Tag: The Oscars (Page 1 of 3)

Movie Flashback: “The Conversation” (1974)

The Conversation

I’ve wanted to see “The Conversation” for years, and with the pandemic raging I was able to catch up on a number of older movies I had wanted to see. I had high expectations for this one, and frankly I came away a little disappointed.

Some movies just don’t age well, and that’s sometimes true with movies from the 70s. The decade was loaded with brilliant films, and they often live up to their reputation, even after decades have passed. But some of the films that seemed ahead of their time in that decade don’t hold up as well.

I was bored with this one, even though the story throws in some interesting twists. The pacing is painfully slow, which is common from films of that era. And I can often appreciate the slower pacing of the films of that era, particularly compared to the sensory overload we sometimes experience with many modern films. But too many of the scenes in “The Conversation” seemed unnecessarily long. I kept waiting for the story to move along, and by the time we reached the twists at the end I was just waiting for the film to end.

The story behind the film is interesting, and one comes away impressed with the direction of Francis Ford Coppola and the acting by Gene Hackman and John Cazale. Roger Ebert loved it, but the slow pace was too much too overcome to get into the story.

Ebert writes:

Coppola, who wrote and directed, considers this film his most personal project. He was working two years after the Watergate break-in, amid the ruins of the Vietnam effort, telling the story of a man who places too much reliance on high technology and has nightmares about his personal responsibility. Harry Caul is a microcosm of America at that time: not a bad man, trying to do his job, haunted by a guilty conscience, feeling tarnished by his work.

Ebert provides some excellent perspective, and as a work of art the film is brilliant. Less so, however, as a work of entertainment.

“The Conversation” was nominated for “Best Picture” in 1975, the same year that “The Godfather, Part II” took home the Academy Award. Coppola had quite a year! Yet “The Godfather, Part II” was so much more entertaining than this film.

I realize I’m in the minority in my opinion of this film. Reading the reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, with a fresh score of 97% from the critics, it seems as if each of them are trying to outdo one another in heaping praise on this film. I only found two critics that agreed with me. Fred Topel called it an “outdated techno-thriller,” which summed up my thoughts nicely. The other, John Simon from Esquire Magazine, noted, “The icy fascination soon succumbs to two forms of excess. One is Coppola’s growing infatuation with the technical aspects of his subject… The other is a mystery story that thickens into ever greater contrivance, improbability, and opacity.”

The critics who praised the film often citing the building tension and suspense. Sadly, I experience growing boredom and impatience.

I can only recommend this film to cinephiles and wannabe film critics who need to see this as an important film of the 70s. I can’t recommend it to anyone looking for an enjoyable or gripping film experience.

“Birdman” rules The Oscars

Fewer people are watching The Oscars, as this was the worst TV ratings performance since 2009. Still, Neil Patrick Harris was excellent as the host and his opening number had a planned interruption from Jack Black who went on a singing rant of everything that’s wrong with the movie business – too many superheroes and mindless sequels to start.

Still, it was cool to see an original film like “Birdman” take top honors.

Oscar pools add to fun during awards show

I have to admit I was expecting a more entertaining Oscars show with Seth McFarlane handling the hosting duties. He did fine despite what the haters on Twitter said, but it’s still The Oscars, and much of the show can still be very boring. I switched over to watch “The Walking Dead” and the Showtime Sunday shows instead.

But, with the popularity of Oscar pools and betting on the winners, plenty of people were still glued to the screen waiting for the announcements. That’s not surprising, as the huge popularity of football has a lot to do with our desire to bet on sports and the exploding popularity of fantasy football.

There were plenty of surprises on Oscar night to keep everyone excited. Things got started with Christoph Waltz winning for Best Supporting Actor for Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.” He definitely was not the favorite, with Nate Silver and others having him as the third most likely winner in the category with Tommy Lee Jones as the favorite. So right off the bat, many had a miss in their Oscar pool, while a few had a huge early win to start the evening.

Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence were favorites, so that had to reassure those who were less adventurous in their picks, but the Best Director and Best Picture results definitely had to blow up most pools. Ang Lee was a big surprise. As for “Argo,” it did pick up steam with people like Silver picking it to win, and the snub of Ben Affleck by the Academy may have even helped its cause. “Lincoln” was an excellent film, but I didn’t leave the theater thinking it was a lock for Best Picture. Daniel Day-Lewis was probably the biggest lock of the night, as his portrayal of Lincoln was inspiring.

So next year I think I’m finally going to enter a pool so it’s a little easier to sit through some of the contrived dance numbers and lame jokes.

Top 5 Unofficlal awards on Oscar night

Laugh, Meryl Streep. Laugh!

When all the dust had cleared, all that was left were fake smiles of the losers and P.R. people promoting why you should see nominated films yet again. Nevertheless, there were awards that should’ve been handed out for only the best of reasons.

1. Best actress in a bout with gravity – Jennifer Lawrence. She could beat out a dozen teens trying to kill her for food in the “Hunger Games,” but she couldn’t walk in a dress without eating Oscar stairs. She got the last laugh taking home Best Actress for “Silver Linings Playbook,” but I guess being hot and coordinated was too much to ask.

2. Best Actress who left her headlights on – Anne Hathaway. Anne made an impression that only Mr. Skin could truly love. The only thing perkier than her upper chest region was the 9 year-old in the audience who probably asked her parents “Was she good enough to be the main actress likes me?

3. Best Host who was damned no matter what – Seth MacFarlane. Word is the senior members in the audience thought he was crude and unfunny. Of course, he got to be clowned by the 81 year-old William Shatner and made out with 66 year-old Sally Field. You’d think he’d get free AARP membership just for that alone. Check out the reaction shots from his “We saw your boobs” song and you’ll see why he needed an escort to his car.

4. Actor who will be referred to as “Mr. Meryl Streep” – Daniel Day Lewis. Winning an Oscar is great. Winning twice is exceptional, but winning three is just showing off. The uber-method actor is the Phil Jackson of acting right now. He’s one superhero role away from making people hating him for just being that good.

5. And the Who can get fired on Oscar night goes to…. – The Onion employee who tweeted a highly offensive comment about Quvenzhane Wallis. Quvenzhane is 9, cute and was nominated for Best Actress. The twittersphere unleashed their fury at the Onion and they rightfully suspended/reprimanded the employee in question. He or she is anonymous now, but people are already calling for their identity to get an additional pound of flesh (with dipping sauce and a biscuit).

God bless you, Hollywood.

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