Archive for May, 2015

MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969)

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , on May 29, 2015 by katyotto

midnight cowboyI ain’t a for-real movie critic, but I am one hell of a blogger. So let me talk about Midnight Cowboy, the movie about a poseur cowboy from Texas who sets off for New York City, convinced that owing to a dearth of straight men, wealthy women there will pay him for his sexual services. When his clientele fails to materialize, he meets and eventually befriends Rico “Ratso” Rizzo, a sickly sneak thief with a desperate dream to escape the city for Miami. While it’s status as “the only Best Picture winner to be rated X” is a little misleading, it is certainly worlds away from the previous year’s winner and it signalled that a new era had definitely arrived for American filmmaking.

I was excited to see this movie because Mouse has told me so much about it over the years. I wasn’t disappointed. Jon Voight and Dustin Hoffman are both fantastic in this film. Voight plays Joe Buck, a man from Texas who decides to leave his home and job as a dishwasher to pursue a career of hustling in New York City. He believes that his charm and good looks, along with his sexual prowess, will enable him to succeed financially because New York is a city teeming with wealthy, older women eager to hire someone such as himself for company and a good time. Voight is plagued by flashbacks throughout the film, and we as the viewers never learn the entire story behind them. It appears he was raised by a grandmother, had some negative experiences with organized religion, and had several traumatic experiences connected to a past lover/girlfriend – possibly even surviving his own assault and witnessing hers as well. What exactly happened in his hometown and home life is never made fully clear, but we do know he has a painful relationship to sexuality and other people. In spite of this, he is a warm, loving person, eager to do right by others. Within days of relocating, he meets Enrico Salvatore “Ratso” Rizzo, played by Dustin Hoffman. Rico is a con man and pulls one over on Joe, but thankfully this doesn’t define their relationship. In fact, they need one another’s companionship more than either can fully articulate. Continue reading

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GIGI (1958)

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on May 19, 2015 by cdascher

gigiIt’s always startling to me when I know a song and don’t know why. Within the first few minutes of watching Gigi, our most recent Oscar-winning film, this happened to me. I found myself singing along to “Thank Heaven for Little Girls,” a decidedly creepy ditty. But I knew it word for word. In the film, it’s sung by Honoré Lachaille, a charming devil who is both a character in the film and an overarching narrator. He’s a cad and a ladies’ man, but he also sets the stage to explain a bit about life in high society Paris to us as the viewers. Honoré tells the tale of privileged young men like his nephew Gaston, who may marry if they choose or opt not to. For women and girls, in this depiction, it’s really not a question of whether or not they want to marry but whether or not they are chosen. Pretty bleak and archaic, but made lighter and more digestible with the joviality of song!

In doing this project, I try to watch without prejudice, I really do. Having said that, I will admit that this is the movie that has generated the least enthusiasm to date. There have been some Best Pictures that I was genuinely excited to watch, usually old favorites. Others have felt less thrilling going in, but I did feel curious enough to want to see them. And since we are discussing my own biases, I might as well explain that the 1950s is probably the era of film that interests me the least. Golden Age Hollywood- that is pre-World War II- has its own mystique. Watching these movies I get to watch cinema make itself up as it goes along. At the very least, movies from that era are a glimpse into a world so far removed from my own life and experience that watching them scratches some itch even if they aren’t absolutely entertaining per se. Later, the New Hollywood movement would use the medium to greater artistic effect, which in turn led the way for modern blockbusters. Sandwiched in between the heyday of the Greatest Generation and the counterculture upheavals of the mid 60s, there are years that are, to me, old enough to feel dated but not quite old enough to be interesting. Yes, of course there were some indisputable masterpieces made during that time. And I’m sure some of you reading this are yelling, calling me an unlearned Continue reading