Post the name of the latest movie you've seen and your rating out of 10.
Sunshine Boys (t0073766) - 7/10 - loved Burns, hated Matthau.
That's why I love watching movies, every once in a while, you have something that blows your mind. I think the last time I was haunted by a film, it was with "I Want to Live!" with Susan Hayward. I think it's interesting that the two movies center around the flaws of the judicial system and on the harrowing journey of not-so innocent (but not plain guilty) protagonists, both victim of unfortunate circumstances and believing till the very end that the system works. Paul Muni is simply extraordinary as James Allen, the man whose soul is literally crashed by the chain gang routine and the barbarian conditions prisoners live under, he's like Billy Hayes in "Midnight Express" but this is no Turkish prisons and Warner Bros must be commanded for making such a social-protest film to an audience who's most likely to react with "these guys are no angels, they had it coming".
It helps to know that Allen is innocent but it doesn't change anything for the second act of the film shows a man whose rehabilitation is complete and what goes in the last third act is the part that fills your mind with a cool and icy rage, watching civilized countries turning good and innocent people into shadows of their former selves, speaking of shadow, I didn't think it would happen but I just found one of the most haunting endings ever, the last minute of the film is forever stuck in my memory, especially with Paul Muni's eyes, the way he slips into the darkness and the last exchange that I won't spoil.
If only for the ending, just watch the film.
Boy, am I inspired now!
First of all, “Dazed and Confused” might not leave you dazed but slightly confused on what Richard Linklater wanted to express in his recollection of his 1976 youth memories with the last day of high school as a backdrop in some Texan town. What he wanted to show is obvious: a slice of teenagers’ and young adults' life at the eve of the summer holidays, when those who leave are at the top of the hierarchy and the future newcomers are going through a rite of passage... literally. The cult-classic highlights a reality that only someone still in touch with kids (like a teacher) can truly see, they do need a social hierarchy and a "system" as much as adults.
That’s the fascinating paradox of youth functioning, first, it’s meant to be a world apart, in that pivotal period between childhood and adulthood, there's a need to be part of "it", that "it" Grandpa Simpson used to be with, until he didn't know what "it" was. Think of it, why do we call them the “best years of our lives”? Why is fashion or music generally made by and for it? Because there’s one thing the young knows, he must distance himself from his childhood, which means from the parents, the parents stop being the perspective, they become objects of the kids' perspective. Now, all it takes is to extend the parents to any semblance of authority and you got it, kids refuse the authority or discipline not because they feel they don’t need it, but because they feel a more urgent need to challenge it, because that’s how they structure their identity.
All these elements of rebellion are essential aspect of youth, whether it's against your football coach calling your buddies a loser, a teenager breaking the curfew, drinking beer before legal age, smoking pot or whatever, or simply questioning the learnings from school, rebellion is essential... many of these kids aren’t armed to face the world, not yet, their views are confused indeed, but the idea of creating that social microcosm where they can be themselves is all worth it. Like fashion, from the black leather jackets in the 50s to the hippies in the 60s, punk or the new wave, fashion is what outdates the adults, what makes them out of touch, belonging to the past while fashion is the "it" thing, the expression of the moment, no past, no consequences then no future, “Dazed and Confused” has long hair, afros, flared trousers high heels, while it's only long hair and maybe sideburns from the older ones.
Notice that even the 14-15 kids dress like them but their momentum hasn't come yet, compromised by their age, by the fact that they can barely drink without falling asleep, by the fact that some are still not interested in girls and would take kissing and making out as enough an achievement. That's the irony of the young adults, with teenagers, they feel like adults, with adults, they can enjoy them being careless. As a matter of fact, a great line can speak a thousand word, it comes from Matthew McConaughey and has become the signature : “That’s what I love about these high school girls, man. I grow older, they stay the same age”. These guys enjoy the idea of having grown up, of being at the peak of their youth and big enough to act like parent figures, the rebellion isn't complete if you didn't take the role of the parents and here's why the hazing scenes are important.
When the girls put pacifiers in their "victims"' mouths, it’s a subconscious maternal instinct working, when the boys are spanked, it's not much humiliation than relegating them to a childhood that is their only perceptible status among the almighty elders. But these coming-of-age rites are less meant as regressions for the teenagers than consecrations to the adults. For instance, when the girls are soiled literally with mustard and ketchup and then symbolically when they're forced to say dirty words, it’s still all part of a game actually, if that wasn’t unsuitable it wouldn’t be fun, they're like little girls putting on mommy's heel shoes, in a later scene, when young Sabrina is caught flirting with an older guy, the drunk Darla (Parker Posey) throws one hell of a tantrum and promises to make her life a living hell, similarly with Ben Aflleck's O'Bannon when he gets his comeuppance and can't accept it, spanking kids is okay but being splattered by painting is a blow to his dominating ego.
Both Darla and O'Bannon take their status so seriously that it's not even a game anymore and they’ cross a sort of fascist line in the way they consider that a social category isn’t supposed to overstep its boundaries, showing the limits of the rebellion when it creates the same mold than adult society, when even a nice guy like Adam Goldberg’s character can be assaulted without any reason, or just one word too many, that's the catch when you get off Daddy and Mommy's pants, they're not here to protect you. So it’s not easy to be a kid, because it gets us also ready to the harsh realities of the world, it's in a way a required passage because even within the youth, there are tyrants, injustices and victims. Oh yes.
As a teacher, I know my authority is challenged more than often and sometimes I’m like “damn I hate these kids” or "kids today" and then I see them acting together in the school yard and I realize that their inside world isn't better is no less deprived from violence, they reject authority but they have their hierarchies, with the athlete, those who get the girls, those who can fight, they reject their parents but enjoy acting like parent figures of mentor.
Now, I don’t think the relevance is in the historical context (post-Nixon era etc.), despite its terrific soundtrack, the film screams "young" more than "seventies"... but I think what Linklater’s coming-of-age film proposes is a real sociology of youth, even more effective than “American Graffiti” because there's no plot, not even subplots..... but if we were to draw some parallels with today's pre-2020 years, now that we have cellphones, Internet, social networks... if the rules of the game haven't changed much, the game seems more violent because now you can’t see where the hits come from and more confusing because you can't separate yourself from the world, let alone the authority figures... maybe today is even more dazing and confusing.
The (in)famous scene where he mutilates a duckling. First I wanted to rewatch the scene to ensure that a fake animal was used and not a real duckling, but I couldn't. Apparently it was a real duckling using special effects. The little duck was not harmed and animal rights activist organization PETA actually praised the scene for its accurate portrayal of the link between adolescent animal abuse and psychopathy.
Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins (2019) documentary, 9/10.
Hustlers (2019), 7/10.
I was startled a good number of times, but it was all due to cheap jump scares. The effect lasts for one second and is gone, without any lasting horror. The audience actually laughed during some scenes. Just mentioning naked grandmas and creatures that resemble gollum or a giant troll doll.
The first version of It wasn't perfect but it was much more restrained. Less is really more. The new film tried to link the supernatural powers with the everyday horrors of family relationships, homophobia, bullying, etc. but the attempt pretty much fizzles out.