Category Archives: 1970 Movie reviews

The Boys in the Band-1970

The Boys in the Band-1970

Director-William Friedkin

Starring-Kenneth Nelson, Frederick Combs

Top 100 Films-#80

Reviewed July 4, 2017

Grade: A

An excellent counterpart to the equally brilliant, and equally unpleasant, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, The Boys in the Band is also a stage production made into a feature film. As such, shot very much like a play and seemingly in one long take, the film is highly effective and delicious in wit and dark humor. With a macabre and bitter element, the characters snipe and ridicule each other during a birthday party.

The Boys in the Band is a groundbreaking film on many levels as it is one of the first LGBT films to feature gay characters in prominent roles. Furthermore, it has the dubious honor of being the first film to use the word “cu##”. Regardless, the film is fantastic and a must see for anyone intrigued by LGBT film history. All of the actors appeared in the stage production and reprise their roles for the film version.

The setting is the Upper East Side of Manhattan in the late 1960’s. Michael, a writer, is hosting a birthday party for his good friend, Harold. When Michael receives an urgent call from his straight and married college chum, Alan, he begrudgingly invites him over at the risk of having his lifestyle exposed. One by one, the guests arrive for the party. Emory is quite effeminate and loud, Hank and Larry and straight-acting and a couple, but with monogamy issues and Hank’s marriage as obstacles. Bernard, a black bookstore clerk is an amiable, nice guy. “Cowboy”, a dim-witted hustler, and Harold, the sarcastic, bitter, guest of honor, round out the attendees.

As the night wears on, the party turns into a free for all of insults, bad feelings, and vicious conversation. Alan and Emory get into a fistfight, and later a hurtful telephone game forces everyone to call the one person they have truly loved which results in anxieties and sadness for most of the guests.

The key aspect to The Boys in the Band is that it is shot like a play would be, with a highly effective result. In this way, especially mid-way through the film when the guests are all in the same closed room, the action becomes suffocating and stifling as the fangs are bared by a few of the guests. Director, Friedkin, uses many close-ups of his characters to further portray their raw emotions.

My favorite characters are Alan and Hank as these characters are the most complex. Both are married, and both hit it off famously, although Alan’s sexuality is never completely revealed. He is married, but clearly troubled, and the audience never learns why, although we could wager a guess that he is, indeed, conflicted by his sexuality. What will become of him? Will he accept his sexuality or live a repressed existence?

Hank, in the midst of a divorce from his wife, lives with Larry as a couple. Hank is complex because he is transitioning from a straight life to a gay lifestyle and that must have been very difficult in the late 1960’s- for this reason I find the character of Hank quite brave. The film does not explore this angle as much as it could have, but a character such as Hank fleshes out the cast in a positive way. Alan and Hank are multi-dimensional characters whereas some of the others contain gay stereotypes.

I would have enjoyed a deeper dive into the personal lives of some of the characters, but the film is really about the emotions many of the characters possess and feelings of love, some unrequited, and there are too many characters for each to receive his due focus. Plus, the main focus of the film is the back and forth banter between the characters.

The Aristocats-1970

The Aristocats-1970

Director-Wolfgang Reitherman

Starring-Various voices

Reviewed December 29, 2016

Grade: B+

The golden age of Disney films mainly occurring prior to the release of this film, The Aristocats is a latter day Disney film, released in 1970- the first release since Walt Disney’s death in 1966. It is a darling story with a very cute subject matter- cats living in sophisticated Paris face peril from their butler. Like many Disney works, the film’s message pertains to the treatment of animals. The Aristocats is much safer fare than the dark Bambi or even Dumbo, but it is a fantastic film worth watching.

Glamorous and elegant retired opera star, Madame Adelaide Bonfamille, lives peacefully with her gorgeous mother cat, Duchess, and her three kittens, Marie, Berlioz, and Toulouse in the heart of Paris, circa 1910. They are sophisticated beyond measure and enjoy every luxury known to cats, and are accompanied in their estate by English butler, Edgar. One day while Madame is discussing her will with her attorney, Edgar learns that she plans to leave her entire estate to her cats, until their death, then all goes to Edgar. Filled with greed, Edgar plots to kill the cats. This leads to an adventure in the country as the accosted cats attempt to find their way back home to Madame, with the help of feral yet kindly cat friends.

Ever so sweet to the film is the burgeoning romance which erupts between Duchess and Thomas O’Malley, as he  aids the cats in returning to Paris. It is classic girl from high class, meets the bad boy from the wrong side of the tracks- only cat style. The chemistry is readily apparent between the pair and, on a personal note, my female cat Thora certainly seemed smitten with Thomas O’Malley as she sat smiling at Thomas as she watched the film.

During their adventure, Thomas and Duchess manage to dance and sing along with Thomas’s best friend Scat Cat, who leads a Jazz band of alley cats- this makes the film light and lively in tone. The group also shares adventures with English geese, Abigail and Amelia Gabble, who share a fondness for style and a prim and proper manner.

Throughout it all, the group continues to be pursued by Edgar, who is portrayed more as a bumbling villain than a sinister one, making The Aristocats a fun film rather than anything too heavy or sinister.

The sophistication of the film is really what makes me enjoy it so much. The high style of the Parisian city blocks, Madame’s gorgeous mansion, and the beautifully drawn French countryside are my favorite elements. I love the contrasts with this film- the city and the country, the high brow characters meet the more blue collar ones, but in the end, everyone comes together to conquer the mischievous foe.

Whereas, in Bambi man is the serious enemy, in The Aristocats, Edgar is more of a buffoon than a true dangerous element. He is cartoon-like (no pun intended), thereby the film is more of a caper with hi-jinks than of true danger.

For the cat lover in all of us, The Aristocats is a delightful film with a nice message, and a wonderful cultural experience. Who can forget the fantastic theme song, “Ev’rybody Wants to be a Cat”?

Scrooge-1970

Scrooge-1970

Director-Ronald Neame

Starring-Albert Finney, Alec Guinness

Reviewed December 25, 2016

Grade: A

A classic that is perfect to watch around the holidays, accompanied perhaps by a roaring fire and a bit of brandy, Scrooge is a magical, musical experience, that should be adored by the entire family. The film is a re-telling of the 1843 Charles Dickens story, A Christmas Carol. Set in London with spectacular London style art direction, it is perfect in its depiction of life around the holidays in the historic city, circa nineteenth century.

To be clear, this is the musical version of the popular tale- not to be confused with the 1935 or the 1951 versions of the story. The film is not as dark or scary as those films are. Rather, the 1970 Scrooge would be a fantastic companion piece to the 1968 classic, Oliver!, both based on Dickens stories, as both mix fantastic musical scores with the dramatic elements.

Albert Finney takes center stage in flawless form as the old, cantankerous, miser, Ebenezer Scrooge. He plays the character as both an old man, and, via flashbacks, as a young man (Finney was merely thirty four years old at the time of filming). Guinness, certainly a high caliber actor, is effective as the ghost of Jacob Marley- Scrooge’s former business partner. Scrooge is a money-lender, mainly to the working class, and is unforgiving in his collection of debts.

Filled with hatred of all things good, especially the Christmas holiday, Scrooge refuses to attend a family Christmas dinner hosted by his nephew, Fred, or to give to any charities. He begrudgingly gives his minion and bookkeeper, Bob Cratchit, Christmas day off. Finally left alone Christmas Eve night, Scrooge is visited by the spirit of Jacob Marley, deceased seven years, who tells Scrooge that he will be visited by three ghosts during  the night.

In a chilling scene, Marley takes Scrooge on a journey through the sky where he is greeted by spirits doomed to traverse the Earth as Jacob is, with shackles acquired from their life as living beings. Since they were greedy and wicked, they are doomed in the afterlife, just as Scrooge will be if he does not change his ways.

In a wonderful sub-plot, we get to know the Cratchit’s, led by father Bob, a poor, but earnest man. The family has little, but make the most of what they do have, and appreciate the glorious holiday. They prepare a meager Christmas bird, and savor being together as a family. Their youngest, Tiny Tim, is lame, and he lusts over a lavish train set in the local toy shop. The Cratchit’s epitomize goodness and richness of character, and clearly contrast Ebenezer Scrooge.

As Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and Christmas yet to come, he slowly realizes he needs to change his ways before it is too late, and the audience is treated to stories of Scrooge’s youth, as we realize what has made him the miserly old man that he is today.

The clear highlight to this film is its musical numbers that will leave even the most tone deaf humming along in glee. Throughout each sequence we are treated to various numbers. My favorite is “Thank You Very Much”, as first appears during the Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come sequence. By this time feeling more sympathetic and appreciative, Scrooge merrily dances and sings along with the townspeople, unaware of the fact that they are celebrating his death and are dancing on his coffin to celebrate the fact that their debts are now free and clear. This catchy tune is a reprise at the end of the film.

Other cheery numbers are “Father Christmas” and “I Like Life”, which perfectly categorize the film as a merry, holiday one, despite the occasional dark nature of the overall film. This is necessary to avoid making Scrooge too bleak.

I also adore the vivid set designs as the gorgeous city of London is perfectly recreated to show the festive Christmas holiday. The film is not high budget, but makes the most of it by using small, yet lavish sets.

Scrooge is a perfect holiday film that contains fantastic tunes, a meaningful story, that comes across on film as celebratory of life, never edging toward contrived or over-saturated in nature. A wonderful holiday feast.

Trash-1970

Trash-1970

Director-Paul Morrissey

Starring-Joe Dallesandro, Holly Woodlawn

70003097

Reviewed March 7, 2011

Grade: B+

Trash is a very unique movie. It needs to be experienced firsthand to be believed. Produced by icon Andy Warhol, it is both creative and raw, and certainly not for those seeking a basic film that can easily be digested and contained in a box.  Rather, the gritty and controversial aspects percolate into something edgy and creative. In essence, it is a day in the life of a junkie.

An indie drama with documentary  aspects, made in 1970, and set in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Trash tells the story of a young heroine junkie named Joe (Joe Dallesandro) along with his sidekick Holly, who wander throughout the city picking through trash in desperate need of their next heroin fix .

The film is hardcore and is what I admired most about it. Not always compelling and certainly not always story-like, it is an experience. Trash would likely not be made today, but, alas in the 1960’s and 1970’s films like this could be made.

Its rawness, explicit nudity (and I mean full frontal, folks) and blatant IV drug injections are not for the perky or conformists. It reminds me quite a bit of a John Waters cult exploitation film, but interestingly preceded John Waters. Very well made and Id like to see it again sometime.

 

Five Dolls For An August Moon-1970

Five Dolls For An August Moon-1970

Director-Mario Bava

Starring-William Berger, Howard Ross

5-bambole-poster

Reviewed April 9, 2016

Grade: B-

Five Dolls For An August Moon is a 1970 Italian horror film by horror maestro Mario Brava, a well regarded director of the genre. Being relatively a novice to his films, but knowing his name, I expected a bit more from the film than I was treated to.  From a critics consensus Five Dolls For An August Moon is not considered to be one of his better films- not even close. I found some positive elements to the film, but ultimately it did not come together in a concise or compelling way. The dubbing from Italian to the English language is poor and I would have preferred more authenticity to watch in the native Italian language.

Containing a fascinating and mysterious premise, a group of gorgeous people gather on a sunny, remote desert island- somewhere off the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. Owned by wealthy industrialist George Stark, the weekend is intended to be one of socializing, fun, and relaxation. It appears to be summer(hence the title) and the vacationers exude a sexuality and sense of good style. The beach house is lavish and sophisticated and it is suggested that all are brilliant, or at least, riding on the coat-tails of those who are. One of the guests is famed chemist, Professor Gerry Farrell, who has recently created a revolutionary formula, and it is quickly revealed that all of the guests are industrialists with plans to buy the formula from him at any price. Incensed, Farrell refuses to budge and, suddenly, one by one, the guests are killed off in typical gruesome horror fashion.

I am a sucker for a good whodunit, and Five Dolls For An August Moon appears to be in the Agatha Christie’s- And Then There Were None style of intrigue, but this aspect of the film proves to be the most trivial and uninteresting as the plot moves along.  The characters motives were unclear (yes, I get they all wanted the secret formula), but the real necessity of having it besides, presumably money, which they all appeared to already have plenty of, was dull. The ending of the film and the “big reveal”, while clever, was also overly complicated for this type of film.

The film was for its time (1970), very provocative in look and style and that impresses. Featuring a groovy, psychedelic soundtrack, bright, trendy clothing, and a sunny set, the film challenges the tried and true horror elements, especially foreign horror (darkness, rain, fog, gloom) and this really makes the film work from a cinematic perspective. One cannot help but watch this film and think of director Russ Myer as a heavy influence. The casting of good looking Italian actors, both male and female- the females busty and gorgeous- the men stylish and cool, reminiscent of Myer male actors, is noteworthy.

Interesting, and another glaring example of how other countries progressive sexual viewpoints contrast with the more conservative United States, is that many of the couples on the island are involved sexually with other people on the island, including a lesbian romance, highly unusual to show in 1970. These shenanigans give Five Dolls For An August Moon a more creative, suave, and sexual intrigue.

A highly effective, and creepy, aspect of the film is the keeping of the corpses in a freezer with plastic bags over the victims heads- meat locker style. Eyes bulging, with the clear bags giving a ghastly view, I immediately thought of the still to come masterpiece, Black Christmas, and how this film might have been an influence with a similar scene of a victim wrapped in plastic with a gruesome facial expression. This is good horror stuff.

Five Dolls For An August Moon is not a great film, but it does have some edgy elements, a cool look, and thanks to great direction from Mario Brava, does some influencing of films to come. A decent horror flick, and a worthwhile investment for fans of Italian horror- Brava is a heavy hitter and, next to Dario Argento, is the master in Italian horror films.

(Le Boucher) The Butcher-1970

(Le Boucher) The Butcher-1970

Director-Claude Chabrol

Starring-Stephane Audran, Jean Yanne

60026770

Reviewed September 11, 2015

Grade: B+

(Le Boucher) The Butcher is a French thriller made in 1970 that is slow moving at first, but progresses to a dramatic crescendo as the latter part of the film escalates, and turns from plodding to cerebral mind-blower. Clearly mirrored after and inspired by director Alfred Hitchcock, The Butcher is surprisingly not quite horror (based on the title one might assume it is), but rather, an intelligent dreamy thriller.

Gorgeous schoolteacher Helene Daville is smart, confident, and filled with a zest for life. She tutors children needing extra help, laughs with them, and even lets one sip wine to try the taste of it. She enjoys living and the occasional adventure. One day, at a wedding, she meets the local butcher, Paul Thomas, and they immediately hit it off as they tenderly walk home together. Cordial and kind, they develop a friendship and laugh together. As time goes on, a series of killings begins to occur in the town. Helene begins to suspect Paul of the murders and wrestles with her conflict between her budding love for him and her revulsion at the thought of being in love with a vicious murderer. Her conflict is the point of the film.

The relationship between Helene and Paul is an interesting dynamic and, I now realize, the reason for the slow pace of the picture. Helene and Paul enjoy a nurturing, caring courtship and the film successfully achieves the intended slow build. The murder mystery is rather secondary and helps support the main plot. We know little- almost nothing- about the female victims. They are strangers to the audience and the reason for their deaths are unknown. The killer simply kills- no motivation is revealed. This is what makes the film so cerebral and mysterious.

The Butcher is really a love story intertwined with a thriller. It is not a mainstream thriller in the conventional sense and the final twenty or thirty minutes reeled me in completely and gave me great admiration for the film, which I had been hedging about throughout. The meat of the film might have started an additional thirty minutes prior to when it did in my opinion, but then again the slow build may have been intended to make the end result more powerful. The moral conflict, love versus hate, tenderness, affection, caring, devastation, and betrayal are all explored during this relatively brief finale. In addition, the blurry camera shots and angles from the vantage point of an automobile driver traveling down a dark, tree-lined street are highly creative and unique.

The comparisons to Hitchcock are evident. Helene is similar to Tippi Hedren’s “Melanie Daniels” from The Birds. She is glamorous, alluring, blonde, tall, well-dressed, and the heroine of the film. Attractive and blonde are traits featured in many Hitchcock films. Paul, on the other hand, reminds me of Rod Taylor’s Mitch, also from The Birds, though not as handsome or charismatic. Still, their relationship reminds me of the two of them as the chemistry oozes from the screen and a romance and thriller are combined.

Helene is perceived as a wholesome wonderful person by the audience, but is she truly? In the end we are left questioning her true feelings and are left with a distaste in our mouths. Her choices confuse us or is she simply a complex human being like each of us is? The interesting aspect of The Butcher is it leaves one questioning how we ourselves would handle Helene’s dilemma, and more importantly, how we would channel our feelings if faced with a similar predicament.

Peau d’Ane (Donkey Skin)-1970

Peau d’Ane (Donkey Skin)-1970

Director-Jacques Demy

Starring-Catherine Deneuve

70032096

Reviewed March 10, 2015

Grade: B

Peau d’Ane (English-Donkey Skin) is a 1971 French musical film that is a fairy tale for adults- seemingly happy, but very dark beneath the surface. To say this film is bizarre would be an understatement. For all intents and purposes the film is a strange re-telling of the classic story of Cinderella, the film set in a peculiar medieval world and centering on a dying Queen, her husband The King, and the heroine of the story, the beautiful Princess.

The Queen is dying. Her last wish is for The King to marry the most beautiful woman in the land. Coincidentally, that is their daughter The Princess! Eager to produce an heir to the throne, he is determined to marry and reproduce with his daughter. The Princess, wanting none of it, turns herself into an ugly creature, by way of wearing the skin of a donkey and moves to a neighboring kingdom to exist in a life of exclusion and revulsion, farming pigs and being berated by those around her. A handsome Prince decides to pursue the woman who has baked him a delicious cake, but knows not who she is. Ironically enough it is the Princess.

I found the film to be quite interesting, albeit in a warped way. Unusual and tough to analyze, one must watch with an open mind. Certainly, Donkey Skin delves headfirst into the icky world of incest and makes no apologies for its controversial nature all the while interspersing the film with cheery tunes with singing roses and hatching chicks. The donkey skin that the Princess wears is obviously fake and unbelievably laughable and how nobody is aware that there is a beautiful Princess underneath is silly. And yet the film somehow works. I was transported into a magical world where nothing is normal and one surprise after another ensues.

A couple of oddities worth mentioning- some of the music from the film is contemporary, upbeat music. Also, strangely, the final scene involves a helicopter, which is completely implausible given the time period. I get the sense that this film is going for absurd and unique and succeeds on both counts.

Visually the film is gorgeous- bright and cheerful with loads of colors. The film has awe-inspiring art direction as the set pieces within the castle are odd, interesting, and colorful. I especially enjoyed the Prince’s bedroom set.

As eccentric and seemingly dark the film is, often times a character will burst into a cheerful song as evidenced by the Princess singing a happy tune while making a meal, all the while dressed in her donkey skin, almost like a scene out of Mary Poppins or My Fair Lady or any other wholesome musical.

To be sure a unique film, Donkey Skin is eccentric, lively, and interestingly perverse with a French flair. A fantasy for adults and a journey into the weird.

The Conformist-1970

The Conformist-1970

Director-Bernardo Bertolucci

Starring-Jean-Louis Trintignant, Stefania Sandrelli

Top 100 Films-#28

70054715

Reviewed January 3, 2015

Grade: A

The Conformist, directed by Italian director Bernardo Bertolucci and based on the 1950’s novel by Alberto Moravia, is a complex film which tells the story of one man’s complicated life throughout the time of Italian Fascism (1920’s until 1943). Due to a traumatic childhood event he is troubled and strives to “conform” to a “normal”, traditional lifestyle despite his underlying wounds and desires, which he struggled to repress. The character in question is Marcello Clerici, played by Jean-Louis Trintignant, who works for the secret police supporting the Fascist government.

Marcello yearns for a quiet life that everyone else seems to have. He is set up with a beautiful new wife and is ordered to assassinate his college professor who is a leader of an anti-Fascist party. Throughout the story, Marcello is tormented, via flashbacks, by his troubled childhood and the film delivers a marvelous, creative use of camera angles, style, and design. It is a dreamlike film that makes full use of childhood memories from the perspective of the protagonist.

The film is a character study in the highest regard yet is also beautiful to look at making it very multi-faceted. Marcello is clearly troubled as evidenced by his backstory. In many ways he is weak, refusing to accept who he is or admit his deepest desires. Mixed in with the complexity of his character is a unique character named Anna (Dominique Sanda), the college professor’s gorgeous blonde wife who appears to be bisexual, enticing both Marcello and his wife, Giulia, played by Stefania Sandrelli. Marcello, in particular, becomes transfixed and obsessed with Anna.

A truly heartbreaking moment arrives later in the film and is my favorite scene in The Conformist. As the assassination attempt is made on a lonely and secluded, yet picturesque country road, the result is murder, betrayal, and surprise. When one character non-verbally speaks to another with mostly facial expressions, and emotionally and pathetically pleads for their life through a car window it is as tragic as it is poetic. The scene is wrought with drama.

Additionally, Marcello’s troubled childhood involving a homosexual experience involving a chauffeur named Lino, resurfaces years later in an unlikely way and leads to the shocking conclusion to the film. The very last frame of the film, in fact, leaves the viewer pondering what is to become of Marcello next.

Marcello’s mother and father add mysterious layers to the film. His father is securely an inmate in a mental hospital while his mother is a boozy older woman who sleeps until noon. While these characters are not explored as completely as they might have been, it does lead one to ponder why Marcello is the way that he is and if his parents have any bearing on his persona.

In a particularly fascinating scene, Anna seductively dances with Marcello’s wife at a crowded dancehall, they do the tango, as amidst her affair with Marcello, she is clearly in love with his wife, making the dynamic confusing yet at the same time fascinating to view.

The Conformist heavily influenced storied directors such as Frances Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg. A beautiful scene of leaves blowing in the wind almost mirrors a similar scene contained in Coppola’s The Godfather Part II.

A film that is as captivating as it filled with influence, The Conformist is an interesting watch for both the style and the mystique that surrounds it.

Diary of a Mad Housewife-1970

Diary of a Mad Housewife-1970

Director-Frank Perry

Starring-Carrie Snodgress, Frank Langella

MPW-36461

Reviewed November 4, 2014

Grade: A

The film version of Diary of a Mad Housewife, based on the best-selling novel by Sue Kaufman, is a tremendous, unique story of one woman’s frustration with her irritating life. A superb Carrie Snodgrass stars as a haggard, insecure, yet affluent housewife named Tina Balser, who lives in New York City, surrounded by an unpleasant family. The family is led by Tina’s verbally abusive and neurotic husband Jonathan- a successful attorney, played flawlessly and rather comedically by Richard Benjamin, and her two brattish daughters Sylvie and Liz. Bored, Tina decides to embark on an affair with crude artist George Prager, wonderfully played by Frank Langella. She teeters on the edge of an emotional breakdown throughout the film and trudges through life depressed and disappointed with all aspects of her life except for her affair with George. George, however, is a womanizer and openly has other conquests besides Tina.

The brilliant idea of the film is that the story is told strictly from Tina’s point of view. All of the action centers on her character, which makes the film so interesting. On the surface one might argue she has everything- she is intelligent, well educated, and affluent. A stay at home mother, she is treated like a servant by husband Jonathan, as he constantly berates her appearance and criticizes her activities- she is always doing something incorrectly.

The film though, is not a downer. It is a dry, satirical comedy that reminds me very much of a Woody Allen film. Tina is depressed, yes, but she goes through life with a realistic, almost chin-up, outlook. Her marriage to Jonathan is loveless yet why doesn’t she leave him? Her affair with George is sexually satisfying, but she has no intention of pursuing anything further with him, nor does he want to. Tina dotes over her husband- planning dinner parties, sending Christmas cards and various other wife duties.

I’m not sure that the films true intent is to show Tina as either a strictly sympathetic character nor as completely downtrodden- the film is not a moral tale nor is it a schmaltzy, woman victimized and will rise up against the world generic drama- it is witty and filled with black humor. Despite her unkind husband, I found myself envying Tina’s life, in a way, and I think the film expects that of the viewer. I never got the impression that Tina is suicidal in anyway. It’s not that type of film. Instead, she has wealth, she goes to fancy restaurants, but she also has a very needy husband- he does not abuse her in a physical sense, nor is she reduced to tears by his outbursts. She gets annoyed and merely accepts that this is the way life is and gets by with the assistance of an occasional swig of alcohol while doing dishes or preparing dinner, or when the dog has “an accident” on the living room rug and Tina’s kids cannot wait to tattle on her. She is a sophisticated woman, trapped in an unhappy yet financially secure relationship.

Diary of a Mad Housewife is an interesting character study for all women to view and perhaps even slyly wink at.  Many women would champion Tina. She is a likeable, sarcastic, cool chick. Audiences will find themselves drawn to her and even falling in love with her before long- I know I did. Without the talents of Carrie Snodgrass, who completely carries this film, it would not be the wonder that it is. A wonderful satire, the film is not as wry or satirical as the novel, but how many films are? The novel delves more into detail and the role of the Balser’s maid is barely mentioned in the film, yet plays a larger role in the Kaufman novel. I loved the portrayal of Jonathan by Richard Benjamin who must receive some honor for most annoying character ever in film,  when he repeatedly screams for his wife by bellowing “teeeenaaaaa!”, or initiating sex by asking “would you like a little roll in dee hay?”, one wants to choke him. The way Tina’s daughters whine “mudder” instead of “mother” is comically brilliant. And her simmering hatred of all of them is dark hysteria.

Diary of a Mad Housewife is genius and should not be forgotten.

Five Easy Pieces-1970

Five Easy Pieces-1970

Director-Bob Rafelson

Starring-Jack Nicholson, Karen Black

507725

Reviewed July 9, 2014

Grade: A-

Five Easy Pieces is Jack Nicholson’s first leading role and, as one watches the film now, it is evident that his character of Bobby Dupea influenced many of his later performances.

The film is a quiet, character study about a talented yet unhappy concert pianist who gives up his privileged life of affluence and performing to lead a simple, blue collar life working on an oil rig and dating a neurotic lonely waitress played wonderfully by Karen Black. He returns, via a road-trip, to his upper class family to visit his ailing father. With Black in tow, they travel from California to remote Washington, with a couple of excellent scenes involving two angry at life female hitchhikers, and a cold waitress at a coffee shop where Nicholson performs his infamous “chicken sandwich” scene.

It is a story of one man’s loneliness and his conflict between the two lives he has lived and his turmoil at deciding where he belongs- a conflict many people wrestle with. He is not a happy man. Karen Black is excellent as the needy, clingy girlfriend and Sally Struthers has a small, yet interesting part as a flirtatious girl. The film dragged at times, moving very slowly, but does an excellent job of getting inside one man’s mind and sharing the pain with the audience.

The film is nuanced as the conflict Dupea feels pulls at his very being and this is conveyed incredibly well. The final scene is simply mesmerizing in its power. Five Easy Pieces is a purely character driven and wonderfully life questioning film.

Catch-22-1970

Catch-22-1970

Director-Mike Nichols

Starring-Alan Arkin, Martin Sheen

60020883

Reviewed December 17, 2013

Grade: B

Catch-22 is a satirical film similar in subject matter to Robert Altman’s Mash, released the same year though admittedly I have not actually seen that film yet. It does remind me of Dr. Strangelove, and Slaughterhouse Five in their anti-war theme.

This film is well made and certainly effectively portrays the outrageousness and lunacy of war. Most of the characters are presented as crazy, albeit in a dark humored, over-the-top way.

Alan Arkin is wonderful as the protagonist trying to find a way out of the island off of Italy where he and his fellow pilots are stationed. At times the film felt disjointed and tough to follow, which I understand the novel is too (I have not read the entire book), but the message of the movie comes across loud and clear.

Girly-1970

Girly-1970

Director-Freddie Francis

Starring-Vanessa Howard, Michael Bryant

70132676

Reviewed June 14, 2014

Grade: B-

Girly is an unusual British horror film about an affluent, bored family, clearly deranged, who kidnap victims and force them to become “members” of the family by participating in game playing escapades for their delight.

The premise of the film is appealing and intriguing as to how it will play out. The family members (Mumsy, Nanny, Girly, and Sonny) are played with gusto by the cast, but are never over the top. My favorite is “Mumsy”, wickedly played by British actress Ursula Howells. The film itself has a fairy tale quality to it with the sets of the house they share. The main victim (a male gigolo) is miscast (too old, not sexy enough) and begins a cat and mouse game of trickery, plotting the family against one another until the inevitable bodies pile up.

The film loses steam midway through and the ending is not satisfying. Why the victims are not able to escape the vast property is weak (a 7 foot tall flimsy fence??). “Curious” film that becomes a tad boring towards the conclusion.

Ryan’s Daughter-1970

Ryan’s Daughter-1970

Director-David Lean

Starring-Sarah Miles, Robert Mitchum

60010843

Reviewed March 24, 2014

Grade: A

Ryan’s Daughter is a sweeping epic from masterful director, David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, A Passage to India, Doctor Zhivago). The film is sprawling and filled with fabulous locales of oceanic Ireland. In fact, much of the action takes places using exterior scenes and this is arguably as prominent and important to the film as the story is.

Set in WWI era Ireland, one will immediately notice the gorgeous Irish landscapes and the brilliant photography involved. This gives the film a timeless look, and one can simply escape into the scenery itself, forgetting the story, and dream away through the roaring waves. The intense “storm scene” is second to none as Lean had to wait over a year to film this pivotal scene- and Mother nature had to cooperate.

The story is twofold: a love story involving a woman torn between her schoolteacher husband and a strapping, yet English (at this time there was no love lost between the Irish and English), officer. Rosy (Sarah Miles) is headstrong yet kindhearted, the daughter of a local, prominent man.  Her husband, Charles (Robert Mitchum) is dutiful and loyal to a fault. After Rosy’s affair with the British officer, she is deemed a tyrant by the townspeople, as her husband chooses to stand by her side.

The second story is of a political nature. A feeling of extreme nationalism exists among the townspeople against the British. Both stories blend together nicely as small town gossip and a subsequent witch hunt come into play. The village idiot is played brilliantly by John Mills, who won an Academy award for his efforts.

Character driven is the stories main appeal and the audience will surely feel perplexed or confused whom to root for or feel empathy for- I know I did. In fact, at different times ones loyalties can fluctuate or be challenged.

The film is reminiscent of Doctor Zhivago to me as romance and politics intertwine and a dilemma involving the central female characters are similar. At over three hours in length the film does not drag and remains interesting throughout as the conflict and drama reach a crescendo during the final act. At no time is there any filler or unnecessary scenes, which, in itself is a positive.

Sadly, Ryan’s Daughter is not considered as worthy as other aforementioned David Lean efforts, but I disagree with this- the film ages exceptionally well- like a fine wine. This film also focuses largely on a female character and, therefore, is female driven, a wonderful aspect in film, circa 1970.