Sunday, November 23, 2008


Warren Beatty's 1981 film "Reds" is arguably one of the best epics of all-time. It is one. It isn't the same kind as "Lawrence of Arabia." Instead, it is more of a performance-driven romantic drama, headlined by a spectacular performance by Warren Beatty as communist John Reed, a man who is so heavily devoted to his party that he seems rarely to have time for his wife, Louise Bryant, played quite as splendidly as he by Diane Keaton, who got a Best Actress nod as well as his Best Actor nod. Also making an appearance is Maureen Stapleton, in an Oscar-winning turn, as Emma Goldman. But the one who steals that show is Jack Nicholson, in his best performance since "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," as Eugene O'Neill, who he portrays as a heartbroken lover of Bryant, and the scene where he finds out she chose Reed over him is one of the movie's highlights. The other highlights include Beatty and Trevor Griffith's screenplay, filled with hilarious lines that Beatty and Nicholson recite to the max, and fantastic cinematography by Vittorio Storaro (winner of an Academy Award for his great job) that captures the barren snowscapes of Russia and the beauty of Provincetown. The great thing about this movie is that it is long, but not unbearably long, and it is watchable. I know a little bit about this because I've seen films that are a half an hour shorter that seem much, much longer in mental time. This film is just about perfect, making the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution interesting and also adding quirks such as the humorous song "I Don't Want to Play in Your Yard," that is a real charmer. As for other notables, a supporting performance by Paul Sorvino as Louis Fraina as the leader of the Communist Party in America (Reed headed the Communist Labor Party), and also an uncredited cameo by Gene Hackman. Bottom line: this film will go down in history as a great epic, with the likes of "Schindler's List," and "Lawrence of Arabia." A

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