Sandwiching the horrors of war between two dramatic opposites within a three-act story, Michael Cimino’s 1978 The Deer Hunter – a truly compelling tale of friendships gone awry – is the film which surely helped to propel the careers of its superstar actors to the stratosphere.
By the end of The Deer Hunter, when these close-knit friends sing ‘God Bless America’ around a bar table – longing for the safe haven of the past – they have been through a poignant arc in their lives. Though the three men who left for Vietnam somewhat return home, only one of them stays halfway sane; the other two are either dead or reduced to a traumatized child. During the movie’s three hours, these people mature so dramatically, almost becoming different men and women, as to infuse the picture’s last scene with so much ambiguity. Continue reading →
Two superb masterpieces, comparable to the first sequence of films made by Orson Welles, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1972 The Godfather & 1974 The Godfather – Part IIare real landmarks in the history of American cinema and turning points in the country’s image of itself.
In 1945, on his daughter’s wedding day, Don Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando), who is the boss of a New York criminal clan, hears requests from selected guests. Some want justice; some want a role in an upcoming movie; some just want to pay their respect. As the Don’s third son, Michael (Al Pacino) returns from serving his country in World War II and brings his girlfriend Kay Adams (Diane Keaton) to meet the family, we get acquainted with all the family members. These are: first and second sons, hot-headed Sonny (James Caan) and weak-minded Fredo (John Cazale), daughter Connie (Talia Shire) and adopted son, trusted lawyer and consigliere Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall). ooooo ooo When a crime lord invites Don Corleone to join him in the emergent drug market and he refuses, an attempted murder fails to kill him. Michael, thus far an openly outsider and the only college-educated of the children, suggests the assassination of the two men responsible for their troubles. After killing the drug baron and the crooked, ‘on his pay roll’ police officer, Michael flees to Sicily, in Italy. When Sonny is killed in retaliation for the previous murders, the Godfather arranges a meeting with the other crime families of New York to establish a cease-fire. As Michael is allowed to return to the USA, he becomes the new Don. Soon after Vito Corleone dies, on the day of his sister Connie’s baby’s baptism, Michael Corleone orders the death of every single of his enemies, the bosses of the other criminal families. Continue reading →
An odd and uncharacteristic entry in his filmography, Martin Scorsese’s 1983 The King of Comedy, a cautionary tale of mediated reality and borderline psychosis, tells the scathing story of one man’s insecurity and his obsessive, unscrupulous and relentless pursuit of fame.
Rupert Pupkin is a deluded and malicious man, who resides at the edge of morality. But the line that separates him from other, more ‘normal’ individuals is thin indeed. In different circumstances, Pupkin could arguably be a highly successful man – streetwise, determined and flexibly adaptable. In a parallel universe he would not be loathed, but greatly admired. Continue reading →
One of the seminal works of the American New Wave, Martin Scorsese’s 1976 Taxi Driver, a noirish masterpiece about loneliness and alienation with a powerful ambiguity at its core, raises morally important issues without ever leaning towards clear-cut or sanctimonious answers.
Is Travis Bickle a deranged man with psychopathic tendencies or an avenging angel with noble purposes? Are Bickle’s racism and misogyny utterly distinguishable from the other characters’ or purely a reflection of their time and place? Is he really an outsider or simply an extreme representation of that society’s darker side?