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Review: A Star Is Born

[Review by Robert Horton for Seattle Weekly]

The new update of A Star Is Born almost—almost—makes the 1976 Barbra Streisand/Kris Kristofferson version look like a coherent movie. And that, my friends, takes some doing.

You know A Star Is Born: fully ripened Hollywood melodrama, usually served with music. A well-established star, struggling with sobriety, romances an unknown talent and watches her career outrun his. Joy holds hands with tragedy, because as somebody once said, love is never as soft as an easy chair.

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Film Review: ‘Digging for Fire’

Rosemarie DeWitt

The final credit on Digging for Fire is a dedication to the late Paul Mazursky, the director of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and An Unmarried Woman and other bittersweet comedies of manners. It can be presumptuous for a young filmmaker—here mumblecore maven Joe Swanberg—to invoke a predecessor. But in this case, fair enough. Digging for Fire has aspects that do indeed recall Mazursky’s movies: a sunburnt L.A. location, an undercurrent of satire directed at its floundering characters, and close attention to actors. Some pretentiousness, too, although in this case everything goes down pretty easily.

While Tim (Jake Johnson) and Lee (Rosemarie DeWitt, of Touchy Feely) house-sit in a rambling mansion far above their pay grade (she’s a yoga instructor to a rich person who’s lent them the place for a while), they decide to spend a weekend apart.

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Review: Lifeguard

[Originally published in Movietone News 51, August 1976]

Lifeguard belongs to that elect, if scarcely elite, class of film fondly designated “the nice little movie.” It would be a poor summer indeed that didn’t yield one or two specimens of this type (which I say rhetorically since it is a miserable movie summer but there’s Lifeguard anyway)—not that its modest feeling for decent folks of no particular distinction getting on with their lives as best they can would be out of season at any time. The storyline isn’t much; its cinematic narration, still less so. But it’s a friendly movie that manages to be ingratiating without flashing too bright a smile or scuffing its soles ostentatiously in the sand. Watching it, you like the people and expect to remember them—looks, stances, tones of voice—like a pleasant vacation in years to come.

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