Monday, July 30, 2007

Scrubs, Some Family, and Seventies Cinema

Oy, that alliteration is clunky. 'Scarlett' was the obvious choice but I had actual guilt about excluding the rest of the M-C tribe.

Thing 1- Jenna Fischer was nominated. Boo. But so was Neil Patrick Harris! Like Drew, I'm ecstatic about that nod as well as the one for the cast of Heroes. Everything else was exactly as predicted. I'm kind of obsessed with Scrubs right now (in syndication) so I'm bummed Zach Braff et al weren't recognized. Those actors are some of the most underrated comedians on television.

Thing 2- Yesterday, I got back from a fantastic Berkeley visit. In between catching up and playing with the babies, my sister and I worked on feminizing some of Julian's hand-me-downs for lovely Scarlett. (Pictures to follow. Maybe.) Julian is as cuddly sweet and articulate and hilarious as ever. In Liptonian (Pivotian) speak, the sound or noise that I love is his tiny, adorable voice saying, "I want you to play with me, Auntie Em." And all of my misgivings about Scarlett have completely vanished. Man, do I love that baby girl.

Thing 3- I'm currently reading Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls regarding the New Hollywood movement in the seventies. I remain dubious about the veracity of much of Biskind's reporting as the book's anecdotal content seems largely apocryphal. Still, it's a fascinating chronological synthesis of sex, drugs, and the filmic revolution. The book has inspired me to finally sit down and watch all of those '70s classics I've never seen.

To date:
8. Young Frankenstein (1974)

7. Shampoo (1975)- Not Robert Towne's finest script, but the film epitomizes the absence of happy endings in this decade. One of the few generically romantic comedies that doesn't end with a kiss, marriage, and/or birth.

6. The Godfather II (1974)- A brilliant film, but it needs the context of the first one and as such can't transcend its predecessor's significance.

5. MASH (1972)- Black comedy at its best. A superb film.

4. The Godfather (1972)- Brilliant.

3. Five Easy Pieces (1970)- I was surprised by how much I loved this. A really sparse character study that never relies on cliches or contrivances. Really strong, literate storytelling anchored by resonant, thoughtful performances. If you like quiet, indie character pieces, I highly recommend it.

2. Chinatown (1974)- From beginning to end, a phenomenal film. Robert Towne's finest script. Everything works in this film- the story, the setting, the characters (and actors,) the mystery, the eleventh hour reveal, and the deeply nihilistic conclusion. A fantastic period piece, a smart whodunit; this is really elegant filmmaking.

1. Network (1976)- Network might be the best film ever made. It might also be my new favorite film. I'll have to watch it a few more times to truly decide, but fortunately, it absolutely warrants repeated viewings. In fact, thirty years later when everything the film predicted has come to pass, it almost requires repeated viewings. There's much to be said about the breadth and depth of Paddy Chayefsky's prescient satire, but what stuck with me most is that Network is a film by adults for adults. Of all the lunacies and betrayals Cassandra-ed by Peter Finch's character, youth obsessed culture is at most, implicit and arguably, ignored altogether. But the youth obsession, the MySpace-ing that permeates all media now, precludes films like Network from getting made and being seen. To its extreme credit, Network never feels like a lecture (which is more than I can say for Spike Lee's homage, Bamboozled.) It is smart and accessible, well-paced and clever, darkly funny with genuine moments of tragedy. It is quite possibly the most incredible film in a decade of incredible films and everyone should see it and see it again.

This entry feels a bit like blog consomme. I'm going to try to avoid this approach from now on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love your writing style and always learn so much! Reading the reviews of the 70s films makes me want to watch them again 30 years later and with different eyes than I had in my 20s.Love the picture of you and Scarlett!