With Frenzy, its director, Alfred Hitchcock, is said to have returned to form, but to what form has he returned? To a resounding orchestral accompaniment, so different from the anxiety-producing music with which Bernard Herrmann contributed so much to Vertigo and Psycho, we move from a panoramic view of the city of London to a Thames-side gathering at which a politician's speech about progress against the river’s pollution is interrupted by the discovery of a floating corpse.
In Ingmar Bergman’s latest film, Cries and Whispers, the predominant tones are red, and from the very beginning of its production he did not hesitate to explain why this is so. He had a dream, he said, and in the dream he saw a group of women dressed in white, whispering together in a room bathed completely in red.
Luis Buñuel's brilliant new comedy, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Le Charme Discret de la Bourgeoisie), is so free in form and yet so lucid and wise that it could give the Surrealists a whole new lease on life.
By setting his film in the surreal world of dreaming, Buñuel casts himself as a jester rather than as an Old Testament prophet, crying "Woe, woe." Awake, this assemblage might have been too much for the old man’s equanimity; while they sleep, it is enough that he skip about them, poking them keenly with his rattle.
The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie is a cosmic vaudeville show —an Old Master’s mischief. Now seventy-two, Luis Bunuel is no longer savage about the hypocrisy and the inanity of the privileged classes. They don’t change, and since they have become a persistent bad joke to him, he has grown almost fond of their follies—the way one can grow fond of the snarls and the silliness of vicious pets.
I suspect that James Dickey, who adapted his best-selling novel Deliverance for the screen, and John Boorman, who directed it, are trying to tell us something fairly important by subjecting four sober, settled, middle-class gentlemen in their thirties to a series of wilderness trials that test their courage and cunning in a manner we usually associate with the initiation of adolescents into primitive tribes.
Deliverance, which James Dickey adapted from his own best-selling novel, is one of those rare films that resonates like a literary work but that —rarer still—avoids either being or sounding literary.
Jules and Jim is not only one of the most beautiful films ever made, and the greatest motion picture of recent years, it is also, viewed as a work of art, exquisitely and impeccably moral.
As an actor, Eastwood never lets down his guard. His idea of being a real man is that it’s something you have to pretend to be—as Sergio Leone put it, he’s wearing a suit of armor. This actor has made a career out of his terror of expressiveness. Now here he is playing a stiff, a ghost. It’s perfect casting, but he doesn’t have the daring to let go and have fun with it. Even as a ghost, he’s armored.
What keeps Back to the Future from being a comedy classic is that its eye is on the market. Despite Zemeckis and Gale’s wit in devising intricate structures that keep blowing fuses, the thinking here is cramped and conventional. I wish that moviemakers and their designers would stop using old Life magazines for their images of the American past.
It was a bit startling to pick up an English newspaper and see that the review of Victim was entitled “Ten-letter word”—but as it turned out. The Observer was referring not to Lenny Bruce’s much publicized hyphenated word but to the simple term “homosexual,” which it appears is startling enough in a movie to make the Johnson office refuse to give Victim a seal of approval.
The audiences at popular American movies seem to want heroes they can look up to; the audiences at art houses seem to want heroes they can look down on. Does this mean that as we become more educated, we no longer believe in the possibilities of heroism?
Accattone lives as a work of narrow but intense vision—a film about viciousness and criminality that evokes compassion. Its style is neorealist: it was made on locations, not in studios, with nonprofessional performers. Sometimes this method makes merely vernacular films, but it gives Accattone a grainy, gripping authenticity.
Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey took five years and $10 million to make, and it’s easy to see where the time and the money have gone. It’s less easy to understand how, for five years, Kubrick managed to concentrate on his ingenuity and ignore his talent.
The Godfather II is a sequel to a film whose narrative drive and choreographed violence made it one of the better genre films of recent years. It is colder, more severe, less violent and much more ambitious than the original The Godfather.
Despite the absence of the kind of imaginative spectacle or battle sequences that galvanised Spirited Away (2001) and Princess Mononoke (1997), When Marnie Was There is expertly atmospheric. Its action is all contained within its emotional ebb and flow, as fierce as the tides that lap at Marsh House.
There’s nothing fun or funny to be found here. It offers us only the absorption of good acting and good storytelling combined with a plausible anthropology of a strange, terribly relevant culture. What more could we possibly want from a movie? How often, these days, do we get anything like all that?
And then there was Marion Brando, against all the odds, cast in one of filmdom’s juiciest roles, as mob chief Don Vito Corleone. He was eased in, despite stiff opposition from the studio brass, because of the advocacy of a thirtyish fan, Francis Ford Coppola, an Italian-American who happened to be the director of The Godfather. Once he got the part, Brando in turn helped Coppola maintain camaraderie during the frenzied three-month shooting by kibitzing with the cast and establishing a fatherly relationship.
THE GODFATHER PLAYS ON OUR SECRET ADMIRATION FOR MEN WHO GET WHAT THEY WANT – by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. [Vogue]
Inflation does not always assure survival. My guess is that three years from now we will still remember scenes from Raoul Walsh’s The Roaring Twenties (1939) while The Godfather will have become a vague memory.
The Godfather is, furthermore, and by critical consensus, a stunning confirmation of my claims for Coppola's talents: vividly seen, richly detailed, throbbing with incident and a profusion of strikingly drawn characters
Blasphemy is by no means dead in Britain, as the recent condemnation of Gay News, for publishing a poem portraying Christ as homosexual, reveals. But The Life of Brian has nothing about it as shocking to the faithful as this, and is saved indeed from blasphemy by its sheer vulgarity.
Escape from Alcatraz opens with the camera panning across San Francisco Bay and the bridge, and then to the grim, gloomy island of Alcatraz. The first sequence, as the credits come up, shows the arrival, through rain and darkness, of a prisoner for the "Rock": it is shot in tight, constricted close- up and mostly in shadow.
Lontano dal cinema di formule e procedimenti a cui rimanda soltanto per la sua mole produttiva, Barry Lyndon si situa in quella zona dove il cinema è invenzione, ricerca, esperimento. Ma dove tutti, coraggiosamente e confusamente, cercano, Stanley Kubrick trova. Non domanda, risponde.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind is the most innocent of all technological-marvel movies, and one of the most satisfying. This film has retained some of the wonder and bafflement we feel when we first go into a planetarium: we ooh and aah at the vastness, and at the beauty of the mystery. The film doesn’t overawe us, though, because it has a child’s playfulness and love of surprises.
Bertolucci is trying to transcend the audience appeal of his lyrical, psychological films. He is trying to make a people’s film by drawing on the mythology of movies, as if it were a collective memory. 1900 is a romantic moviegoer's vision of the class struggle—a love poem for the movies as well as for the life of those who live communally on the land.
Angst-dark primary colors—reds and blues so intense they’re nearpsychedelic, yet grimy, rotting in the thick, muggy atmosphere. Cities that blur into each other. Characters as figures in cityscapes or as exiles in rooms that are insistently not home. And, under it all, morbid, premonitory music.
The Taviani brothers have learned to fuse political commitment and artistic commitment into stylized passion. Their film Padre Padrone has the beauty of anger that is channelled and disciplined without losing intensity.
An extraordinarily well-made new thriller gets the audience sky-high and keeps it up there—The French Connection, directed by William Friedkin, which is one of the most “New York” of all the recent New York movies.
In this film, one knows that Bertolucci knows who he is and what he’s doing; young as he is, he's a master director. Except for the unconvincing and poorly staged concluding sequence, the flaws in The Conformist are niggling.