June 30, 2009

...The Cheat (1915)

Fannie Ward turns from Doris Day to Angelina Jolie (and back again with innocence intact) when she becomes The Cheat in this silent film. Like most films of the 1910s, this one is over-dressed and over-acted although, in its defense, it stars an Asian man, Sessue Hayakawa, who brands a Caucasian woman with a hot poker who herself rips off her clothes in the climactic courtroom scene - not too common occurrences in films of the time. Still it gets bogged down in histrionics and becomes more of a curio (Cecil B. DeMille's second film) than a film worth its salt.

June 6, 2009

...Next Stop Greenwich Village (1976)

Overlong and a bit too precious (particularly when its characters act and dance through the streets of New York City), Next Stop Greenwich Village is writer/director Paul Mazursky's cinematic ode to his own formative story. Unfortunately Lenny Baker's characterization as the lead belies his theatrical roots with histrionics; his performance would come through better in a campy, silent film. The supporting ladies (Shelley Winters, Ellen Greene, Dori Brenner and Lois Smith) and gents (Christopher Walken and Antonio Fargas) fare best and hold viewer interest on their own but it was supposed to be about Larry Lapinsky, right?