Tag Archives: Barry Levinson

Wolfe, Roth and the Movies

In just a week, we’ve lost two literary giants, Tom Wolfe at the age of 88 and Philip Roth, 85 years old. Born in different places (Wolfe in Richmond, Roth in Newark), both passed away in New York City, the metropolis where they enjoyed the prime of their careers as writers. Wolfe became an observer … Continue reading Wolfe, Roth and the Movies

The Wizard of Lies

ONLY THOSE YOU TRUST CAN TRULY BETRAY YOU.  After the ABC miniseries Madoff (2016) came this HBO movie that also paints a portrait of the admired Wall Street tycoon who turned out to have built a Ponzi scheme over decades, the greatest financial fraud in U.S. history. We learn how Madoff orchestrated his scheme and … Continue reading The Wizard of Lies

Good Morning, Vietnam

TIME TO ROCK IT FROM THE DELTA TO THE DMZ! In 1965, Adrian Cronauer (Robin Williams) arrives in Saigon to serve as a DJ for Armed Forces Radio Service, but starts breaking protocol right away. Williams’s breakthrough, a story inspired by the real-life Cronauer, was a big commercial and critical hit, a perfect vehicle for … Continue reading Good Morning, Vietnam

Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight

SOME FIGHTS ARE BIGGER THAN THE RING. In 1971, Muhammad Ali’s refusal to be drafted for the Vietnam War becomes a case for the U.S. Supreme Court, but Chief Justice Warren Burger (Frank Langella) believes it has no merits. His name may be in the title, but in this HBO drama the champ only appears … Continue reading Muhammad Ali’s Greatest Fight

History of the World – Part I

IN MEL WE TRVST. One of director Mel Brooks’s slightest comedies is an episodic look at historical events, from the dawn of man to the French Revolution. Misery is a theme; regardless of era and place, there’s always been people suffering, often Jews. As expected, Brooks turns it into comedy, as in the memorable scene … Continue reading History of the World – Part I

What Just Happened

IN HOLLYWOOD, EVERYBODY CAN HEAR YOU SCREAM.  This movie, which chronicles a Hollywood producer’s harried life as he’s trying to please studio bosses, egotistical movie stars and two ex-wives is easy to believe as it was based on real-life producer Art Linson’s book. Everybody involved here must have had plenty to bring to the table; … Continue reading What Just Happened

You Don’t Know Jack

UNTIL YOU KNOW THE WHOLE STORY… Doctor Jack Kevorkian (Al Pacino) believes firmly in assisted suicide for terminally ill patients, but after helping several people to die he is targeted by the state of Michigan. Kevorkian remains a highly controversial person, virtually a serial killer to his detractors, but this film stands firmly on his … Continue reading You Don’t Know Jack

Bee Movie

HONEY JUST GOT FUNNY. Barry B. Benson, a honey bee, has just graduated from college, but before he goes to work in the honey industry he ventures out in the human world where he discovers injustices. Jerry Seinfeld’s grand animated project was reportedly not the result of some fully thought-through idea; the premise is very reminiscent … Continue reading Bee Movie

Man of the Year

COULD THIS MAN BE OUR NEXT PRESIDENT? Late-night comedian Tom Dobbs (Robin Williams) is urged by fans to run for president; he agrees to do it and ends up winning the election, but a computer engineer (Laura Linney) suspects fraud. Two years before Al Franken ran for the U.S. Senate, director Barry Levinson delivered another … Continue reading Man of the Year

High Anxiety

DANGER, INTRIGUE, ROMANCE… AND A TOUCH OF KINKINESS! Richard Thorndyke (Mel Brooks), a famous psychiatrist, is appointed new head of a California sanitarium, but he discovers plenty of secrets there. The director spoofs another genre, this time Hitchcock thrillers. He has assembled a terrific cast, with himself as the doc who becomes a murder suspect, … Continue reading High Anxiety