The Graduate (Mike Nichols, 1967)Adam & Matty's takes (starts at 39:11)
One of the few films in the whole project I've already seen, and actually reviewed
(and there were some interesting responses from people here too). This time, I went in assuming that the film knew fully that Benjamin Braddock was a self-involved prick, which I think does bear out in the choices Nichols made and makes the whole thing less confounding... but I still don't care for it.
Mike Nichols was in his mid-30s when he made this, and this time it seemed to me like a film about a clash of generations where Nichols wants to show that both generations are awful. Benjamin and Elaine are self-involved to the point of parody, and the older generation is hypocritical, envious of their children's youth but nonetheless trying to control it as much as possible. In a sense, it's about the almost institutional cycle of false rebellion against elders that inevitably leads to the same results, and you can see how Ben and Elaine would likely become mirrors of the Robinsons. Well, in reality they'd probably get a divorce because, you know, the world actually does change, but this is a nihilistic film so it probably didn't in that world.
Nihilistic is perhaps the wrong word: the one I keep coming back to is misanthropic. I dislike everyone in this film. Everyone. And I think I see now how it serves the film's greater purpose, but, well, that makes it somewhat painful to watch. Adam & Matty mention the more overt comedy bits as being the film's weakest point, and I don't know that I fully agree, but I will say that Dustin Hoffman's clumsy routine is hit-and-miss.
Now, I do think the film is excellent from a formal standpoint. The way Nichols portrays Ben's aimless drifting is rather unsubtle (I mean, he literally says it) but nonetheless very effective, as is the editing during the Ben/Mrs. Robinson romance, which underlines the mechanical, pointless nature of it. And then there's Simon and Garfunkel. It's a great score, perhaps slightly too... enthusiastic for the subject matter as I perceive it, but there's plenty of melancholy there as well, and any time the film devotes itself to it, I'm in. Partly because I don't have to listen to the characters in those moments, but still.5/10