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 Stu Presents: A History Of New Hollywood! 
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Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
for real though, I hope you at least find time for official Corrierino zeitgeist film Nashville. though I don't know if I would pick it as The Film of 1975 when we are more living in a post-Jaws Hollywood than a post-Nashville one.

I do love that film, as I do with all Altman movies. I badly need to watch it again.


Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:26 pm
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I'm pretty sure MASH is where he invents the overlapping dialogue, Im not the biggest Altman fan but some of his stuff is masterpiece level, he's fun to dig through, you should prioritize his stuff whenever you can

Im glad you went with this over Patton which really shouldnt be considered New Hollywood at all, it was very very establishment and bigbudget studio war movie ala Longest Day and in development before any New Hollywoods were hits (and Coppola was trying to be establishment at the time, eg Finian's Rainbow)

Oscars might be a bad way to choose New Hollywood ones, theres def crossover later as studios follow the hits and certain directors and producers and stars form a new establishment, but I think you'll find more interesting movies and a better sense of the history if you dont take Oscars into consideration

echoing others: great thread and glad to raed another entry, can't wait for next one!


Thu Sep 13, 2018 1:19 am
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Post Re: 1970: M*A*S*H (Altman, first viewing)

Jinnistan wrote:
I'd recommend it, but it may be a bit more off-putting. In its way, it's even more anarchic than MASH (although a bit more forgiving on Sally Kellerman), and the humor veers from very silly to disturbingly weird. It's also outdated in may ways, but I think it's a special film. (And a great double feature with Harold & Maude if you're still considering a 1971 entry.)


It's really much more than that though. It's been said that Easy Rider proved that Jack Nicholson was a star, but Five Easy Pieces proved he was a great actor. Pretty much everything Jack did between 1970-1975 is worthwhile, but 5EP is on the shortlist of his personal best.


Growing up with MASH being a staple of the TV week, to the point where the theme music is immediately relatable (like Taxi, Barney Miller, Kotter, Rockford Files), it was quite a revelation once we found out what the lyrics were about.
I made my choice for '71 some time ago, and I'm afraid it's not Harold And Maude, but I'll keep that double feature idea in mind! I'll also see about going back and finishing 5EP some time, since I really am interested in checking out some more early Nicholson performances. And regarding "Suicide Is Painless", I was very amused to discover this little tidbit in my research on M*A*S*H: "According to Johnny Mandel and Robert Altman, the film's famous theme song was intended to be the "stupidest song ever written". After attempting to write the lyrics himself, Altman said he found it too difficult to write "dumb enough", and instead gave to the task to his fourteen-year-old son, Mike, who allegedly wrote the lyrics in five minutes. Because of its inclusion in the subsequent television series, he continued to get residuals throughout its run and syndication. Robert was paid seventy-five thousand dollars for directing, but his son eventually made about two million dollars in song royalties."

:D
Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
as a reward for being honest with your lack of exposure to Altman, I am now going to bully you mercilessly.

I do agree with M*A*S*H as the movie of 1970 though in tandem with Patton, the movie of choice for the other half of the country. remember a time when real men were allowed to fight the good fight without letting themselves be handcuffed by a bunch of bleeding hearts and moral relativists? (heck, it was apparently Nixon's favorite movie according to Woodward and Bernstein)
It's been a while since I last watched Patton, but I remember the infamous slapping-the-soldier scene being extremely drawn-out and uncomfortable to watch, which, along with the "Americans have never lost, and will never lose a war" line which might have been intended as some ironic commentary on the war we were losing at the time (a 1970's-era Coppola WAS one of the film's co-writers, after all) lead me to believe that the film isn't quite as pro-war as some think it is. But, like I said, it's been a while.
Popcorn Reviews wrote:
Another one I haven't seen. Dang it. However, just wanted to chime in that I'm really enjoying this thread so far.
Thanks 8-)
Joss Whedon wrote:
You better be talking about Skidoo, I won't tolerate your friendship if you don't
What the hell's Skidoo?
Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
for real though, I hope you at least find time for official Corrierino zeitgeist film Nashville. though I don't know if I would pick it as The Film of 1975 when we are more living in a post-Jaws Hollywood than a post-Nashville one.
Nashville's the Altman I want to watch the most next, along with McCabe And Mrs. Miller, when I can find the time.
wigwam wrote:
I'm pretty sure MASH is where he invents the overlapping dialogue, Im not the biggest Altman fan but some of his stuff is masterpiece level, he's fun to dig through, you should prioritize his stuff whenever you can

Im glad you went with this over Patton which really shouldnt be considered New Hollywood at all, it was very very establishment and bigbudget studio war movie ala Longest Day and in development before any New Hollywoods were hits (and Coppola was trying to be establishment at the time, eg Finian's Rainbow)

Oscars might be a bad way to choose New Hollywood ones, theres def crossover later as studios follow the hits and certain directors and producers and stars form a new establishment, but I think you'll find more interesting movies and a better sense of the history if you dont take Oscars into consideration

echoing others: great thread and glad to raed another entry, can't wait for next one!
Thanks!

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Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:22 pm
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Stu wrote:
What the hell's Skidoo?

The supper-club generation in Hollywood (Jackie Gleason, Groucho Marx, Mickey Rooney, Frankie Avalon, Peter Lawford, at least three Batman villains, etc) discover LSD and have a swinging old time at sea.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:29 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:
The supper-club generation in Hollywood (Jackie Gleason, Groucho Marx, Mickey Rooney, Frankie Avalon, Peter Lawford, at least three Batman villains, etc) discover LSD and have a swinging old time at sea.
Sounds amazing, really.

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Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:34 pm
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Stu wrote:
Sounds amazing, really.

Oh, it's groovy, man. And happening.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:35 pm
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Stu wrote:
It's been a while since I last watched Patton, but I remember the infamous slapping-the-soldier scene being extremely drawn-out and uncomfortable to watch, which, along with the "Americans have never lost, and will never lose a war" line which might have been intended as some ironic commentary on the war we were losing at the time (a 1970's-era Coppola WAS one of the film's co-writers, after all) lead me to believe that the film isn't quite as pro-war as some think it is. But, like I said, it's been a while.


like Truffaut says about anti-war movies.... (yadda yadda yadda you know what I'm going to say)

also, here is some more on Skidoo. it's one unique cultural artifact for sure.
http://www.reverseshot.org/symposiums/entry/969/skidoo


Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:51 pm
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Stu wrote:
Nashville's the Altman I want to watch the most next, along with McCabe And Mrs. Miller, when I can find the time.

I really liked McCabe and Mrs. Miller. A lot.


Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:10 pm
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Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
also, here is some more on Skidoo. it's one unique cultural artifact for sure.
http://www.reverseshot.org/symposiums/entry/969/skidoo

Why do people still shit on Popeye?


Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:13 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:
Why do people still shit on Popeye?

Yeah, I thought that movie had long ago been vindicated.


Sun Sep 16, 2018 12:50 pm
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Post Re: Stu Presents: A History Of New Hollywood!

Late response here, but...
ThatDarnMKS wrote:
Easy Rider is one of the best films I've ever seen. I think it's a great films BECAUSE it is scattered and aimless.
...I can respect that, but personally, I'm finding that the deeper I delve into the movement, the more I'm finding that certain films in it seemed to have a hard time finding the right balance between the freedom brought on by the narrative/stylistic experimentation of the new era, and the more focused storytelling and lower-key aesthetics of Classical Hollywood. Don't get me wrong, I still prefer New Hollywood to Classical, but I'm finding that the best films of the former are the ones that use the stylistic experimentations of the New in ways that actually contribute to the film as a whole (and without going too far in that aspect and just becoming mindlessly experimental for the sake of being mindlessly experimental), and marry that more free-wheeling style with the more tightly focused stories of the Classical Era (while still including moments that don't necessarily advance the story, but at the very least, say, still advance our understanding of the characters within or some other enriching understanding of the film), like what Mike Nichols did with The Graduate. That's just a personal preference, though.

Anyway, hopefully, either tomorrow or the next day, I'll be able to start and finish my rewatch of my 1971 movie, and finish my write-up for it soon after, so stay tuned everybody!

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Thu Sep 20, 2018 12:52 pm
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Stu wrote:
Late response here, but......I can respect that, but personally, I'm finding that the deeper I delve into the movement, the more I'm finding that certain films in it seemed to have a hard time finding the right balance between the freedom brought on by the narrative/stylistic experimentation of the new era, and the more focused storytelling and lower-key aesthetics of Classical Hollywood. Don't get me wrong, I still prefer New Hollywood to Classical, but I'm finding that the best films of the former are the ones that use the stylistic experimentations of the New in ways that actually contribute to the film as a whole (and without going too far in that aspect and just becoming mindlessly experimental for the sake of being mindlessly experimental), and marry that more free-wheeling style with the more tightly focused stories of the Classical Era (while still including moments that don't necessarily advance the story, but at the very least, say, still advance our understanding of the characters within or some other enriching understanding of the film), like what Mike Nichols did with The Graduate. That's just a personal preference, though.

Anyway, hopefully, either tomorrow or the next day, I'll be able to start and finish my rewatch of my 1971 movie, and finish my write-up for it soon after, so stay tuned everybody!

Well, Easy Rider was definitely NOT about finding the right balance, it was about doing something new.


Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:02 pm
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Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:07 pm
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Wooley wrote:
Love that record, btw. Yes, that's me who wrote that review; I actually wrote album reviews for that site on-and-off from 2009-13, which was one of the formative experiences of my life. It was voluntarily discontinued and deleted back in 2014, unfortunately, but it was a good decade old by that point, and what a ride while it lasted, y'know?

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Thu Sep 20, 2018 1:22 pm
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Stu wrote:
I can respect that, but personally, I'm finding that the deeper I delve into the movement, the more I'm finding that certain films in it seemed to have a hard time finding the right balance between the freedom brought on by the narrative/stylistic experimentation of the new era, and the more focused storytelling and lower-key aesthetics of Classical Hollywood. Don't get me wrong, I still prefer New Hollywood to Classical, but I'm finding that the best films of the former are the ones that use the stylistic experimentations of the New in ways that actually contribute to the film as a whole (and without going too far in that aspect and just becoming mindlessly experimental for the sake of being mindlessly experimental), and marry that more free-wheeling style with the more tightly focused stories of the Classical Era (while still including moments that don't necessarily advance the story, but at the very least, say, still advance our understanding of the characters within or some other enriching understanding of the film), like what Mike Nichols did with The Graduate. That's just a personal preference, though.


yeah anybody know of any movies that (in your opinion) represent the worst of American New Wave? and I'm not talking about the big expensive excessive Heaven's Gate-style busts but the ones that go overboard on the navel-gazing and meandering and self-pity. I watch too much canonized stuff so I don't have a good knowledge of crap.

I remember watching The King of Marvin Gardens and while I thought it was on the whole a decent piece, I could understand why most people would rather watch something like Star Wars. (or at least something like The Graduate or Easy Rider since those had some good tunes)


Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:14 pm
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Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
yeah anybody know of any movies that (in your opinion) represent the worst of American New Wave? and I'm not talking about the big expensive excessive Heaven's Gate-style busts but the ones that go overboard on the navel-gazing and meandering and self-pity. I watch too much canonized stuff so I don't have a good knowledge of crap.

Love Story
A Wedding
Agatha
At Long Last Love
Interiors
A Star is Born
1941


Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:10 am
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awww, I thought A Wedding was ok. not top-tier Altman but still pleasantly Altman-y.

I haven't seen At Long Last Love but imo it sorta, kinda looks like the movie Star Wars could have been: an earnest, cynicism-free, intentionally-square homage to a decades-old (and out of fashion) genre but with the sort of poor technical aspects (in this case, leads that were not passable singers/dancers) that broke the audience's immersion. unless that's too much of a stretch.


Sun Sep 23, 2018 3:28 pm
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How are you doing on your 1971 write-up?

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Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:36 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
How are you doing on your 1971 write-up?
In order to report on my progress on that, I would've had to actually begin it :D Yeah, sorry, but a combination of me being busy on my days off work/not in the mood to rewatch my choice for '71 (since I've seen it multiple times before not too long ago, it's been harder for me to work up the motivation to watch it again) have ended up delaying my next entry. But, I'm not giving up on this thread yet, not by a long shot, and I'm happy to know you're still anticipating future entries; I'll see if I have the time/interest to rewatch/start writing about the '71 movie sometime this weekend, and if not, I'll just do it later, whenever I'm ready. I am sorry to delay this thread, but I'd rather do that then try to rush it when I'm not in the mood, and then that sloppiness shows up in my writing. At any rate, stay tuned, folks!

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Thu Oct 11, 2018 2:34 pm
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Stu wrote:
In order to report on my progress on that, I would've had to actually begin it :D Yeah, sorry, but a combination of me being busy on my days off work/not in the mood to rewatch my choice for '71 (since I've seen it multiple times before not too long ago, it's been harder for me to work up the motivation to watch it again) have ended up delaying my next entry. But, I'm not giving up on this thread yet, not by a long shot, and I'm happy to know you're still anticipating future entries; I'll see if I have the time/interest to rewatch/start writing about the '71 movie sometime this weekend, and if not, I'll just do it later, whenever I'm ready. I am sorry to delay this thread, but I'd rather do that then try to rush it when I'm not in the mood, and then that sloppiness shows up in my writing. At any rate, stay tuned, folks!

Nice. I'm looking forward to it. As long as your write-up is as good as your previous entries, I don't a mind a delay if it means you'll produce more quality work as opposed to rushing and producing something not up to the standards you're hoping for.

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Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:41 pm
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Post 1971: A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, rewatch)

Image

I was cured all right.

Personal Thoughts:


It had been over a decade since I last watched A Clockwork Orange, but rewatching it for this thread, I found that my feelings on it are more or less the same as they were the first few times I watched it; it's certainly a very unique movie, and one that I have a lot respect for, but not really one I love, unfortunately. To get my negatives out of the way first, I suppose I could mention how it occasionally tries just a bit too hard to be shocking and "edgy" (such as the end credits using the actual original recording of "Singin' In The Rain" after the film radically, let's say, "recontextualized" that particular song earlier), or how on-the-nose some of the film's delivery of its themes are (you could even say it's a bit (gulp) Nolan-y at times in that regard) but those are minor issues when put next to my main complaint about ACO, which is how unnecessarily over the top its general sensibilities are. Part of that may be due to the style of the film feeling occasionally self-indulgent, but Kubrick's direction here, for the most part, is rather effective in its trippy, nightmarish tone, so that aspect of the film definitely helps more than it hurts on the whole; rather, the main problem is with how ridiculous and exaggerated so many of the supporting performances in the film are, especially in the second half.

You see, when comparing Clockwork to the rest of Kubrick's body of work, I feel that the various over the top bits of acting in something like Dr. Strangelove actually contributed something positive to that particular film, as they served the movie as a whole, and worked to illustrate the inherent absurdity of "mutual assured destruction" as a policy of national defense. Heck, even the extremely under the top performances in 2001 served to demonstrate the theme that mankind in that film had become jaded and lifeless, even in the wonderous future they inhabit. On the other hand, the needlessly exaggerated histrionics of Clockwork, whether it be the obnoxious simpering of Alex's probation officer, the random, abrupt screaming of the chief prison guard, or the incessant quivering of the writer's barefaced rage (whose actor actually asked Malcolm McDowell if his performance was too over the top) don't serve to do anything but make the film more tedious to watch, makes the characters feel phony and inauthentic, and only removes the film even further from the reality that its attempting to comment on, which, when you consider the already heightened, futuristic dystopia it takes place in, was an entirely unnecessary decision on the part of Kub.

Besides that main quibble, however, I have to say that A Clockwork Orange is still fundamentally a pretty good movie on the whole, and one well worth watching for any film fan, as the production design maintains a nice balance between urban decay and sleek, alien futurism, a contrast that we really don't see enough of in sci-fi, the themes, while, again, are occasionally too obvious and self-conscious in their delivery, still pack some potent messages on the nature of free will, whether nature or nuture is the more important factor in determing the kind of people we become, and whether true inner rehabilitation and change is possible for human beings, and the style of the film works wonderfully for the most part, with Wendy Carlos's sinister, disorienting synthesized score striking an appropriately dystopian tone, the sequences of Alex's intense, kaleidoscopic hallucinations get us more intimate than we ever wanted to with the droog's sick, twisted brain, and John Alcott's cinematography is constantly, unusually kinetic in its movement without ever drawing too much attention to itself. My complaints about the overacting aside, A Clockwork Orange is still a unique as hell, one of a kind experience otherwise, and one you won't have to have your eyes pried open to stay awake for, that's for sure.

Significance To The Movement/Cinema As A Whole:

Despite his directorial career beginning well before the start of the New Hollywood era, Kubrick still showed 2001 was no fluke, and that he was more than keeping pace with the rest of the movement with Clockwork, as, besides the film's aforementioned experimental, surreal overall style, which makes it feel the most "New Hollywood" of any of Kubrick's films from the period, and the fact that it was one of the highest-grossing releases of the year, it was also nominated for four Oscars including Best Director and Best Picture, showing that the Academy of old was actually much less conservative at the time that it has become in recent decades. That fact is even more impressive when you consider just how much nudity, rape, and the ol' "ultra-violence" the film contains, which actually netted it the dreaded "X" rating at the time, and which, in addition to to the film's anti-government, anti-authority bent (which kept it in perfect spirit with much of the rest of the movement) results in yet another transgressive, boundary-pushing New Hollywood film, and arguably the most iconic one of its year, which is saying something, as you'll soon see below...

Other significant New Hollywood films from '71:

'71 saw a ton of other notable NH releases, including Robert Altman's McCabe And Mrs. Miller, a gorgeous, haunting Revisionist Western (and before you ask, I did bother to watch it before I wrote this, thank you very much), Peter Bogdanovich's coming-of-age tale The Last Picture Show, one of saddest, most emotionally devastating films I've ever seen, and my new personal favorite from the year (and also just one of my favorite films, period), Sam Peckinpah's grisly home invasion thriller Straw Dogs, Hal Ashby's Harold And Maude, a macabre, morbidly funny tale of a particularly odd May-December "romance", and a pair of notable police thrillers in the form of Don Siegel's iconic, influential Dirty Harry, and William Friedkin's Best Picture-winning The French Connection. And all of that's without even mentioning Alan Pakula's proto-erotic thriller Klute, Clint Eastwood's directorial debut Play Misty For Me, George Lucas's cold, dystopian sci-fi THX 1138 (which also his cinematic debut as well), Mike Nichol's Carnal Knowledge, or Jerry Schatzberg's heroin addict drama Panic In Needle Park, which featured the first starring role from some guy named Al Pacino; you may have heard of him.

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Thu Oct 18, 2018 1:53 pm
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One of my favorites. I'm glad you chose this one to represent this year. I enjoyed it a lot more than you did, but I liked reading what you wrote on it. Glad to see this thread still alive. I think I can guess what your 1972 pick is, but I won't say it in fear of unintentionally spoiling it.

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Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:41 pm
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I was absolutely one of those people who saw the movie/read the book in high school and would bring it up in every third conversation and "you guys gotta check this out, it'll blow your mind!", etc

it's still fine. and a good conversation starter.


Thu Oct 18, 2018 9:46 pm
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Good write-up, Stu. :up:

I saw Clockwork a few months ago for the first time. I liked it, it had some really good scenes, but it's not one of my favorite Kubricks. I was actually surprised how "tame" it was.


Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:08 pm
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we're all very desensitized these days.

some of the controversy was probably not just the graphic content but the ideas, ones that may convince an audience to sympathize with a proud sadist and psychopath. (obviously Alex is just meant to be an extreme representation of free will, but still...)


Thu Oct 18, 2018 11:19 pm
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I should give Clockwork a rewatch one of these days. I saw it after I'd already seen a few Kubricks and had its controversial reputation played up in my mind so, while I thought it was quite good, it didn't really blow me away.

As for other notable '70s films, I'm not the biggest fan (due to its troubling opening scene and uneven filmmaking), but Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song surely deserves a mention for historical significance. Also, I don't know if Klute really qualifies as an "erotic" thriller. Yeah, Fonda plays a prostitute, but I don't remember the movie really playing up the salaciousness of her profession.

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Fri Oct 19, 2018 5:23 am
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Slentert wrote:
Good write-up, Stu. :up:

I saw Clockwork a few months ago for the first time. I liked it, it had some really good scenes, but it's not one of my favorite Kubricks. I was actually surprised how "tame" it was.

:shock:
You mean the gang-rape parts? Or the gang-rape parts? Or beating homeless people almost to death in the street? Or the gang-rape/murder part?
To this day I wonder if I can even show it to a lot of people.


Fri Oct 19, 2018 8:08 am
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Some good recs for other '71 films:

Taking Off - Milos Forman's English-language debut with Buck Henry and Lynn Carlin as parents of a runaway daughter who decide to get high to try to relate with the "kids today".

The Beguiled - Much better than Play Misty For Me, and probably Dirty Harry too.

Sometimes a Great Notion - Paul Newman's multi-generation film about working class loggers. Author Ken Kesey hated it, but for what it's worth, he also hated One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Minnie & Moskowitz - one of the core Cassavetes films.

A New Leaf & Kotch - I think I've mentioned how I'm a bit of a Walter Matthau fiend.

I also don't want to discriminate against the great British directors of the same generation, like John Boorman, Ken Russell (The Devils) or Nicolas Roeg (Walkabout), as well as the comedy classic.....

And Now For Something Completeely Different - restaged from classic Monty Python sketches so much of the material is very weell known, but I find most of them in superior form here, and holistically, I think this is a terrific concentration of their genius.


Sat Oct 20, 2018 1:48 pm
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McCabe & Mrs. Miller might be my second-favorite of '71 (after ACO).
Willy Wonka would certainly be up there.
For me, personally, The Abominable Dr. Phibes would be in there (and don't think I'm getting too far off point, that movie has reflections of some of the abstractness of The New Hollywood in it, to be sure).
In the lower-budget tier, Billy Jack has a lot to say in a very post-Easy Rider kind of way.
But then, as just a movie I always loved, there's John Wayne's late-career stalwart, Big Jake.


Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:24 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:

Sometimes a Great Notion - Paul Newman's multi-generation film about working class loggers. Author Ken Kesey hated it, but for what it's worth, he also hated One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

I saw Cuckoo's Nest AFTER reading Kesey's absolutely brilliant book and I hated the movie too.


Sat Oct 20, 2018 2:25 pm
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Post Re: 1971: A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, rewatch)

Stu wrote:
On the other hand, the needlessly exaggerated histrionics of Clockwork...only removes the film even further from the reality that its attempting to comment on, which, when you consider the already heightened, futuristic dystopia it takes place in, was an entirely unnecessary decision on the part of Kub.


I'm not sure taking on a more realistic tone, in a world built upon such deliberately ridiculous droogy argot and filled with such solutions to the criminal problem as the Ludivico technique, is what this film is looking for. For me, the heightened comical or even surreal attitude of the characters and the surroundings, is integral to their emotional distance from the ugliness of the violence they commit upon eachother, whether this be the violence Alex commits upon society or the violence institutions inflict upon him. Realism has no place in the film, with the exclusion of its portrayal violence, which it depicts with the appropriate frank ugliness, even when its characters do not.

I feel Clockwork very much requires the same approach that you mention is used in Strangelove, where we have a cast of ridiciulous people in charge of or directly responsible for deadly serious things. This is where the unease should seep in, even as the audience is invited to laugh or marvel or be entertained by what is on screen. All the moral complications of the film are baked into this heightened almost comical tone. So while I can totally understand one not connecting with the movie because of these things (I didn't like it on first or even second viewing either, possibly for similar reasons) I can't possibly imagine the movie without them.


Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:23 pm
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Wooley wrote:
I saw Cuckoo's Nest AFTER reading Kesey's absolutely brilliant book and I hated the movie too.


The book and movie are very different, but I feel equally brilliant for their respective mediums. I'm such a fan of the movie that the only way I can even imagine one being disappointed with the movie, is due to one being frustrated that the book isn't really what ended up on screen. It's one of the very few 'best picture winners' that I think is actually a great movie, not just decent (or complete shit) like the rest of them.


Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:26 pm
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Wooley wrote:
I saw Cuckoo's Nest AFTER reading Kesey's absolutely brilliant book and I hated the movie too.

Hate is a strong word for me, but I found myself put off by how broadly the movie played in comparison.

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Sat Oct 20, 2018 11:53 pm
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crumbsroom wrote:

The book and movie are very different, but I feel equally brilliant for their respective mediums. I'm such a fan of the movie that the only way I can even imagine one being disappointed with the movie, is due to one being frustrated that the book isn't really what ended up on screen. It's one of the very few 'best picture winners' that I think is actually a great movie, not just decent (or complete shit) like the rest of them.

What disappointed me is that the THEMES of the book, which are what made it great, didn't end up on the screen. Frankly it didn't even seem like the filmmakers tried to take what actually makes it a Great Novel and put that on celluloid. They just used the story. And Nicholson is so horribly miscast for the book it's just... I mean, it's honestly among the worst casting ever. I can never decide if the movie ended up completely abandoning the themes of the book because Nicholson is so perfectly miscast for McMurphy or if he is perfectly cast for McMurphy once they decided to completely change the nature of his character and in so doing, abandon the themes of the novel. I actually played McMurphy in our high-school production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and the first thing the director and I agreed on, was that I had no intention of allowing even one droplet of Nicholson into my performance and that I would strive to bring the Kesey's themes about the dissolution of America onto the stage, the best I could at 17 years old.
Regardless, what I thought made the novel special, like Greatest Books Of The 20th Century special, did not end up on film, so you get the Best Picture of the Year and some memorable, even iconic performances, but you do not get One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey, you get One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest: A Good Movie About Nothing.
I never watch it, and I doubt I ever will again, because it is just such a disappointment to me.


Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:16 am
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Wooley wrote:
What disappointed me is that the THEMES of the book, which are what made it great, didn't end up on the screen. Frankly it didn't even seem like the filmmakers tried to take what actually makes it a Great Novel and put that on celluloid. They just used the story. And Nicholson is so horribly miscast for the book it's just... I mean, it's honestly among the worst casting ever. I can never decide if the movie ended up completely abandoning the themes of the book because Nicholson is so perfectly miscast for McMurphy or if he is perfectly cast for McMurphy once they decided to completely change the nature of his character and in so doing, abandon the themes of the novel. I actually played McMurphy in our high-school production of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest and the first thing the director and I agreed on, was that I had no intention of allowing even one droplet of Nicholson into my performance and that I would strive to bring the Kesey's themes about the dissolution of America onto the stage, the best I could at 17 years old.
Regardless, what I thought made the novel special, like Greatest Books Of The 20th Century special, did not end up on film, so you get the Best Picture of the Year and some memorable, even iconic performances, but you do not get One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey, you get One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest: A Good Movie About Nothing.
I never watch it, and I doubt I ever will again, because it is just such a disappointment to me.


The movie is about the need to stamp down on the spirit of the individual, and the institutions the frown upon those that push back. It's not a deeply complicated message, and it does adopt some stereotypical portrayals of the mentally ill in making its point, but it's certainly not about nothing. And even in its sins of stereotyping, it still manages to flesh out even the most sideline of characters beyond what could be the typical 'crazies' you see in these sorts of movies (ie. Girl Interrupted, yuck). For me it is one of the most beautiful films of the entire American New Wave, with arguably the greatest Nicholson performance (regardless of how dissimilar he is to the books character). Then there is also the great performance by Sydney Lassick as Cheswick, and of course, Douriff as Bibbitt. I can't remember who played Harding, but he was wonderful as well.

Obviously, if you are adverse to giving it second chances, that's up to you. But I think, considering the level of your dislike of the film, it feels like your negative feelings were so colored by it not being what you wanted it to be, that it couldn't hurt to see it for what it actually is.

You know, if TCM2 eventually deserved a second chance...


Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:44 am
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Wooley wrote:
What disappointed me is that the THEMES of the book, which are what made it great, didn't end up on the screen.

I don't agree with this. The central aspect of the book being the narration by a character that we're supposed to believe is deaf and mute simply couldn't be translated to the screen in any satisfactory way. I think that utilizing Chief's voiceover throughout the film, laying out all of his inner dialogue details of institutional control, would have been a disaster. Not only does the film preserve the element of surprise concerning Chief's awareness, I feel that it more than adequetely addresses the substance of the book's themes, which, like Clockwork Orange, is primarily a critique of behaviorism of the Skinner school. Kesey does apply his patented overly romantic Americana nostalgia to this, using Chief as the surrogate for his perceived American purity, and I don't feel that it's particularly difficult to infer the American microcosm in the film. And to make matters more difficult, this doesn't even begin to touch on how Chief's unfilmable inner dialogue is complicated by the suggestion in the book that Chief may not be an entirely reliable narrator to begin with. This is an aspect of the book that relies on the specific advantages of the page, and I wouldn't hold it against this film anymore than I would blame a film of Moby Dick that didn't take a 10 minute interval to discuss the parable of Jonah.

Wooley wrote:
Nicholson is so horribly miscast for the book it's just... I mean, it's honestly among the worst casting ever.

Well, this is simply insanity. The book's McMurphy is also a charismatic sociopath regardless of Kesey's admiration of the archtypal American sociopath. I find Nicholson to be a convincing charismatic Ameerican sociopath. And also, it's maybe easier to draw the cliche of Nicholson's performance since it has become the core of every stereotype about Nicholson's acting. This is also unfair. If we compare the successive roles of Five Easy Pieces, Carnal Knowledge, Last Detail, and Chinatown, then we really would have no expectation of how Nicholson would have approached the role. In that context, it would have been another shade of the progressively brilliant actor, long before Nicholson himself leaned on this performance for his own self-parody. I think that the stereotype of Jack Nicholson has blurred this distinction. Anyway, if it helps you at all, keep in mind that the studio's top choice was Burt Reynolds.

Also, concerning Kesey, it's well known that he frequently could be a cantankerous sort. Like a lot of free spirits, he also had paradoxical control-freak tendencies. Newman had invited Kesey to attend the shooting of Great Notion, but his bad temper cut it short. Kesey simply couldn't be satisfied by anything going on in the production, and bitched and moaned a lot. Whether or not this was a sincere result of creative differences (it's hard to tell since he refused to watch the film) or whether it stemmed from his frustration of having very little control over the production (as opposed to the more ascetic authority of an author), Kesey proved impossible to please. Regardless, I think that it's not a reasonable objection to seeing the film.


Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:04 pm
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crumbsroom wrote:

The movie is about the need to stamp down on the spirit of the individual, and the institutions the frown upon those that push back. It's not a deeply complicated message, and it does adopt some stereotypical portrayals of the mentally ill in making its point, but it's certainly not about nothing. And even in its sins of stereotyping, it still manages to flesh out even the most sideline of characters beyond what could be the typical 'crazies' you see in these sorts of movies (ie. Girl Interrupted, yuck). For me it is one of the most beautiful films of the entire American New Wave, with arguably the greatest Nicholson performance (regardless of how dissimilar he is to the books character). Then there is also the great performance by Sydney Lassick as Cheswick, and of course, Douriff as Bibbitt. I can't remember who played Harding, but he was wonderful as well.

Obviously, if you are adverse to giving it second chances, that's up to you. But I think, considering the level of your dislike of the film, it feels like your negative feelings were so colored by it not being what you wanted it to be, that it couldn't hurt to see it for what it actually is.

You know, if TCM2 eventually deserved a second chance...

Oh, I've seen it at least half a dozen times. I just don't watch it anymore.


Sun Oct 21, 2018 1:59 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:
I don't agree with this. The central aspect of the book being the narration by a character that we're supposed to believe is deaf and mute simply couldn't be translated to the screen in any satisfactory way. I think that utilizing Chief's voiceover throughout the film, laying out all of his inner dialogue details of institutional control, would have been a disaster. Not only does the film preserve the element of surprise concerning Chief's awareness, I feel that it more than adequetely addresses the substance of the book's themes, which, like Clockwork Orange, is primarily a critique of behaviorism of the Skinner school. Kesey does apply his patented overly romantic Americana nostalgia to this, using Chief as the surrogate for his perceived American purity, and I don't feel that it's particularly difficult to infer the American microcosm in the film. And to make matters more difficult, this doesn't even begin to touch on how Chief's unfilmable inner dialogue is complicated by the suggestion in the book that Chief may not be an entirely reliable narrator to begin with. This is an aspect of the book that relies on the specific advantages of the page, and I wouldn't hold it against this film anymore than I would blame a film of Moby Dick that didn't take a 10 minute interval to discuss the parable of Jonah.


Well, this is simply insanity. The book's McMurphy is also a charismatic sociopath regardless of Kesey's admiration of the archtypal American sociopath. I find Nicholson to be a convincing charismatic Ameerican sociopath. And also, it's maybe easier to draw the cliche of Nicholson's performance since it has become the core of every stereotype about Nicholson's acting. This is also unfair. If we compare the successive roles of Five Easy Pieces, Carnal Knowledge, Last Detail, and Chinatown, then we really would have no expectation of how Nicholson would have approached the role. In that context, it would have been another shade of the progressively brilliant actor, long before Nicholson himself leaned on this performance for his own self-parody. I think that the stereotype of Jack Nicholson has blurred this distinction. Anyway, if it helps you at all, keep in mind that the studio's top choice was Burt Reynolds.

Also, concerning Kesey, it's well known that he frequently could be a cantankerous sort. Like a lot of free spirits, he also had paradoxical control-freak tendencies. Newman had invited Kesey to attend the shooting of Great Notion, but his bad temper cut it short. Kesey simply couldn't be satisfied by anything going on in the production, and bitched and moaned a lot. Whether or not this was a sincere result of creative differences (it's hard to tell since he refused to watch the film) or whether it stemmed from his frustration of having very little control over the production (as opposed to the more ascetic authority of an author), Kesey proved impossible to please. Regardless, I think that it's not a reasonable objection to seeing the film.

McMurphy in the book is not a sociopath. That is the problem with Nicholson in this and is exactly what I said above, he's perfect casting for the film's take on McMurphy (after the much more appropriate James Caan had turned the film down) which is not the book's McMurphy and McMurphy's character is the spirit of American that is being crushed. Nicholson's is just a two-bit, piece of shit, small-time hustler as opposed to Kesey's larger than life symbol of an America that cannot live within the oppressive nature of modern American society. McMurphy in the book is basically a criminal because he simply cannot kowtow to what America has become and has to live outside of it, which is INTEGRAL to the most important theme of the book, while Nicholson is more just a low-rent criminal like so many others who happens to have a lot of charisma and may in fact be just a sociopath with no empathy whatsoever for what's goin on around him. I remember when I was preparing for the play that one of the most important things was McMurphy's incredulity with the other inmates' unwillingness to fight for their own freedom. That is so utterly diminished by how little Nicholson's character cares about anything but himself. It's not a subtle difference, it's a huge one. It's interesting to me, since Cool Hand Luke is very close the McMurphy character as Kesey wrote him, that Newman did SaGN, as he would have been a MUCH better McMurphy even at his age. Caan also would have been infinitely better if you're trying to convey what made the book a classic.
I also don't think Kesey's personality has anything to do with this. I had no idea Kesey didn't like the movie til I read it a few posts above, what, yesterday? I didn't like it because I read the book and I thought the book really mattered, so it really mattered to me that they completely missed the point of it when they brought it to audiences that were unlikely to read the book themselves. The meaning of Kesey's work is in fact completely out to history due to the film. If he was mad about it, I'm not surprised at all, but it certainly has had no influence on why I dislike the movie so much. So it's not like when they cut out the second act of The Firm to make the movie movie along, when they do that who cares, it's pulp fiction, normally I don't care what a movie is compared to the book that "inspired" it. But when you're talking about important literature and the thing that makes it important literature is completely lost, that can get under my skin, unless the movie is Frankenstein.


Sun Oct 21, 2018 2:09 pm
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Wooley wrote:
McMurphy in the book is not a sociopath.

In a literal sense, he is. I think it's important to consider this designation beyond its negative connotation, which is what Kesey was doing (similar again to the provocative "free spirit" of Alex in Orange). McMurphy is sociopathic in that he's manipulative and opportunistic, and even his empathy displayed in the book is a little self-serving. Rather than empathize with the various other characters' plights, he's frustrated that they aren't more like him. He justifies putting the other patients at risk by saying he's giving them a good time, but ultimately it's in the service of his own ends. All of this is in the book.

The comparison with Cool Hand Luke only accentuates it. Luke, unlike McMurphy (yes, even in the book), wasn't a petty criminal, did not have McMurphy's volatile temper, did not attempt to make his fellow inmates complicit. Luke's individualism didn't involve McMurphy's manipulative tendencies. Above all, I see no indication in Luke's character that it would have even occurred to him to try to fake a mental illness to avoid a work farm in the first place.

This sociopathy on McMurphy's part does not make him a debaucherous character however, and it certainly doesn't justify his treatment at the hands of the institution. But, even in the book's description, he is a petty criminal and a bit of a weasel, so I'm not going to fault Nicholson for adding these elements to his performance. Nicholson also faithfully represents McMurphy's joie de vivre, his humor, his exceptional American free spirit, and I don't believe that it diminishes the institutional horror and medicated oppression of "the system" and emerging modernity.

Wooley wrote:
Caan also would have been infinitely better if you're trying to convey what made the book a classic.

I doubt it. No offense to Jimmy Caan, but he isn't the actor that Nicholson is. I think the main advantage that Caan has is that he'd make a better looking McMurphy, but otherwise, I think your description of Nicholson's character has more to do with some preconceived notion of Jack Nicholson (interestingly similar to Stephen King's rejection of him as Jack Torrence) than what Nicholson actually brought to the screen.

More interesting, I think, would be to imagine Kesey's own choice for the role, Gene Hackman (also a better actor than Caan). I imagine that he would have been similar to his character, Max, in Scarecrow, also an old-school Wild West American free spirit in Kesey's romantic sense of an outlaw. I think Hackman would have done a fine job in the role, but I find it interesting because Scarecrow's contrast of Hackman's iconoclastic criminal with Pacino's more savant-like free spirit. I think this pairing breaks down many of the more macho myths of the American free spirit than Kesey was able, or perhaps willing, to do.

Wooley wrote:
I had no idea Kesey didn't like the movie til I read it a few posts above, what, yesterday?

The point is not that Kesey didn't like the movie, it's that he refused to watch it, and I do think that's a clue as to why he was so disagreeable about the adaptation of his work.

Wooley wrote:
I didn't like it because I read the book and I thought the book really mattered, so it really mattered to me that they completely missed the point of it when they brought it to audiences that were unlikely to read the book themselves. The meaning of Kesey's work is in fact completely out to history due to the film.

Well, I've read the book a number of times, and I agree that it's one of the important American novels of the post-war era, and yet I can also see the themes of that book in the film, however more relegated to subtext due to removing the Chief's narration throughout. I don't think that these themes of American individualism and how it's being suppressed by institutional control and social conformity are difficult to discern on the screen, or that Nicholson dampens this central message in any way. His McMurphy is still the vivacious outlaw archetype longing to be uncaged by modern society and frustrated by those who willingly submit, and I believe that the Chief's escape is still a profound act of liberated resistence on screen and one of the great moments of New American cinema.


Mon Oct 22, 2018 4:11 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
In a literal sense, he is. I think it's important to consider this designation beyond its negative connotation, which is what Kesey was doing (similar again to the provocative "free spirit" of Alex in Orange). McMurphy is sociopathic in that he's manipulative and opportunistic, and even his empathy displayed in the book is a little self-serving. Rather than empathize with the various other characters' plights, he's frustrated that they aren't more like him. He justifies putting the other patients at risk by saying he's giving them a good time, but ultimately it's in the service of his own ends. All of this is in the book.

The comparison with Cool Hand Luke only accentuates it. Luke, unlike McMurphy (yes, even in the book), wasn't a petty criminal, did not have McMurphy's volatile temper, did not attempt to make his fellow inmates complicit. Luke's individualism didn't involve McMurphy's manipulative tendencies. Above all, I see no indication in Luke's character that it would have even occurred to him to try to fake a mental illness to avoid a work farm in the first place.

This sociopathy on McMurphy's part does not make him a debaucherous character however, and it certainly doesn't justify his treatment at the hands of the institution. But, even in the book's description, he is a petty criminal and a bit of a weasel, so I'm not going to fault Nicholson for adding these elements to his performance. Nicholson also faithfully represents McMurphy's joie de vivre, his humor, his exceptional American free spirit, and I don't believe that it diminishes the institutional horror and medicated oppression of "the system" and emerging modernity.


I doubt it. No offense to Jimmy Caan, but he isn't the actor that Nicholson is. I think the main advantage that Caan has is that he'd make a better looking McMurphy, but otherwise, I think your description of Nicholson's character has more to do with some preconceived notion of Jack Nicholson (interestingly similar to Stephen King's rejection of him as Jack Torrence) than what Nicholson actually brought to the screen.

More interesting, I think, would be to imagine Kesey's own choice for the role, Gene Hackman (also a better actor than Caan). I imagine that he would have been similar to his character, Max, in Scarecrow, also an old-school Wild West American free spirit in Kesey's romantic sense of an outlaw. I think Hackman would have done a fine job in the role, but I find it interesting because Scarecrow's contrast of Hackman's iconoclastic criminal with Pacino's more savant-like free spirit. I think this pairing breaks down many of the more macho myths of the American free spirit than Kesey was able, or perhaps willing, to do.


The point is not that Kesey didn't like the movie, it's that he refused to watch it, and I do think that's a clue as to why he was so disagreeable about the adaptation of his work.


Well, I've read the book a number of times, and I agree that it's one of the important American novels of the post-war era, and yet I can also see the themes of that book in the film, however more relegated to subtext due to removing the Chief's narration throughout. I don't think that these themes of American individualism and how it's being suppressed by institutional control and social conformity are difficult to discern on the screen, or that Nicholson dampens this central message in any way. His McMurphy is still the vivacious outlaw archetype longing to be uncaged by modern society and frustrated by those who willingly submit, and I believe that the Chief's escape is still a profound act of liberated resistence on screen and one of the great moments of New American cinema.

This was a lot to digest and respond to so it took me some time and I'll keep my response tight.
I feel like I have a decent understanding of sociopathy, coincidentally, I was just having this discussion with a friend who's a PhD therapist the other day about teasing out the difference between sociopathy and psychopathy in particular (although also some other disorders), so I feel like it's fresh and I think I see where you're coming from on book McMurphy maybe having some elements of sociopathy, but he definitely does not meet DSM criteria, which Nicholson's kinda does.
But let's come at this a different way. Kesey's McMurphy is a big, larger than life, anachronistic character that you can kinda root for. When he exploits, he does so because it's been a part of his way of survival for years, and yet he still has a great deal of empathy. Nicholson's is just a piece of shit. I mean, really, that's kinda what it boils down to for me, and why I dislike his portrayal so much and don't enjoy the movie much. It's because there is nothing worthwhile or redeemable about him, I don't give a fuck if he lives or dies, instead of being a legitimate inspiration, he actually makes everything worse mostly for his own amusement, and I actually kinda couldn't wait for the institution to put everyone out of his misery. He sucked as a person and I wasn't the least bit sorry when he died. He was a piece of shit, and I thought he got a fitting ending. It didn't feel unjust like it did in Kesey's interpretation where the New America basically puts down the Old America, this was just a scuzzy piece of shit pushing his luck too far and getting his uppance.
I struggle with your point about Luke when he more or less says in the movie, none of this is about any of you, I am just trying to get through this whole thing in my own selfish way and you idiots keep mistakenly gettin inspired by it.
Can doesn't have to be "the actor Nicholson is" in fact, it is the fact that he's not the actor Nicholson is that would have helped. There is a great reason that Caan was the first choice and not Nicholson and that is because Caan fit the role better. Nicholson is an ill fit. Caan would not have been, which is why they went to him. When I read the book, having already been a fan of Brian's Song, The Godfather, The Killer Elite, but more to the point, Kiss Me Goodbye, Rollerball, and Thief, I kinda pictured James Caan in my head the whole time. That was long before I knew that he had turned down the role (which crushed me). To this day I just can't get over that he didn't wanna do a movie with 4 white walls.
Not sure what you mean by "preconceived notion of Jack Nicholson" vs. "what he brought to the screen", I've seen so many Jack Nicholson performances I don't know what to do with them, but at the time, I knew Nicholson from Easy Rider, Goin' South, and Prizzi's Honor. I had not seen The Shining yet and I think those were the only films of his I'd seen. This is in like '86. So I don't feel like I brought a lot of Nicholson baggage with me. Although I will say, McMurphy seems to owe a lot more to his character in Goin' South than to, well, him having read the book or anything.
I can't process Hackman in the role. I'll have to give that thought some time.
My point about Kesey is that my opinion of the film has nothing to do with what he thought of the film, whether he watched it, didn't watch it, made ukulele picks out of it. I didn't even know he didn't like the movie or didn't watch it or whatever. So it has no influence on my opinion.
Finally, no, I just don't think Nicholson did capture the essence of the iconic romanticized American outlaw as symbol of America that is lost to the modern system. At all. I think he portrayed a weaselly, greasy, two-bit con-man without a droplet of redeeming qualities or anything that resonates with the books themes. He did not create a character that the system must stamp out because it is a relic of a better time that must be forcibly ended and compliance enforced. He created a character that was just like a rat had gotten in the kitchen and it had to be dealt with.


Wed Oct 24, 2018 2:43 pm
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Wooley wrote:
Kesey's McMurphy is a big, larger than life, anachronistic character that you can kinda root for. When he exploits, he does so because it's been a part of his way of survival for years, and yet he still has a great deal of empathy. Nicholson's is just a piece of shit. I mean, really, that's kinda what it boils down to for me, and why I dislike his portrayal so much and don't enjoy the movie much. It's because there is nothing worthwhile or redeemable about him, I don't give a fuck if he lives or dies, instead of being a legitimate inspiration, he actually makes everything worse mostly for his own amusement, and I actually kinda couldn't wait for the institution to put everyone out of his misery. He sucked as a person and I wasn't the least bit sorry when he died. He was a piece of shit, and I thought he got a fitting ending.

Finally, no, I just don't think Nicholson did capture the essence of the iconic romanticized American outlaw as symbol of America that is lost to the modern system. At all. I think he portrayed a weaselly, greasy, two-bit con-man without a droplet of redeeming qualities or anything that resonates with the books themes. He did not create a character that the system must stamp out because it is a relic of a better time that must be forcibly ended and compliance enforced. He created a character that was just like a rat had gotten in the kitchen and it had to be dealt with.

Well, I don't know where I got the idea that you're unimpressed with Jack Nicholson as an actor. I don't know what else to say except that I did think he captured the American outlaw archetype, did resonate the book's depiction of his irrepressible individuality, found him worthwhile and redeemable, I rooted for him, I gave a fuck. All I can do is rest on the praise of his performance that cites these same reasons, echoing Pauline Kael's estimate that "Nicholson shows the romanticism inside street shrewdness". If it didn't work for you, it didn't, but I can't say that it didn't work at all, given the enormous response his performance garnered.

Wooley wrote:
There is a great reason that Caan was the first choice.

I went ahead and looked this up. Not that I doubt that Caan was among the A-list in the running, but from what I've read from Michael Douglas, "Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman both turned [the role] down. We were also fascinated with Burt Reynolds." I haven't found a quote to confirm that Caan was the first or primary choice. Jack was brought in when Hal Ashby was director, and kept on after Ashby fell out with producer Saul Zaentz.

Wooley wrote:
Although I will say, McMurphy seems to owe a lot more to his character in Goin' South than to, well, him having read the book or anything.

Yes, Goin' South was pure coke-fueled self-parody, and there' a very good reason why this film is not held in such esteem as Cuckoo's Nest. As to the latter point, it may surprise you that Nicholson is also a huge fan of Kesey's book, considering it a classic of its generation, and Jack had actually attempted to gather funds to buy the rights in 1963 when he was working for Roger Corman. (Kirk Douglas had already secured the rights while the book was still in galleys.)

Wooley wrote:
My point about Kesey is that my opinion of the film has nothing to do with what he thought of the film, whether he watched it, didn't watch it, made ukulele picks out of it. I didn't even know he didn't like the movie or didn't watch it or whatever. So it has no influence on my opinion.

And my point - the point which started this exchange - was that Kesey's dislike and trashing of his film adaptations is rather suspect since he's refused to bother watching the films, and that his disdain shouldn't deter anyone from watching Sometime a Great Notion.


Thu Oct 25, 2018 2:44 pm
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Jinnistan wrote:
Well, I don't know where I got the idea that you're unimpressed with Jack Nicholson as an actor. I don't know what else to say except that I did think he captured the American outlaw archetype, did resonate the book's depiction of his irrepressible individuality, found him worthwhile and redeemable, I rooted for him, I gave a fuck. All I can do is rest on the praise of his performance that cites these same reasons, echoing Pauline Kael's estimate that "Nicholson shows the romanticism inside street shrewdness". If it didn't work for you, it didn't, but I can't say that it didn't work at all, given the enormous response his performance garnered.

HAHAHA! I see what you mean, but I didn't mean Nicholson was a piece of shit (even though that's exactly what I said :D ), I meant that his McMurphy was a piece of shit as a person as a human-being. When I read the book, I strongly identified with McMurphy, there was a part of me that wanted to BE McMurphy (and as I mentioned, I got to be), but when I saw Nicholson's performance I wanted nothing to do with that person. He seemed slimy and sleazy to me, which are two things I would not have said about the character. I think Nicholson gave an amazing performance for the way the character was portrayed, but I would not in a million years have expected that portrayal of the character from the book.


I went ahead and looked this up. Not that I doubt that Caan was among the A-list in the running, but from what I've read from Michael Douglas, "Marlon Brando and Gene Hackman both turned [the role] down. We were also fascinated with Burt Reynolds." I haven't found a quote to confirm that Caan was the first or primary choice. Jack was brought in when Hal Ashby was director, and kept on after Ashby fell out with producer Saul Zaentz.

I could also have gone with either Brando or or Reynolds and if I really think about it, I bet Hackman could have done it too. I would take all of them before Nicholson. I mean, just because an actor is great doesn't mean he's right. So, like I say, Nicholson gave a performance for the ages, it just wasn't the right one (says the all-knowing Wooley ;) ). I have always read and still do, that Caan turned down the role (multiple times) before they went to Jack. I have read that other people were considered but not that anyone other than Caan was actually offered the role, so I may have extrapolated from that that he was the first choice. That may be too much assumption on my part.


Yes, Goin' South was pure coke-fueled self-parody, and there' a very good reason why this film is not held in such esteem as Cuckoo's Nest. As to the latter point, it may surprise you that Nicholson is also a huge fan of Kesey's book, considering it a classic of its generation, and Jack had actually attempted to gather funds to buy the rights in 1963 when he was working for Roger Corman. (Kirk Douglas had already secured the rights while the book was still in galleys.)

No that doesn't surprise me at all, again, I think he's a great actor, and I actually think he's a very savvy, a very interesting person, I just thought he was the wrong voice for it. Conversely, I fucking loved him in Chinatown.

And my point - the point which started this exchange - was that Kesey's dislike and trashing of his film adaptations is rather suspect since he's refused to bother watching the films, and that his disdain shouldn't deter anyone from watching Sometime a Great Notion.

I hear ya, and like I said, Kesey's (or really any writer, looking at you Stephen King) opinion of it has nothing at all to do with my own. I have never seen SaGN (although I often sing the song from which the title is taken, so I think about it a lot) but I thought the book was one of the most complicated I've read this side of Thomas Pynchon so I worried more about that when it came to the adaptation than anything else. I can totally see Newman as Hank Stamper, that almost seems like typecasting.


Before we wrap this up, because I feel like we've had a good and full discussion here, I would like to add, in case I forgot earlier, that I know my opinion on this is far outside the mainstream thinking on it, and it may be wrapped up too much in how strong my feelings for the book have always been. It was, for much of my life, my favorite book of all time, slightly edging out The Sun Also Rises, and like I said, I was SO invested in McMurphy himself, even moreso than the story, that I fully admit Nicholson's "clanging" interpretation is only "clanging" to me.
Generally speaking, I have a rule that the book is the book and the movie is the movie, and I try not to let one effect my opinion of the other, but this is one exception to my rule that I just can't seem to get over.


Fri Oct 26, 2018 12:26 am
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Wooley wrote:
Generally speaking, I have a rule that the book is the book and the movie is the movie, and I try not to let one effect my opinion of the other, but this is one exception to my rule that I just can't seem to get over.

I think that the biggest difference between the book and film is the framing of Chief as our storyteller. It works on the page, but it's difficult to translate that kind of subjective psychological perspective to the screen. I prefer the decision to keep Chief's perspective obscure, revealed as a narrative twist, to using his narration throughout, exposing his subterfuge from the beginning. This may be a contentious point of narrative preference, but I feel that it worked best for the film format, especially a film in a neo-realistic setting (aping documentary verite). Consequently, the narration is what makes the book a uniquely brilliant read, something that works best as a book. I don't think it would have been as good a film by transfering the narration, the way the play had, to the screen.

In any event, I think that this difference, more so than Nicholson's performance, is the more crucial debate between the two mediums.


Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:06 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
I think that the biggest difference between the book and film is the framing of Chief as our storyteller. It works on the page, but it's difficult to translate that kind of subjective psychological perspective to the screen. I prefer the decision to keep Chief's perspective obscure, revealed as a narrative twist, to using his narration throughout, exposing his subterfuge from the beginning. This may be a contentious point of narrative preference, but I feel that it worked best for the film format, especially a film in a neo-realistic setting (aping documentary verite). Consequently, the narration is what makes the book a uniquely brilliant read, something that works best as a book. I don't think it would have been as good a film by transfering the narration, the way the play had, to the screen.

In any event, I think that this difference, more so than Nicholson's performance, is the more crucial debate between the two mediums.

Well, I definitely agree with you that the way they handled Chief in the film is probably better. Not better than the book, obviously, but better than trying to do that like the book.


Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:46 am
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Clockwork Orange isnt New Hollywood

do more New Hollywood


Sat Oct 27, 2018 9:23 am
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since Kubrick was American and it was distributed by WB, I guess it still qualifies (even if it wasn't made in America or takes place in America). it's a bit of an odd fit though.


Sat Oct 27, 2018 10:53 am
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Popcorn Reviews wrote:
One of my favorites. I'm glad you chose this one to represent this year. I enjoyed it a lot more than you did, but I liked reading what you wrote on it. Glad to see this thread still alive. I think I can guess what your 1972 pick is, but I won't say it in fear of unintentionally spoiling it.
I wouldn't worry too much about spoiling my pick for '72 for anyone else, because if everyone reading this doesn't already have a certain film in mind for that year, what are they even doing on a film forum in the first place? :D At any rate, glad you enjoyed my write-up for ACO despite our apparent medium-sized personal differences on its quality, and glad to see you're still onboard for the thread, Pops!
Slentert wrote:
Good write-up, Stu. :up:

I saw Clockwork a few months ago for the first time. I liked it, it had some really good scenes, but it's not one of my favorite Kubricks. I was actually surprised how "tame" it was.
Thanks, Slent! As for my favorite moment from ACO, I've always been particular to the scene of Alex's "Beethoven's 9th"-fueled hallucinations, which felt like the most experimental moment in the film, and did a great job of getting us inside of his particularly warped mindset. And as far as the film's overall "tameness", I still find ACO more or less as shocking now as I did when I first watched it (and I imagine as much as the people who saw it first in '71), though I suppose there's at least one moment in it (the death by penis sculpture) where Kubrick held back a bit, though just the implication of the woman being murdered in that fashion makes it feel just as disturbing to me. Anyway, I haven't seen every Kubrick yet, but out of everything I have seen to date, my list from best to worst would probably look like...

2001
Dr. Strangelove
/Barry Lyndon
Paths Of Glory/The Shining
The Killing

ACO
Spartacus
Full Metal Jacket


...although I love, or at least like, everything on that list, with the sole exception of the disappointingly incoherent FMJ, unfortunately. He's still one of my favorite directors, though!
Rock wrote:
As for other notable '70s films, I'm not the biggest fan (due to its troubling opening scene and uneven filmmaking), but Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song surely deserves a mention for historical significance. Also, I don't know if Klute really qualifies as an "erotic" thriller. Yeah, Fonda plays a prostitute, but I don't remember the movie really playing up the salaciousness of her profession.
I considered including Sweetback in my "other notables" section, but I had already listed about 10 other movies already, and felt I needed to cut it off at some point. Anyway, if I had listed any Blaxploitation works from '71, I probably would've named Shaft first, just for its sheer, iconic stature, regardless of whether it was the first in its sub-genre. As for Klute, I didn't want to just label it a "Thriller" (since that just makes it sound sort've boring), and, while it may not be as racy as what we've come to expect from the genre today, I still can't think of a Thriller more erotic coming out of Hollywood beforehand, and I feel it's more notable as at least a prototype for the Erotic Thrillers of today than just another neo-noir, crime thriller, or any other label that could potentially be applied to it; c'mon, work with me here, Mr. Nitpick-y :P

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Sun Oct 28, 2018 8:11 am
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Jinnistan wrote:
Some good recs for other '71 films:

Taking Off - Milos Forman's English-language debut with Buck Henry and Lynn Carlin as parents of a runaway daughter who decide to get high to try to relate with the "kids today".

The Beguiled - Much better than Play Misty For Me, and probably Dirty Harry too.

Sometimes a Great Notion - Paul Newman's multi-generation film about working class loggers. Author Ken Kesey hated it, but for what it's worth, he also hated One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Minnie & Moskowitz - one of the core Cassavetes films.

A New Leaf & Kotch - I think I've mentioned how I'm a bit of a Walter Matthau fiend.

I also don't want to discriminate against the great British directors of the same generation, like John Boorman, Ken Russell (The Devils) or Nicolas Roeg (Walkabout), as well as the comedy classic.....

And Now For Something Completeely Different - restaged from classic Monty Python sketches so much of the material is very weell known, but I find most of them in superior form here, and holistically, I think this is a terrific concentration of their genius.
I've seen (and enjoyed) And Now For Something... before, though Holy Grail has always been my favorite Python movie, out of the ones I've seen. And my first experience with Cassavetes (The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie) was a rather negative one, I'm afraid, but I'll consider checking out M&M at some point. At any rate, thanks for all the recs, Jinn!
Wooley wrote:
McCabe & Mrs. Miller might be my second-favorite of '71 (after ACO).
Willy Wonka would certainly be up there.
For me, personally, The Abominable Dr. Phibes would be in there (and don't think I'm getting too far off point, that movie has reflections of some of the abstractness of The New Hollywood in it, to be sure).
In the lower-budget tier, Billy Jack has a lot to say in a very post-Easy Rider kind of way.
But then, as just a movie I always loved, there's John Wayne's late-career stalwart, Big Jake.
Just including the films I've watched recently enough to be confident about their placements, my current top 5 list for 1971 would probably look like...

The Last Picture Show
Duck, You Sucker!
McCabe And Mrs. Miller
Duel
ACO


At any rate, thank you for all the recs as well!
crumbsroom wrote:

I'm not sure taking on a more realistic tone, in a world built upon such deliberately ridiculous droogy argot and filled with such solutions to the criminal problem as the Ludivico technique, is what this film is looking for. For me, the heightened comical or even surreal attitude of the characters and the surroundings, is integral to their emotional distance from the ugliness of the violence they commit upon eachother, whether this be the violence Alex commits upon society or the violence institutions inflict upon him. Realism has no place in the film, with the exclusion of its portrayal violence, which it depicts with the appropriate frank ugliness, even when its characters do not.

I feel Clockwork very much requires the same approach that you mention is used in Strangelove, where we have a cast of ridiciulous people in charge of or directly responsible for deadly serious things. This is where the unease should seep in, even as the audience is invited to laugh or marvel or be entertained by what is on screen. All the moral complications of the film are baked into this heightened almost comical tone. So while I can totally understand one not connecting with the movie because of these things (I didn't like it on first or even second viewing either, possibly for similar reasons) I can't possibly imagine the movie without them.
I respect that Kubrick knew what he wanted to do when he had the actors go so over the top for ACO (I can't imagine a control freak such as him would've allowed performances like that by accident or anything), but I've just never felt like it was the correct choice for that particular film. Maybe they worked in Dr. Strangelove because it's fundamentally a comedy, or its black-&-white aesthetics automatically distances the film from reality to the point to where the ridiculous performances work for it, but they just didn't do it for me in Clockwork, as the over-acting mostly just took the already heightened reality of the film and unnecessarily escalated it to a point where it was often difficult for me to stay fully immersed, despite Kubrick's otherwise strong stylings. Still a good movie on the whole, though, just not a favorite of mine due to that particular issue.

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Sun Oct 28, 2018 1:21 pm
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Oxnard Montalvo wrote:
since Kubrick was American and it was distributed by WB, I guess it still qualifies (even if it wasn't made in America or takes place in America). it's a bit of an odd fit though.

Kubrick was an indie producer before the end of the studio system and was as established and powerful within the remnants of that system after 2001 as any of his contemporaries

New Hollywood is young unestablished filmmakers seizing the remnants of the system to establish themselves the way indies had and would again in the Sundance era

Kubrick/ACO as New Hollywood is like calling someone/thing like Nolan/Inception mumblecore


Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:07 am
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My top 5 of 1971

1. Harold and Maude
2. Duel
3. The Last Picture Show
4. Two-Lane Blacktop
5. McCabe and Mrs. Miller


Wed Oct 31, 2018 4:46 am
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