• Stanley Kubrick is known as a passionate filmmaker, but with BARRY LYNDON he seems to have expended most of his passion on backgrounds, settings and camera angles. Very little emotional involvement is left over for the characters that populate this hermetically sealed, 18th century time capsule. For what may go down in history as the ultimate baroque movie, Kubrick inexplicably has chosen to spend $11 million to adapt a minor novel by William Thackeray, which details the adventures and misfortunes of a shallow, unprincipled and ultimately dull young social climber. Ryan O'Neal delivers a physically energetic, emotionally damped performance as Barry; the fault lies not in the characterization, but in the character. Marisa Berenson, with only 13 lines in the entire three-hour movie, looks pretty but does little significant acting as the solitary, melancholy Lady Lyndon. Patrick Magee as O'Neal's gambling partner, and Hardy Kruger as his commanding officer, turn in capable supporting performances. The plot is episodic, sweeping from Ireland across northern Europe as Barry becomes a soldier, then a gambler, and finally a would-be nobleman. John Alcott's cinematography is effective in evoking a sense of time, place and mood, serving additionally to distract attention from the everyday characters to the more interesting surroundings. Barry Lyndon may ultimately be remembered more for its visual artistry than for its subject matter. Rated "PG."—Charles F. Barr
• Neil Simon's latest film adaptation, THE SUNSHINE BOYS, is a considerable improvement over his previous outing, The Prisoner of Second Avenue. Walter Matthau heads a capable cast as an irascible old ex-vaudevillian, trying endlessly and hopelessly to make a comeback. George Burns makes the most of his first movie role in 36 years, as Matthau's former partner who broke up the act by retiring years ago (for which Matthau has never forgiven him). The casting is right, the dialogue is well-timed, and the direction is businesslike. What's missing in the movie is a sense of urgency. The plot concerns an attempt to reunite the team one last time for a television appearance. But despite the blood, sweat, tears and contortions put on by Richard Benjamin, as Matthau's nephew and the catalyst behind the reunion, there never really seems to be that much at stake; neither money nor pride are on the line. However, the movie does have its moments: a jittery face-to-face confrontation between the two ex-partners, their first in 11 years; a rehearsal in which they are forced to share the same dressing room, even though they refuse to talk to each other; and a conversation between Benjamin and Burns that is almost a continuous non-sequitur. Simon's peppery one-liners, scattered liberally throughout the movie, are genuinely funny and help bridge many of the dull spots. The Sunshine Boys doesn't quite make it as a story, but as a character study it works very well. Rated "PG." —C.F.B.
• The Campus Studies Institute has a bestselling libertarian paperback (100,000 the first year) in The Incredible Bread Machine. Now they have made a 32-minute, color, 16mm movie, THE INCREDIBLE BREAD MACHINE based on the book.
The results are devastating. Here is a fast-paced, no-holds-barred assault on statism. Scene: the state seizes an Amish farmer's horses for refusing to pay Social Security taxes. Scene: the state lays siege to the home of a man who, rifle in hand, refuses to yield to eminent domain. Scene: The parking lot where the home once stood. Scene: Narcotics agents break into a home, terrorize the family, smash the furniture, and discover they are in the wrong house. Scene: Murray Rothbard speaks of the wonders of government housing while seated before films of the government blowing up government housing. And on and on.
The film makes effective use of dialogue. No one preaches to the audience. Instead, young people rap about freedom, rights, socialism, and the market. The overall effect is to stimulate an interest in libertarian ideas.
You won't find this film in your neighborhood theater. However, it is available from the Campus Studies Institute, 11722 Sorrento Valley Road, San Diego, CA 92121. If you want to turn some people on, or just have a rousing good time, get a copy for your group. —Brian Summers