Well, it really is a stinker, a compendium of The Deer Hunter's weaknesses (of plotting, narration, dialogue, and character) with few of its lyrical strengths. The best scene is at the beginning—a graduation ball for the Harvard class of 1870, filmed with swirling, exhilarating camera movements that suggest the famous ballroom scene in Minnelli's Madame Bovary. The sequence has clearly been truncated, which suggests that similar nonnarrative cuts have been made throughout, leaving only the clumsy plot framework of Michael Cimino's script. The historical background (peasants versus capitalists in old Wyoming) is a fairly bald-faced cop of 1900, with a similar Marxist sentimentalism; the foreground action (two buddies in love with the same woman) is a continuation of The Deer Hunter's veiled male-bonding themes, but with little of the teasing ambiguity that made the earlier film so much fun to argue about. With Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, and Isabelle Huppert (1980).
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