Friday, November 10, 2006

Ebert's Best: 1974 & 1975


1. Scenes from a Marriage
2. Chinatown
3. The Mother and the Whore
4. Amarcord
5. The Last Detail
6. The Mirages
7. Day for Night
8. Mean Streets
9. My Uncle Antoine
10. The Conversation

Word is The Shawshank Redemption is the most popular movie in North America, but I don't understand how that can beat out Chinatown. I guess you just can't beat a happy ending.

The Last Detail -- an interesting throwback of a film, but here's the telling detail: Jack Nicholson is vertically challenged. Just look at that shot with the three sailors walking down the street. I know Randy Quaid is a tall galoot, but that only emphasizes the fact that Jack is short. Now flash forward to his scene on the beach with Diane Keaton in Something's Gotta Give. I figure the only way he gets the height advantage while walking side by side with Keaton is if the director digs a trench for the lady.

The Conversation -- a creepy little film, especially when you consider (as Ebert rightly points out) how inept Harry (Hackman) is at his job. The film's conclusion is a study in paranoia. (Trivial aside: there's a delightful rumour that Francis Ford Coppola wrote the first draft screenplay for The Godfather while enjoying focaccia sandwiches and espresso at Mario's Bohemian Cigar Store in San Francisco. If the big man penned something at Mario's, I'd guess The Conversation was probably that movie -- Mario's seating is comfortable, but not so comfy a guy could pencil a script for a three-hour movie. In any case, North Beach is obviously a locale dear to Coppola's heart; his restaurant is a stone's throw away from Mario's.)

I'm not sure how I missed seeing Mon Oncle Antoine (a Canadian film that had nearly as much local airplay as Goin' Down The Road), but that's just the tip of the ice-berg. Check out:


1. Nashville
2. Night Moves
3. Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore
4. Farewell, My Lovely
5. The Phantom of Liberty
6. A Brief Vacation
7. And Now My Love
8. A Woman Under the Influence
9. In Celebration
10. Dog Day Afternoon

It pains me to admit that of all the critically acclaimed movies in this list, the only one I've seen is the Raymond Chandler flick. But what a flick! I remain partial to Bogey's turn as Sam Spade in The Big Sleep, but Mitchum's feet were born to fill those gumshoes.


phil said...

Dog Day Afternoon's worth watching. Aside from the Godfather, the best peformance I think Pacino's ever delivered. John Cazale's great. What a shame he died so soon.

phil said...

How'd you miss Mean Streets? DeNiro's kicks during the pool hall brawl are worth the price of a ticket/rental alone.

"What's a mook?"

Whisky Prajer said...

It almost looks like I went out of my way to avoid these movies, doesn't it? The temptation for me to lie was very, very powerful. "Nashville ... undeniable classic. Alice ... incredible experience." No, the simple truth is the older I get the less inclined I am toward "edgy" movies. I know I *should* see Mean Streets, but if it's Friday night and the kids are finally asleep, and I'm facing a choice between convincing my wife this is a good thing, or taking the route of least resistance and watching the latest Will Farrell movie, well ... maybe when the girls are in their teens and have developed their own taste for edgy, we'll all sit down and I'll get the chance to catch up on Scorsese's classic.

Scott said...

Hate to pile on, mi amigo, but no Mean Streets? Dude! :)

If you ever watch one of DeNiro's patented hammy routines and wonder where the hell his giant reputation came from, this is the movie!

Come to think of it, you could use that exact same sentence for Pacino and Dog Day Afternoon as well.

I smell a double bill!

Whisky Prajer said...

I'm thinking I might angle for a few days off, just to sequester myself with a large screen TV and about a dozen crucial videos. Certainly Mean Streets, Dog Day Afternoon and Network would on that list. Plus some Buster Keaton, to lighten things up a bit.

Anonymous said...

I'm not blaming you, but how did 'Shampoo' not make Ebert's list?

Whisky Prajer said...

I thought that was an excellent question, so I checked out the source. Looks like Ebert wasn't especially fond of the film.