Parkland 2013 Peter Landesman
In late 1963 I was 7. Sometime in late summer to early fall my Mother gathered us up and we walked over to the side of the new Northwest Expressway and climbed up the grass that led to the road and waited. There were several people already there. ” The President is coming” was heard. There was quite a buzz amongst all of us that slowly built till suddenly there was a limo in front of us and someone in the backseat waving out the window at us. It was Kennedy. I remember this oh so well. Would I have remembered it if what happened a few months later had not happened?
Forward to November. I was in school. I overheard one teacher telling another that ” The President has been shot in Dallas”. Immediately an image appeared in my head that I remember having. It was a Texas town. Dirt road. Someone with their back to us. A Cowboy. Pulling his gun out of his holster. And shooting the President standing facing him. The things we imagine when we are 7.
The weekend went on. Television was turned over completely to the events. I remember seeing the casket being driven up to the White House. I remember the camera staying on the building as I heard people talk. The nest day the rows and rows and rows of people lining the streets waiting for a chance to get in to see the casket lieing in state. I remember Jackie kneeling and kissing the casket.
Sunday came and we were in Church. I remember after the service someone saying that “Oswald had been shot”. Monday came and there was the Funeral. The march thru the streets. The Salute from John Jr. My Mom and Sister crying as that sat on the couch watching. Watching the grave sight ceremony. The lighting of the Eternal Flame.
A few years later I made the trek to Washington. I stood at the Grave Site. I remember the feelings that came over me seeing John and his Brother Robert’s graves.
When Parkland was released I was extremely excited. I just recently watched it. It is a tremendous achievement, It is a brilliant retelling that put us inside of these events.
However something was missing. While I highly recommend seeing it, there is something that it lacked. It is powerful. Just not as powerful as I had imagined. Why? Its too short. It runs only 90 Minutes. I think they tried covering too much ground and the film lacked the emotional punch it could have had they delved deeper into it.
Or…. After all my memories…All my emotions… From that time long ago…
Could ANY film have lived up to that?
King Kong 1976 John Guillermin
King Kong. There have been 3 versions of the Epic Film. The first… And the greatest.. With Fay Wray in 1933 and the latest from Peter Jackson in 2005. And then there is the one in the middle. 1976.
The 1976 version is unique as it is set in the present time. It is also unique for one other reason. Which I will deal with last.
In this version we have a young Jeff Bridges. He does an excellent job in the film as he always seems to do. We have Charles Grodin. Who overacts for virtually the entire film.
We have the debut, the discovery of Jessica Lange. Who at the time, could not act. Her job here is to scream, and to look good. She excels in her two assignments. After this picture she didn’t appear in a film for 3 years, and I read it was to take acting lessons. They worked. She has developed into a fine actress.
The monster himself is Rick Baker dressed as an ape. And a mechanical hand for the close-ups. The mechanical hand actually is pretty realistic.
This film had a lot of hype as it was released. And it finished 5th in box office that year.
Now to the last reason it was unique. And why I’m doing a post on the film. As I watched I realized I hadn’t seen this film since it first came out. And while in New York, and the final battle scenes as the military tries to stop Kong, he moves to…The World Trade Center.
I had a sudden sense of uneasiness. It was a very strange feeling that came over me. Close-ups of Jeff Bridges character and others running around the base of the towers. You see the statue and grounds that had been there. You see the exterior of the buildings at ground level. See them run into the lobbies. See them get into the elevators. The feelings I had caught me off guard as I hadn’t anticipated seeing all of this. And even if I knew it was coming, I don’t think I would have expected the reactions I had. Eerie.
Is this why this film isn’t shown much if at all anymore? Or maybe I just don’t notice. But watching the film this weekend definitely had me experience a different type of emotions that I do not normally run into while viewing a film.
Big Wednesday Dir John Milius 1978
Roger Ebert did A review of a film where he talked about seeing the film every ten years… and his appreciation of the film changed every ten years as he grew older. I am finding this to be very true in a lot of different ways.
Take Big Wednesday. A film that bombed at the box office upon first release but then gained a cult following in cable showings. In the late 70’s I was living in Los Angeles and living almost on the beach in Newport Beach. We had cable back then put in and it was a huge deal for us. I believe it was the Z channel ( for those old enough to remember them) but I may be mistaken. But what I do remember was that every month they only showed like 10 films. And they showed them over and over and over.
That was my first viewing of Big Wednesday. They showed them surfing. They showed them partying. They showed the beach. They showed the girls on the beach. And I became obsessed with this film. The first half of the film shows what life was like for teenagers who lived near the beach in the 60’s. It was wild. And It looked fun.
Then Vietnam came. And the Draft. And it shows how two went in the service. And two stayed out. It showed how their lives changed and they could never go back to what was. It was a tremendous coming of age movie. But back then It was the first half I wanted to see again and again. As I was barely older than the characters in the film.
Well Last week I went back and watched this film again. What was striking to me was how I remembered virtually all of the first half of the film. Even repeating lines. But… The second half… It was like I had never seen it. With this viewing the second half of the film was very powerful. Seeing them all struggle with life after growing up could be related to my own life and struggles. And the last scene…well…When Big Wednesday comes… Its a great ending to a fine film.
But this time it was the after growing up that sticks with me. As I see it now that I’m older. And the first half almost seemed silly. Easy. Carefree. Like life itself.
Note. Milius Spielberg And Lucas all were close friends and making pictures at the same time. They made a bet between them that Big Wednesday was going to be the most successful. The other films… Star Wars and Close Encounters.
Back in the early days of film…Directors such as Griffith ..Chaplin…Renoir..Lang..Pabst..Wiene.. Came along. Started their careers…
They created cinema in a way they saw fit. Their were no guidelines… No standards to follow. No expectations to live up to. They created cinema from their vision. And created what today are considered masterpieces… or at least what is considered today to be important pieces of work.
Why? Because they created what they saw.. what they felt. What they were.
But would we know of any of these filmmakers if they were working today?
Today its the $. Its the blockbuster. The remake. The truly creative with only a few exceptions are relegated to small independent studios and are never given the audience their films deserve. They disappear. The exceptions are the directors who from their independence become “Hip” from their complete body of work.
We see this in all fields where there is money to be made. 50 years from now the music from the 50’s 60’s and 70’s will still be considered the oldies. The music from today will disappear as quick as last weeks top 10.
Think of this the next trip to the multiplex. For every trip you make to see “White House Down to see Captain America beat Spiderman but Godzilla stomps on both of them” try to make room for a screening of ” The German Doctor” or another small independent or foreign film.
You may just find YOUR next ” Citizen Kane”
I will be posting my top 200 list sometime today… Its actually like a list of 138 movies as it is a work in progress. Started it about 4 months ago and add to it as I go along. So yes there have been many ” HOLY CRAP how could I FORGET ABOUT…” etc etc. So do not take it as a finished product. And. it is in no particular order..
There will be a link for it under the title header.
Well now. After two years away from this I felt it was time to jump back in. The first time I was getting frustrated with myself while reading posted reviews that I couldn’t write like Roger Ebert. So instead of realizing that virtually NO ONE writes like Roger Ebert I started putting pressure on myself. I would agonize between posts on what to write and how it was going to sound . So it suddenly became…well…no fun. And I did this to have fun.So I stopped completely.And then I started reading other blogs. And I started to get a feel that impressing others shouldn’t be my fear. Just writing what I feel should be the objective.
But now I wish to try again. But I do wish to comment on film. And this will be the place. And maybe other things besides film as well.. I don’t know….We will see what happens.
And It will no longer be formal reviews like I was trying. Lets just say there will be posts on film. And we will see what form they take.
And as always…any and all comments are appreciated. That is if anyone finds their way here
The blog slowly…awakens again