Variety - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Variety Reviews

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June 5, 2016
Variety is an important film for many reasons. It explores detachment, boredom, and voyeurism in ways never shown in a movie. The story centers around Christine (Sandy McLeod) taking a job as a ticket taker at a NYC porn theater, and how her life is transformed by the people, environment, and culture as a whole. Lesser films have mined similar territory by focusing on women "unlocking their sexual desires" and invariably deteriorating into soft core titillation. Variety ends up closer to Susan Seidelman's Smithereens or Desperately Seeking Susan than late night cable fare. Slapping the term "feminist" on a film is frustratingly non-specific, but Variety is told from a certain "feminine" point of view, and how a woman can feel and act when placed in a certain situation. Christine is operating on instinct and impulse; letting the new world around her change how she interfaces with her old life and how she views herself. Fascinating not only for the stark NY/NJ street scenes circa 1983, but how the director Bette Gordon reveals a character study of someone whose actions some of us may not relate to, but whose willingness to give into self-exploration wherever that road may lead is thought provoking nonetheless.
½ October 18, 2014
Worst movies ever (ranked from most boring to least boring):

1. variety
2. water world
3. battlefield earth

'nuff said
January 10, 2014
One of the pioneering wagon-train movies of the inaugural, New York-based independent film movement. Part richly atmospheric foray into the pre-Giuliani Times Square peepshow scene, part dull and dated take on sexual obsession, Bette Gordon's 1983 film Variety is notable mainly for telling the story of the complex, not altogether negative role pornography plays in a woman's self-discovery.
½ January 18, 2013
A sleazy masterpiece or a masterpiece about sleaze.
Super Reviewer
½ January 16, 2011
The story sounded interesting, but the movie is too slow and boring, I couldn't stand it.
April 29, 2009
This is an intermittently interesting movie far more concerned with mood than plot, which is sometimes a problem since it also concerns itself with being a neo-noir. Bette Gordon does have a feminist angle here with a protagonist who goes down into the porn underworld with a job as a ticket window of a Times Square porn theater (yeah, it's the 80s), but after a strong start she goes into a modus operondi that is at times intriguing (that scene where she looks at the screen in the movie theater seeing herself and the middle-aged "businessman"), at times really annoying (Sandy McLeod's very bad recitation of lines, as opposed to real acting, when giving the synopses of the porn movies to uncomfortable Will Patton), and at times just quite dull (she walks around following this mysterious man with possible criminal ties... but why, and what does it lead to?)

Bottom line, when Luis Guzman steals the show, you've got um.. something weird and not always successful. It's respectable, just not very memorable. Taxi Driver for chicks it is NOT.
September 20, 2008
so many good / interesting ideas....and music by John Lure....and Spalding Grey, and Luis Guzman....overly long with some really dicey acting....could've been really great....
September 2, 2008
Tolerable film; in its own way, rather like Downtown 81 (the Basquiat film) in that its value is largely as a document of the many creative people thriving in the '80s L.E.S. scene (Acker, Goldin, John Lurie, etc.).
½ May 24, 2008
Gordon's film is chock full of great ideas. If I were to judge it solely by the essay that Kino includes on the DVD, I'd say it was one of the most provocative releases of the 80s. Sadly, despite all of the gender role reversals, the elliptical neo-noir sequences and the lack of moralizing, her film feels unfocused. I can appreciate long takes and attempts to acquaint the viewer with the tedium of real life, but this could've been a far more effective short subject. It starts to get repetitive rather than delving deeper into its subject matter. It's a shame. This was such an intriguing concept.
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