My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.
This week focuses on three films starring Richard Dreyfuss.
Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars
I watched this film for Richard Dreyfuss and even he can’t save this bad movie. It’s a well-intentioned courtroom drama, helmed by a good director, Martin Ritt. So what went wrong? Well, Barbra Streisand…
She is good in the right role (What’s Up Doc comes to mind) and bad, very bad in the wrong one. I do not buy her as a high-end escort. I just don’t. And I don’t buy her as being “nuts” either. It’s all a put-on, revealed as such when her act disappears and she takes the stand, giving a natural performance for a few minutes before returning to hysterics. I never saw the play so I can speak to the source material or the original cast but just looking at Anne Twomey on Google images gives me a sense of better casting.
This is sadly the case of a movie star choosing a project that she wasn’t suited for. And nothing Dreyfuss, Karl Malden, James Whitmore, or the other talented actors involved do makes a difference.
Watched on Tubi
Night Falls on Manhattan (1996)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Sidney Lumet continues to explore his fascination with the justice system, the police, and the idea of being a snitch with this film. It may not be as strong as Serpico or Prince of the City but it nevertheless deserves a place in the conversation about those films and Lumet’s overall work.
I thought I’d never seen it but with every scene there was a sense of familiarity. However long ago that first viewing took place, it was good to give this one a second glance. Andy Garcia is quite good, as he often was during this period, and so is Richard Dreyfuss (the reason I watched the film) as his opposition. The whole cast is well-assembled, not surprising for a Lumet picture, but it’s Ian Holm who really stands out. Playing a tried and true New York cop, Holm shows no sign of his English heritage and delivers an outstanding performance.
The reason this doesn’t live up to its justice-themed predecessors is a somewhat contrived and far-fetched screenplay. It just doesn’t play as realistically as Serpico and Prince of the City, as if Lumet was combining the grittiness of those films with cliche legal thrillers of the 90s.
Still, I can’t think of a single reason why this film should be skipped over in a discussion of Lumet’s incredible, yet sometimes uneven, filmography.
Watched on Paramount Plus
The Old Man Who Read Love Stories (2001)
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
I’ve been curious about this film since I saw Rolf de Heer’s terrific Western THE TRACKER many years ago. It was seemingly hard to find for a while and I was delighted to see it pop up on Tubi in a recent search of Richard Dreyfuss films.
On paper, I never would have believed Dreyfuss could pull off the nationality and accent but he does. In fact, he would be an unconventional choice for another adaptation of THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. There was touches of Hemingway in this piece but it is ultimately more dreamy and poetic. Some of that worked for me and some didn’t. The film wanders through time and place, often losing its way in subplots it didn’t need when the narrative could have simply focused on Dreyfuss, Hugo Weaving, and the search for the beast. When the film does, it’s riveting and even touching at times.
I can see why this didn’t get much attention. It’s not a conventional film but one worth seeing for fans of the filmmaker and Dreyfuss who does some of the best work.
Watched on Tubi