Monday, July 8, 2013

one shots (7/8/13)

What's finally enduring about Last Tango in Paris (1972) is not Brando, nor is it Schneider, Bertolucci+Storaro's autumnal images, and certainly not the sex, but the sense that all its mismatched and discordant pieces are alike straining towards a greatness that finally eludes it; not "the movie breakthrough," per Kael, but a dream of it, still hanging in the air above us like opium-smoke, ever-present but irrecoverable.

Dramatic credibility makes like an encephalograph in Sidney J. Furie's The Entity (1982), mostly depending on who's sharing the screen with Barbara Hershey (extraordinary here as a single mother beset by a sexually malicious demon), but it all adds up to a singular and gonzoid melange (decried upon its release as distasteful and exploitive, though actually about as tasteful as it can be while still being frank about its subject matter), which veers arrhythmically between blunt, almost unbearable horror, grown-up intelligence, and so-totally-'80s pulp goofiness, before ending on a note that, on paper, is as pro forma as all get out, but as it plays is deeply strange and refuses anything like typical horror movie satisfactions.

Dennis Hopper's The Last Movie (1971) takes everything wrong with his Easy Rider (1969)--the air of male privilege common to first-wave counterculture films, the outsized Generational Statement-type gestures, the instantly dated aesthetics--and ups the ante on all of it, while simultaneously subjecting itself to laborious autocritique, resulting in an experience that often feels formless and misguided in the moment, even as the spirits of Godard, Cassavetes, Rivette, and Malick (in utero) waft through, but which, in the final, 4th wall-demolishing ten minutes, snaps into haunting clarity, as Hopper surrenders completely to the void his narrative was only flimsily papering over.

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