Tag: Julie Christie

MOVIE REVIEW | New York, I Love You (2008)

“But only if you’re comfortable with this, and if you’re not then you can just forget it, and you can quit, but if you are… then open this door.”

Anthology movies never really work.  Very few get good reviews and even less make good box office.  But despite this track record of little to no success, every few years, someone manages to convince another batch of directors and writers to contribute their own short film to something bigger, tackling some sort of common theme.  In the 80s, powerhouses like Francis Ford Coppola, Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese couldn’t make it work with New York Story.  In the 90s, break out rock star film makers like Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez couldn’t make it work with Three Rooms.

Not only do the film makers get tricked into thinking that somehow, this time, it might just work.  But I do as a viewer as well.  Sure, the above geniuses took a big swing and a miss at their own versions of the anthology movie, but surely, the next batch will get it right.  Won’t they?  It’s that optimism that lead to me buying the DVD of New York, I Love You back when it came out.  But it’s the practical part of my brain that has let it sit on my DVD shelf, collecting dust for the six or seven years since.  I want it to be good so much.  But I also know that the odds are against it.  But today, I bit the bullet.  I watched New York, I Love You. (more…)

MUSIC REVIEW | Heaven Can Wait (1978)

Heaven can Wait Quad
“The likelihood of one individual being right increases in direct proportion to the intensity with which others are trying to prove him wrong.”

I think I’ve said here before that the 70s might be the greatest decade in the history of film making.  The then new batch of directors like Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and William Friedkin were given crazy amounts of freedom and money.  And that resulted in blockbuster prestige like The Godfather, gritty groundbreakers like Taxi Driver and glorious, ambitious flops, like Sorcerer.  But the 70s wasn’t just about serious darkness.  The 70s also knew how to do frivolous and silly and light as well.  It did that with movies like Heaven Can Wait.

After a serious knee injury, Joe Pendleton (Warren Beatty) has worked his ass off to recover and regain his spot as the starting quarterback for the Los Angeles Rams.  On a morning bike ride, he is hit by a car and killed.  Only, once in heaven, he learns he wasn’t actually killed in the accident.  It turns out, an over eager angel (Buck Henry) took Joe’s soul before the accident, which he believed was an inevitable killer.  But Joe should have lived for another decade or four.  The angel’s superior (James Mason as Mr Jordan) comes up with a solution, they’ll just put Joe back in his old body.  But it turns out, Joe’s earthly remains have already been cremated. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

When someone watches Elysium in fifty years, will they think it’s a gritty, realistic, scary look at mankind’s possible future?  Or will it look like a cheap, corny, naive, laughable indication of how uncool the world was in 2013?  Because whenever I watch a movie from the 60s or 70s depicting the future, they seem less like a possible look at our future, and more like a collection of all the worst stylistic aspects of the time they were made.  Which is exactly what you get with the production design of Francois Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451.

Based in no particular time in the future, Fahrenheit 451 is the story of Guy Montag, a fireman played by Oskar Werner.  Only in this version of the future, firemen don’t put out fires, because houses are now built using fire proof materials.  Instead, fireman go around burning books.  Not threatening or antiestablishment books either, they go around burning absolutely every book they find.  All printed texts are outlawed, although plenty of people still hide and cherish the odd volume, until they’re inevitably found and they’re books are subjected to Montag’s flame thrower.

The signs of Montag’s own disillusion with this world show early.  After receiving a promotion, he’s disappointed by his wife’s (Julie Christie) general obliviousness to his good news.  She’s too concerned with TV and popularity.  On the monorail ride home from work one day, he meets his neighbour, Clarisse, also played by Christie.  He immediately notices something different about her, and eventually is hoarding and reading his own collection of books under her influence.  Of course, his subversion of the status quo can’t go unnoticed forever and he’s eventually opposing the organisation he’s worked for seemingly his entire adult life.

This is a very serious movie.  Based on a novel written during the McCarthy era witch hunts, you could see it as a warning of the perils of censorship.  You could see it as an indictment of people’s obsession with TV, celebrity and popularity.  No matter what serious issue you think Fahrenheit 451 is tackling, the impact and edge are well and truly taken away by the goofy 1964 version of the future.  I know it’s easy to make fun of the production values and designs half a century later, but it’s impossible to look past them seeing this movie with 2013 eyes.

I’m no Truffaut expert, as far as I can remember, the only other movies of his I’ve seen are The 400 Blows and Day For Night, but when I think about those in comparison to Fahrenheit 451, and how great they are, I think it’s obvious that he was much more suited to character and reality based story telling than he was to high concept sci fi.

For a movie that’s tackling such heavy issues, time has not been kind.  I can’t imagine many people watching it for the first time today and taking it seriously as a piece of social commentary.  Instead, I think it would probably come off to most people as a campy, funny oddity, highlighting the goofiest parts of the 60s.  The same can be said for Woody Allen’s Sleeper.  The difference being, Allen was actually trying to make a campy, funny oddity, highlighting the goofiest parts of the 60s and 70s.  Any enduring comments he managed to make about the time are just an added bonus.

Fahrenheit 451
Directed By – Francois Truffaut
Written By – Francois Truffautf