Police work involving a black woman getting raped followed by a dance party followed by police work followed by a discussion of Japanese art followed by police work involving smoking pot to ‘learn about its effects’ followed by the best breakup ever in a Greenwich village apartment and police work and the worst breakup ever in a chic coffee shop plus more police work. That sounds like a B-movie or a Sidney Lumet biopic, “Serpico,” that it actually is. I also realized that the hipster references only made up less than ten minutes of the movie, but they stand out. The movie after all depicts the cusp of the 1970’s and not only does an Italian American police officer, Frank ‘Paco’ Serpico (Al Pacino) like his friends do, from the old neighborhood get within the wave of the moment but he takes advantage of it and incorporates the whims of the baby boomers to fit in despite his job as a cop.
Mixing “the scene” into a cop movie makes this a unique example of a genre, and it’s surprising how a little element can have such a huge impact. Instead of being a moralist, Paco is an enlightened man and that’s what drives him as the honest police officer in a sea of payola cops. He ends up with a suffering girlfriend instead of a crying wife and children, but to refer again to this coolest of police officers, we still feel like we’re on the brink of losing a person to his profession.
And from what I’ve seen of their work so far, this is the most cinematic of Lumet’s movies since it relies on cadence than blocking or script like it does in his other movies I’ve seen. And it’s one of Pacino’s best performances, being whiny and intellectual and loving all in the same person. Also prepare yourself for a mustache and beard and ridiculous, fun-to-watch outfits including a Rabbi costume. The Fleet Foxes look actually makes his eyes pop and look benevolent. Were his grooming and his hemp fabric shirts supposed to evoke Jesus? No one else will allow him become all those because he’s too old and it wouldn’t work.
One of my shortcomings in movie blogging is talking about the social context of the narrative instead of how film delivers the narrative. This is true when I talk about historical pieces like “Bound For Glory”, that’s all I see.
As the caption in that screen shot says, Woody Guthrie is like a modern cowboy, with a twist! The film begins in Pampa, Texas, and no offense to anyone who lives there now but the film’s depiction of the town is fucking tumbleweeds. And this is the middle of country and a part that’s already considered “The West.” This isn’t a Brigham Young type of frontier-ism – the traditional West still isn’t good enough especially by the Depression, and an American can only expect to go further to succeed. And when he gets there he mingles with Oklahoman fruit pickers in California, gets his radio show, struggles with his union beliefs and fame and family.
Great cinematography, but of course I have a few complaints. The movie, like the real Woody, stayed too long in Texas and also a bit longer in the other places the character finds himself being. David Carradine does some good work playing a small town boy but comes short at making him sympathetic. He can’t juggle his beliefs and his family, a mid-20th century version of the workaholic dad who always misses his son’s big baseball game.
I’m still baffled yet in reverence of New Hollywood because they could make movies about socialism with jazz hands. The contradiction of being pro-union while working in a sponsored radio show isn’t stressed in the film, although that’s probably a more contemporary way of thinking. Tip: If someone wants to do an agenda movie, they can use the immigration in California in the 30’s and use Okies as a metaphor for the way Mexicans are treated today.
I saw “The Cove” this past Thursday. To call it a documentary fits the rudimentary description, but the word “documentary” however implies certain qualities among the film that might make those prejudiced against it turn away. “The Cove” shows shots of people talking or groups of people doing fascinating or horrifying things, but that’s not all there is to the movie. Instead it actually has a deeper aesthetic value and pattern.
The first shots in the film are, if I’m right, taken from infrared cameras, then a few more from night vision. We hear the deep, benevolent voice of Louie Psihoyos, telling his audience that he did his best to try to make the movie legally. This first scene, both in visuals and words, warns us of not being allowed to see and roadblocks and denials. The movie also shows other people who have tried to do what Psihoyos as his team are doing, and failing. Some get murdered, as indicated by stills of web pages announcing these deaths.
Psihoyos’s documentary tells the story of dolphins being hunted in the coastal town of Taiji, Japan. He learns about this from Rick O’Barry, an Alfred Nobel figure in his transformation from TV show producer to dolphin activist. Seeing some of the action, he assembles a group with different skills helping him expose what’s happening. They have to do everything at night, which explains the infrared and the night vision. SPOILER ALERT, but they use the infrared cameras to install regular digital ones and hide it in the right places, they go back to the hotel rooms to look at the footage, the screen goes black, we as the audience go underwater, and the infrared and night vision fully contrast the clarity of what’s recorded.
And this movie makes me jealous that this guy only went to one week of film school.
And this movie makes me unable to hate Hayden Panettiere, not that I did in the first place.
I also saw “All The President’s Men” on TCM the same night, and I’m not sure whether I would be equally erudite with this movie as I was on “The Cove.”
The movie stars Dustin Hoffman (playing Carl Bernstein), the greatest American actor in the New Hollywood era. The first few scenes of the film made me think that he’s unfairly playing second fiddle to Robert Redford (playing Bob Woodward), but both men even out eventually. Not to mention that this is the first time I’ve seen Robert Redford act, and I feel shitty and reductive for saying that but I haven’t checked out his oeuvre yet. It still seems that Redford gets a 60/40 in the movie because he gets mano-a-mano with Hal Holbrook’s Deep Throat, their meetings sprinkled with neo-noir elements. I guess it’s more cinematic that way for a person to meet another instead of being interrogated by two.
The reason I bring up the Deep Throat meetings is because the first movie I’ve seen of the subject is “Dick,” where both Woodward and Bernstein meet “Deep Throat.”
Both movies show how the little guys are intelligent and can beat the bullying big guys with a rock and slingshot. and in “All the President’s Men,” Bernstein’s friendliness and hunger and Woodward’s innocence complement each other. They’re both underestimated but as we realize, one brain’s as good as the next, as both guys meticulously look at details and scour the right interviewees and follow the money, as Deep Throat has said.
(Bill looks up. ph. http://ofilia.wordpress.com/)
“Days of Heaven” was on TCM as part of their 31 Days of Oscar thing they do every February. I was planning to see Tootsie instead, but this was on, and earlier.
Every time I saw a great long shot of a landscape, I felt disappointed in myself that I’m not waiting until later this month to go see it on a big screen. On screen this stuff probably looks majestic, but on TV it looked to clean. Well at least I didn’t watch this on my iPod. I do appreciate what Malick does here. It felt like he waited (apparently the film was show in the course of a year) for the right colours to appear on the sky. It was like what Van Gogh would have done if he had a camera. Seasons had to change so that we’re not seeing yellow fields all the time, and Malick did that beautifully as well. And the locust scene can wake the hell out of anyone.
There is that little part of my that thinks that this movie is an earlier, lighter text compared to “The Thin Red Line.””Days of Heaven” portrays man and nature as coexisting, weaving into one another. The fields and the sky aren’t a backdrop for the love triangle between Bill (Richard Gere), The Farmer (Sam Shepard) and Abby (Brooke Adams), and it makes the movie a bit poetic. In “Days of Heaven,” nature controls man, while “Thin Red Line” is more of a microscopic look of how man can destroy nature. It’s probably a bias, and that bias is getting weaker than it was two days ago when I first saw this, but it’s there.
A really strong point of this movie is that it shows a time when people could transform and disappear. There’s so much regionalism now, and I feel like the class system is getting stronger these days. Back then everyone seemed able to do anything and take any job. Seeing Richard Gere’s character turn from farm hand to a king to a fugitive is still refreshing today, and his character gives a face to the undocumented persons that helped shape American history.