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Don't Expect Too Much2011

  • 3.6
Did Nicholas Ray leave Hollywood or did Hollywood leave him? What was he up to when he returned to the States after a decade in Europe? What was his intention with WE CAN'T GO HOME AGAIN, that experimental film he made with a bunch of college students? What was he doing with so many images on the screen all at once? How did he do it? Why was the film never finished? Did he lose his way, his talent, his sanity, his common sense? DON'T EXPECT TOO MUCH, a full-length documentary helmed by Ray's wife Susan, investigates these questions and the relationship forged by Ray between his life and his art. Drawing on the director's archive of never-before-seen film, video and stills, Susan Ray finds answers to our questions in Nick Ray's own words and images.

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1 member likes this review

Wow. I liked this a lot, for many different reasons. I love the reverse process of someone who had some success in Hollywood, worked with many greats, and even created a couple of classics...Rebel Without a Cause, Johnny Guitar, but then he implodes, leaves the country, and returns a decade later to experiment with new ways of using cinema. Not sure how sober or sane he was, but Jim Jarmusch's comments on how supportive Ray was to him in film school touched me deeply. When he saw JJ was going in a direction he didn't himself understand, he gave him his blessing to continue exploring. Ray was various things, but to his credit, he travelled the open road.

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Member Reviews (4)

142607.small
top reviewer

Wow. I liked this a lot, for many different reasons. I love the reverse process of someone who had some success in Hollywood, worked with many greats, and even created a couple of classics...Rebel Without a Cause, Johnny Guitar, but then he implodes, leaves the country, and returns a decade later to experiment with new ways of using cinema. Not sure how sober or sane he was, but Jim Jarmusch's comments on how supportive Ray was to him in film school touched me deeply. When he saw JJ was going in a direction he didn't himself understand, he gave him his blessing to continue exploring. Ray was various things, but to his credit, he travelled the open road.

1 member likes this review
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top reviewer

This is about a person who has lost his ability to do what he was once good at doing. Something which happens to us all. We are watching a person rust away, when, perhaps, he might have been better known if he had burned out quickly. But he fell into a group of naïve students who truly wanted to become something, to learn from someone they thought had something for them. Sadly, the teacher they wound up with was a fading drunken director who still had enough left to charm, but not nearly enough to lead. And we get to watch it all, the expectations, the demands, the lack of understanding, the confusion, the reasons for it all becoming what it did, and the inevitable falling apart. This doc is well titled. And maybe the title fits just as well for the times in which it was shot. The students expected too much from the teacher, too much from the country, the politicians, and most of all, too much from themselves. Hopefully, they got more out of the living than I did in this watching.

1 member likes this review
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This is a film about a journey Nicholas Ray and his students embarked on in the early 1970s. For a year they were devoted to creating a film about themselves and the time they lived in, eventually burning out and never finishing the project to their satisfaction. In spite of that outcome, I had the impression that all of the students who were interviewed had no regrets about their involvement with We Can't Go Home Again. It was wonderful to see and hear the camaraderie that developed between every one during that brief moment.

It is inevitable that a bubble will burst when reality intervenes. The footage of the man shaving off his beard is very poignant for that reason. You can watch a certain sense of himself and a vision of the world crumble as the whiskers disappear.

Don't Expect Too Much is engaging on many levels.

what i remember