Lacoste do a good job essentially serving as the angels and demons on his shoulder. Gerard Depardieu has a good brief role as a disreputable publisher, while Salome Dewaels and Cecile de France are fine as the love interests.
Alex in Wonderland is just a bit too diffuse, but you are right, its leads cannot be faulted as they turn in fine performances. Payment Deffered is OK, but Laughton was better in other films. Sphinx lacks character drive, but I will give it this much: it is impeccably photographed and definitely not the worst Orion release of 1981 ( that goes to the dire Under the Rainbow, where Eve Arden is felt up by a short man she mistook for a child, but Rollover, another film with classy credits [Alan Pacula, Jane Fonda, Kris Kristofferson, Hume Cronyn] is literally so muddled that its plot is indecipherable)