One of these small-scale crime movies from the seventies that I absolutely love. Great production value (incredible cinematography by The French Connection's Owen Roizman), great cast (Dustin Hoffman, Harry Dean Stanton, M Emmet Walsh, and Gary Busey), and a grit and grime that recall some of the early great B noir films.
It also boasts one of the greatest heist scenes ever put on film. In fact, I rank it right up there with the famous ones from Rififi and Heat.
It's so cliche but I'll go ahead and say it, they don't make movies like this one anymore. It has a mainstream-level cast and crew but a dark, indy mindset. And it's not post-modern and not ironic, it's earnest, hard-hitting stuff. Give me this, give me Night Moves, give me The Killing of a Chinese Bookie. Honesty and artistry, a certain pedestrian quality, these are among my favorite of all crime films.
Other contenders for 1978: There are still some titles I need to see from this year. These include: Eric Rohmer's Perceval le Gallois, Errol Morris' Gates of Heaven, Paul Schrader's Blue Collar, Ingmar Bergman's Autumn Sonata, Paul Mazursky's An Unmarried Woman, Claude Chabrol's Violette, Ermanno Olmi's The Tree of Wooden Clogs, Rainer Werner Fassbinder's In a Year of 13 Moons, Nagisa Oshima's Empire of Passion, Hal Ashby's Coming Home, Alan Parker's Midnight Express, George Romero's Dawn of the Dead, Fred Schepisi's The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, Karel Reisz's Who'll Stop The Rain, and Orson Welles' Filming Othello. And, at some point, I need to revisit Terrence Malick's Days of Heaven as it's one I've struggled with in the past. Meanwhile, from this year, I really like Francois Truffaut's La chambre verte. I love John Carpenter's Halloween. And my closest runner-up is Michael Cimino's The Deer Hunter.
7/1/11 I watched Rainer Werner Fassbinder's In a Year of 13 Moons. Very intimate, raw, and clearly personal. The production design and haziness of some of the scenes are extraordinary. But overall the whole thing's also a bit of a slog.
7/4/11 I watched Errol Morris' Gates of Heaven. Quirky in typical Morris fashion, and curious as I almost always feel Morris just on the side laughing a bit at his subject and characters.
7/21/11 I watched Ermanno Olmi's The Tree of Wooden Clogs. It's an incredibly ambitious venture that is acutely observed and warmly rendered. Ambles and captures the countryside in ways that remind of McCabe & Mrs. Miller, sans Altman's quirky stylings. Never have I seen the rural parts of Italy look so alive. Olmi asks for patience, but his eye is as natural and unobtrusive as the glory days of Kiarostami in Iran.
9/29/11 I watched Paul Schrader's Blue Collar. A Schrader with a big reputation, but I found it a bit too meandering. It tightens up near the end and finds some nice dramatic moments. But overall, I would say it's a little underwhelming to me compared to Mishima, Affliction, or even American Gigolo.
10/18/11 I watched Maurice Pialat's Passe ton bac d'abord. The young actors are all universally fantastic, but this one lacks the rigor of some of the best Pialat. An interesting watch, if slightly underwhelming.
1/3/16 I watched Monte Hellman's China 9, Liberty 37. It's a wonder Tarantino hasn't remade this one. This might be the only western I have seen that boasts a krautrock score, terrific work by the way by Pino Donaggio. Further proof of Hellman's cult status as an auteur and even if the third act drags a little, this little known pic sits comfortably with Hellman's Ride in the Whirlwind and The Shooting and needs to be seen as a clear precursor to Dead Man and all of Tarantino's work.