A movie log formerly known as Bookishness / By Charles Matthews

"Dazzled by so many and such marvelous inventions, the people of Macondo ... became indignant over the living images that the prosperous merchant Bruno Crespi projected in the theater with the lion-head ticket windows, for a character who had died and was buried in one film and for whose misfortune tears had been shed would reappear alive and transformed into an Arab in the next one. The audience, who had paid two cents apiece to share the difficulties of the actors, would not tolerate that outlandish fraud and they broke up the seats. The mayor, at the urging of Bruno Crespi, explained in a proclamation that the cinema was a machine of illusions that did not merit the emotional outbursts of the audience. With that discouraging explanation many ... decided not to return to the movies, considering that they already had too many troubles of their own to weep over the acted-out misfortunes of imaginary beings."
--Gabriel García Márquez, One Hundred Years of Solitude

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Parallax View (Alan J. Pakula, 1974)

Joseph Frady: Warren Beatty
Bill Rintels: Hume Cronyn
Lee Carter: Paula Prentiss
Austin Tucker: William Daniels
Sheriff L.D. Wicker: Kelly Thordsen
Deputy Red: Earl Hindman
Senator Carroll: William Joyce
George Hammond: Jim Davis
Former FBI Agent Will: Kenneth Mars

Director: Alan J. Pakula
Screenplay: David Giler, Lorenzo Semple Jr.
Based on a novel by Loren Singer
Cinematography: Gordon Willis
Production design: George Jenkins
Film editing: John W. Wheeler
Music: Michael Small

This somewhat elliptical political paranoia thriller was a critical and commercial dud in its day, but time has been kinder to it than it has to more conventional films in its subgenre, such as Three Days of the Condor (Sydney Pollack, 1975), which looks rather slick and self-satisfied by comparison. The story, about a reporter's investigation of a shadowy company that seems to provide fall guys for political assassination, is framed by shots of a panel of judicial figures delivering their conclusion that the most recent assassination was the work of a "lone gunman." We think "Warren Commission" without hesitation. Although the main story is somewhat fragmented and the film occasionally seems rushed, there are some terrific action sequences and an overall feeling that the director and screenwriters are on to something real. The "downer" ending leaves us with that sinister panel floating in darkness, and although conspiracy theories are thicker than fleas these days, who doesn't think there might be one or two of them that have merit?

No comments: