Samples from Ray's weekly newspapercolumn Ray's Pix
THE WAY WE WERE. In 1973 Barbra Streisand, when her acting was as blazingly good as her singing, teamed with Robert Redford, at the peak of his ridiculous beauty, teamed up for what is arguably the best Chick Flick of all time. They play ill-suited lovers who meet in college: He's the WASP jock for whom everything comes too easily, she's the out-of-place Jewish girl who has to fight for everything she has. Years after college they meet again. This time around he's a Hollywood screenwriter and she's a loudmouthed liberal who's a bull in the china shop of the 50s Red Scare Blacklist. Beautifully written by Arthur Laurents, and with that haunting title song written by Marvin Hamlisch and sung by the divine Barbra, THE WAY WE WERE is the reason they invented extra large tissue boxes!
PRIMER. This ferociously smart and intriguing thriller is the screenwriting, acting and directing debut of Shane Carruth. Shot for $7,000, it tells the story of a group of young high-techhies who, after their day jobs, work together in the garage on various speculative experiments. They take turns working on various projects, hoping to find the one which will make them rich. Accidentally, they create a device that seems to be a time machine! From there, the plot gets trickier and trickier. The odd conceit of the movie is that it makes absolutely no concessions to the audience in terms of explaining the complications of the device or the plot. This makes watching the movie a kind of nerd heaven - you can have arguments with your other bright friends on what is exactly happening! PRIMER is chilling, smart and fun.
THE THIRTY-NINE STEPS. Here's the granddaddy of all chase films. Poor hapless Robert Donat is a tourist in London who meets a young woman who claims she's on the run from spies. After she is murdered (don't you just hate it when that happens?), suddenly HE's on the run from the same spies. The chase takes him all over England and Scotland, and for a lot of it he's literally handcuffed to the beautiful Madeleine Carroll. This groundbreaking film helped create the formula for many Hitchcock (and other) films to come, from "North by Northwest" to "Silver Streak." Donat and Carroll are charm personified, and the movie is as winning today as it was when it was released in 1935.