Rebecca Redshaw's "SOFA CINEMA: An Easy Guide to DVDs Volume 1" will be published this fall. Read all her DVD reviews compiled in one book.
The movies selected for review are the choice of the reviewer Suggestions for DVD titles are welcome. Enjoy the movies.
"Two Lovers," rated R
Michelle or Sandra? Sandra or Michelle? Who will a despondent Leonard (Joaquin Phoenix) choose? The sad, troubled Leonard has moved back in with his parents after a failed engagement and suicide attempt. Having an adult child move back home is not a unique scenario anymore. His parents are understanding, concerned and anxious for their son to get involved not only with the family's dry cleaning business but with the new owner's daughter, Sandra.
A new neighbor in the building, Michelle (Gwyneth Paltrow) catches Leonard's eye and he becomes infatuated with the waifish blonde who comes with excessive emotional baggage.
Director/writer James Gray has an eclectic following far astray from the mainstream. The look of the film is burdened with shadows and the dialogue track ranges from whiny (Paltrow) to mumbling (Phoenix), both of whom are better actors than "Two Lovers" would indicate.
Vinessa Shaw, as the adoring, unglamorous Sandra, is a promising talent. And Isabella Rossellini as Leonard's insightful mother has too little screen time to raise the interest level of the movie. Rather than watch "Two Lovers," find a better way to spend two hours of your life.
"Three Days of the Condor," rated R
The CIA creates an operation so secret that even high-ranking officials in the organization don't know about it? No, that sentence isn't ripped from today's headlines - although it could be.
In "Three Days of the Condor," Robert Redford works as a reader along with a small group of undercover government employees who peruse anything and everything in print for clues about clandestine activities around the globe.
What starts out as an innocuous day at the office quickly turns disastrous. Because of a sudden rainstorm and the luck of the draw to get lunch, Joe Turner's (Redford) life changes forever.
On the run from an unknown enemy, Turner goes undercover with an unwilling, albeit beautiful, photographer, Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway).
Never knowing who to trust, the hero (?) keeps on the run and every so often has conversations with a known assassin (Max von Sydow) and a questionable government ally (Cliff Robertson).
Director Sydney Pollack keeps the action moving with lots of quick cuts (edited by Don Guidice) and a steamy, jazz score by Dave Grusin.
"Three Days of the Condor" was released in 1975. Is the plot plausible today? Read the newspapers. It's anyone's guess.
"Twelve Chairs," rated PG
"Twelve Chairs" was released in 1970, squeezed between two of Mel Brooks' most famous films, "The Producers" (1968) and "Blazing Saddles" (1974).
Going back in time (when the Soviet Union was established with the overthrow of "old" Russia), the aristocrats hid their valuables from the government so eventually they could access their wealth - their turn-of-the century answer to offshore accounts.
In a dying declaration, the family heir (Ron Moody) and the neighborhood priest (Dom DeLuise) learn that the family jewels were hidden in one of 12 dining room chairs. With the aid of a wandering grifter (a very young and handsome Frank Langella), the race is on.
Written and directed by Brooks (who plays a small part as a humbled peasant), "Twelve Chairs" serves as a forecast of his brilliant comic timing. The story is thin and the writing uneven, but DeLuise is nothing short of brilliant in his silliness.
"Twelve Chairs" may not be turned into a Broadway hit like Brooks' "The Producers," but it's a comedic diversion easily worth the cost of a rental.
Rebecca Redshaw can be reached at email@example.com.
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