FILM: Bruce, The Band and Poonies

Last Waltz--The Band in that fateful last performance at Frisco's Winterland, turned into an eminently enjoyable, if somewhat self-congratulatory, evening of musical entertainment. Every big name you can think of is here, but the film is really all about The Band and their feelings about giving up life on the road after 16 years. The interviews are interesting and often humorous, and most of the music is simply great. If you like anything about The Band, or even if you're just curious, go see it.

The Lenny Bruce Performance Film--A rare view of the man who brought American comedy into the modern age, and who consumed himself in the process. These days, not too many people subscribe to the Lenny-as-martyr-for-free-speech theory; while he did fall victim to repression all over America, his personal life was tortured enough to put him on auto-destruct without outside help. In this film, made shortly before his death from an overdose in 1966, you can see both of these elements--the piercing and hysterically funny comedy/social analysis that was considered obscene and Bruce's horrible physical condition. He didn't always look like that; that's visible from two even more rare tapes of Bruce on the Steve Allen show, and even better, the misbegotten film that might have been the pilot for a TV series. A fascinating combination of infrequently seen films, for which Off the Wall deserves congratulations. congratulations.

Animal House--This is it. In the great National Lampoon combination, this film combines bad taste, grossness, and total absurdity to make a screamingly funny film. John Belushi, of Saturday Night Life Live fame, goes absolutely bonkers in this tale of a reject frat at an uptight campus in the early '60s. If it's a gross, sophomoric joke, it's in this film, but it's still funny as hell. Definitely worth seeing.

Coming Home--This is a fairly decent film about a Vietnam veteran (Jon Voigt) who comes home, confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life, and then falls in love with Jane Fonda, while her husband Bruce Stern has only just departed for Asia himself. The only drawbacks in this movie are that its points are not made very subtly, but rather clobber you over the head with theories on what that war was all about, in case you don't know already.

Cat and Mouse--At last someone has managed to succeed in making a decent mystery murder movie this summer--you even wonder "who did it?" until the very end. This film really has everything in it, and is well done to boot. A big time, capitalist-industrialist type is mysteriously murdered and director Claude Lelouch has cleverly thrown enough clinkers into the mystery, including some good leftist twists about the rich and the poor, to make it worth your money to see.

The Eyes of Laura Mars appears to have everything--beautiful Faye Dunaway as the trendy Beautiful People photographer, a dash of the occult, fear, hysteria, mystery and violence. Except to accommodate these trends, this movie's plot is improbable at best and absurd at worst. Dunaway plays a fashion photographer whose photos are in because they include images of violence and death. The twist comes when the people Dunaway "shoots" die violent deaths in about the same poses. Apparently, Dunaway has some kind of psychic link with the killer, and the race is on to see who will win out. Don't bother.