1971: Movies Sorted By Tier
Submitted by jim on Tue, 06/22/2004 - 12:08
A Clockwork Orange... Despite looking like a 70s vision of the future, the movie doesn't feel dated at all, and still horrifies. Malcolm McDowell is so good his career never really recovered, and has anyone ever framed their shots as meticulously as Kubrik? For that matter, has there ever been a better or more integral soundtrack? The truly remarkable thing about the film though, is how it jerks our sympathies around. Alex is a monster, and we root for his punishment, but when it comes we root for him to overcome (or maybe I'm just twisted). By the end we just don't know what to feel, except this is a world we most definitely wouldn't want to live in. Except we do.
Harold & Maude... Worth it for the suicide scenes alone. One of the first truly "offbeat" movies I remember liking during my adolescence.
The Last Picture Show... I hate liking a movie and not having much to say about it, but that's what I'm faced with here. This movie simply rings true. Coming of age, suffocating in a small town, love, loss, and above all, sex. It seems like this must be what life is really like in a town that is in the final stages of disappearance. I've always wondered why Bogdanivich gets to do all these interviews and gets called in to deconstruct Hitchcock movies. Now I know; he's got some game (although I understand this is his best, perhaps by a significant margin).
Duel... Speilberg's breakthrough movie, and it's auspicious. He milks more tension than he has a right to out of what amounts to 90 minutes of one unseen truck driver trying to kill our hero with his old grimy Peterbilt. Between cues in the script and Dennis Weaver's performance, it's easy to sympathize with this guy who doesn't stick up for himself, but is forced to do so in the most extreme circumstances (even if, like his wife, we wish he'd take the bull by the horns sooner). The lack of police involvement seems almost reasonable, even if our hero really should have asked the waitress, "say, who owns that truck out there?"
The Hospital... George C. Scott stars in a this black comedy about a NYC hospital gone haywire. Scott's suicidal and somebody's murdering doctors. The dialog is fantastic, and I'm sure is what gained this the screenplay Oscar. ". . .last night I sat in my hotel room reviewing the shambles of my life and contemplating suicide. I said 'no Bock don't do it. You're a doctor, a healer, you're a necessary person, you're life is meaningful'. Then, I find out that one of my doctors was killed by a couple of nurses ... how am I to sustain my feeling of meaningfulness in the face of this?" In general the movie clips right along until it gets to the Big Scene between Scott and Diana Rigg. While a dialogical and performatorial tour de force--and undeniably necessary in defining the Scott/Rigg relationship for the rest of the movie, I can't help but feel like it hijacks the movie at the midpoint, and resultingly breaks it in half.
Straw Dogs... I'm reluctant to admit liking this, since the critical consensus seems to be that it's an unredeemably depraved bit of misogynistic wetwork. But I thought it was very good and engrossing, if highly disturbing and violent. The first half captures perfectly so many tensions and insecurities: that embarrassed inadequate feeling you have when you visit a lumberyard for the first time and you don't know there are different kinds of two-by-fours. The paranoia of hearing people laughing in the distance and fearing they are laughing at you. The discomfort of having a room go silent upon your entrance. Blue-collar/white-collar awkwardness/tension. It's all jammed in there, making for quite a powderkeg (and quite an explosion).I don't know much about Peckinpah - perhaps he was a misogynist - but I can't agree with that yet, based solely on the two movies of his I've seen (this and The Wild Bunch).Spoiler: Highlight to viewAs for the controversial rape scene, which I gather was controversial because of the victim's ambiguous feelings and moments of apparent enjoyment, I found the scene very disturbing, but not as misogynistic as it has been labelled. It seems to me such a labelling ignores the SECOND rape, in which there is no ambiguity at all: it's clearly an unwelcome abhorrent act of violence. And then there's the church social afterwards, where we are shown Sumner's emotional devastation as everything reminds her of the attack. No ambiguities there either.
Glad I Saw
Fists of Fury
Walkabout... I liked this movie, but can't articulate why. The imagery? The critique of "civilization"? The beauty? The sadness? It begs for a rewatch.
Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory
- None Yet
Could Have Missed
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
The French Connection... I really must stop watching these gritty 70s classics - I fear it wreaks havoc with my credibility when I don't like them. But my credibility probably gave up the ghost months ago, so here goes . . . Gene Hackman and Roy Scheider were terrific, and I particularly enjoyed their opening chase scene, culminating in Hackman berating the guy they've caught for knifing his partner thereby forcing him to listen to bowling score complaints all winter long. I enjoyed Popeye Doyle's obsessiveness (Ahab-like, somebody said) and the car-chases-train scene was all its cracked up to be. But sometimes it's the details that kill a movie for me, and it this case it was the tailing scenes, which not only seemed to drag on forever but irritated me with our characters incompetence. I'd get caught up in the movie and then the proceedings would grind to a halt as we watch the good guys drive/walk around behind the bad guys for far too long. I don't deny its realism, but it killed the momentum for me. Not to mention the frustration at feeling like *I* could tail someone more competently, or the technical annoyance of watching a running guy be unable to catch up with a walking guy. It's lame of me to focus on such a small percentage of the movie, but those scenes really put me off.
Should Have Missed
Billy Jack... I did kinda enjoy the treatment of the Native American aspects, the desire to whup the bigots despite the larger messages of peace and love some characters espouse, etc., but it's way too long, uneven, and the hippie talent show segments interspersed throughout the movie break it up in a pretty unfortunate way. Loathesome villain though, and I did enjoy some of the characters. I wonder if the ice cream scene from Witness was at all influenced by the ice cream shop scene here?
El Sucko Grande
- None Yet