Tag Archives: Anthony Hopkins

A Change of Seasons (1980)

a change of seasons 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Everybody has a fling.

Adam (Anthony Hopkins) a middle-aged college professor who starts having an affair with a beautiful young student of his named Lindsey (Bo Derek). When his wife Karyn (Shirley MacLaine) finds out about it she decides to get her revenge by having an affair of her own with a handyman named Pete (Michael Brandon). All four decided to take a ski trip together while staying in the same house with each spouse sleeping with their new found lover. Despite a few hiccups things go surprisingly well until their college-aged daughter Kasey (Mary Beth Hurt) shows up who is none too thrilled with her parent’s new arrangement. Then Lindsey’s father (Edward Winter) appears who, after initially being shocked at the tawdry set-up, eventually adjusts and then makes a play for Karyn as well.

Although the film’s trailer and poster makes this thing look like a madcap farce it really isn’t and despite a comical set-up veers surprisingly towards the dramatic most of the way. To some extent it kind of works and I enjoyed some of the dialogue that tries to dig a bit deeper than most of the other mid-life crisis films as it analyzes why otherwise happily married men would jeopardize their union by having a mindless fling and somehow expecting to successfully juggle both relationships. However, it would have worked much better had it stayed with the comical route. Some of the funny scenarios don’t get played out enough and with such goofy characters and situations it’s hard to take it seriously even when it wants to culminating in an uneven mix of a movie that never quite hits its stride.

There are also certain scenes that don’t make much sense in either the comical or dramatic vein. One involves Adam admitting to Karyn about his affair and instead of her becoming enraged and either throwing him out or leaving they spend the rest of the night calmly discussing it and even going to bed together, which seemed highly unlikely to occur in real-life. The way Karyn hooks-up with Pete is equally stupid as he waltzes into her house unannounced and starts making himself some coffee and breakfeast. When Karyn comes downstairs to find this stranger in her home she doesn’t panic and call the police like a normal person would, but instead after a very brief conversation invites him upstairs for sex.

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Hopkins gives and excellent performance and the main reason the film stays afloat and is passable to watch. The way his character is forced to face his own contradictions and flaws is good and the scene where he catches Karyn with Pete is well acted on his part and makes the segment more interesting than it otherwise would have been. Winter is great as well and gives the best performance of his career where his initial shock at discovering their living arrangement is genuinely funny.

The only weak link of the cast is Derek. Yes, she certainly looks great naked and the opening sequence featuring her and Hopkins in the hot tub is okay on the erotic level, but her acting is overall quite poor and her monotone delivery eventually becomes annoying.

Overall the theme is too derivative from many other films that have tackled the same subject making this one hardly worth the effort to seek out. In fact MacLaine starred in another film that very same year entitled Loving Couples that has pretty much the exact same storyline and that one will be reviewed next week.

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My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: December 1, 1980

Runtime: 1Hour 42Minutes

Rated R

Director: Richard Lang

Studio: 20th Century Fox

Available: VHS, DVD

The White Bus (1967)

the white bus 1

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Bizarre tour through Manchester.

Patricia Healey plays a young lady who is never given any name that is bored with her job and looking for a diversion. While walking through some of the slum sections of the city she comes upon a white double-deck tour bus headed by the Mayor (Arthur Lowe) promising to show her the exciting areas of town. The tour group visits a factory, library and even witness a civil service drill of people saving victims from burning buildings that had been attacked during an unnamed war. In the end the young lady breaks from the group and goes wandering the streets herself looking into windows of homes where she learns a lot more about ‘the real’ city that she lives in that the tour bus could never show.

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This short film, which only runs 45 minutes was directed by Lindsay Anderson who later went on to collaborate with Malcolm McDowell in the classic if…., O Lucky Man! and Britannia Hospital. Anderson’s films were known for their surreal qualities, absurd situations and bizarre characters. This film proves to be no exception and part of the fun of watching the movie is never knowing what strange thing will happen next.  There are some weird moments for sure including the young lady envisioning herself hanging by the neck from a rope connected to the rafters of the ceiling at her job while the cleaning crew obliviously works around the dead body like it is not there. To me though the best moment is when she witnesses a group of people pushing a polio victim inside an iron lung through a lonely train station.

The film is mostly done in black-and-white, but occasionally for no reason or warning will flip over to color for a few seconds and then back to black-and-white again. These intervals become more frequent towards the middle of the film, but then go back to all black-and-white during the final fifteen minutes. In some ways I found this to be diverting and interesting initially, but eventually it became distracting and pointless.

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Healy does well in the lead and speaks only 9 words of dialogue through the whole thing. Her prominent light blue eyes look like emeralds and she exudes a nice detached quality where she at times seems a confused and curious about her surroundings as the viewer. Classic British character actor Lowe offers some moments of levity as he leads the group through a library while expounding on his opinions about ‘dirty books’.

This movie also marks the film debut of Anthony Hopkins, but to be honest I couldn’t spot him anywhere. Supposedly he can be seen in the background of one scene singing a song in German, but I couldn’t find it. I even went back through the scene selections re-watching moments that had some singing, but I still didn’t see him. If anyone knows exactly where he appears in the film and could let me know I would be forever grateful.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Alternate Title: Red, White and Zero

Released: December 9, 1967

Runtime: 46Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Lindsay Anderson

Studio: United Artists Corporation

Available: DVD (MGM Limited Edition Collection), Amazon Instant Video

Audrey Rose (1977)

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By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Dead daughter gets reincarnated.

On October 3rd, 1965 at precisely 8:20AM a young Audrey Rose dies in a fiery car crash. At 8:22AM on that same day Ivy (Susan Swift) is born to Janice and Bill Templeton (Marsha Mason, John Beck). Several years later after talking to a couple of psychics Audrey’s father Elliot (Anthony Hopkins) becomes convinced that his dead daughter has been reincarnated in the body of Audrey. When he approaches Ivy’s parents about it they scoff and then when he tries to take her they have him arrested. He then goes on trial where he tries to get 12 jurors to believe that reincarnation is a reality.

Based on the Frank De Felitta novel, and who also wrote the screenplay, this odd hybrid of a horror film never really takes-off.  Director Robert Wise does a terrific job of capturing the Manhattan skyline and a late 70’s New York City ambience as well as the gorgeous classic paintings that line the ceiling of Janice’s and Bill’s apartment, but he has a story that is light on action. The restrained and genteel narrative creates a film that seems more like a conventional drama than a horror film despite a storyline that is brimming with supernatural elements.

Every effort is made to keep the proceedings as realistic as possible only to have the entire second hour delving into a court room drama with a defense strategy that is so outlandish it becomes almost ludicrous. Having Elliot become convinced of the reincarnation through talking to psychics is another weak point. The few so-called psychics that I have been to have proven to be inaccurate and unreliable and most people that I know have had the same experience. In the past few years several famous psychics have been outed in the media as being frauds and charlatans. Having the film treat these people like they are a reliable source puts the entire premise on poor footing from the very beginning.

Mason can play a distraught and beleaguered character about as well as anyone and her teary-eyed presence helps give the film a few extra points. Beck is also good as her husband and their contrasting personalities and approaches to the situation add an interesting subtext.

Not to necessarily sound cruel but Swift as the young girl has a big pair of buggy eyes that to me became more of a distraction as it went along. Also, with her long brown hair she starts to resemble the Linda Blair character from The Exorcist, which was a far more intense, scary, and exciting film than this one. The producers would have done well to have cast a blonde or redhead in the role simply to avoid the comparison.

The scares are almost non-existent and the only slightly spooky moment is the scene where Swift looks into a mirror and chants the Audrey Rose name repeatedly, which is the only time where her buggy eyes come into good use. The several scenes showing her running around the place and banging onto the widows while screaming become old pretty fast. The direction is slick and the production values good. It is compelling enough to be entertaining, but the ending is very unsatisfying and as a thriller it is transparent and unmemorable.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: April 6, 1977

Runtime: 1Hour 53Minutes

Rated PG

Director: Robert Wise

Studio: United Artists

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video