1973: 6 movies

posted 2015 April 14

Scener ur ett äktenskap
Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman
Produced by Lars-Owe Carlberg
Cinematography by Sven Nykvist
Editing by Siv Lundgren
Production design by Björn Thulin
Costumes by Inger Pehrsson
Starring Liv Ullmann, Erland Josephson

   This is the first instance I've found where actual cinema has been made for television, in other words, a tv program that merits enough quality to make this list. Five hours of six episodes, where it's mostly two actors dissecting the meaning of love, marriage, and sex. And every episode increases in dramatic tension. The brilliant, tragic, and ultimately triumphant outcome is that neither of these two people is perfect. Their parents were worse off, and their children will not be perfect either, but there is a lasting sense of growth and evolution.
   The photography by Sven Nykvist is an unparalleled feat, and so are the performances. The title translates from Swedish to "Scenes from a marriage".

Directed by Jerry Schatzberg
Written by Garry Michael White
Produced by Robert M. Sherman
Cinematography by Vilmos Zsigmond
Editing by Evan A. Lottman
Music by Fred Myrow
Production design by Albert Brenner
Costume Design by Jo Ynocencio
Starring Gene Hackman, Al Pacino,
Ann Wedgeworth, and Richard Lynch

   Out of all the movies that seek to get an emotional reaction, an emotional connection, this is the tops. It's one of the perfect movies. It leaves me with a deep hole in my soul for a long time after viewing, which I cannot wish nor reason away. It sits in front of me, the outcome, like the death of a loved one, even though there is no death. Frenchy's love, Coley's love, Francis' love, and Max's love, and even the love of Francis' ex, we feel all these loves glowing. We feel their reality and weight. Either our senses are sufficiently duped, perfectly duped, or their is something real going on here. As much as we try to put the lie-detector on the movie, it passes. Just as Francis is a scarecrow, and Max strives to becomes one, the movie itself is our scarecrow. Bravo! But will we heed the call to transform? It's an adventure story on the surface but a mystery of emotions underneath, and this is the recipe for a legendary epic.

Directed by Terrence Malick
Written by Terrence Malick
Starring Martin Sheen and Sissy Spacek
Produced by Terrence Malick
Music by George Aliceson Tipton
Cinematography by Tak Fujimoto, Stevan Larner,
and Brian Probyn
Editing by Robert Estrin
Art direction by Jack Fisk
Costumes by Rosanna Norton and Dona Baldwin

   This movie should not be under-estimated. The main thing that makes it so is the fact that it can be understood on so many levels, and each level blends seamlessly with each other, until by the end credits, you're mind is telling you so many different and conflicting things, that it can be a bit overwhelming. There is the level of true crime where two well-meaning lovers stumble onto a downward spiral of murder. There is the level of a romance, where we see two people who aim to cling to each other despite the cost. There is the level of photographic and motion picture art which is stunningly grand like a modern-day opera set in the American Midwest. There is the level of trying to remain free of the capitalist system, the level of humans in relation to animals, and there is the level of artists in relation to the rest of society. But the glue that holds all these levels together is complex in itself, and involves entrancing acting, editing, deadpan humor, and mystically nostalgic music.
   Yes, it is a sort of remake of "Bonnie and Clyde", but its direction is darker, more personal, honest, and ultimately it is more troubling, possibly because it reflects our situation better.

Directed by Woody Allen 
Written by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman
Produced by Jack Grossberg
Music by Woody Allen
Cinematography by David M. Walsh
Editing by O. Nicholas Brown, Ron Kalish,
and Ralph Rosenblum
Production design by Dale Hennesy 
Set decor by Gary Moreno
Costume design by Joel Schumacher 
Starring Woody Allen and Diane Keaton

   Most futuristic movies and books seem to shoot too far ahead of the mark in their predictions, by which I mean that usually predictions don't come true by the time the movie-year actually comes around. This comedy on the other hand seems to shoot even closer than its mark; most of what is shown or discussed has already come about ahead of the set year. GMOs, electric cars, government surveillance, and cloning have all become part of our reality, and way before the forecasted date of 2173. But the futuristic predictions are just a treat and not even the heart of this movie. The true core is the adventure story, the comedic banter, and the chemistry between stellar wits Allen and Diane Keaton. The movie is still fresh because of these aspects, as well as for the sets, the lighting, and the smart editing. The movie is smart in that it demonstrates cynicism and civil disobedience as necessary and admirable attitudes for humanity. There is also a layer of bleak futility to the movie as it demonstrates that we will always have dictatorial systems controlling us, but this is a welcome trait because it comes across as honest and because it still leaves room for humor as the ultimate life-and-sanity-saver. In a novel way, it embodies the philosophy that was shared by the movies of Charlie Chaplin.

The Last Detail
Directed by Hal Ashby
Writiten by Robert Towne
Produced by Gerald Ayres
Music by Johnny Mandel
Cinematography by Michael Chapman
Editing by Robert C. Jones
Production design by Michael D. Haller
Costume Design by Theodore R. Parvin
Starring Jack Nicholson, Randy Quaid,
Otis Young, and Carol Kane

   Straight-forward story of two Naval officers charged with escorting a young sailor to prison for a minor offense. There are very few standout shots, and not a lot of beauty in the photography, as it strives more for clarity and realism than refined painterliness. The story, performances, and editing, though are very skillful, and reflect a pure, honest story about America in the early 70s, especially the divide between law and justice. Commenting subtly on race, religion, the lower classes, and American youth, the movie resonates because of its comedy and the bittersweet fellowship among the three men. They are helpless but squeak out as much vitality and personality as they can within the rigid framework of their lives. Jack Nicholson is the movie's centerpiece.

The Holy Mountain
Writing, direction, production design,
set conception, and set design
by Alejandro Jodorowsky
Produced by Alejandro Jodorowsky, Roberto Viskin
Music by Don Cherry, Ronald Frangipane,
and Alejandro Jodorowsky
Cinematography by Rafael Corkidi 
Editing by Federico Landeros 
Costume design by Alejandro Jodorowsky and Nicky Nichols
Starring Alejandro Jodorowsky and Horacio Salinas

   Pretty dreamy movie with spectacular design, decor, and cinematography. The first part is about a man in Mexico who isn't self-centered. He feels the pain of those around him, and wants to help them. Unfortunately, he comes to discover that nothing much will change through his efforts and he most likely will end up a cheap new edition out of a long line of saviors that have come and gone. The second part is when the same man climbs a tower and joins a group of several rich and powerful people who are trying to find the secret of immortality. The first part is very emotionally evocative and unpredictable. The second part gets a little dated when it mocks the fashionable hobby of the 1960s and 70s of following spiritual gurus. Luckily though, the unexpected twists and turns, the imaginative use of the camera frame, and the defiance at convention keep us enthralled to the end.

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