Takaisin

IN THE GOOD OLD, BAD OLD DAYS

For Hicksflicks.com, Jan. 10, 2014

One of the frustrations of being a local movie critic in a town like Salt Lake City is that, despite the local audience being recognized as aggressively moviegoing, it's just not big enough to be considered a "major" market by the major studios.

As a result, like most other U.S. cities that are not as densely populated as New York, L.A., Chicago, San Francisco, etc., we get a lot of movies late. This is particularly true of art films, foreign films, independently produced films and the occasional "platformed" Hollywood blockbusters, which may play a week or two in the big cities before heading out to the hinterlands — such as "August: Osage County" and "Her" this week.

The frustration is that all the national critics' reviews appear in their respective publications well before local critics have even seen them, much less written about them.

Back in the 1980s and '90s, when our newspapers/TV stations wanted top 10 lists of the year's best and worst movies by the last Friday in December, we sometimes still had several films we hadn't seen, and they might be important year-end Oscar bait.

Some of these films didn't open locally until January or even February, and consequently were not screened for us far enough ahead to be included.

That happened with 1982's "Sophie's Choice" and "Gandhi," 1985's "The Trip to Bountiful" and many more.

This came to mind with the new Blu-ray upgrade release of "The Killing Fields," one of the best films of 1984. That film didn't open in Salt Lake City until Jan. 18 of 1985, and it wasn't screened for critics locally until a week before.

As a result, it landed on my best/worst list — for 1985! By the time the list was published, "The Killing Fields" was a year old.

Like I said, frustration.

But in the case of "The Killing Fields," however odd it was to hold the movie over, it didn't matter. It was (and is) such an exceptional and completely moving film that it had to be there, even if it came a year late.

And this new Blu-ray edition is seriously worth a look. If you've never seen "The Killing Fields" — a true story about a New York journalist and his Cambodian interpreter navigating tragedy all around them in Southeast Asia, take the opportunity to check it out.

Sam Waterston (yes, Jack McCoy on "Law & Order") and the late Haing S. Ngor, who won an Oscar, along with a young John Malkovich, all shine in Roland Joffe's astonishingly assured feature-directing debut.