Workplace comedy, media satire, smart and articulate dialogue – it’s little wonder that I loved this 1976 black comedy-drama about the TV network cynically exploiting a deranged former news anchorman for the sake of ratings. The film might be 40 years old now, but it’s amazing how relevant it still feels, even though the grip and power of television has been rather diluted since then.
Other than catching up on good movies, I also decided to catch up on some all-time meme-spawning stinkers, starting with this honest-to-goodness terrible remake of the 1973 cult horror classic. I’ve never seen the original, but I watched its ending on YouTube years ago and it was honestly one of the creepiest, most unsettling movie endings I’ve seen. The 2006 version however is so ludicrous and ineptly made that even my deep-seated fear of fire didn’t stir once during its near-identical ending.
Another one on my list of Scorsese-movies-to-watch, Cape Fear is a gloriously pulpy thriller about a defense attorney, Sam Bowden (Nick Nolte), who along with his family is threatened by a man from his past. Max Cady (Robert De Niro) is a violent rapist and a walking tattoo exhibition who’s been released after 14 years of prison, and wants revenge on Bowden for deliberately sabotaging his defense. Turns out, Bowden withheld an information on Cady’s victim that probably would have had Cady acquitted – a decision made for emotionally understandable reasons that still without a doubt went against what the job of a defense attorney is supposed to be about. Cady is smart enough to stay on the right side of the law, or at least not get caught, before his menacing, taunting presence drives Bowden to a breaking point and things escalate.
I think I would have enjoyed this movie much more if the DVD I watched had subtitles. It’s a strange and rather original hybrid of a highschool film and the hardboiled detective noir in the style of Dashiell Hammett, and so everyone speaks in this highly stylized slang I just couldn’t tune into. Language is a funny thing: these days it’s much more natural for me to express myself in English rather than Russian, yet I never ever have to strain to understand Russian speech, whereas I’m still struggling with English-speaking movies at times. As a result, I think I missed out on maybe 60% of the dialogue and had to hop on wikipedia to find out the details of the plot that sailed right over my head.
Another movie I missed out on in the cinemas despite the best intentions, Lady Chatterley is a French adaptation of an earlier version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a once-notorious novel by D. H. Lawrence. Pretty tame by today’s standards (you’ll find much more explicit content in your Jackie Collins novel), at the time the book was banned for its frank descriptions of sex, use of unprintable words and a central romance between a high society woman and a working class man. Though I really wanted to see the film, I raised my eyebrows at the running time, which clocks at almost three hours, but if anything this movie is a proof that a good movie can never be too long.
Charming, moving and funny German film set in East Berlin around the time of Germany’s re-unification in 1989. Even if it wasn’t any good, you’d still have to admire the original premise.
Alex (Daniel Brühl, totally adorable here) is an average young guy from the socialist part of Berlin, living in an apartment with his sister and mother, Christiane (Kathrin Sass). His father, we’re told, abandoned the family to live in West Germany with some capitalist home wrecker, and since then Alex’ mother has become a hardcore activist who lives for the socialist cause. But the winds of change are blowing, and one night Christiane collapses into a coma when she sees her son march in an anti-communist rally. In the months she spends unconscious, the Berlin Wall comes down, the old money becomes obsolete, and the capitalism moves in. When Christiane wakes up, Alex is told that another big shock could potentially be lethal, so he decides to conceal the truth about the reunited Germany from his mother and re-create East Berlin in her old bedroom where she recuperates.