Tag: The Last Picture Show

Links for a fun and strange day

I’m in the midst of a crazy day that for me that will include a screening tonight and then a quick jaunt across the street over to the New Beverly, which is in the midst of Dante’s Inferno, to catch a movie I’ve literally been trying to see for decades. It’s 1967’s “The President’s Analyst,” a political-thriller/spy comedy satire, which is basically three or four of my favorite genres all mushed up together. Writer-director Theodore J. Flicker went on to create “Barney Miller,” so there’s that, too. Sadly, I’ll miss the even more obscure first feature which I featured here just a couple of weeks back, “Cold Turkey.”

Anyhow, I shall be brief, or not. Starting now, anyway:

* It looks like there may be yet one more “last Kubrick movie” to come and it’ll be a Holocaust-themed drama to be directed by Ang Lee. Something tells me we’re looking at a Fall or Winter release here.

* Matthew Vaughn’s “Kick-Ass” is attracting strong studio interest, not surprisingly. And I can still remember a time when they’d have to put a picture of a donkey on the film poster in order to get away with that title.

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Nickelodeon/The Last Picture Show

This two-disc set is basically the agony and the ecstasy from the collected works of film critic/scholar turned boy wonder writer-director-actor Peter Bogdanovich. Placed in reverse chronological and quality order, Disc One is 1975’s agonizing “Nickelodeon,” one of a series of box office and/or critical failures that ended the young director’s early career hot streak. A forced slapstick comedy drawn very loosely from the silent era reminiscences of Hollywood greats Leo McCarey, Raoul Walsh and Allan Dwan, it’s a good-natured but entirely unfocused bore despite the strong efforts of an all-star cast led by Burt Reynolds and Ryan O’Neal, and featuring Tatum O’Neal (“Paper Moon”) and John Ritter (“Three’s Company”), among many others. The disc includes both a brand new black and white director’s cut alongside the original color theatrical version, but it will take more than the majesty of monochrome to save this one. Bogdanovich’s DVD commentary provides better movie history and better entertainment.

“The Last Picture Show” is, of course, something completely different. On his second feature, Bogdanovich blew the 1971’s cinema world’s collective mind and drew comparisons to his friend and mentor, Orson Welles, with this crisply wrought black and white adaptation of an early Larry McMurtry novel. Nominated for eight Academy Awards, it details the late teen years of two high school football players (Timothy Bottoms and Jeff Bridges) and a manipulative beauty (Cybill Shepherd) following in the footsteps of her unfaithful mother (Ellen Burstyn) in a rapidly dying Texas town. A minor cause celebre at the time because of its nudity and blunt sexuality, its glory is its acute visual storytelling and Robert Surtees’ masterful photography, a biting and heartbreaking script, and a large number of genuinely tremendous supporting performances. In particular, Cloris Leachman as a deeply lonely housewife who falls for a high school boy and Western mainstay Ben Johnson (“The Wild Bunch,” “Wagon Master”) as the charismatic walking embodiment of the town, Sam the Lion, won entirely deserved supporting acting awards. A sardonic yet humanistic exploration of fractured relationships and poor choices, it remains a riveting and moving work of cutting edge movie-making from a true cinematic reactionary.

Click to buy “Nickelodeon” and “The Last Picture Show”

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