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The Film Experience™ was created by Nathaniel R. Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. All material herein is written and copyrighted by Nathaniel or a member of our team as noted.

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Demme (RIP) and His Players

"Yes, Demme was special. So much energy, tension and subversive fun." - Edward

"Demme had great range I specially liked his comedies like Something Wild" - Jaragon

"I really, really, really NEED Beloved to be revisited and reappraised." - Kermit

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Betty Buckley (Split)
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Ritesh Batra (Sense of an Ending)

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Entries in Ned Beatty (2)

Tuesday
Feb142017

Pfandom: Troubled Boys & Spurned Girls

P F A N D O M  
Michelle Pfeiffer Retrospective. Episode 6 
by Nathaniel R 

Pfeiffer is a hormonally charged pflapper in the remake of Splendor in the Grass

[Editor's Note: Due to a scheduling issue with DVDs and a two day internet outage at your host's home last week we're a bit out of sequence & behind. Apologies]

Last week we got an early glimpse of Michelle Pfeiffer's bad girl side with the campy plodding Texas melodrama Callie & Son (1981). It was one of three telefilms the young actress co-starred in the year before her first leading movie role (Grease 2). Her last two TV movies before stardom make a fascinating double feature for their good girl/bad girl dichotomy and their foreshadowing of more famous roles...

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Tuesday
Apr122011

Network (1976). One Angry Man.

In honor of Sidney Lumet who passed away this weekend, we're re-publishing The Film Experience retrospective on Network from a few years ago. It's new to some of you!

One Angry Man
One thing I suspect about director Sidney Lumet: He liked his drama super-sized, Empire State Building big. No 800 lbs gorillas in the room please, make it King Kong. Give them 16 tons of drama. Lumet wanted grunting, sweating, lunging, screaming, gargantuan desperate drama like the kind you get in Dog Day Afternoon, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead and Serpico. Never mind 12 Angry Men. How about 1 Angry Man, Sidney Lumet, and in the case of Network -- arguably his best film -- one angry fictional man named Howard Beale (Peter Finch). Network eventually gets around to naming Beale the “mad prophet of the airwaves” but it’s also a self descriptive tag. The movie is mad as hell and prophetic, too. Network is Howard Beale and Howard Beale is Network. This impressively large but also miniature film --it's not hard to imagine it as a stage play -- swings wildly from mood to mood like its bipolar madman.

A lot of movies steal from Network but I love the borrowing that Network does right out of the gate, in omniscient detached voiceover.

In his time Howard Beale had been a mandarin of television. The grand old man of news with a hot rating of 16 and a 28 audience share. In 1969 however his fortunes began to decline. He fell to a 22 share. The following year his wife died and he was left a childless widower with an 8 rating and a 12 share.
That calm voiceover, giving numbers as much if not more weight as the man's personal life, has already begun the chilling process of reduction. It's overtly reminiscent of both All About Eve's arch view of the theater world and Sunset Boulevard's ghost-eye view of Hollywood. Network’s target is television. Is it boldly proclaiming itself the final third of the Holy Trinity of Self-Loathing Showbiz Pictures? Whatever the intent, it moves with utter confidence, thereby forcing itself into the godhead. 
We're in the boredom killing business.
It may seem odd to claim that such a black hearted picture is completely entertaining, even enjoyable, but it is. Right from its first shot of four television screens (the one featuring Beale eventually growing to fill the whole screen) the movie surges at you with such electric, articulate force that you have no choice but to go with its current. The prologue of the film then finds Beale (just given his walking papers) with old friend Max Schumacher (William Holden) drinking and laughing maniacally. The chaser to their raucous laughter? A perfect 180˚ cut to Beale seated at the bar quietly announcing “I’m going to kill myself”. The two friends begin to set the movie's plot in motion with improvised plans for live suicides and terrorism on TV. "The Death Hour!" Max proclaims with forced 90 proof glee. Where does all this gallows humor put us before the title credits even begin to appear? 
That puts us in the shithouse. That's where that puts us.
Network is an easy film to quote and its super sculpted and scalding dialogue is undoubtedly the reason why the screenplay (by triple Oscar winner Paddy Chayefsky) is so lauded. It’s the type of talky feature that's jerry-rigged to draw attention to its themes, BIG ideas, diamond hard one liners and showcased monologues. But words aside, the plotting is also tight and strong. I can’t think of a single film that’s more interested in stopping for speeches that also moves with breakneck speed through the twists and turns of its various plots. 


Plot A: Howard Beale threatens to kill himself on air, leading to rubberneck ratings jumps and corporate exploitation of his sudden insanity. As Beale slips deeper into a complete psychotic break, corporate sharks Diana Christensen (Faye Dunaway) and Frank Hackett (Robert Duvall) start swimming, devouring the smaller fish at the network like Max Schumacher, as they try to capitalize on Beale's popularity with the public who embraces his catchphrase:

I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!

 

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