Unsettled by his experience in World War I, Lake Forest cutup Bill Murray resigns the shallow materialism of his friends and fiancee and sets out on the narrow path to spiritual enlightenment. This intensely embarrassing film clearly has great personal value for Murray (the real-life parallels become chillingly explicit when a subplot introduces a dope- and booze-addicted friend whom Murray is unable to save), but if the motivations are authentic, the result is anything but. The screenplay (cowritten by Murray and director John Byrum) shies away from specifying Murray’s spiritual achievements; instead of maturing, the character simply becomes more smug and condescending, and the movie’s ultimate subject is his fatuous self-satisfaction in the face of the other characters’ carefully delineated weaknesses. Not one moment in the film works the way it was plainly meant to. With Theresa Russell, Catherine Hicks, and Denholm Elliott. PG-13, 128 min.
Sergei Eisenstein was given a free hand and a mammoth budget to re-create the October Revolution for its tenth anniversary (1927), but the results displeased the authorities—for reasons both political (Trotsky, suddenly banished from the Soviet Union, had to be hurriedly eliminated from the final cut) and aesthetic (Eisenstein’s extreme formalism, here at its most abstract and theoretical). Much of the montage in October plays better in analytical retrospect than it does on the screen, but much of the film is genuinely stirring—when he wasn’t theorizing, the man really could cut film.