The Films of Robert Redford
Ordinary People (May 6/02)
Though it does take a while to get going, Ordinary People eventually reveals itself to be an uncommonly rich and rewarding cinematic experience. First-time director Robert Redford takes his time in setting up the admittedly scant plot - which revolves around a typical American family's efforts at coping with the death of one of their own - which effectively ensures that, by the time the close-knit group ultimately breaks down, the viewer has an appreciation for what's gotten these characters to that point.
Though Redford's direction is remarkably self-assured and the script is chock full of familiar truths, it's the performances that make Ordinary People as compelling as it is. Timothy Hutton, in particular, is quite good as a conflicted and tortured teenager who believes himself responsible for his brother's death, while Judd Hirsch is equally effective as the psychiatrist who begins to draw him out of his shell. Though it's perhaps a little bit too long, Ordinary People is intelligent and uncompromising fare well worth checking out.
The Milagro Beanfield War
A River Runs Through It
The Horse Whisperer
The Legend of Bagger Vance
Lions for Lambs (November 8/07)
Though occasionally as subtle as a filmed lecture, Lions for Lambs nevertheless comes off as a chatty yet entertaining anti-war diatribe that's clearly been designed to provoke a reaction out of the viewer. Matthew Michael Carnahan's inherently stagy screenplay is effectively offset by Robert Redford's sporadically cinematic directorial choices, while the uniformly terrific performances are instrumental in ensuring that the film's more overtly preachy sequences aren't as objectionable as one might've feared. The film, which has been broken down into three separate storylines (an experienced journalist (Meryl Streep) interviews a Republican Senator (Tom Cruise), a left-wing college professor (Redford) attempts to motivate an apathetic student (Andrew Garfield), and two soldiers (Michael Pena and Derek Luke) find themselves trapped behind enemy lines), generally moves at a brisk clip, though there's certainly no denying that certain characters and subplots are far more interesting than others (the Cruise and Streep stuff, for example, grows increasingly one-note as the movie progresses). And while it's not difficult to envision right-leaning viewers slowly-but-surely losing patience with the film's unmistakably liberal agenda, Lions for Lambs is an intriguing effort that surely destined to lose its relevance as the years progress (think Fahrenheit 9/11).