Tag Archives: Michael Murphy

Oliver Stone – Salvador (1986)

The film tells the story of an American journalist covering the Salvadoran civil war who becomes entangled with both leftist guerrillas and the right wing military. The film is sympathetic towards the left wing revolutionaries and strongly critical of the U.S.-supported death squads, focusing on their murder of four American churchwomen, including Jean Donovan, and their assassination of Archbishop Óscar Romero.
The film was nominated for two Academy Awards: Best Actor in a Leading Role (Woods) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen (Stone and Boyle). Read More »

Michael Laughlin – Strange Behavior AKA Dead Kids (1981)

Back in the 80s, Roger Ebert derisively referred to slashers as “Dead Teenager Movies,” so the title Dead Kids feels like a nice thumb to the eye. Even if it isn’t, it’s still a fucking great title that tells you all you need to know: there be dead kids here (and of course, American distributors got squeamish and renamed it Strange Behavior). An Ozploitation flick by way of New Zealand, Dead Kids is a deceptive entry in the slasher cycle since it merely poses as a typical splatter film before setting off on its own tangents. Per usual, you can’t expect Australians to do anything straightforward. We love them for that, though. Read More »

Paul Mazursky – An Unmarried Woman (1978)

Erica is unmarried only temporarily in that her successful, wealthy husband of seventeen years has just left her for a girl he met while buying a shirt in Bloomingdale’s. The film shows Erica coming to terms with the break-up while revising her opinions of herself, redefining that self in its own right rather than as an extension of somebody else’s personality, and finally going out with another man. Erica refuses to drop everything for Saul, an abstract expressionist painter, simply out of love for him because he expects her to. It is not so much loneliness that is her problem, and the problems that men, flitting around this newly “available” woman like moths round a flame, bring to her sense of independence. Read More »

Robert Altman – Tanner on Tanner (2004)

“No one likes to dwell on past failures, but it’s good to see Jack Tanner back again. As a Democratic presidential candidate in the 1988 race, Tanner seemed hopelessly outmatched, a dark horse trailing the pack. But as an ex-candidate returning to the Democratic National Convention in 2004, Tanner is blissfully outside the fray, and while we’re following him, we are as well. Read More »

Bob Kelljan – Count Yorga, Vampire (1970)

Sixties couples Michael and Donna and Paul and Erica become involved with the intense Count Yorga at a Los Angeles séance, the Count having latterly been involved with Donna’s just-dead mother. After taking the Count home, Paul and Erica are waylaid, and next day a listless Erica is diagnosed by their doctor as having lost a lot of blood. When she is later found feasting on the family cat the doctor becomes convinced vampirism is at work, and that its focus is Count Yorga and his large isolated house. Read More »

Woody Allen – Manhattan (1979)

On the heels of Annie Hall, the Oscar-winning romantic comedy that rocketed Woody Allen to the front ranks of American filmmakers, Manhattan continued Allen’s romantic obsessions in a darker, more pessimistic vein.

Allen stars as Isaac Davis, a TV writer sick of the pap he is forced to churn out and harboring dreams of being the great American novelist. His love life is in barbed-wire territory: he is tormented by his ex-wife Jill (Meryl Streep in one of her first screen roles), a lesbian who has written a tell-all book about their marriage, and he is dating teenager Tracy (Mariel Hemingway), who is disenchanted with his snobbish putdowns and refusal to commit himself. Read More »