Josh Kramer

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Death And The Maiden Review


Extraordinary
Sigourney Weaver and Ben Kingsley are together in Roman Polanski's new film, Death and the Maiden, a haunting and powerful work of genius. Based on the acclaimed stage play, the story goes that Weaver is the wife of rich South American lawyer/politician Gerardo Escobar (played by Stuart Wilson), and they live alone in the wilderness of this unnamed country. One day, Dr. Miranda (Kingsley) shows up at the house after helping Escobar with a flat tire, and he comes in for a drink.

Paulina (Weaver) begins to inexplicably break down after his arrival, going so far as to sneak out of the house and destroy Miranda's car. Only when she returns do we discover the shocking reason for this insanity. Paulina suspects Miranda was the doctor who tortured and raped her 15 years earlier: the doctor, she says, who played the Schubert composition "Death and the Maiden" while he applied his evil ministrations. Paulina then turns the tables, tying Miranda up, beating him, and holding an impromptu trial to get his confession to the deeds.

Continue reading: Death And The Maiden Review

Night Falls On Manhattan Review


Good
With Night Falls on Manhattan, Sidney Lumet has created one of the most dedicated issue movies in a long time. As a high-profile, yet righteous, defense attorney (a first in modern film), Richard Dreyfuss's character admits that he took an unwinnable case because he wanted to expose corruption in the NYPD. Lumet seems to have created an unwinnable film for similar reasons.

Lumet has taken a very bare-bones approach with the plot of Night Falls on Manhattan. One minute Andy Garcia's Sean Casey is an assistant DA trainee, the next minute he is the District Attorney of New York. Likewise, the first twenty minutes of the film set up a courtroom drama which Lumet flies through in a series of quick scenes. Unconventional editing techniques, including periodic jump cuts and abrupt truncations of scenes that barely seem to have begun, help push the narrative forward, all of which serves to confuse the audience as to the film's true focus.

Continue reading: Night Falls On Manhattan Review

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