Movies that are slightly off.
The Day of the Locust
It happenend in Hollywood. But it could have happened in hell.
An art director in the 1930s falls in love and attempts to make a young woman an actress despite Hollywood who wants nothing to do with her because of her problems with an estranged man and her alcoholic father.
You would have to be full of ostentatious lunacy to dare to make such a film of grotesque beauty as this. Hollywood as the little shop of horrors has never looked so right and so very very acidic.
It's been a week since I saw this, and that also involved seeing it piece by piece over 4-5 days, so my recollection is a little hazy. Therefore, I'll keep this short and sweet.
Firstly, Locust is a particularly gay film, even by Schlesinger standards. From the sleazy yet enticing decadence of tinseltown seduction, full of mindless clawing hope and regurgitated, failed dreams, to the way all the characters orbit deliriously around Karen Black's conceptually brilliant and seductive aspiring starlet, to the…
Overlong and heavy-handed. I'm torn about this film, on the one hand it focuses in on one of the most interesting periods in Hollywood history, full of sleaze and intrigue and scandal, but on the other hand it uses really over-the-top metaphors that make sure any subtlety is bludgeoned out of the film. It's Lynch Lite, but at least it's impossible to be ambivalent about Lynch's work (Lynch is much better at using imagery to his full advantage). This was just one big shoulder shrug. Moral bankrupcy? Meh.
I've read multiple reviews now saying the film "builds tension", but I'm beginning to think that is shorthand for, "the film starts off okay, then drags on for an hour or more and then has one killer last scene", because there was little tension to speak of, I thought.
Also, Karen Black. I don't even know.
So that's where Barton Fink came from.
Look for this in an upcoming Fractured Mirror column.
Karen Black is fantastic as ditzy wannabe starlet, Faye Greener, a perfect embodiment of the deceptive, ungraspable and ultimately toxic allure of Hollywood aspiration.
William Atherton (Tod) and Donald Sutherland (Homer) are great as just two of the constellation of doomed and desperate men who orbit around Faye's flickering star.
Tod's increasingly eerie art department drawings for a Waterloo themed studio production grow ever more abstract and nightmarish, as the morally bankrupt nature of the movie business fully reveals itself to him. This eventually results in his vivid grotesqueries spilling off of the page and onto the streets during the films staggering conclusion.
I once caught only the truly disturbing finale on television when I was younger and vowed to…
John Schlesinger impressed me with Midnight Cowboy. Now he proves his excellence again with The Day of the Locust, which is both disgusting and poetic. A love story without a plot. A character study where no one is all that likable. Yet its thoroughly entertaining.
My favorite thing about Locust was how it allowed itself to be ridiculous. I love absurd humor, yelling for no reason, overdressed characters. Basically Karen Black's Faye Greener. She is painted up like a porcelain doll and seemingly incapable of maintaining a relationship. She sleeps with men as fast as others change clothes. The first man we witness most intensely is Tod Hackett, who is played sympathetically by William Atherton. He is an up and…
This is a movie that builds slowly but surely, the intensity hidden below the surface finally erupting in a climax that has to rank as one of the most horrifying sequences in film history. Unpleasant, difficult, scathing, and ultimately shattering. On a side note, I heard René Clair get mentioned in a line of background dialogue. Pretty cool.
This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Jusqu'à ce que sa conclusion apocalyptique jette une lumière quasiment allégorique sur le reste du film, on peut s'interroger sur la présence du film dans le Cinema Hermetica de Thiellement - le film est présenté comme une contre initiation dans le chapitre sur Opening Night -, tant celui-ci semble conter l'histoire un peu académique de trois âmes à la dérive dans le Hollywood des années 30s (ce qui est la véritable raison qui me poussa à voir le film pour être franc). La reconstitution pompeuse de l"âge d'or des grands studio si elle n'évite pas les clichés, ne manque pas de charme, et le film se suit sans déplaisir.
Prochain arrêt ? Sans doute pas.
Six-o-meter : 2/6
Really good film. A 70s take on the 30s. Based on a book. Sure does feel like Steinbeck. Some of the film feels like Atlantic City's ending. Which is cool. The character of Homer Simpson is excellent. The scene with the clock and oranges is awesome. The film's pacing is deliberate. Could have been a little less slow. But hey. It works. The ending is alright. Some aspects make it a bit of a wet noodle. But overall. Really interesting film. Probably a 4. But a heavy 3.5 seems right for now.
Look for this in an upcoming Fractured Mirror column.
My favorite Hollywood novel adapted into my favorite backstage-Hollywood noir.
WHAT THE HELL DID I JUST EXPERIENCE?
This is not a film. This is a nightmare dreamscape into the horror of American culture. There is no turning back after you have experienced The Day of te Locust. The climax will tear you apart.
Hollywood, where nightmares come true. Starts off slow but at the end it spirals down into a hell of madness with a very terrifying and brutal scene.
I couldn't decide whether or not this movie was evocative or just listless. But given the fact that it has stuck with me long since I actually watched it, I would have to finally go with the former.
This is a screen adaptation of the seemingly unadaptable Nathanael West novel. To compare it to the book is pointless; if you've read the novel, you know that no movie could be anything but freely adapted. But director John Schlesinger and the team he has assembled here do a good job of sticking with West's tone and getting the important elements across. The movie is slightly tedious, and Schlesinger's efforts to play around with contrasts (mostly in the door-to-door salesman scenes featuring…
A masterpiece of 70s "Fuck you Hollywood" cinema. It turns Hollywoodland into a nightmare scape. Needs to be seen to be understood.
Every film that has ever been nominated for an Academy Award in any category. Enjoy!
The picks for this list were based on interviews with Nicolas Winding Refn (where he talks about his influences), comments…