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A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Joseph L. Mankiewicz |||
Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Mankiewicz directed 20 films in a 26-year period, and was very successful at every kind of film, from Shakespeare to western, drama to musical, epics to two-character pictures, and regardless of the genre, he was known as a witty dialogist, a master in the use of flashback and a talented actors' director.

The 1950 Oscar for Best Picture and Screenplay brought Mankiewicz wide recognition as a writer and a director, with his sardonic look at show business glamour and the empty lives behind it. This well orchestrated cast of brilliant and catty character actors is built around veteran actress Bette Davis and Anne Baxter as her understudy desperate for stardom.

One of Mankiewicz’ more intimate films, this highly regarded and major artistic achievement is a spirited romantic comedy set in England of the 1880’s about a widow who moves into a haunted seashore house and resists the attempts of a sea captain specter to scare her away. This is a pleasing and poignant romance that is equally satisfying as a good old ghost story.

Mankiewicz wrote and directed this witty dissection of matrimony that has three women review the ups and downs of their marriages (with all its romance, fears and foibles) after receiving a letter telling them that one of their husbands has been unfaithful. Once again Mankiewicz deftly utilizes the skills of a well-chosen ensemble, which includes a young Kirk Douglas at his dreamiest.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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New York Minute

By BrianOrndorf

May 5th, 2004

Coasting on their cherubic looks for far too long now, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen have finally been brought back down to Earth. “New York Minute” is a blatant attempt to move these two girls into the hotly contested game of teenage stardom, but without the slightest bit of acting ability from the sisters, the movie fails. Shrill, far too quickly paced, and wasteful of good comedic supporting talent, “New York Minute” is one long bore.


As two sisters who have little in common, metalhead Roxy (Mary-Kate Olsen) and control freak Jane (Ashley Olsen) are preparing for a big day in their young lives. Heading into New York City so Jane can give a speech that will determine her collegiate future, and Roxy can skip school to attend a music video shoot, the two girls falls quickly into madcap trouble when a valuable computer chip falls into their possession, and ruthless Asian assassin (Andy Richter, who deserves better) wants it back. Also on their heels is Max Lomax (Eugene Levy, paying bills), a truant officer who has been after Roxy for years, and spies a chance to bust her once and for all. Running back and forth through the streets and sewers of New York, the two girls struggle to work together, after years of an antagonistic relationship, to save the day.

Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen have sold millions of CDs, videos, and various other trinkets to families across America for nearly 15 years. Combined, they are worth a vast fortune, and they’re only the ripe young age of 17. But their latest film, “New York Minute,” reveals the dark truth about these unlikely media moguls: they can’t act.

“Minute” is a very transparent attempt to take the Olsen sisters from the easygoing likeability of childhood to the unsophisticated, judgmental world of teenagers. Why would they want to leave such a good thing, I’ll never know. But if “Minute” is a warning shot for what is coming in the future from the former “Olsen Twins,” then we all should run for cover.

A frenzied, disorderly take on comic slapstick and farcical plotting, “Minute” can claim one victory: it never tuckers out. Edited without any common sense (there‘s a lot of split-screen for no good reason), and persistently moving the narrative along briskly so nobody can ponder the potential offensiveness of the stereotypes presented or the jokes delivered, “Minute” doesn’t ever take a breath. Directed by Dennie Gordon (“Joe Dirt,” “What a Girl Wants”), the film is like an “I Love Lucy” sketch crossed with a lame music video, much like the one the “band” Simple Plan makes in the film, and the results are quite irritating and deeply unfunny. The unfunny part is odd, since there are so many comic talents to count on for some giggles. Eugene Levy, “SNL’s” Darrell Hammond, Andrea Martin, and Andy Richter all look very lost trying to be goofy in a picture that doesn’t deserve them.

Stepping away from their straight-to-video gridlock of fame, Mary-Kate and Ashley aren’t exactly barnstorming comedic talents. Spending their whole lives coasting on their youthful looks, “Minute” makes the loss of that crutch painfully clear. Cursed with a chirpy monotone and a well-oiled ease in front of the camera, the sisters aren’t a disaster in their lead roles, but their bland delivery and reliance on chic outfits and hairstyles grows tiresome fast. Once the moment of “drama” comes around mid-movie, it’s clear that Mary-Kate and Ashley aren’t exactly ready for the big screen like their competition, such as Lindsay Lohan or Hilary Duff. Their cherubic faces are blossoming into womanhood, effectively destroying their marketability as pre-teen icons, and revealing what little appeal they truly have.

I must admit, to have a film about teenagers that doesn’t feature cliques, high school, or 80s nostalgia is nice, and the Olsen sisters deserve some credit for avoiding these plots that have recently clogged the marketplace. But a fresh angle on teendom isn’t enough to excuse the rest of this shrill picture.

My rating: D+