Tag: society

August 17, 2010 / / Main Slate

There Will Be Blood – 2007 – dir. Paul Thomas Anderson

A film such as There Will Be Blood only comes around every decade or so.  It is a picture that transcends the contemporary (and often times, overemphasized) allusions to current issues, eventually revealing the true heroics of man.  Usually, films such as these relish in the battle of man with the world around him.  This time, Paul Thomas Anderson has taken a step back, graciously inviting his audience to participate in his fantastic allusion.  There Will be Blood is our modern American epic.  Already resonating with films such as Citizen Kane, the personal psychology has an intrinsic connection with today’s audience.  All corporate evil aside, this is film is about competition.  To go even farther, There Will Be Blood is an objective look at the driving force of ambition, and the right of man to climb to the top, however he may get there.  It all starts with Daniel Plainview.

April 12, 2010 / / Main Slate

By William Benker

The Hidden Fortress – 1958 – dir. Akira Kurosawa

Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress stands apart from most of his feudal Japan films, primarily due to the near complete absence of war and swordplay.  While the usual mix of steel, flames and water are still present within the film, Hidden Fortress carefully selects the elements Kurosawa wishes to focus on.  The common element that reveals its importance in scene after scene, portrayed in various forms, is wood.  On a quest to smuggle a princess outside enemy lines, samurai general Makabe (Toshiro Mifune) must drag along two greedy peasants to help carry the bounty meant to rebuild the remains of their fallen country.

January 22, 2010 / / Main Slate

By Melvin Cartagena                      

The Long Goodbye – 1973 – dir. Robert Altman

“If being in revolt against a corrupt society constitutes being immature, then Philip Marlowe is extremely immature. If seeing dirt where there is dirt constitutes social maladjustment, then Philip Marlowe has inadequate social adjustment. Of course Marlowe is a failure, and he knows it. He is a failure because he hasn’t any money…A lot of very good men have been failures because their particular talents did not suit their particular time and place.” – Raymond Chandler

In the first shot of The Long Goodbye, Marlowe (Elliott Gould) wakes up as if from a deep sleep. In time he demonstrates he is a stranger in a strange land, an intruder from a different time attempting to grok the  free-floating morality of the sprawling city of twenty-four hours supermarkets and Laundromats, and neo-flower children practicing yoga naked, and new-age healers. Marty Augustine (Mark Rydell) punctuates this temporal dislocation in Marlowe when he refers to the gumshoe as Rip Van Marlowe, the victim of a long sleep that has thrust him into a time and place that has no love for a man of ethics, a man who cares. This is more than can be said for the police, who in typical noir-pulp fashion first arrest Marlowe, then grill him relentlessly for three days about Terry Lennox’s (Jim Bouton) escape to Mexico hours after the brutal killing of his wife Sylvia, and finally cut him loose after Terry’s confirmed suicide down in Mexico. One more for the books in the precinct, but this makes no sense to Marlowe, so it’s up the world-weary knight in tarnished armor to set things right in his mind.

January 4, 2010 / / Main Slate

The Philadelphia Story – 1940 – dir. George Cukor

There are few movie treasures as evergreen  as The Philadelphia Story, few movie stars as everlasting as the incomparable Katharine Hepburn. Labeled “box office poison” by Hollywood after making a string of nascent hits followed by a string of stinking bombs, Hepburn fled to her native East Coast to lick her wounds and find solace on the stage, namely in Phillip Barry’s play, “The Philadelphia Story” which became a lucky theater penny for everyone involved, Great Kate most of all.

Hepburn had the savvy to buy full film rights to the vehicle, provided she play the lead. She saw the play as her ticket-to-ride back to Planet Stardom, a kingdom she was to rule over for the rest of her life.

November 12, 2009 / / Main Slate

By Peggy Nelson
Pickpocket – 1959 – dir. Robert Bresson

He sidles up to her.  A quick glance, suspicious, complicit.  Does she know?  Does she notice? Ostensibly they are betting on the horses. His long fingers spread, ever so slowly, over the purse. The pressure is subtle, slight, relentless.  His fingertips tease the edge of the clasp.   Gently, gently, yes! he pops it open.  His eyes flicker.  Her face is still calm, a nimbus of white against his dark intensity.  The fingers slip inside the folds: one, two, three . . . we suddenly hear the horses thundering along the track.  Louder, more insistent, until—he emerges with the money!  The horses are unstoppable!  The finish line is breached!  And, it is over.  The crowd disperses, he blends into the Brownian motion.  He has gotten away with it!  Drained by the effort, he walks/stumbles away.

And is immediately caught.  End Scene One.