How fascinating was the filmmaker known as Eric Rohmer? When his mother died in 1970, she had no idea her son was a famous director. As Rohmer’s own son explained, she “did not know about my father’s filmmaking activities, which she never for a minute suspected.
News and Commentary
At Mid Century Cinema we are slaves to the academic calendar, which means that the last month has been an especially hectic one, something we note by way of apology for letting Bertrand Tavernier’s seventy-fifth birthday slip by on April 25th without proper notice.
A semester of seventies films draws to a close with Chinatown, a monumental achievement in which every element of the movie contributes to its overall vision perfectly and could scarcely be improved upon, starting with Robert Towne’s screenplay—one of the greatest ever written.
The sensation that was Taxi Driver settled in as the eleventh screening at our semester of the seventies film. Directed with brilliant, baroque virtuosity by Martin Scorsese (on the heels of his breakthrough Mean Streets and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore), Taxi Driver was the result of an extraordinary convergence of the talents of three young men: Scorsese (collaborating with cinematographer Michael Chapman),
A semester of seventies films offered with its tenth entry a (modest) respite from the usual darkness and despair, with the sex-comedy Shampoo (1975). Of course, everything is relative—it’s still the seventies out there, and we surely don’t get the ending we were rooting for, leaving George (Warren Beatty) as diminished, desolate and despairing as Harry Caul was at the end of The Conversation.
Another week, another landmark movie – business as usual for a semester of seventies films. Network (1976), comes in the final year of the New Hollywood (in 1977 the writing was on the wall as Network and Taxi Driver lost best picture to the feel-good entertainment that was Rocky, as the morally unambiguous Star Wars was poised to lay waste to the industry’s entire business model). But the semester still has some weeks to go—let’s accentuate the positives.
A semester of seventies films continues with its eighth entry—perhaps the most under-appreciated of all of the great films of the New Hollywood.
Even in the glory days of the New Hollywood, Francis Ford Coppola’s intensely personal, almost willfully non-commercial masterpiece The Conversation (1974) was not an easy film to get produced. But after scoring a massive hit with The Godfather, Coppola was able to extract studio backing for the picture he cared about in exchange for his promise to direct The Godfather, Part II.
Klute (1971) is another iconic film of the New Hollywood.
How fresh is Nashville (1975), more than forty years after its release? Tom Wicker, political columnist for the New York Times, described the film as a “cascade of minutely detailed vulgarity, greed, deceit, cruelty, barely contained hysteria, and the frantic lack of root and grace into which American life has been driven.”