Saturday, March 27, 2010

1975: Night Moves (Arthur Penn)

1975: Night Moves (Arthur Penn)
For what it's worth, I guess this is one of the most flawed films to top my list.  By no means would I tout it as being perfect, and I'm not even sure it's great.  But I love it more than any other film I've seen from 1975.  

I put Night Moves in the same category as The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and Straight Time, films that are all substantially lower in budget than the Coppola and Polanski crime epics.  And I only mention budget because there's a grit and casualness to Night Moves that immediately announces its relative lack of ambition.  In fact, its this lack of ambition that accounts for much of its likeability.  Like a close friend that puts no expectations on you, it's always easy and a pleasure being in its company.

I say all this, but there's still much to boast about in this one.  Gene Hackman delivers one of his finest performances, Melanie Griffith is criminally sexy, Michael Small proves once again that he's a master when it comes to subtle, minimal scores, and the serpentine plot is an absolute delight.

I miss Arthur Penn.  I love this film, and I love The Chase, and I admire the hell out of Bonnie and Clyde.  Like Cimino and even Coppola, if the system had worked better, we'd probably have another handful of incredible Penn films to love and discuss.



Other contenders for 1975:  Even with some gaps, I already know this is a really great year.  I still need to see: Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon, Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger, Richard Fleischer's Mandingo, Theo Angelopoulos' The Travelling Players, Abbas Kiarostami's Two Solutions for One Problem, Jean-Luc Godard's Numero deux, Elaine May's Mikey and Nicky, Chantal Akerman's Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai de Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Fox and His Friends, and Francois Truffaut's The Story of Adele H.  At some point, I'll need to revisit Sidney Lumet's Dog Day Afternoon, Milos Forman's One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock as these are all titles I've struggled with in the past.  From this year, I really like Woody Allen's Love and Death.  I love Steven Spielberg's Jaws, Akira Kurosawa's Dersu Uzala, John Cassavetes' The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, and John Huston's The Man Who Would Be King.  And my closest runner-up is Hal Ashby's Shampoo.


7/14/11 I watched Michelangelo Antonioni's The Passenger. Antonioni's incredible talents are all over -- his meticulous framing, his daring yet languid camerawork, and his feel for spaces that the medium has yet to capture.  Still very slow and cerebral like almost all his work, but The Passenger gains some warmth from its summer exteriors and more rustic locations.  One of the cinema's great road movies, and in the same family as Wenders' Alice in the Cities and Kings of the Road


8/14/11 I watched Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon.  Artful and careful. But also distancing and painfully boring for me.  Plus Kubrick's almost wall-to-wall music wore on me quickly.     


8/17/11 I watched Rainer Werner Fassbinder's Fox and His Friends. Decadent and defeatist as it seems most of Fassbinder's films are.  This one feels slightly more intimate though with Fassbinder himself playing the lead.


4/13/12 I watched Robert Aldrich's Hustle.  There's something ambitious about the emotional scope that doesn't quite click or fully come together.  But this Aldrich remains of interest by refusing to steer clear of the personal, no matter how uncomfortable or how telling.  An interesting role for Reynolds while a questionable choice for Deneuve.  

8 comments:

  1. Although I'm not a fan of this film Jeffrey, I applaud the bold choice! The film does have fans who would go the extra yard as you have done too!

    The Travelling Players (Angelopoulos; Greece)

    Runners-Up:

    Picnic at Hanging Rock (Weir; Australia)
    Barry Lyndon (Kubrick; UK/USA)
    The Passenger (Antonioni; Italy/USA)
    Fox and His Friends (Fassbinder; Germany)
    The Story of Adele H. (Truffaut; France)
    Numero Deux (Godard; France)
    Dog Day Afternoon (Lumet; USA)
    Love and Death (Allen; USA)

    A rather weak year, with a few great films that shine through.

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  2. Sam, great to hear from you! I still need to see many of your top picks, but I'm looking forward to them.

    For me, this is actually a really strong year. But I understand it's totally a taste thing.

    Thanks so much, Sam. Always such a treat to have you here!

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  3. I'm a fan of pretty much every Penn film I've seen, yet Night Moves remains one I've not yet gotten around to. I may very well have to bump it up my list of priorities after your praise here Jeffrey.

    For this year, my picks would be personal masterpieces from two of my favorite directors: Tarkovsky's staggering opus Zerkalo, a film that continues to bowl me over with every viewing, and Cassavetes' The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, one of my favorite crime pictures ever, dripping with style and raw personality.

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  4. Drew, great to hear from you! If you like Penn, I can pretty much guarantee that you'll like this one. Personally, it's probably my favorite of anything I've ever seen by him.

    I need to revisit THE MIRROR (ZERKALO). It's been a really long time since I've since it. But, like you, I absolutely love CHINESE BOOKIE.

    Thanks for stopping by. Always a treat to have you here!

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  5. I've gotta go with Sidney Lumet's DOG DAY AFTERNOON. It is at times tense, funny, socially conscious... just so much going on in it, plus incredible performances from both Al Pacino and John Cazale. It is definitely my favorite Lumet film.

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  6. Dave, great to hear from you! I definitely owe this Lumet more viewings. It's one I've struggled a little with in the past, but I will absolutely revisit it.

    Thanks, Dave. Always a treat to have you here!

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  7. My favorite American film of the seventies and one of my favorite films of all time. Of the works that truly haunt me, few do more than this film. I think about Harry Moseby and hear that Michael Small theme in my head all the time. God, I love this film...

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  8. Jeremy, that's awesome! I also feel that it's an amazing film. And the fact that you call it your favorite film of the seventies , well that's pretty f-ing cool.

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