(Peter Hyams, 1974)
Elliot Gould and Robert Blake are two roguish vice cops who pretty much do whatever they want. However, they got bosses and stuff and apparently those bosses are in the pockets of this one guy named Rizzo. Gould and Blake have ridiculously awesome chemistry (Gould with his mustache and gum and Blake with his unlit cigarettes) and walk around the world of the film like badasses, even after getting chewed out by Rizzo himself or their bosses or just random people. They're also probably irresponsible pricks (they instigate a shootout in a crowded market and a hospital). The whole thing's wholly un-p.c., too. There's a great scene where they're tasked to bust some random gay bar and some black queen stereotype tries to feel up Blake's character, which results in a hilarious brawl (the punchline to this entire scene is so hilarious). But what I think really makes it shine is Hyams' constantly inventive camera movement (backward tracks, circling around characters and/or spaces, a general fidelity to the scene). That coupled with the film's general sense of disillusionment with authority (the film's final freeze frame and voice over feels like a damning indictment of the way that institutions can simply wear some one down) makes it definitely worth tracking down. Also: great soundtrack.
(Brian De Palma, 1973)
This is one of the nuttier films I've seen in a while. One night stand turns nightmarish as the "sister" shows up, ready to play out your worst castration fantasies (not really) because of course the girl is horribly deranged (why wouldn't she be?). The film had me when it kept sliding further and further down into just bizarre shit. It's a hell of a lot less interesting when it's all about the girl across the way starts investigating all this. The film only really picks up again when we start getting into hypnosis and fake craziness and flashbacks embedded into fever dreams (it feels like you're going down the world's most CINECAST!ed up rabbit hole). All of which is pretty fun and creepy and unsettling, all things I enjoy.
Editor's Note: the beginning of the film is so hilarious. De Palma is pretty good with these sort of little autonomous clever sequences (the opening of Blow Out, music video in Body Double, I'm sure there are more examples).
(Monte Hellman, 1974)
A series of crummy motel rooms, backroom deals, farms, still lives of country living, all inhabited by Warren Oates' silent hero, a man of wounded pride and of make-do ambition. It's a world populated by colorful characters: Harry Dean Stanton's friendly rival, Laurie Bird's scorned woman (who is ridiculous), slack-jawed yokels, hustlers, farmers, trainers, all out to make something of themselves. The cocks are avatars of their trainers, ready to fight out the economic struggles of their owners. Violent stuff, sure, but they're essential, for it highlights the disparity between lifestyles. Oates does what he does; he has no qualms about it, just work, money. But for outsiders, this is horrifying, brutal stuff, and the recoil is born of disappointment.
29. The Deer Hunter
(Michael Cimino, 1978)
I've seen complaints regarding the film's opening hour or so online, regarding it as overly long and "when it will get to the point" and "hey I thought this was a Vietnam movie" and such. That's all nonsense. The film's opening hour pretty much wipes the floor with most of the films of the 70's, just by itself. Those slow rhythms are just wonderful. Nothing but drinking, dancing, camaraderie, all those goddamn rituals that I'm so uncomfortable with, but secretly wish to uphold and cherish. Just get shitfaced, man! This entire sequence is honestly just perfect. Where the film treads more dangerous and icky terrain is the Vietnam stuff. Yeah, all that stuff is complete fabrication, but I liked the Russian Roulette stuff as a metaphor for the craziness of war (and how this major event affects each character). I bought it, but your mileage may vary. A completely emotionally draining experience.
30. Toys Are Not For Children
(Stanley H. Brassloff, 1972)
Marcia Forbes' young, innocent girl keeps a couple of secrets from her fiancee. One, she has an obsessive relationship with the toys that her absentee father has gifted to her over the years. Another is that she masturbates using said dolls. On their wedding night, she suddenly goes all frigid and won't allow herself to be touched after the husband suggests that she put the toys away (she can't sleep without them). And this is just the start to the poor girl’s trials and tribulations. In a way, this is the ultimate Daddy Issues: The Movie. All of the main character’s anxieties and confusion get literalized in a series of extremely sleazy and uncomfortable sexytime scenarios, all of which are awesome and deeply CINECAST!ed up. The depths of scuzzy brilliance that this reaches seriously cannot be expressed. It also features one of my favorite credit sequences ever – a strange, plaintive theme song accompanied by images of toys fading into the hazy memories of an idealized father/daughter relationship that probably never existed. The young daughter being put to bed by her father dissolves into the young beautiful bride-to-be; it doesn’t get clearer than that.