Melinda and Melinda (Woody Allen, 2004)

I’m of the mind that Woody Allen has never had a “dry” spell.  And to remind me of this fact all I have to do is re-watch Melinda and Melinda.  For those of you who haven’t seen it Allen revisits one of his favorite devices of telling two tales, one comedic and one tragic, in the same film.  Most famously this was done in Crimes and Misdemeanors, one of my favorite films of all time.  In Melinda we get both the comedy and the drama via a startling performance by Radha Mitchell but the most brilliant thing about this film, … Continue reading Melinda and Melinda (Woody Allen, 2004)

The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008)

What a wonderful confection (lately, my favorite word – recently used to forecast my viewing of the upcoming Lars Van Treir film, Antichrist).  The Wrestler never gives into hollywood convention until the end when the damaged soul stripper shows up to stop a heart break match.  But what a wonderful trip this film is.  I am sure many have written of its very documentary style, Aronofsky’s objective behind the back camera work of the golden locked Roarke wandering among the apparently sensitive and nurturing biosphere of professional wrestling.  What a wonderful return to form for Aronofsky who captures the brilliant … Continue reading The Wrestler (Darren Aronofsky, 2008)

Carnal Knowledge (Mike Nichols, 1971)

A Short Film about Killing Misogyny.  Its a perfect dramatization of the asshole and the sort of passive woman that is victimized by the asshole.  Except here the victim is Ann-Margaret whom I cannot fathom ever had to deal with this sort of partner.  Not sure if this were ever a stage play but it could have been – it’s a character driven script with little cinematography aside from snow driven scenes at an unnamed New England university.  Art Garfunkel is more than just a muse for Jack Nicholson’s Jonathan Fuerst – in fact he is pretty darn good.  It starts as … Continue reading Carnal Knowledge (Mike Nichols, 1971)

Shampoo (Hal Ashby, 1975)

Very funny comedy about the exploits of… him (up there).  Sexual pentagon climaxes in a hilarious dinner / party sequence where all characters meet and … detonate.  GREAT comedic performances by Lee Grant, Julie Christie, the late, great Jack Warden (esp the late Jack Warden) and..Carrie Fisher.  This story about very liberal antics takes place on the election night of Richard Nixon which gives a very clever, ironic backdrop.  Stupid Hollywood ending wraps everything up in a tight little silly bow.  This is a very enjoyable film! **** / ***** Continue reading Shampoo (Hal Ashby, 1975)

Scarecrow (Jerry Schatzberg, 1973)

I watched Scarecrow on the heels of The Last Detail and they have interesting parallels.  Both are buddy road films released in 1973, one protagonist has just exited prison (Hackman, Scarecrow) and another is heading there (Quaid, The Last Detail).  A different protagonist is seeking reconciliation with family – Quaid with mother and Pacino (Scarecrow) with wife and child.  There is mental illness at work in both stories but more so in Scarecrow.  As for cinematography (although Winter plays a part in The Last Detail and dust in Scarecrow) it takes a back seat in both films to close up … Continue reading Scarecrow (Jerry Schatzberg, 1973)