This week featured our first introduction to Robert Altman, one of the prominent figures in the New Hollywood pantheon. Over the final three decades of his career, Altman would release more than his share of great films—but there is nothing to compare with his remarkable stretch of nine films from 1969 to 1975, arguably the greatest sustained sprint of the New American Cinema.
News and Commentary
This week’s screening for The Politics of the Seventies Film was The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), an achievement that represents everything the New Hollywood aspired to be: small scale, minor key, intensely personal, expressly cinematic, and ultimately indelible. “The King of Marvin Gardens is Monopoly minus the reassurance of toy money,” wrote David Thomson, an early champion of the film. “The movie conjures with the prospect of Hawaii, but delivers nothing more than an airmail blue shirt that will be stained with blood.”
Finally catching up with Alan J. Pakula’s 1981 paranoid thriller Rollover has us thinking, once again, about the magic of the movies. Another way of phrasing this question would be: “Why is Rollover so bad?” But here at Mid Century Cinema, we’re extremely wary of the good/bad thing. As we emphasized in our review of A. O.
This week’s movie was actually John Schlesinger’s Midnight Cowboy, but we’ve already written about that one here, and we’re sticking to our stories: (1) if forced to choose, we’ll take the dirty old Times Square over the modern tourist-trap eyesore; (2) except for, you know, the movie ending with Dustin Hoffman dead on a bus, Cowboy has the classic structure of a Hollywood romantic comedy; (3) despite that, however, we do not think that Rasto Rizzo and Joe Buck are meant to be implicitly u
Last night we eagerly unwrapped the new Criterion Collection special edition of Jack Garfein’s Something Wild, from 1961. New to us, this was a movie aimed directly at Mid Century Cinema’s sweet-spot: gorgeous time-capsule-perfect street shots of New York City; raw, daring performances by the hip cohort of the Actors Studio that contrasted with and challenged Hollywood conventions; and
I’m teaching “The Politics of the 70s Film” this semester, and, as we have done previously, Mid Century Cinema will follow along with commentaries related to the movies screened for class—or to movies related to those movies (since we can’t bear to repeat ourselves). This week we watched The Graduate. Regarding the general themes of this one, we don’t have much to add to last year’s comments, so we’re going to focus instead on one specific sequence in the film: when Benjamin reluctantly takes Elain
Regular followers of Mid Century Cinema know that Bertrand Tavernier is one of our favorite directors, so it is no surprise that we read with great interest a new collection of interviews with the filmmaker. Not every artist need be a great raconteur, but vicariously spending time with Tavernier – intelligent,
The recent release of John Huston’s The Asphalt Jungle in a new special edition from The Criterion Collection was more than enough reason to revisit this old classic—and it did not disappoint. If anything, Jungle is even better than we remembered. What is great about this movie?