Archive for April, 2011

2010 – THE WAY

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2011 by sinhaladhamma

The movie THE WAY was one of the few really magnificent works of art done by a film director.  The direction has made this comparatively simple story of a Pilgrim with such artistic elegance it must be seen if you like movies. After a long years career Martin Sheen has evolved in to a fine actor in this movie.

REVIEW by Nancy Frey

The Way: A Love Letter to Spain and Galicia

When I heard that Emilio Estevez’s new film, The Way, set on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route in Spain would be premiered in Santiago de Compostela on November 8th, I was eager to go. Starring his father Martin Sheen, Estevez wrote and directed the film as well as appears in it as Sheen’s on-screen son. I knew that in 2009 they had been filming along the route and I wondered what kind of Camino film two Hollywood notables would make. I invited my friend María Santos and off we went to the elegant 19th century Teatro Principal in Santiago´s historical quarter to find out. I have to admit it was quite a thrill to see Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez walk the mini-red carpet surrounded by a sea of umbrellas as the rain accompanied their entrance.


Estevez and Sheen’s angle was clear early on: It’s a movie of the heart from start to finish. 2010 has been my own personal year of the heart and so this tack resonated strongly with me. Countless times over the course of this year I’ve been reminded to listen to my heart: Let the heart be your compass.


In The Way Sheen plays Tom Avery an ophthalmologist from California who becomes an accidental pilgrim when he receives the tragic news of his son’s death on the Camino. Estevez and Sheen take us on a gripping, epic journey in equal parts hilarious, deep, heart-wrenching and moving as we share the struggle of a father gripped with confusion and remorse to understand the tragic loss of his only son Daniel, a person he realizes he never really understood. Tom suddenly finds himself in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, a small village in southwest France where many pilgrims start the Camino today. Impulsively, he decides to take his son’s pack and ashes and walk the 800km across Spain making the journey that his son could not.


The opening scenes are very moving and set the stage for the profoundly human story of how we must each fumble along to find our own way. In the movie Tom says to Daniel before he heads to the Camino, ‘I live the life I chose. Why can’t you do the same?’ Daniel responds, ‘You don’t choose your life, Dad. You live it and that’s what I’m doing.’ The pilgrimage is a metaphor for life and the pilgrim the lost soul who finds his way back home by following his heart. Estevez (and Sheen through his inspired performance) makes you care about this lost soul and wonder how he will ever make it. Unlike other Catholic centers of worship where pilgrims often look for a cure of the body through faith, modern pilgrims to Santiago (most of whom would not define themselves as religiously motivated) frequently seek some kind of answer for life’s inner woes. The focus is on the power of the journey rather than simply reaching the destination. Many people find themselves doing the pilgrimage to Santiago and are not sure exactly why but somehow know that it is the right place to be. The contemporary pilgrimage to Santiago is very popular precisely because of its openness: there’s a place for everyone irrelevant of age, background, faith (or lack thereof) and motivation and it has a way of hitting each individual in just the right spot (even though what that spot might be can be quite a mystery).


One of the common sayings among pilgrims along the Camino is that ‘You can start alone but you never end alone.’ The power of community and friendship is a theme reinforced throughout the film. Tom starts very much alone but soon acquires three unlikely companions who share his journey.


As Estevez shared with me at the after-party, The Way is a modern-day Oz story as three flawed characters help Tom (Dorothy) find his way back home to his son, his heart and, ultimately, himself and his faith. The movie brings vividly to life the sights, sounds (both pleasant and annoying – in addition to a great soundtrack including Coldplay, Alannis Morrisette and James Taylor), color and feel of the Camino as we see the group of pilgrim friends share meals, sleep together in the pilgrims’ refuges, walk through the varied landscapes as well as have both good and bad encounters with locals and, importantly, with each other. Despite their conflicts, and also because of them, the pilgrims are able to have unexpected moments of liberation and insight. The Way gives us a picture of the Camino, warts and all, to show how pilgrimage is a process of trial and error, forgiveness and insight, sorrow and laughter and how pilgrims’ motivations are as varied as a rainbow from the deeply religious to personal angst to physical challenge to the apparently trivial. The characters are credible and you care what happens to them keeping you riveted until the end.


Estevez and Sheen want to show how the Camino’s magic helps to work change in pilgrims – when people leave behind their normal lives and go to the pilgrimage stripped of most of their possessions, normal stress and obligations, they connect more easily with the world (ie, self, nature, God, others, body, history, etc). Unhindered by the labels, status and titles they may have back home, when the day’s obligations are reduced to the basics (walking, eating, and finding a bed), suddenly life seems much easier. As pilgrims lighten their loads mentally, they often describe how their inner worlds also free up giving way to the possibility of greater insight and self-awareness. On the Camino people describe connecting more intensely to everything around them and inside of themselves. Making the pilgrimage to Compostela helps many people discover their own way on the Way – it can be a type of mobile therapy.


The moving story behind the story also involves the heart. When Emilio Estevez introduced the film to the audience he started with a quote: ‘It’s a pleasure to return from whence I came.’ He said, ‘It is the same for Martin and me. Our film is a love letter to Spain. It’s a love letter to Galicia.’ Before Martin Sheen took his stage name he was Ramón Estevez son of a Galician immigrant from Salceda near the coastal town of Pontevedra. Spain remained close to Sheen’s heart and he continued to return to his father’s native land. Seven years ago Sheen invited his family to tour Spain with him. They ended up doing their own road trip of the Camino as they crossed the north of Spain to Galicia. This journey and Sheen’s own faith eventually led them to make their own film about the pilgrimage way and transform it into a tribute to the land of their ancestors. The film is dedicated to Martin Sheen’s father.


Anyone who intimately knows the Camino will find a number of odd edits of landscapes. Emilio Estevez explaines after the premiere that his original movie was 3.5 hours long and he was required to do some creative editing. This is inconsequential to the overall feeling of the film as the scenes selected are visually rich and conjure the depth of beauty of Spain in its many facets (and at its best). They did skip the sections where pilgrims must walk along roadways or wait in lines at refuges but one would expect that type of poetic license. Also, the pilgrims themselves remain remarkably immaculate during much of their pilgrimage, they don’t seem to have any physical problems and Tom tends to charge through the whole Camino with great determination and vitality. I would have softened his pace as his character softens and evolves over the course of the journey. The development and transformation of Sheen’s character is particularly good. We see how the others are deeply touched by the Way but I did wonder how the experience would stay with them over time. Of course, this a major interest of my own (How does the journey impact people in the long-term, if at all?) as I explored in Pilgrim Stories. On and Off the Road to Santiago.

Nancy Frey

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2002 The Pianist

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2011 by sinhaladhamma

THE PIANIST

Directed by Roman Polanski; written by Ronald Harwood, based on the book by Wladyslaw Szpilman; director of photography, Pawel Edelman; edited by Hervé De Luze; music by Wojciech Kilar; production designer, Allan Starski; produced by Mr. Polanski, Robert Benmussa and Alain Sarde WITH: Adrien Brody (Wladyslaw Szpilman), Emilia Fox (Dorota), Michael Zebrowksi (Jurek), Ed Stoppard (Henryk), Maureen Lipman (The Mother), Frank Finlay (The Father), Jessica Kate Meyer (Halina), Julia Rayner (Regina), Ruth Platt (Janina) and Thomas Kretschmann (Capt. Wilm Hosenfeld).


There are heaps of movies based on the Second World War. the 2002 movie Pianist was one of the excellent works of art created by the Maestro Roman Polnski.

“The Pianist” is the story of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a Polish Jew who detailed his survival during WWII. A celebrated composer and pianist, he played the last live music heard over Polish radio airwaves before Nazi artillery hit. During the brutal occupation, he eluded deportation and remained in the devastated Warsaw Ghetto. There he struggled to stay alive even when cast away from those he loved.

FILM REVIEW;
Surviving the Warsaw Ghetto Against Steep Odds
By A. O. SCOTT
Published: December 27, 2002

Roman Polanski’s , ”The Pianist,” is based on the memoirs of Wladyslaw Szpilman, a star of Polish radio and cafe society in the 1930’s and a member of Warsaw’s assimilated Jewish middle class, who lived through the Nazi occupation and the Warsaw ghetto. Szpilman’s recollections, published shortly after the war, offer, like other such books, a deeply paradoxical impression of the Holocaust. Accounts of survival, that is, are both representative and anomalous; they at once record this all but unimaginable historical catastrophe and, without intentional mendacity or inaccuracy, distort it.

The reason for this could not be simpler. Most of the intended victims of Nazi genocide did not survive; the typical Jewish experience in 1940’s Europe was death. One of the main genres that allow later generations access to this time thus presents an inevitably unrepresentative picture of it.

We naturally identify with the protagonists of these books, and the characters based on them in movies and plays, and so imagine that we would have been among the lucky ones, even if the real odds suggest otherwise. (We also comfort ourselves in the vain belief that, had we been there, we would have bravely defied the Nazis, risking our own well-being to help their victims.) When it is not treated with the uneasy sentimentality reserved for miracles, survival — whether through dumb luck, resilience, the kindness of strangers or some combination of these — is often viewed with a deep and bitter sense of the absurd.

Mr. Polanski, who was a Jewish child in Krakow when the Germans arrived in September 1939, presents Szpilman’s story with bleak, acid humor and with a ruthless objectivity that encompasses both cynicism and compassion. When death is at once so systematically and so capriciously dispensed, survival becomes a kind of joke. By the end of the film, Szpilman, brilliantly played by Adrien Brody, comes to resemble one of Samuel Beckett’s gaunt existential clowns, shambling through a barren, bombed-out landscape clutching a jar of pickles. He is like the walking punchline to a cosmic jest of unfathomable cruelty.

Perhaps because of his own experiences, Mr. Polanski approaches this material with a calm, fierce authority. This is certainly the best work Mr. Polanski has done in many years (which, unfortunately, is not saying a lot), and it is also one of the very few nondocumentary movies about Jewish life and death under the Nazis that can be called definitive (which is saying a lot). And — again paradoxically — this is achieved by realizing the modest, deliberate intention to tell a single person’s story, to recreate a specific and finite set of events. (Ronald Harwood’s script does take some necessary liberties with Szpilman’s account, but these seem justified by the demands of movie storytelling.)
The ambition to produce a comprehensive vision — a single spectacle adequate to the Holocaust — ultimately defeated Steven Spielberg’s admirable and serious ”Schindler’s List.” Mr. Polanski, in staging a narrow, partial slice of history, has made a film that is both drier and more resonant than Mr. Spielberg’s.

One of Mr. Polanski’s trademarks is what might be called (to continue multiplying paradoxes) a humane sadism. He has always been fascinated by what happens to weak, ordinary people — Mia Farrow in ”Rosemary’s Baby,” for instance, or Jack Nicholson in ”Chinatown” — when they are intruded upon by evil forces more powerful than they, and he punishes his actors, peeling back their vanity to make them show the face of humanity under duress.

One of Mr. Brody’s most appealing features — from ”King of the Hill” 10 years ago through such varied and underseen pictures as ”Restaurant,” ”Summer of Sam” and ”Bread and Roses” more recently — is his quick-witted, almost smart-alecky cockiness. His Szpilman, in the first section of ”The Pianist,” has the gait of a self-satisfied dandy and the smug smile of a man who takes charm and good fortune as his birthright. As he plays piano in a broadcast studio, an explosion rattles the building. He ducks, wipes some plaster off his sleeve, and keeps playing. Later Szpilman refuses to allow the widespread panic at the German invasion to interfere with more pressing matters, like the seduction of a star-struck young woman named Dorota (Emilia Fox).

History, the occupying Germans and Mr. Polanski then conspire to wipe the smirk off his face. The Nazi takeover is followed by a swift, brutal chronicle of violation and humiliation as the Szpilman family are stripped of their possessions, their dignity (the elderly father, played by Frank Finlay, is beaten by a German soldier for daring to use the sidewalk) and their home. With the other Jews of Warsaw, they are herded into the ghetto, a captive labor force subject to continual culling by disease, starvation and the random violence of their tormentors.

Mr. Polanski, working in Poland for the first time in 40 years (and also in Prague), reconstructs the look and rhythm of life in the ghetto with care and sobriety. You feel the dread and confusion of the inhabitants, and you also observe their intuitive, futile attempts to master the situation — circulating underground newspapers, smuggling contraband through the walls and quietly arming themselves for resistance.
The survival instinct is shown to exist in a weird, numb state that combines defiance and resignation. And Szpilman’s evasion of death involves a curious combination of pluck, passivity and arrogance. He is the only member of his family who avoids being shipped to the extermination camps, and he later manages to escape from the ghetto altogether. During the 1943 ghetto uprising, he is locked in a secure apartment in the gentile part of the city, and he watches helplessly from the window as the partisans begin their brave, doomed resistance to the German occupiers.
From this moment forward ”The Pianist” — which opens today in New York and Los Angeles — becomes a tour de force of claustrophobia and surreal desperation, and Mr. Polanski ruthlessly strips his Szpilman down to the bare human minimum. He is neither an especially heroic nor an entirely sympathetic fellow, and by the end he has been reduced to a nearly animal condition — sick, haggard and terrified. But then the film’s climax offers the most dramatic paradox of all: a glimpse of how the impulses of civilization survive in the midst of unparalleled barbarism. When I first saw this film last spring in Cannes (where it won the Golden Palm), I thought Szpilman’s encounter, in the war’s last days, with a music-loving Nazi officer (Thomas Kretschmann) courted sentimentality by associating the love of art with moral decency, an equation the Nazis themselves, steeped in Beethoven and Wagner, definitively refuted. But on a second viewing, the scene, scored to the ravishing, sorrowful music of Chopin, was a painful and ridiculous testament to just how bizarre the European catastrophe of the last century was.
Szpilman may have been the butt of a monstrous joke, but the last laugh — appropriately deadpan — was his. ”What will you do when this is over?” the officer asks. ”I’ll play piano on Polish radio,” Szpilman replies. Which is exactly what he did until his death two years ago.

2000 BILLY ELLIOT

Posted in Uncategorized on April 18, 2011 by sinhaladhamma

Billi Elliot is One of the finest movies I saw. Acting, Direction go hand in hand. The story of a young boy in desperate economic and social enviorn emerging to achieve an impossible dream. This movie won a host of awards.


STORY: Billy Elliot (Jamie Bell) is any 11-year-old living with his proud miner father (Gary Lewis) and older brother Tony (Jamie Draven) during the political and social unrest of the 1984 miner’s strike. Times are hard – the men of the house spend their days on the picket lines clashing with the police, while Billy navigates the minefield of adolescence and takes care of his increasingly senile grandmother (Jean Heywood).


Determined to forge his son in his own image, Billy’s father sends him for boxing lessons with pal George (Mike Elliot) at the local village hall. Unfortunately, Billy isn’t interested in expressing himself with his fists, he’s much more taken with the ballet lessons next door, run by jaded Mrs Wilkinson (Julie Walters).


When Billy’s old man learns that his son has forsaken boxing gloves for ballet shoes, he is distraught: dancing is not a manly pursuit, certainly not for a miner’s son. Fearful of what his friends might say, Billy’s father bans him from taking classes and searches for a glimmer of hope in the bottom of his beer glass.


One night, during the long trek home from the pub, Billy’s father happens to witness his boy performing a routine for schoolfriend Michael (Stuart Wells). Moved almost to tears by the boy’s passion, Billy’s father suddenly realises that he has let his preconceptions and macho pride cloud his judgement, and sets about raising the money to send his son to London, where the admissions panel of the Royal Ballet awaits.

Beautifully observed and surprisingly free of mawkish sentiment, Billy Elliot is a heartwarming coming-of-age tale that speaks straight from the heart, juxtaposing Billy’s battle of wills with his prejudiced father, with the community’s struggles against the larger forces of the outside world

1996 Michael Collins

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2011 by sinhaladhamma

A Movie based on true events surrounding the life of the Co-founder of IRA was an absorbing creation. Michael Collins plays a crucial role in the establishment of the Irish Free State in the 1920s, but becomes vilified by those hoping to create a completely independent Irish republic. The performance of Liam Neeson was considered the best. It was nominated for two Oscars in 1997

READ A REVIEW

1994 Forest Gump

Posted in Uncategorized on April 14, 2011 by sinhaladhamma

A sentimental simple silly movie which touched all in the audience in 1994. The coming of age of Tom Hanks was the event of the decade.

“Life is Like a Box of Chocalates” his mama told him. because you dont know what you are going to get.

REVIEW

Directed by Robert Zemeckis; written by Eric Roth, based on the novel by Winston Groom; director of photography, Don Burgess; edited by Arthur Schmidt; music by Alan Silvestri; production designer, Rick Carter; produced by Wendy Finerman, Steve Tisch and Steve Starkey; released by Paramount Viacomcoei. Running time: 140 minutes. This film is rated PG-13. WITH: Sally Field, Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Mykelti Williamson and Robin Wright.

 “Forrest Gump” is such an accomplished feat of cyber-cinema that it makes these tricks, not to mention subtler ones, look amazingly seamless. As he did in “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” and the “Back to the Future” films, Robert Zemeckis is bound to leave viewers marveling at the sheer wizardry behind such effects. Even the opening credit sequence, featuring a feather that drifts along a perfectly choreographed trajectory until it reaches its precise destination — a fine visual embodiment of Forrest’s own path through life — is cause for astonishment.

But as with Mr. Zemeckis’s “Death Becomes Her,” the audience won’t simply ask how; it will also wonder why. Structured as Forrest’s autobiography, and centering on his lifelong love for an elusive beauty named Jenny, “Forrest Gump” had the elements of an emotionally gripping story. Yet it felt less like a romance than like a coffee-table book celebrating the magic of special effects.

Luckily, “Forrest Gump” has Tom Hanks, the only major American movie star who could have played Forrest without condescension and without succumbing to the film’s Pollyanna-ish tone. “Let me say this: bein a idiot is no box of chocolates,” says the slow-witted narrator of Winston Groom’s tart, playful novel, on which Eric Roth’s screenplay is based. The film’s Forrest expresses this thought in much more saccharine fashion, announcing that his mother used to say life was like a box of chocolates because “you never know what you’re gonna get.”

 Forrest’s love of Jenny (Robin Wright) is the film’s only unifying thread, but it’s a thread stretched almost to the breaking point. You are sure to watch this story chiefly for its digressions, especially those expressed with Forrest’s comically oblivious powers of description: “Now the really good thing about meetin’ the President of the United States is the food.”

Forrest says this when, having been named an All-American, he visits the President Kennedy in White House and winds up drinking too much Dr. Pepper. Typical of the film’s magic is a brief glimpse of Forrest writhing uncomfortably and telling the President that he has to go to the bathroom, with a naivete that makes Mr. Kennedy chuckle.

The President’s voice sounds authentic, his mouth movements match his movie dialogue, and he and Mr. Hanks appear to be on precisely the same film stock, in the same frame. Special kudos for this go to Ken Ralston, the film’s special-effects supervisor, and to Industrial Light and Magic, pushing the technical envelope further than ever. Superb gamesmanship like this is its own reward, even if it accounts for only a fraction of the film’s screen time and sometimes is allowed to wear thin (a patently phony shot seating Forrest next to John Lennon on the Dick Cavett show, with Mr. Lennon’s small talk consisting of “Imagine” lyrics).

Disabled as a young boy but goaded by his loving Mama (Sally Field) to make the best of his abilities, Forrest eventually becomes a football star, a war hero, a successful businessman and an international Ping-Pong champion. Is Mr. Hanks hitting real Ping-Pong balls at high speed? Or have the balls and whacking sounds been artificially added? By the time this sequence comes around, viewers will have lost all ability to distinguish real images from clever counterfeits. The single most dazzling special effect turns Gary Sinise, as Forrest’s Vietnam friend and subsequent business partner, into a double amputee.

In fact, “Forrest Gump” is  loaded with hit songs and eye-catching costumes that these superficial elements often supplant the narrative. When Forrest, demonstrating the kind of benign whimsy that brings to mind Kurt Vonnegut’s early fiction, decides that he feels like running across America for a couple of years, “Running on Empty,” “It Keeps You Runnin’,” “Go Your Own Way” and “On the Road Again” are all used for musical accompaniment. While en route, he also invents one very popular bumper slogan and the “Have a Nice Day” T-shirt logo.

If Forrest is a holy fool, Mr. Hanks makes his holiness very apparent. Only in this touching, imaginatively childlike performance does the film display any emotional weight. Sitting on a bench at a bus stop during most of the film, eagerly recounting his life story for a succession of strangers, Mr. Hanks’s Forrest has an unerring sincerity and charm. If it’s difficult to reconcile this sweet, guileless performance with the film’s technical obsessiveness (a special satellite was used to track the sun’s position and determine optimum lighting for the film’s outdoor scenes), well, maybe it should be.

Deserving of special mention among the actors are Mykelti Williamson, as the Army buddy who turns out to be a perfect match for Forrest, and Mr. Sinise, whose dark, bitter performance offers an element of surprise. Ms. Wright’s role is structured mostly as a set of costume changes, but she is as strong and resilient as the material requires. Ms. Field, unfazed by the job of playing Mr. Hanks’s mother, charges through the story in flowery, emphatically genteel Southern costumes. Like everything else about “Forrest Gump,” she looks a little too good to be true.

“Forrest Gump” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). It includes brief nudity, sexual references and mild profanity. FORREST GUMP

 

1992 SCENT OF A WOMAN

Posted in Uncategorized on April 13, 2011 by sinhaladhamma

Al Pacino at his best in the 1992 movie. Oooh Haa

Scent of a Woman is both a funny and moving film. Pacino gives a fabulous performance, portraying Frank’s blindness, wit, and gung-ho attitude with incredible skill and precision. Pacino’s convincing work here is a testament to this incredible talent and versatility; just this past October he was equally believable in James Foley’s Glengarry Glen Ross playing a radically different character–a hotshot real estate salesman. This year, Pacino could very well win the Oscar that has long eluded him. He receives effective support from O’Donnell, who gives a likable, albeit slightly stiff, performance as Charlie.

Bo Goldman’s screenplay is witty but far from perfect, its only flaw being an uninspired subplot involving a pending disciplinary action against Charlie. But this one flaw is responsible for stretching Scent‘s running time to a ridiculously unnecessary two hours and thirty-plus minutes. The script also loses its edge near the end, when the film loses its sharp-tongued humor and becomes maudlin and overly melodramatic. But Goldman’s screenplay never becomes a complete disaster, thanks to the vastly interesting and original character of Frank. The character is so flawed that he is never boring; you can’t keep your eyes off of him because he’s so much like a real person.

A funny, impassioned, and all-around enjoyable film, Woman bears the sweet Scent of success.

 

1989 – DAD

Posted in Uncategorized on April 12, 2011 by sinhaladhamma

Dad was a really beautiful family movie. the story of a Son a Father and his son where responsibility and duty is overtaken by Love and devotion.

Jack Lemmon
Jake Tremont
Ted Danson
John Tremont
Olympia Dukakis
Bette Tremont
Kathy Baker
Annie

Full Acting Credits for Dad »

REVIEW

Any movie titled ”Dad,” with Jack Lemmon playing a lovable old codger of 78, would seem to be something to be avoided by everyone except charter members of the Jack Lemmon Fan Clubs of America. It sounds pretty sticky.

The second hour of this two-hour comedy-drama is just that. People smile through tears to the point where a fire hose would seem to be the only way to bring them back to reality. It has two too many potentially fatal illnesses and maybe a half-dozen too many scenes in which one family member clutches another family member and says, ”I love you.”

It is this film’s exhausted notion that those three words, boldly stated with a slight catch in the throat, can wipe out lifetimes of disappointment, sorrow and fury.


”Dad” eventually exceeds one’s worst expectations but – and this is what makes movie reviewers schizophrenic – the first half is quite easy to take, and Mr. Lemmon does a superlative job that is limited only by the tacky material.

”Dad,” which opens today at the Beekman and other theaters, is an awful movie with some exceptionally good things in it. Its origins are significant. ”Dad” is the first theatrical feature to be written and directed by Gary David Goldberg, whose previous credits include the hugely successful, very canny television series ”Family Ties,” from which sprang Michael J. Fox. Though the source material for ”Dad” is a serious novel by William Wharton, who wrote ”Birdy,” the new film’s sensibility is strictly prime time. One-liners alternate with the kind of sentiment better poured over ice cream and topped by a cherry.

Yet the soft-headed screenplay somehow permits the members of the cast to give good performances and, in Mr. Lemmon’s case, a performance that is often something of a wonder.

He plays Jake Tremont, long retired from his blue-collar job at Lockheed and now slipping into contented senility with the help of his tiresomely take-over wife.

She is Bette (Olympia Dukakis), a horror, though Jake doesn’t realize it. Bette tells Jake how much sugar he likes in his coffee. She doles out his pills and drives the car when they go shopping. She is forever loving him through her disapproval.

When these two are on screen together, without the help of too many snappy one-liners, ”Dad” has the air of truth. Dick Smith, the special-effects wizard, has provided the way for Mr. Lemmon with makeup that quietly transforms him without calling attention to the transformation.

Miss Dukakis’s makeup is also effective. The two stars take it from there. Mr. Lemmon walks as if he could feel his bones, though they don’t necessarily hurt. Even his eyeballs seem dim. Miss Dukakis, who is not supposed to be quite so old, walks with purpose on legs that have begun to bow into the shape of a cowboy’s. Her performance would be the equal to Mr. Lemmon’s were it not for the maddening dialogue. This sounds as if it had been written especially for her, at least for her image as the Bea Arthur of the Big Screen.

The members of the supporting cast are also good, particularly Ted Danson as Jake and Bette’s son, a Wall Street wheeler-dealer and himself the father of a son who is as strange to him as he is to Jake. Kevin Spacey, who appeared with Mr. Lemmon in the Broadway production of ”Long Day’s Journey Into Night,” is vivid and funny in the small role of Jake and Bette’s son-in-law.
That is the good news. Absolutely all of it.

The rest of ”Dad” is composed of a series a harrowing situations about terminal illnesses and family relationships that sound more and more phony as the film becomes more serious. Instead of moving the audience, Mr. Goldberg achieves the kind of effect that Jack Benny got when he played his violin.
The flesh crawls.

”Dad,” which has been rated PG (”Parental Guidance Suggested”), includes material about illness and death that could disturb very young children. Contented Senility And a Tiresome Wife DAD, direction and screenplay by Gary David Goldberg, based on the novel by William Wharton; director of photography, Jan Kiesser; film editor, Eric Sears; music by James Horner; production designer, Jack DeGovia; produced by Joseph Stern and Mr. Goldberg; released by Universal Pictures. At Beekman, 65th Street at Second Avenue, and other theaters. Running time: 117 minutes. This film is rated PG. Jake Tremont … Jack Lemmon John Tremont … Ted Danson Bette Tremont … Olympia Dukakis Annie … Kathy Baker Mario … Kevin Spacey Billy … Ethan Hawke Dr. Chad … Zakes Mokae


NEWYORK TIMES REVIEW

Win
  • First Prize – 1989 National Media Owl
Nomination
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy – Jack Lemmon – 1989 Hollywood Foreign Press Association
  • Best Makeup – Ken Diaz – 1989 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  • Best Makeup – Greg [mu] Nelson – 1989 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  • Best Makeup – Dick [act] Smith – 1989 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences