Even though most of you will read this after the fact, Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I have no thematic post prepared for the festivities. I actually have nothing prepared. Having no idea what to write about today, I decided it was time to resurrect ‘Five Things.’ I’m pretty sure that ‘Five Things’ was the very first thematic post series I started way back when, but then it was called ‘Props Thursdays’ or something along those lines. Since I couldn’t come up with what I wanted to write about today, I decided to just share the last five movies I watched, and a brief snippet of my reaction to each. Here they are:
This 1944 film starring Ingrid Bergman (and featuring Joseph Cotten) begins right after an unsolved murder, and from there goes on to tell a twisted story of psychological abuse and obsession. Bergman won the Oscar for Best Actress, and it’s easy to see why. Her performance is really amazing, especially toward the end as her character devolves into madness.
The film is tense and interesting, but it is Bergman’s performance that really stays with you.
One interesting bit of trivia is that because of the play the film was based on, as well as the two film adaptations of which this version is the second, the sort of psychological abuse depicted in the film is still know as ‘gaslighting.’
Another installment in my quest to keep checking off all the classic films I’ve never seen. Based on a novel and headlined by Jon Voight and Burt Reynolds, the story follows four guys from Atlanta who go deep into the backwoods to canoe down a river before it is damned and becomes a lake. Way out of their element, they run afoul of some sexually sadistic hillbillies, and things don’t go well for anybody.
The film is responsible for a number of pop culture mainstays. It is the reason we are all familiar with the song ‘Dueling Banjos,’ and it features the disturbing and oft-referenced lines: “He got a real pretty mouth ain’t he?” and “I bet you can squeal like a pig.”
It’s a good film, but it’s also flawed in a number of ways concerning general logic and character motivations. I’m definitely glad to have finally checked it off my list of movies waiting to be watched.
This uber-indie film from 1990 is set in the world of high-society trust fund kids in Manhattan. An outsider is randomly drawn into an elite clique and makes more of an impact than anyone anticipated. The film is painfully acted, but the screenplay is sharp and clever. I would often flip back and forth between despising all of these characters, and then loving them in spite of myself. They are sweet and naive and flawed, and yet they try so hard to seem erudite and grownup and put-together. It’s the inherent sweetness that comes through by the end that left a winning taste in my mouth, when it could easily have just been bitter and nauseating.
4. Blue Velvet
Speaking of classics I’d never seen before, this was my very first time seeing Blue Velvet. The film nerd in me is appropriately ashamed, so fear not. This isn’t my first rodeo with David Lynch, so I was prepared for the surreality of the whole thing. I really enjoyed it! Part film-noir, part surreal dream/nightmare, part psychological metaphor, part parable of love conquering evil, it is unique and from what I understand, completely changed the landscape of arthouse films.
The performances are amazing. Most notably, Dennis Hopper’s maniacal villain is perfect, and by perfect I mean bat-shit crazy and disturbing. The direction is bizarre, and yet carefully crafted so that while you never know where the hell lynch is going, there is never a doubt that he certainly knows and will take you there skillfully, even if it is a place you never want to reach.
Not to be confused with what I assume is an unwatchable remake starring Sylvester Stallone, this movie was good, and also mostly awful. It was good because it’s fun to see a younger Michael Caine be a total fricking badass, and because the film was smarter than most lone bad-ass revenge films. You can easily see how all the British gangster films since take a great number of their cues from Get Carter. From the tone, to the dialogue, right through to the ending, you can see it in ‘Snatch’, ‘Lock, Stock…’, ‘Layer Cake,’ etc.
It was bad because it was overwhelmingly sexist. I think it may have been a self-aware sort of sexism, that understood the ugliness of Jack Carter’s character, but for me they should have gone just a bit farther by creating some better female characters who didn’t get abused, exploited, or drowned in a car trunk (or boot, I guess in England it was a car boot) without anyone giving much of a shit one way or the other. At one point, a moral of the film seems to be: Folks getting naive young girls to appear in illegal porn films is fine… unless you find out it happened to a relative of yours, that’s crossing the fucking line! Eh, I really wanted to like it because of the various strengths, but the sexism was just too nauseating.