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Entries in Oscars (70s) (60)

Tuesday
Oct152013

12 Links Today

Cinema Blend 50 Shades of Grey might go with Alexander Skarsgård (and a new screenplay)  now that it lost its leading man. Skarsgård has to be anxious for True Blood to wrap given the movie offers coming his way.
Ultra Culture the exhaustive list of Xavier Dolan's credits... in his own movies.
Xavier Dolan ...oh and he's started film #5
Pajiba has an awesome take down of the recent resurgence of "boohoo it's hard to do female characters" quotes and articles -- I can't even with those comments from the animators of Frozen!

Popcorn Taxi Tom Hiddleston doing Owen Wilson doing Loki. wtf? (and also LOL)
Coming Soon Netflix has ordered a new family secrets thriller series from the creators of Damages
Variety Paul Rudd and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are said to be Marvel's top choices for upcoming superhero flick Ant-Man
Variety Weird. Susan Sarandon and Eva Amurri may star in a mother/daughter sitcom. I can't say I predicted a sitcom for Sarandon and isn't "Mom" already on TV?
i09 the weirdest vampire movies ever made
The Playlist new images and clip from 12 Years a Slave 
MNPP 250 words or less on Captain Phillips 

my favorite Best Actress win of the 1970sFinally...
Movie Mezzanine seemingly asked everyone but me to compile their "top ten" of the 1970s without commentary. I dont know why lists without commentary are fun to read but they are. It's fun to see which movies dominated their massive roundup (The Godfather is the expected winner, topping 6 lists and it's nearest rivals - more interesting -- are tied for 3 #1 ranks each:Annie Hall, Days of Heaven and Taxi Driver). I've already done this particular top ten in an earlier post but if I were to redo it it'd maybe look like so. And weirdly no one they polled had my #1 as #1 though it appears on a few lists. 

1) Manhattan 2) Nashville 3) Cabaret 4) Apocalypse Now
5) Network 6) All That Jazz 7) Carrie 8) Taxi Driver 9) Annie Hall
10) Dog Day Afternoon 11) Cries and Whispers 12) The Conversation
13) Three Women 14) Jaws 15) The Godfather 16) The Way We Were
17) Klute 18) McCabe and Mrs Miller 19) Star Wars
and 20) Grease (for the nostalgia. shut it)

Okay I cheated with a top twenty but the astonishing thing about that decade is that everyone's lists look completely reasonable because great films can be seen wherever you choose to look in your 70s film education. You know? 

Exit Music
How about a little "Chopsticks" with Oscar bound (again) mega-stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock? So crazy that today's new adults (Happy 18th, 1995 babies!) were born into a world where Hanks and Bullock were ruling the box office and today here we are again. Talk about legs (and I don't mean Bullock's literal ones but wow those gams)

Friday
Sep132013

Robert Redford is "The Candidate"

Team Experience is looking at key Robert Redford films as we approach the release of his lauded Oscar-buzzing comeback "All is Lost". Here's Tim Brayton on one of his milestone films.

 In addition to being one of the great timeless sex symbols in Western culture, Robert Redford is noted for the passion of his activism: for art, as in the creation of the Sundance Film Festival and the exposure it gave to American independent filmmaking; and for politics, as seen in the joylessly obvious message movie Lions for Lambs. But let us try as hard as we possibly can not to hold that against him, and instead rewind all the way back to 1972. For it was in that election year that Redford acted in the first of many explicitly political movies of his career, The Candidate.

The title says it all: there’s a Senate campaign to wage, and a candidate to flog, and that candidate, Democrat Bill McKay, is embodied by the most photogenic, blondest, whitest actor of the early ‘70s. Which is as much to say that the casting alone goes a long way towards explaining why the movie works, will all apologies to Redford’s skill. [more...]

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug142013

Morning Truth Tell: All That Jazz is a Freaking Masterpiece

If you haven't yet seen All That Jazz (1979) or haven't yet loved it -- you better stop and change your ways, daddy! Joe Gideon deserves the kind of hallowed cinema rep that Michael Corleone and Charles Foster Kane enjoy.

Live this truth. Carry it with you today.

Friday
Aug092013

RIP Karen Black (1939-2013)

I don't know where to begin with the death of Karen Black. That's not just because I am not as familiar with her career as I've wanted to be given its peculiar character. It's also because: where the hell do you start with Karen Black?

As Nick reminded on Twitter yesterday, I've long thought that 1970s Hollywood had the most expansive idea of what constituted sexy and Karen is a perfect example, with her cross eyes and giant cheek bones. I've sometimes thought of her very memorable face as what would happen if an American mold of Sophia Loren got all funky and squished in the kiln and didn't quite work out. But Karen made the most of it... [more]

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Jul042013

"American Graffiti" is a Wonderful Ride. Take It. 

I honestly can't tell you why I've avoided American Graffiti (1973) for as long as I have especially since my childhood was filled with Star Wars trilogy mania to the extent that I even devoured a George Lucas paperback biography in the early 80s. But as the only remaining unseen nominee from an unusually diverse and entertaining Best Picture Vintage (American Graffiti, Cries and Whispers, The Exorcist, The Sting, and A Touch of Class) I thought it was time. My assumption that a leisurely drive back into American nostalgia would be just the ticket for the Fourth of July holiday was correct. What surprised me was the drive itself, which "leisurely" does not accurately describe though modern sensibilities might describe the unrushed pacing in just that way.

America Graffiti spends a single night cruising with a group of friends and new acquaintances (a couple of whom, at least, have just graduated high school though the film is less clear on where the other characters stand in the age and education continuum). It's just any night but it's also not. Best friends Curt (Richard Dreyfuss, Golden Globe nominated for this performance) and Steve (Ron Howard), are due aboard a plane headed for college the next morning. But the road they and their friends travel isn't a straight shot, despite the frequent threat of drag race challenges. It's filled with detours, cul de sacs, snack breaks, and confusing cross, tail and headwinds fighting their course.  

Dreyfuss is a dreamer in "American Graffiti"

There are no convertibles to speak of in American Graffiti but you dont even have to be exposed and in motion to feel like the past and future are whipping your hair about and fighting for control of your vehicle, your life, your now. The main characters from hotshot drag racer John (Paul LeMat who won the now defuct "Promising Newcomer" Golden Globe for this performance), to cheerleader Laurie (Cindy Williams, BAFTA nominated for this performance), to best friends Curt and Steve... are visibly confused about the future and even their feelings about the past though they're hanging on, sometimes consciously, to its familiarity. Graffiti's screenplay and ensemble work is strong enough to even let the secondary characters in on this past/future action a bit too, in more subtextual ways. 

The cinematography by Jan D'Alquen & Ron Eveslage (who according to IMDb never worked again after this???) with guidance from the legendary Haskell Wexler isn't particularly showy but it is complicated given the multiple light sources, reflections, moving vehicles, and dark of night. And it's sometimes beautiful, too. Since this series is about individual shots, we have to choose one. My runner up is this brief two-shot between Laurie and Bob Falfa played by Harrison Ford in a precise (and wonderfully telling) debut. I love the light of the passing cars, the reflections, and most of all the acting...

Laurie is angry with her boyfriend Steve and gets in Bob's car only to realize the vacuum of chemistry therein. She doesn't know why she's done this exactly. Bob is also less than smitten, and they're immediately rude to each other. To break the silence Bob comically croons "Some Enchanted Evening" in the way boys clown about to avoid discomfort. In a great comic beat Laurie scoots as far away from him as she can and it'd be even further if the car weren't in motion. Both actors absolutely nail the 'what am I doing here? will i always be doing this? what's next?' ambivalence in a comedic miniature way and what's beautiful about that is that it's the same effect, really, that the film and characters arcs are going for in a dramatic longform way. I even love the art director's touch of that hanging skull in Falfa's car. Maybe's it's a little on the nose for a film that trades so heavily on Fear of the Future and even (inelegantly) foretells death in its credit sequence but it's funny and character-specific.

But that choice, finally, felt too much like a choice based solely on which paragraph I wanted to write (funny how that happens in this series!) rather than a sound decision. Best Shots don't always come from Best Scenes but this time I'm siding with synergy. The best scene in the film, the one where the omnipresent golden-oldies soundtrack, direction, performance, editing, themes and cinematography all coalesce perfectly is at the high school dance the characters reluctantly drop in on despite having just graduated. Steve and Laurie, who have been arguing for the whole first half hour of the movie, are revealed to us to be basically the King & Queen of their high school and they're called up for a spotlight dance right in the middle of a very heated break-up. The scene is two whole minutes in length and every second is beautiful. 

best shot

As they dance in circles under the blue spotlight we get, in brilliant miniature, the ebb and flow of their entire relationship from first date to first kiss to now, as their future looms -- they're not at all sure it's going to be a shared one.

The scene ends with a perfectly judged cut to a closeup as Laurie suddenly clings to Steve, tears in her eyes, wishing for her past to also be her future no matter how pissed she is at present. But since the ending to this absolute gem of a scene is more of a best cut, really, I'll select this image (above) from the middle of the sequence as its best shot. How perfect that the characters are looking in separate directions, that Laurie is driving the scene (as she does throughout despite Steve being the protagonist), that the "62" of their graduating class is lit up, and most of all that Laurie is shifting from angry historian to sentimental scrapbook artist of her own romance in the process of retelling it.


*sniffle*

NEXT WEDNESDAY': David Cronenberg's Dead Ringers (1988) [Amazon | Netflix | iTunes]
Join us by watching it and sharing your choice of best shot. We'll link up.

MORE GRAFFITI ?!
These blogs are boss. Go visit them!
Antagony & Ecstasy thinks this is George Lucas's masterpiece
Coco Hits NYC is unfamiliar with car culture but loves the movie
The Entertainment Junkie on the volatile cocktail of adolescent emotion
Film Actually on the teenage iconography of "lover's lane"
The Film's The Thing "something great is out there waiting for you"
A Fistful of Films proves you don't have to have complex screen capture technology to deliver wonderful posts for this series (join us next week people!)
The Matinee alkdgs
Sorta That Guy visits the radio station with Curt. will he stay or will he go?
Stale Popcorn "they won't have moments like this much longer"
We Recycle Movies on quests and myths and aimless heroes

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