Tuesday, May 22, 2007


A good one. Beatty nails this role with the appropriate warmth and intensity, and even shows off an exquisite comic timing. Diane Keaton is also excellent in what amounts to the most substantial role I've seen her play. Jack Nicholson is superb as the brutal cynic Eugene O'Neill, and Paul Sorvino, Gene Hackman, Jerzy Kosinski, and Maureen Stapleton round out a great cast.

Reds is not only about John Reed and the American socialist/communist Left leading up to and following the Bolshevik takeover in Russia--it is also a powerful romantic film. What Louise Bryant went through to try and rescue her husband from a Finnish jail is truly harrowing.

The entire history of America's response to the Bolsheviks is here: the Palmer Raids, the witch hunt trials and Congressional investigations, the jailing of dissidents, the little-known active military campaign against Russia after Lenin and his cohorts siezed power. At 3 hours plus the film is not wearying, which is an achievement in itself. Beatty impresses as writer/director; this is an enormous epic, and it stands the test of time.

Mixed into the narrative are documentary snippets featuring reminiscences by veteran reds and fellow travelers. These old souls, dessicated by an idealism gone monstrously wrong, remain largely unrepentant, and add an interesting historical backdrop. Henry Miller talks about fucking then and fucking now. Now, of course, being 26 years ago.

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