Archive for the 1970s Category

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Peckinpah, 1974)

Posted in 1970s, 8/10 on April 23, 2014 by chrisfilm

Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia (Sam Peckinpah, 1974)

But your eyes and your heart are set only on dishonest gain, on shedding innocent blood and on oppression and extortion.  –Jeremiah 22:17

 The reddish gleam of sun-soaked amber hair resting on an adjacent partner’s straightened legs while fingers tickle the boldly green blades of freshly sprouted grass makes for only a few seconds of filmtime, but it’s the brief sense of peaceful harmony that seems to last forever in a film full of frantic action. While a man hunts the head of an already deceased acquaintance, around every corner hides an unexpected set of circumstances, whether it be varying forms of human roadblock always ending in violence or coming to terms with a past love triangle. The slope becomes steeper and more slippery the further he climbs despite the initial vision of a clear and smooth path. And the sacrifices he makes along the way, of the life he never thought was enough or of the principles he may have started with, tear him apart the further he falls. I think about the moment where time slowed down and all was right, where the wind slid through the leaves across the gravel road and over the hilly horizon, and wonder if he looked back on that moment and thought about what it would have been like to stay in it forever.  7.75/10

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Backroads (Noyce, 1977)

Posted in 1970s, 8/10 on March 26, 2014 by chrisfilm

Backroads (Phillip Noyce, 1977)

Treasures gained by wickedness do not profit  –Proverbs 10:2a

A fun little minimalistic road movie with several quiet moments and beautiful natural images. A couple of nobodies steal a car and go on some meaningless travels, picking up friends and strangers along the way. Much of what I love about movies exist in this one – lingering pace, a moody soundtrack, lush outdoor cinematography; it’s an aesthetic wonder. But it’s a bit minor when it comes to character care. I never felt any real sense of need to see these events in these people’s lives and it’s probably because they don’t do much but drive around and mumble. Noyce never attempts to make any sort of emotional connection. It’s a fine safe approach and beats going overboard the other direction, but it does prevent it from being a masterpiece.  8/10


The Fifth Cord (Bazzoni, 1971)

Posted in 1970s, 8/10 on June 20, 2013 by chrisfilm

The Fifth Cord (Luigi Bazzoni, 1971)

Gorgeous – let’s just get that out there right away. The fabulous use of color combined with the perfect use of unique architecture as both framing and focal point devices make this a cinematography paradise. I’ll let the pictures do the rest of the talking on this point.

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Unfortunately, the film has a real problem with pace. It’s not that it moves unevenly, but it oftentimes feels that way due to the onslaught of dialogue. There are very few moments when someone is not talking which prevents many of the elements that make this film so strong from standing out like they should. The film is at its best during its murder scenes where the cinematography and unspoken sound combination is finally allowed to breathe, and what a breath of poetry they are. (Yep, poetic murder scenes!) I wish these little glimpses of perfection would have been the dominating force because that would have been something to behold.  8.25/10

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Payday (D. Duke, 1973)

Posted in 1970s, 7/10 on June 19, 2013 by chrisfilm

Payday (Daryl Duke, 1973)

Rural land, fast cars down dirt roads, chickens and dogs roaming about the land, hunting, country music – a great and appropriate setting for what turned out to be a film that held me at arm’s length. It’s the story of a really bad man, and that’s about it. I know there is merit in this type of film, and I don’t hold the view that you have to like a protagonist to like a movie. But I do prefer to be able to view the protagonist at least somewhat sympathetically. There is none of that here. What we get a tiny peek at though are some side characters that whose circumstances are heartbreaking. They mostly live under thumb, but one seemingly throwaway scene (between the protagonist’s driver and latest girlfriend) stood out to me as an extremely revealing look into their lives – a true indication of just how damaging he was to those around him. More moments like this would have been fantastic.  6.75/10


Spend It All (Blank, 1972)

Posted in 1970s, 8/10 on December 26, 2012 by chrisfilm

Spend It All (Les Blank, 1972)

The Cajun folks of Louisiana – what an interesting crew. The music, the food, the ‘spend it all, let’s have fun’ attitude all make for a fun way to be immersed into the lives of these people for 45 minutes. As with the other Blank documentaries I’ve seen that focus on a group of people instead of an individual, it’s not quite long enough to feel a deep connection, but here he still does a good job of involving the audience instead of accidentally keeping us at arm’s length. No matter how many different people we come across, every one of them lived and breathed music, whether they were singing and playing, dancing, or just listening and tapping their toes along. And the music was always accompanied by food prepared truly from scratch, all so authentic I could almost taste it through the screen. I do like watching people enjoy the blessings of their lives, even if it is only for a short time.  8.25/10

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The Enforcer (Fargo, 1976)

Posted in 1970s, 5/10 on November 25, 2012 by chrisfilm

The Enforcer (James Fargo, 1976)

Who in the world thought it was a good idea to hand the Dirty Harry reigns over to James Fargo? Horridly dull, uninspired filmmaking that in no way feels like it belongs with the first two of the series. At one point there is what seems like a 20 minute on-foot chase scene featuring completely non-innovative camerawork, stupid be-bop music, and characters running at the speed of a leisurely Sunday jog. The laziness involved in this scene sums up the entire effort put forth in making this film. Gone are the dark tone, nice cinematography, and interesting villains. But, hey, this one has the funniest one-liners, so it has that going for it. The film’s final battle at an abandoned Alcatraz is easily the highlight of the film, and the final scene – where we get a real feel for just how complacent the figures of power have become in Harry’s world – is haunting. It lingers with you as the credits roll. Where was that for the first 80 minutes?  5.25/10

Magnum Force (Post, 1973)

Posted in 1970s, 7/10 on November 21, 2012 by chrisfilm

Magnum Force (Ted Post, 1973)

In this second installment in the Dirty Harry series, San Francisco finds itself under attack by a group of vigilantes, killing criminals, their associates, and anyone standing near them. This isn’t quite as ‘special’ as the first. I was still impressed by the cinematography, the way the story takes its time to set up, and the way the story and its characters unfold as the film continues. But it doesn’t break the crime/action norm in as many ways as the first. It’s not bad; it’s just not as unique. Additionally, it seems Harry’s personality has been cleaned up a bit and I didn’t buy his attitude towards the vigilantes. Oh well, onward with my adventures.  7.25/10