May 4, 1991
I would like to compliment your critic at large, Sheila Benson, on her excellent piece "When 'Nice' Simply Isn't Good Enough" (April 16). Benson made the point that sentimentalizing "worthy" subjects can often be worse than not treating them at all. As a producer and distributor of films, we are constantly on the lookout for subjects that are both relevant and compelling; yet unfortunately, so many of the projects we see are more concerned with...
February 24, 1991
" 'Perfectly Normal' is your movie . . ." goes the blurb attributed to Times film critic Sheila Benson in an ad for the new Four Seasons release. It may be yours, but it's not Benson's. What she really wrote in her largely negative review was, "If opera-kitsch sounds fabulous to you, then 'Perfectly Normal' is your movie."
March 25, 1990
Re "Lean Times for Foreign-Language Films," Feb. 25: There will be fat times from April 20 to May 3 when the American Film Institute Los Angeles Film Festival will present over 100 foreign-language films from more than 40 countries in five cinemas. All of the films mentioned in Sheila Benson's article as important will be presented in the AFI L.A. FilmFest. Many of film makers will be here as well. AFI Los Angeles Film Festival was organized four years ago in cooperation with the Filmex Board to replace Filmex as the Los Angeles International Film Festival after that fine festival had financial problems.
February 25, 1990
We cannot believe Sheila Benson's nomination of the Samuel Goldwyn Pavilion Cinemas for "most comfortable seats," (Currents, Jan. 7). The backs of the seats are concave and can only be comfortable to the Hunchback of Notre Dame. When a film is shown there that cannot be seen elsewhere, we come prepared by bringing pillows to put behind our backs. WALLACE UMBER, Los Angeles
December 25, 1988
Re: "Mississippi Burning": "Black leaders like Coretta Scott King and journalists who covered the 1960s civil-rights movement" may be angry and/or surprised at how director Alan Parker distorted history by telling "the civil-rights struggle from a white point of view and relegating blacks to background and 'victim' roles." (Outtakes, Dec. 18). Movie buffs who have followed Parker's career are not at all surprised, however. A decade ago, he so twisted/fictionalized the story of Billy Hayes (the American arrested for attempting to smuggle hashish out of Turkey)
October 16, 1988
When Kevin Thomas reviewed "Running on Empty" upon its release, he described it as a "remarkable film" and a "superior achievement with superlative performances." And these words have been reappearing each Sunday in Calendar's listing of continuing movies. Several weeks later, Charles Champlin gave us a mature and laudatory analysis that made it clear he understood the point of the story as well as the ambiguities and complexities in the characters--two of whom are former '60s political radicals in hiding from the FBI for years ("The Fullness of 'Running on Empty,' " Sept.