The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Ant-Man and the Wasp
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All Critics (21)
| Top Critics (1)
| Fresh (19)
| Rotten (2)
| DVD (1)
Hypnotic shots of asphalt echo Two-Lane Blacktop, Easy Rider and other American road movies while forging its own human path - not of counterculture, but of connection.
Affectionately good-humoured as much of the observation is... the film's eye is, if never savage, then sometimes at least moderately scathing.
Everything is all right really -- it tells us -- as long as there are good guys like Melvin to add a little human decency and a touch of naive fun to the great game show of life. I found this melancholy, however, rather than inspiring.
Shambling yet delicate, Demme's screwball tall tale gazes at TV contests and novelty ballads and sees not derisive kitsch but the warm connective tissue of human yearning
A limp biopic with wooden performances and an uninteresting premise.
The most engaging portrayal of Howard Hughes on film is not by Howard Hughes -- it's by Jason Robards, Jr. in Melvin and Howard.
Some great, reverberant moments.
The film offers a bittersweet commentary about chasing the American Dream of monetary success abd mobility and the constant attempt to rise above one's situation by naive and optimistic charcaters, not fully aware of their class limitations.
Delightful in the affection it shows for its characters.
Very few movies are set so convincingly in America's working class. I believed, and liked, Melvin Dummar, milkman of the month, bargainer in good faith with the universe.
Top-notch screwball drama.
After picking up a random hitchhiker who claims to be Howard Hughes, a truck driver goes on with the rest of his boring life until he finds out that Hughes left him a fortune.
This film should be called Melvin because Howard appears for ten minutes and his presence is felt for about twenty. And the problem is that Melvin is a terribly boring character. He has a job problem and a love problem, but these aren't interesting conflicts, and frankly, Melvin is a douche. When he gets Howard's inheritance in the final act, it's a stroke of good fortune for a guy who could've withered away without anyone noticing.
Overall, I'm surprised that Jonathan Demme is capable of Philadelphia and Silence of the Lambs but also capable of this and Rachel Getting Married.
"Melvin and Howard" is a charming but mediocre dramedy based on fact. Melvin Dummar is a Utah man (he is still alive) who claimed in 1976 to have received a hand-written will authored by Howard Hughes, in which he, Dummar, was named one of the beneficiaries of Hughes's estate.
This happened just four years after another man, Clifford Irving, claimed to be collaborating with Mr. Hughes (who died in 1976) on an authorized autobiography. Hughes, who by then was a complete recluse, eventually came out publicly and stated that Irving's story was a hoax. This triggered a wave of fascination with hoaxes and forgeries. (See Orson Welles's terrible 1973 semi-documentary "F for Fake," which contains a lot of footage of Irving.)
"Melvin and Howard" presents the Dummar story as if it were true. Bo Goldman, who won an Oscar for the screenplay, imagines what Dummar's life must have been like. Mary Steenburgen, who won a Supporting Actress Oscar for her work in the film, plays Dummar's wife.
Goldman and director Jonathan Demme (this was Demme's sixth film) present Dummar and his wife as semi-retarded. But somehow it comes across as an affectionate portrayal.
There's a lot that's charming about the film. It captures the milieu of down-and-out Western folk as well as "Five Easy Pieces" did, but with more comedy than tragedy. But both the comedy and drama are pretty light. I just kind of sat there limply watching it. Almost everything about it is flaccid.
(Just incidentally, 1980 was the year of "Raging Bull," "Coal Miner's Daughter," "The Elephant Man," and "Ordinary People," which won the Oscar for Best Picture -- four of my all-time favorite films. What a good year for film.)
This movie weird-ed me out. Robards doesn't have much screen time though his character is part of the title. La Mat plays a really odd guy who I didn't understand much. And Mary Steenburgen plays a stripper!? She thinks she dances really well and supposedly everyone around her gives her positive feedback, but she doesn't. I guess it's kind of funny, but not really, to watch all these sad hopeless people.
I am on a huge Robards kick here lately. He gives another amazing performance and he's not even in half the movie. Paul LeMat is great as Melvin whose life is one of the most entertaining train wrecks I have had the pleasure of watching. Mary Steenburger is outstanding as Le Mat's twice married and then twice divorced wife. (The scene in the strip club and on the game show are hilarious). I thought the writing and direction were really well done and I see how Demme influenced directors like PTA. It's quirky (in a good way), funny, sad, with a great anti hero at the center that you hate one minute and end up respecting at the end. A nice gem of a movie that I highly suggest everyone see.
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