Author Topic: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)  (Read 34270 times)

mañana

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #340 on: September 08, 2012, 09:50:45 AM »
Thanks. Yep, I agree, the relationship between Bennie and Elita was interesting and unexpected.
« Last Edit: September 08, 2012, 09:53:14 AM by mañana »
There's no deceit in the cauliflower.

MartinTeller

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #341 on: September 08, 2012, 06:37:11 PM »

Cockfighter - Frank Mansfield (Warren Oates) is one of the most respected "handlers" on the cockfighting circuit.  He loses an impromptu match against his rival Burke (Harry Dean Stanton) and thus puts himself out of the running for the coveted "Cockfighter of the Year" award.  He rightfully blames the incident on his big mouth and vows not to say a word until he's won the prize.  Not to his family, his partner, or even his girl.

As in the earlier Two-Lane Blacktop, Monte Hellman takes a long look at people competing at the fringes of society, misfit drifters trying to prove themselves -- and make a buck -- in an edgy niche.  Frank and his associates are participating in a cowardly, brutal, sadistic "sport" where their only concerns are the odds and the payoff.  Frank gets by quite well without his voice because he has little to say that doesn't involve negotiating the terms of a fight.  He's an unusual subject for a character study, as he seems to lack much character.  And yet, Oates turns in an excellent facial and physical performance that conveys Frank's thoughts, and manages to imbue him with a shred (just a shred, mind you) of something resembling humanity.

The fights are pretty visceral and the film doesn't flinch.  I was prepared to be disturbed and offended, but hell, I had chicken strips for dinner last night.  I couldn't work up enough hypocrisy to get too worked up by it.  Almendros also films them with a hypnotic beauty, abstract flurries of beaks and feathers and blood.

On the whole I prefer Two-Lane Blacktop, but as a single performance, this is the best I've seen from Oates.  Although you occasionally get to hear him in voiceover or flashback, for the most part he plays it silent, and does so very effectively.  His gestures communicate to the other characters, and his eyes communicate to the audience.  I also really enjoyed Richard Shull as Frank's partner, a fun and glib character who provides some of the film's lighter moments.  As I've said before, Stanton doesn't do much for me but he's okay here.

This was a tricky movie for me.  For a large part of it I had kind of a blasé "so what?" attitude about it, and then it dawned on me that I was actually enjoying it.  It gradually grew on me to the point where I was really invested in seeing what this offbeat -- and largely unsympathetic -- character would get into.  Rating: Very Good (81)

smirnoff

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #342 on: September 08, 2012, 06:47:24 PM »
That screenshot begs for some in the background. :)


1SO

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #343 on: September 08, 2012, 09:46:51 PM »
I was prepared to be disturbed and offended, but hell, I had chicken strips for dinner last night.

Love this comment.

MartinTeller

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #344 on: September 09, 2012, 02:45:35 AM »

Lenny - I was going to sit down and write a proper review but it’s late and I’ve got a headache so I’m just gonna have to bang out a quickie.  I’ve always thought Lenny Bruce was pretty overrated, but I must admit I was mostly familiar only with his later performances, when all he did was a bunch of boring, self-indulgent crap about his trials.  This movie showed me that there was a time when he actually did comedy once in a while.  Still not incredibly funny (and kinda preachy) but there were a few good bits here and there.  More importantly, the film itself is a lot better than I expected it to be.  I guess I should have put my trust in Bob Fosse.  Hoffman is great, Perrine is great, the cinematography is really great.  Great great great.  I told you I had a headache.  The pseudo-documentary structure works for the most part… it helps break up the typical biopic formula.  Like Bruce himself, the movie sort of runs out of steam near the end, but most of it is really compelling and entertaining stuff.  Okay, that’s enough.  I need to pop some Tylenol PM’s and crawl into bed.  Rating: Very Good (87)

MartinTeller

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #345 on: September 11, 2012, 09:55:20 PM »
So... it's pretty much just me now, huh?


Uptown Saturday Night - Steve Jackson (Sidney Poitier, also directing) is a steel worker and his buddy Wardell Franklin (Bill Cosby) is a cabbie.  They're looking to have a little fun on a Saturday night, and they con their way into an illicit upscale gambling joint called Zenobia's.  Right in the middle of a hot streak at the craps table, the place gets held up.  And when Steve learns that his wallet holds something precious, he and Wardell embark on a dangerous quest to get it back.

Poitier takes satirical aim at African-Americans who prey on the black community.  Richard Pryor's nervous con man.  Hardened gangsters Harry Belafonte and Calvin Lockhart.  Two-faced congressman Roscoe Lee Browne.  These are shifty characters who don't care who their victims/suckers are, as long as they get over.  In contrast to Poitier and Cosby, who have their faults but are basically decent and likable guys at heart.

As an action/comedy buddy flick, it isn't often laugh-out-loud funny, but it's generally pretty entertaining.  Belafonte's character is an amusing take on Brando in The Godfather.  And in one of the funniest moments, when Browne is told that constituents are arriving, he dons a dashiki and flips his Richard Nixon portrait over to reveal one of Malcolm X.  There are some lulls (Flip Wilson's preacher character has a bit that goes on far too long with little payoff) but overall the film develops smoothly and some fun business going on.  Cosby and Poitier have a really lively chemistry together, they're a pair of guys that are easy to watch and easy to root for.  I'm putting their other collaborations (Let's Do It Again, A Piece of the Action) on my list.

Also, it's always a nostalgia pleasure to see 1970's Chicago.  I got a little charge when I spotted a Harold's Chicken Shack.  Rating: Good (73)


potential nominations: maybe Cosby?  dunno if he'd make my short list

« Last Edit: September 11, 2012, 10:11:12 PM by MartinTeller »

AAAutin

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #346 on: September 11, 2012, 10:01:24 PM »
potential nominations: maybe Cosby?  dunno if he'd make my short list

I was torn between Cosby and Belafonte; ultimately, I went with neither. I like Pryor's performance better than both, but it's little more than a cameo. So, no nominations for you, UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT.

pixote

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #347 on: September 12, 2012, 11:37:38 AM »
So... it's pretty much just me now, huh?

I'm assuming this will pick back up once Top 100 season winds down. I certainly plan to get to Extreme Private Eros: Love Song 1974 soon, among other things.

pixote
I think I'd love how awkward it'd be, or how awkward it should be.

Bondo

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #348 on: September 12, 2012, 01:05:23 PM »
When I added DVDs back on Netflix I was hoping for another flurry of activity, but Netflix didn't have any of the stuff I wanted to watch either. I might be able to find one or two more things I was interested in seeing but pickings are slim. I'll have to see what gets nominated to help prioritize the rest.

MartinTeller

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Re: Retro Filmspots Review Thread (1974)
« Reply #349 on: September 13, 2012, 10:57:12 PM »

Pastoral: To Die in the Country - Almost every review/comment I can find of this movie invokes the name of Jodorowsky.  The comparison is a difficult one to avoid, he immediately comes to mind.  High-level symbolism, complete disregard for narrative structure, extremely vivid and strikingly composed imagery, characters who are more representations of ideas than people.  There are even camera movements that can best be described as "pure Jodorowsky."  He also brings to mind Fellini (another name that I notice popping up in other reviews), especially in the circus motif and meta/reflexiveness of it.

Summing the movie up in a nutshell is both easy and difficult.  It's the story of a pubescent boy struggling with his budding sexuality.  There's a girl he's infatuated with, but she's the subject of some scandal in the village, giving birth out of wedlock.  There's also some twisted Oedipal things on.  And oh yeah, a circus.  Oh, and the whole thing is being told by a filmmaker trying to accurately represent his childhood.  And then he uses the film as a sort of time machine to see if killing his mother will make him disappear.  Did I mention the circus?  Yeah....

It's all jumbled together in a way that defies coherence.  It's pretty difficult to make sense out of most the time, Terayama seems intent on clouding the situation whenever possible, burying things under layers of abstracted metaphors and possibly random nonsense.  Still, it's a compelling if only to see what crazy thing happens next.  The visual style is a knockout, with colored filters (garishly multi-colored for the circus scenes) and wild images seemingly pulled straight from the id. 

This is my first experience with Shûji Terayama.  I also have Emperor Tomato Ketchup on my list... though admittedly more because there's a Stereolab album named after it than anything else.  I wouldn't mind seeing more.  I can't honestly say I enjoyed this movie, as I usually found it too incomprehensible to connect with.  But it is one of the oddest films I've seen, which is something, and made for an unpredictable viewing experience, which is always a bonus.  Rating: Good (71)


 

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