|Rating: The Good – 82.9
Duration: 134 mins
Director: Robert Rossen
Stars: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie
Paul Newman gives a tour de force performance in this darkly affecting drama about a pool hall hustler determined to prove that he’s the best regardless of all costs. The Hustler has many strengths, but the dialogue and the acting deserve the most credit. Newman is in fine form as Fast Eddie Felson and even his pool work looks up to the pace. Jackie Gleeson is stylish and effortlessly charismatic as Minnesota Fats, Piper Laurie is outstanding as Felson’s depressed girlfriend, and George C. Scott is perfectly sinister as Felson’s ruthless manager. The pool scenes give this otherwise dark drama a real electricity and watching the two titans glide around the table locked in a combat of artistry and wit is a real treat.
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|Rating: The Good – 90.5
Duration: 98 mins
Director: Brian De Palma
Stars: Sissy Spacek, Piper Laurie, Amy Irving
Brian De Palma brings Stephen King’s horror classic to life with bags of wit and style in this seminal addition to the horror movie genre. From the very opening shot we see that De Palma’s innovative style and penchant for long slow tracking shots are perfectly suited to telling the story of a troubled high school girl who spends her days being bullied in school and her evenings being psychologically abused by her fanatically religious mother. A target for her classmates’ cruelty and a vessel for her mother’s self-delusions, Carrie is about to blow and given that she has recently discovered that she can move objects with her mind, neither is going to want to be around when she does.
Carrie is a case of inspired writing and screen adaptation (kudos Lawrence D. Cohen) being brought to life by a confident young director who was (along with others of his generation) both heavily influenced by the old maestros yet also changing the shape of modern cinema with bold new ideas and innovations. And Carrie is chock-full of both. This film glides along and shifts almost effortlessly in tone from seriously dark and creepy in places to whimsical, carefree, and downright fun in others (just check out that tux-buying scene). Pino Donaggio’s score helps hugely in the latter instances but really comes into its own when Carrie is using her powers.
Sissy Spacek is phenomenally good in the title role given that the two sides to her character’s personality were so disparate. William Katt’s always positive presence brings a ray of sunshine the party and Nancy Allen and John Travolta are excellent together as two of the twisted bullies. Of course Piper Laurie is just plain scary as Carrie’s mother and adds that final touch of class needed to elevate this masterpiece into the high echelons of great cinema.
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