Reviews written by registered user
|10 reviews in total|
I saw this film in Mexico around 1971 and I was so mesmerized by Stacy Keach's performance as a very eccentric traveling electrocutioner hired by Southern prisons to do the dirty deed. His hypnotic presentations to the condemned prisoners were heavenly and sublime as he always captured their attention by taking them to the "Fields of Ambrosia". I do remember thinking back then (1971) that these prisoners were being given a lot more than their warden ever bargained for. This was back in time when Soylent Green had come out and Edward G. Robinson was accepting the gift promised if he went along with assisted suicide. (This was set in the future when there was not enough food for the population and his remains would be used for processed food for people.) His quid pro quo was to watch pictures of all the extinct wildlife and other ecstatic beautiful scenes that no longer existed and nobody had had the privilege to ever see). Stacy Keach made the imminent execution so painless, that you would have thought the prisoners were wanting to die and experience the "Fields of Ambrosia". I am 70 years old and I do not go to many current movies any more as they are without art, taste, merit, etc, but I wonder why those who control the release of this movie won't let us old timers see it some more.
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CONTAINS SPOILERS -- While a freshman in college in 1965, I saw the movie "Lilith" and I was awestruck by the characters, the black and white screen with mystic lighting from prisms in windows, and Vincent, played by a new actor (Warren Beatty) whose character was quiet, pensive, observant, sensitive, empathetic, and searching for something meaningful to become after fighting in WWII. Being raised in a small town that had a high class asylum that was never considered an anathema to that community led to his searching for a job there. Here is where our schizophrenic blond beauty, Lilith (Jean Seberg) resided and the story of his improbable success as an on the job occupational therapist. Lilith was an incorrigible patient with whom nobody on the staff could ever make favorable headway. Vincent, a handsome, athletic, and intelligent (but naive unproven "professional") member of the junior staff was drawn to Lilith to the extent that he was foolishly in love with her. Lilith blackmailed him to carry on lesbian relationships and presumptive soft core pedophilia in public while under his attending responsibilities. He anxiously awaited his "turn" during the week for her total attention to him (and of course, sex). I thought is was quite ironic towards the end when the author's prosaic descriptions of Vincent's delusions gave the appearance that Vincent was experiencing psychotic symptoms. As he realized he was snared by Lilith and unable to do anything but whatever she commanded him to do, the only thing that was left to confirm that his thinking was organized was his ability to maintain steady control of his favorable reports regarding Liilith to his supervisors. .......but even this was tainted by the fact that the subterfuge was so implausible for any normal person to carry out. The book, which I read later, ended differently than the movie, by allowing Vincent to leave his employment after Lilith was transferred out by her parents and another patient died from his total abrogation of his professional responsibilities. The book does not allow Vincent to succumb to his progression of delusions and he enjoys living with his grandfather in town no longer associated with the asylum and presumably quite sane. But I loved the movie's ending.....in which Vincent, in his last moments at the asylum as a therapist, walks out of the front door with the mutual understanding of his supervisors and himself that his working there was not a good idea and that he had failed. But then Vincent stops, and turns around, and the camera does a closeup....where his last words of the movie is......"Help me." So, I believe the movie and the book present strong considerations for a serious nearly psychotic breakdown for Vincent. When I rotated med students in my practice 25 to 35 years ago, I often recommended this book as an entertaining way to demonstrate to the students how dangerous it can be to allow any romance in a professional relationship with patients. The descriptions of Vincent's many delusional episodes are evident after he realizes Lilith is in control. When he realized that he was a "loathsome procurer" for Lilith, he described his mindset in this way: " If I try to think about it rationally, my mind becomes a cauldron of hysterical remorse". He had long commentary of nearly autistic insights on the difference between air and water on their interactions with their surroundings, talking about falling in air but the buoyancy of water not allowing such dynamic movements, etc. I found the prose of Salamanca part of the mystical and mesmerizing qualities that made this book different from all the rest. In fact, I was surprised at how much the dialogue in the movie followed the book verbatim. Salamanca was compared to JD Salinger, but Salinger's intellect had to be light years beyond JD's based on the much deeper and highly prosaic descriptions of many truths we all experience in life. A great book that never got the highest critical acclaim it deserved. Chazz46
Maybe this movie is showing how persons who manage to suppress their emotions can less painfully experience all of life's problems, because they do not have to relentlessly talk about them, see psychiatrists, and ventilate emotional affectations onto everyone else - and suffer because of the emotional triggers. All of the other characters are just extensions of the Farrow character,Hope, and her emotionality which leads to the need to see a psychiatrist. Both Marion and her husband, the cardiologist, seem to pass through life unaffected by all the negative aspects since there is a void in their emotional makeup which lends to their compatibility. Their overall constitution seems to fit comfortably with each other (and there is no suggestion that the last "other woman" with whom Marion's husband is having an affair is demonstratively over emotional like the Hackman character was with Marion). Perhaps one might suggest that, regardless of one's constitution ( ie emotional,cold, and analytical), and because EVERYONE is doomed to endless conflict during life, characters like Marion and her husband will suffer far less than the norm. There is no perfect world and it would seem that humanity might benefit (ie suffer LESS) from a concerted effort in teaching, promoting, and rewarding cold and analytical personae as well as suppression of individual emotionality. Since this concept is silly, I would simply say that people like Marion and her husband have an advantage at gliding through life with less pain and we should leave them alone to live it. There may be no merit in forcing emotionality onto those who do not have it.
Like many others, I can see through each scenario as very likely being staged, yet I cannot change the channel - because it is very entertaining. There has to be a lot of hum drum repossessions out there, but the imagination leads to an infinitesimal number of dramatic situations. With improbable scenarios, you can keep our interest. I don't mind if you put bird's nests in the carburetor intakes to force an abort on takeoff. I don't mind if the plane sitting in the hangar is surrounded by cargo containing live cobras, etc. I don't mind if a colossal combine with the plane's owner is coming down the runway to try to prevent a takeoff. All of these scenarios are just a script writer's "genius". Think about the gator shows: search for alligators, find them hooked with the bait, pull them alongside small boat, try to shoot them in their small skull, and then pull them inside the boat. The script genius in these episodes are more dramas about the relationships between the gator hunters. But they never surpass even the soap opera level here. I have to make sure I don't find Airplane Repo on the channel or it's like eating popcorn.
Much has been well described ad nauseum about the plot, music, background, character flaws, etc. of Bitter Moon. Besides all of these truths, there is something else that exists, namely the powerful feminine impact that Mimi portrayed to the extent that it seemed far too real to be left encased in the fantasy realm of movie art. Her character part as well as her actual beauty, dancing talent, and sexuality is the exponent of femininity, grace, and desirability. Men remain tortured by their obsession with everything that Mimi portrayed in the film. Not unlike Jean Seberg in Lilith, whose character mesmerized, beguiled, and commandeered most of those who ran across her path, Mimi had that quality which likewise reaches out beyond the movie itself to ensnare the hearts of all men. Not everyone gets it, but it is plain to see from galleries of fan mail to Emmanuelle Seigner, this one movie part seems to have entrenched her immortality into many men's souls. This gut-wrenching obsession with the magical combination of a certain actress coupled to a script and director brings forth restless insomnia for appreciative men as Seigner has done here. If Jean Seberg did not bring such an obsession, then consider Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Or try Kim Novack in Bell Book and Candle. These are a few of the magical concoctions of film art where the whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. Oscar's character even tries to elevate the beauty and desirability of the less stunning Fiona's character when he says, "But I find your own brand of beauty more subtle.....as that inimitably British quality......a kind of reticence that hints of untapped potentiality." Even Shakespeare, much less Oscar, cannot compensate with words for those who appear limited in physical beauty and sensuousness, while Seigner's beauty portrays endless potential for being tapped, you might say. And Polanski's product leads to a powerful representation of man's instinct and obsession for beauty, sensuousness, and the ideal everyman's woman. We see that Oscar, when given this rare opportunity in the eyes of the average man, totally blows it and ruins a most ideal relationship. Unfortunately, knowing Polanski's historical tragedies, I would think that he is telling us that we are probably no better than Oscar when it comes to successfully nurturing the ideal relationship. ChazzN
As an aside, I was taken aback by Faye Dunaway's cowgirl ride on top of
Bill Holden and demonstrating a TEN SECOND orgasm (on her part) which,
during the 70's, must have been a tribute to the free sex so rampant in
that era. So sorry that era didn't last. Also, it was unrealistic and
unbelievable that she and Bill were yakking so much while getting down
to the business of reprising their previous amorous experience.
It was almost as if network bigwigs are so cerebral, that they lose their human instinct for basic sexual passion and can carry on an excited verbal discussion as if they are at the workplace. Maybe TED can show us how the movers and shakers have sex simultaneously and can be seemingly oblivious to their sexual activity. Talking about a Hollywood scenario!
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Regardless of how one criticizes the various components of this movie, I have to give this movie a high mark based on the unforgettable emotional impact it had on me as an artful creation. There are positive and negative commentaries on each component of the foregoing analysis depending on one's point of view, however just like a card game and the random nature of what comes up, this movie is what it is.......ie a novel portrayal of the nearly subjugated British way of life in a postwar funk. The unique and curious British culture and style which survived the Nazi attempt to abolish it, was now kicking and clawing to survive in the post WWII Cold War. Here we have a spy flick showing that inimitable British effort with the "real" workers in England, the lower middle and upper middle class... not the aristocracy, which was the style of portraying characters in British movies traditionally. Likable characters like Caine, and unlikeable ones representing the administrative and bureaucratic side of England's socialist leaning culture was a new adventure away from previous spy movies. The eerie and spellbinding Hungarian dulcimer instrument used throughout the movie's soundtrack added emotional impact which is forever impacted into my brain (not unlike the screeching violins during the Psycho shower scene.) By identifying with the skeptical and individualistic attitude of Caine's character, I seemed to empathize his torture experience far more than in other movies. The trigger phrase "Now listen to me" seemed to be a powerful simulation of brain washing technique and was used equally for same effect in "The Manchurian Candidate". Overall, "The Ipcress File" left a favorable impact on my psyche such that I am spellbound by watching many different scenes throughout the movie. The encounters with spying, his bosses, the women in his apartment, his cooking, his close calls, the torture scenes, etc. are not particularly earth shattering cinematic achievements, but rather the interesting likable character Caine portrays and the eminent danger and the mysterious music all came together to make this a very interesting and emotionally provocative art piece.
As a young man, I first saw "Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf?" and was
aghast at such vituperative enmity shared by a married couple. As years
passed, I understood that this shocking portrayal by Taylor and Burton
(George & Martha) of a dysfunctional couple was just one way some
couples manifest their undeniable love for each other. There is much
drama and intentional pain to be inflicted upon each other to assuage
their sado-masochistic tendencies. In the end, after bringing others
down to their level of marital martial arts, they survive because they
truly love each other. To outsiders, they express in in such an
unpalatable way. On the other hand, "Marie & Bruce", while similar to
George & Martha, with Marie's hateful and vituperative harangues
(especially in public) against Bruce, who responds to her with
indelicate personal thoughts about other women's tighter vaginas,etc.,
demonstrates a marital bond more consistent with the Generation X'ers
propensity to see everything from ones own selfish and hedonistic point
of view that leaves little room for even a flicker of true love within
their marital foundation. Perhaps "M&B" reflects another casualty of
our society as our moral-ethical boundaries have degenerated since post
WWII changes in our society. This marriage is definitely worse that
George and Martha's as there is no love residing anywhere behind their
dysfunctional behavior. Even worse, Bruce takes the milquetoast
approach as he receives his wife's spewings and calls her "darling" a
million times in a demonstration of appeasement while he seeks the love
he is missing from his wife through sexual fantasies with strange women
and almost latent homosexual fulfillment with his lunch buddy, Frank.
Marie and Bruce may represent the decline of dysfunctional marriages to an even lower point today than the Baby Boomer's era. There is no redeeming basis for this marriage to have ever occurred. The lack of intellectual capacity in M&B (as evidenced by the banal conversations at Frank's party) compared to George and Martha and friends is pertinent to today's minds as they proceed through trials and tribulations of marriage. The utter lack of any fundamental basis of love throughout M&B's marriage in today's arena may indeed reflect the lack of intellectual development, hedonism, amorality, and many other missing elements of our former culture that seems more prevalent in today's society. Marriage, even if practiced dysfunctionally, seems to be far more absurd and disgusting when there is no development of any basic love concept all while selfish,non-intellectual, mundane, banal, and all other dark forces have become so influential in shaping personality. I'll take George and Martha any day because I know they, at the very core, loved each other very deeply. Chazz
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
SPOILER: A recurring thought: Old Maxime, who had accepted the loss of
his first son and wife, was inconsolable about losing his dog (because
he chose to walk the dog without a leash and it was run over), and the
dog's death served to displace all of the angst he had repressed from
similar earlier matrimonial irresponsibility. Claude Miller emphasized
this over and over and over. The persistent eying of Tania at his own
wedding and many subsequent scenes left no doubt that Maxime should
have been a prime candidate for self-flagellation. Since he never
demonstrated subsequent shame or regret, humanity gets to at least see
how such guilt can still enter into one's life even if only the pangs
of guilt through mindless displacement in the form of the dog incident.
Maybe this movie should be an iconic cinema graphic reference for wandering spouses to consider while they visualize themselves as "taking the leash off" to allow beauty to trump all those ideals that are actually being dumped along with the death of a good relationship. But just like other movies that demonstrate the fallibility of mankind regarding the temptation of beauty, at the risk of losing all ideals we
aspire for ourselves and our children, we are brought to bear the same emotions and attractions that are difficult to withstand. Jean Seberg in "Lilith", Emmanuelle Seigner in "Bitter Moon", Julia Roberts in "Pretty Woman", etc provide worthy examples. "Match Point" also demonstrated how a poor guy who is lucky enough to marry a fairly good looking very educated woman from a very wealthy family is charmed by beauty enough to leave his wife and lose everything. "A Secret" ranks up there with those movies that force you to grapple with lustful and selfish feelings felt by Maxime. Perhaps such movies should be included in a behavioral modification course for family therapy.
But this movie shows little poetic justice for Maxime as he only suffers guilt from his irresponsibility with his dog and not from his excessive lust for Tania. In the end, he is unable to associate his inconsolable dog death feelings with the fact that he set in motion the loss of his family during precarious wartime conditions. Some people have no guilt nor insight, like Maxime. Many of the rest of us are fighting the magic of beauty and should know better. Chazz
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It is apparent that there is sufficient documentation that we humans "play the the tapes of our life" in very fast forward just prior to our death. This movie seems to allow for the ending of that comprehensive tape playing to resolve in final acceptance of the truth after what must be several permutations of fantasy and guilt-based wishful thinking. Rather than the long drawn-out subconscious (actually "final conscious")dreams as portrayed by the movie in the cadence of the living, this movie just accounts for a split second of "playing the tapes" before Sophie finally dies. I would have never guessed how those nanoseconds could have been captured by film art. In that sense, we the living, are given the opportunity to dissect out over an expanded time period that which actually occurs in an instant. We are thus given to appreciate how the senses of the living are tuned out of the dimension of time itself. Furthermore, this movie would suggest that how we handle truth is still wrapped in dream work even as we play our final tapes at our death.