Welcome to William Schoell's GREAT OLD MOVIES blog. Feel free to leave a comment regardless of the date the review was posted -- I read 'em all. Or if you prefer -- and especially if you have any questions directly for me -- email me at tawses67424@mypacks.net and I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Click on a label link (labels can be found at the bottom of each post) to find other movies from that year, the star, that director or genre and so on. Or enter a title, director, genre, star or supporting player in the small Blogger "search blog" box at the far left up above and click search blog. [NOTE: While this blog mostly reviews films -- and TV shows -- that are at least twenty-five years old, we do cover films up until the present day.] HAVE FUN AND THANKS FOR DROPPING BY. William.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Josh Hamilton and Winona Ryder deserve better

THE LETTER (2012). Writer/director: Jay Anania.

Here's how not to make a movie. According to IMDB.com, Jay Anania "heads the directing program at the graduate film school at New York University" and actor James Franco was one of his students. Which is probably how Franco, a talented actor, wound up in this mess along with a bunch of other talented actors, including Winona Ryder [who's gotten even prettier with the years]. She plays Martine [who is apparently directing her own play, it is never quite made clear] and who invites strange Tyrone (Franco) to join the cast. The other actors in the play-within-the-movie are Martine's boyfriend Raymond (Josh Hamilton), Anita (Marin Ireland), and Julie (Katherine Waterston -- and yes she's the daughter of Sam Waterston). Tyrone is a little obnoxious, and the others are confused by Martine's obvious lack of directing skills and her abrupt changes to the play. The only interesting development has to do with a woman who interviews Martine, who is later told by police officers that she was hit by a car and is in a coma; yet she calls Martine the next day and apparently nothing happened. Huh? Martine is unraveling, seeming to have a nervous breakdown, and there's a last minute explanation for her actions. Even if you hadn't been misled into believing The Letter was a suspense film or thriller by the promotion, you would still be disappointed by this basically plot-less and pointless exercise in minimalism. One shudders to think what kind of dreadful movies the students at NYU will be churning out with Anania as their teacher! The Letter is deliberately paced, to say the least, and tedious to the extreme, with no pay-off of any kind. Anania wastes five good actors who should have been given a real storyline to emote for. How on earth did this ever get released?

Verdict: This would probably be a complete bore even if you watched the whole thing on fast forward. It gets * strictly for the acting and for a depressing but somewhat evocative score. Watch William Wyler's The Letter if you want to see a real movie!

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