I became a huge fan of Alexander Payne after I saw this hilarious film. His twisted sense of humour that exposes and exaggerates people’s faults is dead on. Although this is classified as an MTV movie, there is so much substance to it that it really can’t be lumped into all the other mundane, sexy teen, guttural comedies that the MTV film studio has put out over the years. The humour here is universal, taking outrageous situations and making them even more outrageous. This is a tricky thing to do. The humour can end up falling flat and come across as a really bad farce. This is not one of those cases.
A lot of the credit for the success of the film goes to the author of the book on which the film is based. Tom Perrotta knows these characters. By taking everyday themes (a fractured marriage, job ennui, sexuality and a high school election) and ratcheting up the farce on them, Perrotta nailed this scenario. Payne took that humour to the next level and created one of the most satisfying modern comedies ever. Although the writing forms the base for the successful film, the characterizations and performances by the all the actors are spot on.
It was nice to see Matthew Broderick back in a well-done comedy. Reese Witherspoon is fantastic as the manipulative Tracy Flick. Chris Klein plays the big dumb jock to the hilt. Jessica Campbell is equally fantastic as his sister. The over-the-top Tracy Flick character is matched wonderfully against the downplayed characters of Klein and Campbell. The primal jungle screams that Tracy Flick hears in her head when something doesn’t go her way is roll-on-the-floor brilliant.Comedies are hit or miss. This was a bull’s-eye.
I was too young to see this film when it first came out and even after I was old enough to see it, I still couldn’t see it because it always came on TV as a late night broadcast and I wasn’t allowed to stay up that late. Even after both of those restrictions ceased, I still couldn’t see it because we’re talking about the days before the internet and DVDs. This was the time of the video store rental and even though it was probably in stock, we didn’t have a VCR (I don’t the think the town I lived in (read: village) even had a video store and if it did, it only has the latest Hollywood hits).
I saw bits and pieces of The Exorcist on TV, but never really saw the whole thing through to the end until I became thoroughly interested in film many years later. Most of the film for me was lore: ‘it’s horrifying!’ or ‘that scene where she spits out pea soup’ or ‘the scene where her head spins around’. That was my level of seeing the actual film.
After I saw the film, I saw it as it was supposed to be seen – not as a horror film, but as a piece of cinematic greatness. This is one of the most intelligent screenplays ever written. Screenwriter/novelist/producer William Peter Blatty has created a perfect adaptation of his book. Often, a novelist is thoroughly untrained as a screenwriter and upon attempting to adapt their novel into a film, it gets bogged down in detail. This is not one of those cases. Director William Friedkin crafts a close-to-perfect film. You get a real sense of the art he wants to make when listening to his commentary. He gives a very convincing argument that the film is art and not horror.
The editing is so crisp and even that the film is perfectly seamless. In fact, the editing is so perfect that it takes the place of music in the film. There is such a lack of music in this film that it’s absence heightens the chill factor. The only real place where you hear it is when Ellen Burstyn’s character is walking down the street and the Tubular Bells theme accompanies her. Brilliant. I have always been a fan of the ‘less is more’ style of film making. You can say so much with silence. Here, the lack of music, the swift editing and the camera movements say so much more than pea soup.
The Exorcist has that incredible 1970s vibe/feeling that I love. It’s hard to explain. Taxi Driver has it. Dog Day Afternoon has it, as do The Godfather, Carrie, The Rose and A Clockwork Orange. I know a lot of people watch The Exorcist only because of the horror factor, but this film is so much more than a terror film. The deep personal anguish of all the characters in the film is felt, and when a director and writer cause this to happen, you have a very special film. If you look beyond the horror and the supernatural, you’ll find a horror film that stands high above all the rest.
I know that a lot of people may think of this film as overly syrupy and sentimental, however, it has so many things going for it, that it’s a can’t-miss classic. What stands out for me is the story and the writing. Originally written as a stage play, it transfers remarkably well to the screen because the story is so strong. Like A Trip to Bountiful that predates this story, Driving Miss Daisy works as a film because it is told honestly and truthfully. You can’t go wrong with a traditionally told life story. When it is done well, it really doesn’t matter how sentimental it may seem because the story is so strong.
Both Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman are note-perfect, and this is Dan Aykroyd’s finest performance ever. This was one of those times at the Academy Awards when Tandy’s win was justified because of her performance and not because it was a sentimental or sympathetic vote. Freeman definitely deserved to win here as opposed to his win for Million Dollar Baby which I see as a makeup Oscar.
The cinematography is gorgeous. The scenery is just another character in the story. The music, including the instantly recognizable theme music, is a perfect fit. The screenplay, based upon the winning play, has a great pace and is told with such truth and realism that it stands out as one of the great adaptations of another piece of work. This is a perfectly shot film.
This is Paul Newman’s career performance and the one that should have awarded him the Oscar for Best Actor – not that other role in The Color of Money, which was a ‘we forgot about you’ Oscar. The physical punishment that Newman endured during the filming of Cool Hand Luke, combined with his stellar acting is the reason why this is his shining moment as a film actor. You become so enamored with his performance that when he endures so much physical punishment, you want him to continue to try and escape the prison, not matter how many times he fails. I’ve heard many critics call Newman’s Luke the anti-hero. He is in fact a hero. Just because the circumstances surrounding the character’s incarceration are based on unlawful activities doesn’t mean that the character automatically becomes the anti-hero. Luke is a heroic character because Newman’s performance makes him so. In the hands of another actor, this would not be the case.
There are some wonderful iconic things about this movie besides Newman’s performance. Strother Martin’s “What we’ve got here is… failure to communicate” is one of the great movie lines in history. The fact that is comes from the lips of a surprisingly warm, yet sadistic prison warden shows the kind of depth that this film has. Also, the guard who wears the mirror sunglasses known as Boss has been imitated and caricatured for years (especially on The Simpsons: “No talking. No Listening. Do you hear me?”) The egg-eating scene is particularly unpleasant to watch but no more less iconic than the famous line and the characters themselves.
George Kennedy gives a wonderful performance as Luke’s rival, then as his confidante. Starting out as this big, mean leader of the prison, he submits to the ultimate will of Luke and relies on him to get the inmates through their hellish situation as an example of how to never give up. There is just the right amount of dust, heat, dirt, sweat and humidity to let the audience really feel the effect all of this had on the prisoners. It’s one of the most powerful non-human characters in the film.
This was one of the great films of the late 1960s, but I can see it just as clearly being made in the era of all those great anti-establishment films of the early to mid-1970s like Dog Day Afternoon where the cinematography and setting play a crucial role in the film. Cool Hand Luke is one of these great films.
The political entitlement bug ravaged the already-dysfunctional and unnecessary Canadian Senate, now it has continued to make its rounds through the trenches of the rest of what is supposed to resemble the democratically elected government representatives in Canada.
This is not a new disease. It was born some time ago, but it seems (especially with the advent of social media and security cameras on every corner) that the episodes of politicians behaving like belligerent billionaire oil barons who have no respect for public office are becoming more and more frequent.
The last outlandish event involved former Conservative MP Helena Guergis throwing a tantrum and yelling at airport staff in Charlottetown, PEI in 2010. The latest episode (caught on tape) reveals what is really going on in some of the inflated heads who dare call themselves public servants.
Eve Adams, (another) Conservative MP has a hissy fit at an Ottawa gas station in December 2013 because the car wash she took her car through didn’t remove a thin layer of ice from the bumper of her car. Hi – earth to Eve, it’s the middle of winter in Canada. You were lucky the car wash removed the salt from your car. Also, the water from the car wash probably froze as you drove up in front of the gas station – and blocked traffic by the way – to complain about the most ridiculously minute complaint in the history of car washing. It is unfortunate that the audio is not audible in the clip, for that surely would have cooked her goose – though the letter that the gas station owner sent to the Prime Minister certainly seals her fate as yet another entitled politician.
But what is most galling (besides her initial complaint) is that she purposely parked her car in front of other drivers, preventing them from leaving the gas station – outrageous. She calls herself a politician. I call her self-serving, entitled, unrestrained and arrogant. Even the most loyal of Conservative party followers (the gas station owner himself) was outraged by her actions – befitting of someone who thinks that the world revolves around them.
Eve Adams is just one in a long, long line of recent politicians who thinks it fair and just to treat their constituents like trained seals and the dirt they walk on every day. Outrageous. These are the kind of people leading our government? What were the voters thinking? She obviously pulled the wool over their eyes – as politicians usually do. I imagine the situation kind of like how Bev Oda (the infamous politician who bought a $16 glass of orange juice and charged it to the taxpayers) got re-elected in 2011 (even after numerous taxpayer-funded expense scandals broke): flash your pearly whites, bat your eyelashes and play innocent. Voters aren’t dumb. This latest scandal is not financially based – it’s morally based. Canadians don’t stand for anyone (let alone politicians) playing Queen of the Gas Station and treating the patrons like her loyal subjects.
There are other issues at play that will also determine the fate of Eve Adams. However, it is the gas station incident that will stick with voters the most and will ultimately lead to her downfall – hopefully in the form of a crushing defeat at the ballot box. It’s sad, but even such an event won’t derail someone who is obviously delusional about how to act in public, something that should be an even bigger worry than a refund on a car wash.
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