Dead Man Walking (1995)

I saw Dead Man Walking at the multiplex. I thought was strange to see a death penalty drama at the multiplex, the subject matter being what it is, but I was also glad because I did not have to go down fifteen blocks to see it at the arthouse, which would be a longer drive.

Dead Man Walking was one of the first films I reviewed for GiveWay magazine. I found a film of depth and goodness and a film I found was talked about positively in Christian circles.

Susan Sarandon in Dead Man Walking.

Rated R.

Oscar nominee Sean Penn, portrays a man who commits rape and murder and is sentenced to death by lethal injection. A Catholic nun (played by Susan Sarandon in a convincing, powerhouse role) becomes his spiritual advisor.

There are two sides to the story: the “compassion” theology and those in support of capital punishment. The former gets a better hearing in Dead Man Walking.

This film has distinct merits as it tells all the stories of the concerned parties, within a religious and state background addressing a contentious issue.

Reviewed by Peter Veugelaers, for GiveWay magazine, 1996.


Film Review 1982-1983 by F. Maurice Speed

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

More interesting articles this time around. There is a very stimulating article about Third World cinema, an absorbing read is the story of sound, and another two good ones, on silent cinema stars and how the advent of sound either done the stars in or enhanced their careers, and the advent of the video cassette tape, along with the regular columns, obituaries, and promising faces.

The films on review are releases of the year are for the 1981-1982 year in Great Britain, from July 1 to June 30. Many of these films were first released in the United States or Europe and come later to Great Britain. So, many of the films on review in this annual had an original release date of 1981.

Still, outrageously raucous in places, the censors were busy placing ratings, but quite a few more decent films. And Quiet Rolls the Dawn, The Antagonists, Beyond Reasonable Doubt, The Boat, The Chosen, Clarence and the Angel, Clash of the Titans, Condorman, Escape to Victory, Evil Under the Sun, The Fox and the Hound, The Great Muppet Caper, Herbie Goes Bananas, The Legend of the Lone Ranger, Manganinnie, The Mouse and His Child, My Dinner with Andre, Oblomov, The Proud Ones, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Roar, Spirit of the Wild, Supersnooper, Three Brothers, and Voices.

That is quite a lengthier list than the previous two years, perhaps the filmmakers saw the box office sense of the clean films of the later part of the 1970’s, which did well.

Some fascinating films as well, such as Mephisto, which kind of straddled the line, occasionally crossing it. What a story.

Less nudity this time, and a more interesting read than the 1981-1982 annual.

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A year of it

Film Review 1980-1981 by F, Maurice Speed

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Audiences at the end of the 1970’s saw a certain number of films with a general sense of propriety. There were also many leftovers from a decade of explicit films. F. Maurice Speed reviewed them all, mostly in a generous mood, although his lengthy introduction begins with his concerns over how the language in the movies of the day became less and less conscious of reserve but more condoning of four-letter words and why did producers let it stay. Even the Oscar winners of the day contained, even in films that were generally more acceptable, the profanity that the author addresses in his introduction. Speed reviews these films individually and objectively, but still with reservation on occasion. I was heartened to have such a book that did address these issues and where the reviews are from a critic with a more sensitized perspective.

I have watched quite a few of the films that contain the various “nasties” as they are called which I have considered with some reservation, but like Speed, tended to be ‘objective’ as well as critical.

In Speed’s reviews, there is, despite the need to be objective, none of the glossing over that some reviews tend to do in the name of story and social concerns, where language and other content does not seem to matter.

Of the 200-odd films on review, in short, informative, and warm prose, there are a couple of dozen that do not or probably would not cross the traditional boundaries of censorship, in alphabetical order:

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Who’s who

The films directed by Peter Brook, a British theatre as well as film director, now in his nineties, are challenging to find for streaming or on demand in my vicinity. His first feature film was in 1953, The Beggar’s Opera, so its age may explain its evasiveness in the market. He followed this by several art house films which seemed quite fascinating as subjects, The Lord of the Flies the best known, which can be easily accessed where I am. The other film I can find of his is Meetings with Remarkable Men (1979). Not that I had been looking for Peter Brook films to watch, but I happened to read about the film first and thought it interesting and even relatable so looked him up and discovered more.

Moving on a bit

As part of my writing journey, an important part for me, is reviewing what I have already written. It came up with some pleasing reactions, but also some disappointed ones, but through it all, it made me aware of always thinking through an article or piece thoroughly first.

A pleasing reaction was on reviewing an old film review, as the film’s story dawned on me brighter than it ever had. It was an invigorating feeling when I realized this is one of my essential films. It became as clear as crystal why it was an essential film. So, it was a true ‘moment with a movie’.

And these are the moments I want to express clearer at my The other movie blog about ascertaining why a film is suitable seemed irrelevant in view of what were my real moments with movies. So, I move on a little bit more than before…