Frank Perry – Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970)

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Review by Michael Costello

Frank Perry’s bleak study of the lot of a beleaguered Manhattan housewife features three excellent performances. Carrie Snodgress stars as the wife of a lawyer (Richard Benjamin) whose unbearable status-anxiety drives her into the arms of an equally neurotic emotional sadist (Frank Langella). Made during the nascent days of the women’s movement, the film is a strident and simplistic take on the woman-as-victim, yet in some scenes captures the miserable details of this woman’s life with such precision and vividness, that it still has residual power. Benjamin’s overbearing lawyer is memorable as one of the most irritating characters ever to appear onscreen, and in his insane hunger for social status, he’s something of a precursor to American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman. Snodgress is so brilliantly effective in her Academy Award-nominated performance, that it becomes painful to watch what amounts to the torture of her passive, emotionally abused housewife. As a narcissistic womanizer with an amazingly well-modulated voice, Langella is also exceptional, and his subsequent 15 minutes as a sex symbol speaks volumes about how differently women saw themselves at the time. While the film’s failure to examine these characters in greater depth, and the director’s lack of vision ultimately leaves one unsatisfied, it remains a provocative work which undoubtedly still speaks to the plight of many women. Continue reading

Luchino Visconti – Il gattopardo AKA The Leopard (1963)

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Luchino Visconti’s “Il Gattopardo” is an epic on the grandest possible scale. The film recreates, with nostalgia, drama, and opulence, the tumultuous years of Italy’s Risorgimento, when the aristocracy lost its grip and the middle classes rose and formed a unified, democratic Italy. Burt Lancaster stars as the aging prince watching his culture and fortune wane in the face of a new generation, represented by his upstart nephew (Alain Delon) and his beautiful fiancée (Claudia Cardinale). Awarded the Palme d’Or at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival, “Il Gattopardo” translates Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel, and the history it recounts, into a truly cinematic masterpiece. Continue reading

Martin Scorsese – It’s Not Just You, Murray! (1964)

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Synopsis:
Now middle-aged, mobster Murray looks back at his humble beginnings as a bootlegger and his rise to becoming wealthy and highly influential. Through it he talks about how much of his success and happiness is due to the support of his “friend” Joe. Unfortunately the only one who blindly believes Joe is anything close to a friend is Murray, because it’s obvious to everyone that Joe back-stabs him at every chance and is sleeping with his wife.– IMDb. Continue reading

Giuseppe Patroni Griffi – Il mare (1963)

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Quote:
Tourist season has not yet begun. Capri is deserted and the sky is sadly grey. An actor arrives. He’s waiting for a woman who won’t come. In the meanwhile he’s having a strange relationship with a young alcoholic man who even tries to kill him; he’s bored, with no ideals, strong and weak at the same time. The two men are shaping a strange friendship, or at least they try, until a woman comes on the isle.
“In this movie words are used in a way different from usual. When they talk to each other, the three leading actors talk about ordinary things, not about their relationship. They never talk about their feelings. The story is sombre, as it’s filled with missed attractions and hidden feelings. The actors express themselves with moves, gestures and their contribution is fundamental for that. Only good actors can do that” (Patroni Griffi) Continue reading

Manoel de Oliveira – A Caça AKA The Hunt (1964)

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Quote:
“A caça” is one Oliveira’s most distressing and mysterious films. Two boys, Roberto and José, enter a hunting ground, flooded with marshes. José falls into a quagmire and Roberto runs to the village looking for help. The locals form a human chain to save the victim…

“I conceived ‘A caça’ after reading in a newspaper that a boy was sucked down into a pit of quicksand and the other, due to fear, fled without helping him. The movie is based on this event.” In this laconic way, Oliveira summarizes his purpose. His first intention was to make a feature film about such an anguishing event. Continue reading

Gene Saks – The Odd Couple [+Extras] (1968)

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by Bill Gibron:
There was a time, a little less than four decades ago, when Neil Simon was the literary benchmark of both Broadway and the Silver Screen. After a successful stint as a TV scribe on Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows, the soon to be phenomenon went on to create such Great White Way staples as Barefoot in the Park, Sweet Charity, Plaza Suite, and The Prisoner of Second Avenue. In 1966, he had four shows running at once and it wasn’t long before Hollywood came calling.

After adapting his Come Blow Your Horn and Park for the big screen, Simon was given the complicated task of translating his mega-hit The Odd Couple as a movie. While the studios would accept Oscar- and Tony-winner Walter Matthau as Oscar, Art Carney’s cinematic clout as Felix was questioned. Luckily, director Gene Saks hired friend and Fortune Cookie co-star Jack Lemmon as the notorious neat freak. The rest, as they say, is motion picture history. Continue reading

Michael Haneke – Die Rebellion (1993)

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Quote:
Die Rebellion (The Rebellion). 1993. Austria. Directed by Michael Haneke. With its silent-era aesthetic of sepia tones and muted color tints, and its interweaving of realism and fantasy, Haneke’s haunting adaptation of Joseph Roth’s expressionistic 1924 novel is an homage to the great Weimar cinema of G. W. Pabst and F. W. Murnau. In a heartbreaking performance, Branko Samarovski plays Andreas Pum, a soldier who loses his leg during the Great War and becomes an organ-grinder to earn a few coins a day. To this loyal citizen of the State, the veterans and firebrands who march in protest against society’s neglect are lazy, insubordinate “heathens.” But when an ugly tram incident condemns Pum to a life of penury and loneliness, his soul is awakened to the bitter waste of a life spent in duty to God and Empire. In German; 90 min Continue reading