Category Archives: John Lehman

Laura-“A Film Classic”


Laura, with Gene Tierney, Dana Andrews, Clifton Webb and Vincent Price. Directed by Sandra Lindo and Otto Preminger

JOHN: I saw this movie first when I was a kid and still remember parts of it.

SPANKY: It is haunting, especially when the police detective falls asleep in Laura’s apartment (she has supposedly been murdered) and wakes up to her alive, standing in front of him.

JOHN: The plot is twisted but makes sense. And the black and white, at least in the Netflix revival, gives the whole thing dream-like mystery and old-fashioned movie glamour. We just don’t experience these anymore.

SPANKY: Vincent price is effective and somewhat subdued and the rest of the cast is just right for the story.

JOHN: The ending also leaves you thinking. The murder of the actual girl is done out of love for Laura. And we, the audience, and the smitten detective, have that same protective feeling, don’t we?

SPANKY: Makes you think about it…for sixty years.

SPANKY: 4 Barks out of 4    JOHN:  4 GOs out of 4



Scoop – “Magic Trick”


SPANKY: Nice to watch a movie we just sat through a few months ago.

JOHN: But don’t really remember, because…

SPANKY: Because you were so taken with Scarlet Johansson you didn’t remember anything else.

JOHN: This is a Woodly Allen movie in which he was breaking away from Manhattan. He plays a two-bit magician and Scarlet’s would-be father. Continue reading

Inside Llewyn Davis – “Out of Tune”

Devil's Lake 2013Inside Llewyn Davis 

JOHN: This is one of the worst movies I have seen in years.

SPANKY: And you’ve probably seen some bad ones, I know I have.

JOHN: It played at the Sundance in Madison for maybe a week. I wanted to go because, not only was it a Coen brother’s movie, but also it was about a folk singer in Greenwich Village at the start of the sixties. I went there in 1959 to be a folk singer myself. Continue reading




(director: Bille August; screenwriters: Ann Biderman /from the novel by Peter Hoeg; cinematographer: Jorgen Persson; editor: Janius Billeskov; cast: Julia Ormond (Smilla Jaspersen), Gabriel Byrne (the Mechanic), Richard Harris (Tork), Robert Loggia (Moritz Johnson), Vanessa Redgrave (Elsa Lubing), Jim Broadbent (Lagermann), Tom Wilkinson (Professor Loyen), Clipper Miano (Isaiah), Emma Croft (Benja), Bob Peck (Ravn)

JOHN: What sticks with you, long after the movies is over, is the face of Julia Ormond. Both haunting and torn, for a brief moment at the end of the film it transfigures into the young boy, her friend in the Denmark apartment, who jumped from the roof.

SPANKY: The plot of the movie is bad SF but it is moments such as these that explore real mystery. The context—unexplained death, a friend who might not be a friend, the wonder of Greenland, past and present—set the stage. But the real movie is her face.

JOHN: How many films, good films are self contained? How few stay with you as you drive home, or weeks later?

SPANKY: John and I believe the audience is an underappreciated partner in a story. Producers, studios, directors who have put millions into a movie don’t want to take a chance. Occasionally, for whatever reason, a novel or a movie does.

JOHN: Like footprints in the snow. It jumps off the roof. The face we see at the end is our own.

4 Barks out of 4, 4 GOs out of 4

Enough Said – “A Real Movie About Real Situations”

Enough Said

Enough Said

JOHN: I was going to review another movie, a French mystery, that was good but confusing. Then I watched this film.

 SPANKY: In English, right?

JOHN: Yes, but it was so down to earth, so adult in theme (about second marriage, about children leaving home, adult friendship, about an attractive woman and a not so attractive man she is dating).

SPANKY: And these things are related?

JOHN: As they are in real life, not in any Hollywood kind of way, but as we experience them and then lose ourselves in romantic fantasies.

SPANKY: So, why not just experience it? Why go to a movie about it? Continue reading

Memento—“I am chasing someone, or they are chasing me.”


Memento, Christopher Nolan director, 2001

JOHN:  I can’t believe we haven’t reviewed this film. I’ve seen it at least five or six times. It is intriguing, if not unsettling.

SPANKY: That’s putting it mildly. It is like walking down a city street late at night, catching different glimpses of yourself in Continue reading

 Smoke – “New York, New York”


DIRECTED BY: Wayne Wang , Paul Auster, 1995

JOHN: As someone growing up in Chicago, I always pictured New York would just be like a bigger Chicago. It’s not.

SPANKY: Interesting, John, but not quite a movie review.

JOHN: I’ll get to that. When my daughter went to NYU for acting and lived in the East Village, I would visit and be so impressed that people felt a need to pull together. Maybe because it was show business (“If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.”) or Continue reading