Sunday, June 07, 2009
I saw Straw Dogs a couple of years ago. I have really only seen Dustin Hoffman films from the 80's on, so it was a little jarring seeing him in a non comedic role. The film is so nervewracking in the building up of the tension almost from the first frame. You know a trainwreck is coming but you can't turn away.
David (Dustin Hoffman), a young American professor, moves to a house in the English countryside with his young wife Amy (Susan George). One of the major reasons that they moved to England was fear of violence in the United States related to the civil rights movement. Unfortunately, they find their new home to be far worse when the local hooligans set their eyes on Amy and take a strong disliking to the rather meek David. The threat of physical violence becomes reality when Amy is raped and David finds himself in the middle of a serious local dispute. David is forced to either find some courage quickly, or turn tail and flee.
"You have to understand, first of all, that the movie ends with maybe 20 minutes of unrestrained bloodletting, during which people are scalded with boiling whisky, have their feet blown off by shotguns, are clubbed to death and (in one case) nearly decapitated by a bear trap. The violence is the movie's reason for existing; it is the element that is being sold, and in today's movie market, It should sell well. But does Peckinpah pay his dues before the last 20 minutes? Does he keep us feeling we can trust him? I don't think so.
The most offensive thing about the movie is its hypocrisy; it is totally committed to the pornography of violence, but lays on the moral outrage with a shovel. The perfect criticism of "Straw Dogs" already has been made. It is "The Wild Bunch." - Roger Ebert
It's pretty obvious that I don't have the discipline or the patients to do a top 10 for every year since I was born, other than simply put out a list. That would likely take me about 10 years at the rate that I'm going. So instead of doing 10, I just do favorites. How many depend on my mood at the time.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
Klute tracks Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda), a Manhattan prostitute and aspiring actress in search of herself. Small-town private eye John Klute (Donald Sutherland) arrives in Manhattan to find that Bree is the only lead in the disappearance of his good friend Tom Gruneman. Bree turns tricks for cash and a need for emotional freedom, wishing to remain unattached and in control. However, as she becomes involved in Klute's search and realizes she too is in danger.
Jane Fonda is the biggest reason to see this role. The film is not explicit in showing her profession, but by her words, her movements, and her actions, you know as much as you need to on how hard her life is. The thriller aspects of the film are okay, not great. The ending is a little ambiguous if you aren't paying attention. While Sutherland is good at portraying a detective that becomes emotionally involved with his case, it's still Fonda's film.
Jane Fonda won an Oscar for Best Actress for her role in "Klute." The film was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
"Intelligence. I suppose that's the word. In "Klute" you don't have two attractive acting vacuums reciting speeches at each other. With Fonda and Sutherland, you have actors who understand and sympathize with their characters, and you have a vehicle worthy of that sort of intelligence. So the fact that the thriller stuff doesn't always work isn't so important. " - Roger Ebert
Murmur of the Heart (Le souffle au coeur) was written and directed by Louise Malle. The film tells a coming of age story about a 14-year-old boy who is growing up in bourgeois surroundings in France. At the beginning, the film shows the adventures of the boy in the school and his first sexual experience at a brothel. When the boy is found to have a heart murmur after a bout of scarlet fever, he goes with his mother to a sanatorium, where a series of circumstances lead to a sexual encounter.
The film definitely deals with several taboo topics at the time but with a humor, that while disarming, still causes one to reflect on what has happened. This is a film that gives you rich characters that actually 'think' before acting, instead of the horny slobs that we get in "Porky's." And while most will cringe at the movie's theme of incest, it's presented in a way not simply to exploit, but instead mutes its harshness. I appreciated that the film neither talked down to me and hit me over the head with the "message", nor was it an irresponsible "glamorizing" of the subject.
As is the case with independent films today, even though this movie premiered in 1971 at Cannes, it was nominated for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars in 1973.
"We have it on no less an authority than Leo Tolstoy that all happy families are the same, but each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. I am not quite sure, however, that Count Tolstoy had in mind a family like the one we meet in "Murmur of the Heart," Louis Malle's warm, human, very funny movie about incest. You will agree that this family, at least, is happy in its own way." - Roger Ebert
" Film is quintessentially French in its look at the awakening outlooks and sex imbroglios of a 14-year-old boy who likes to pass himself off as 15. Louis Malle lavishes insight, perhaps personal reminiscences, and unflagging rightness in atmosphere, character and observation to make this a richly comic, touching and incisive portrait of a young man in the French provincial city of Dijon in 1954. (Benoit) Ferreux has the vulnerability, warmth and witty outlook that give his young protagonist a human and recognizable quality. His mother is excellently drawn by (Lea) Massari, whose need for freedom will not allow her to give way to a demanding suitor. All others are excellent." - Variety
Just to get me back working on this till I think of something else. I'm list my top 10 favorite films per year since I was born. These are not necessarily the best films of each year, but my favorites, for one reason or another. They are movies that I've seen and impacted me in some way. So first up will be 1971.
Monday, April 27, 2009
I am planning to start posting to this blog again. With what, I'm not exactly sure. Things have changed significantly for me since my last post. I no longer work for a movie theatre chain, but instead work for the government. But my love for movies is still the same. I'm just don't have the easy access to films anymore. But regardless, updates must come. Stay tuned....