Richard Lester‘s Petulia is a chilly, emotionally distant film about a relationship that doesn’t quite come together, and yet there’s something very infectious and fizzy about it. I think it’s the combination of Lester’s dry ironic detachment and the odd atmospheric stirrings of what was happening in San Francisco when he shot it in the late summer and fall of 1967. There are snatches of music and marijuana and Haight-Ashbury in the periphery, but this is a film about being lonely and adrift…about wealth and comfort and social dance steps and two people who want out. It’s about a 40ish doctor (George C. Scott) who’s bored to death by almost everything in his life and a dishy, impossibly spacey rich girl (Julie Christie) who gets it in her head that Scott is some kind of cure for whatever might be ailing her. Petulia, which I return to every four or five years when I don’t feel like watching anything else, is composed of thousands of slices and fragments of everything and anything that was “happening” back then…sounds, whispers, glances. It’s somewhere between a tapestry and a jumble of pieces that don’t seem to fit, and yet they do when you step back. I think it’s one of the sharpest cultural time-capsule films Hollywood has ever churned out, and at the same time a curiously affecting love story. There an HD version on Amazon but none on Vudu or Netflix. I wish that Warner Home Video or Criterion or someone would punch out a Bluray.
I’ve agreed to get up early tomorrow morning and drive out to Deep Creek Hot Springs, which is in a hilly wasteland about an hour or 90 minutes north of Lake Arrowhead. I never do this sort of thing and it’ll probably be good for my soul, but the current plan is to stay there for a good six or seven hours before pushing on to Lake Arrowhead. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’m a bit worried about connectivity. Forget wifi — this area is so remote I won’t be able to make a call or send a text. If it turns out to as bar-less out there as I suspect it might be, tomorrow is going to be a very slow filing day. I’m just saying that upfront. I live in public, I file as a way of life…I don’t do well in the boonies.
I had a pair of dark green suede Beatle boots when I was 23 or 24…something like that. Looked great, were great. I found this British site that sells them but I’m afraid to pull the trigger because of bad associations. The only people I’ve seen wear them over the last quarter-century are icky, oily Eurotrash guys who over-dye their hair and wear neck jewelry, and I wouldn’t want to be associated with that aesthetic, thank you very much. I guess it’s better to let it go (by “it” I mean the past) but I wish there was a way.
I’ve written and said Liam “Paycheck” Neeson so many times on this site that it sounds as natural and unaffected as Daniel Day Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones and Billy Bob Thornton. I’m not sorry for calling him a paycheck slut because…well, he’s been that for the last five or so years…let’s be honest. But out of respect for Neeson’s performance in A Walk Among the Tombstones and for the general integrity of the film, I am hereby pledging to never again use that ignominious middle name. Even if he makes three or four more Taken films (and I wouldn’t put it past Neeson to do this), from here on this grizzled 62-year-old will be referred to on this site as Liam Neeson and nothing else.
I’ll be shelling out to see Michael Roskam‘s The Drop again this evening. I couldn’t understand roughly a third of the dialogue when I saw it at Toronto’s Princess of Wales theatre the weekend before last. And don’t tell me it’s my hearing — another Toronto-visiting critic agreed with my complaint about the POW’s murky tones on top of which The Theory of Everything composer Johann Johannsson told me he found the sound substandard. I’ll be seeing The Drop this evening at the Landmark, which I know has excellent sound. But it pisses me off regardless. The Drop is fine but without the sound issue I would have waited for a Vudu HDX availability. I called it “an earnestly above-average, Friends of Eddie Coyle-ish crime drama…well-acted, agreeably flavorfu…one of those low-key neighborhood personality soup bowls.” I was especially taken by the “always impressive Tom Hardy as an unassuming, seemingly-none-too-bright barkeep named Tom who surprises the audience but particularly Matthias Schoenaert‘s bullying bad-guy character in Act Three,” etc.
“A traffic accident involving a young boy spins a web of lies, suspicion and cover-ups around three policemen in Felony, a tension-packed drama from Aussie helmer Matthew Saville. The script, written by lead actor Joel Edgerton, teems with moral conundrums, as straight-arrow righteousness, self-serving pragmatism and plain, old-fashioned guilt duke it out amid drug busts and family disintegration. Thanks to Saville’s tightly controlled direction and a superlative cast, the mere exchange of glances builds as much suspense as the kinetic action sequence that opens the pic.” — from Ronnie Scheib‘s Variety review. Gravitas Ventures is releasing on 10.17.
I could live on a steady diet of Sidney Lumet movies for the rest of my life. Not just those made by the late director** but Lumet-style New York melodramas with his signature attitude and blunt, stabby brushstrokes. Urgent, propulsive tales of corruption. Tentacles of fate, forces closing in, shootings, beatings, etc. 33 Years Ago: “Hey, wanna go see that new movie? It’s with whatsisname…Treat Williams. I’ve heard it’s almost three hours of medium interiors of prosecutors and district attorneys debating whether or not to prosecute a corrupt cop who wanted to dishcarge the crap in his life but winds up ratting on his partners and his mafia cousins…whaddaya think?” A Most Violent Year will open on Wednesday, 12.31.14, which, by the way, is the same day that Leviathan opens.
** I don’t think I ever want to see Family Business again and I’m not so sure about Last of the Mobile Hot-Shots, but these aside…