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The current year is 2006. I saw this movie in 1977; 29 years ago. It
has haunted me ever since. The quote from the movie "Hula hula
hallelujah. Shake your ass and win a thousand dollars and a trip to
Hawaii." has the linguistic function of trivializing the target of the
message. As if the target of the message is caught up in a moment that
to them seems profound, but to the speaker of this message the target
has no clue of how trivial they really are. The target of the message
is as clueless of the meaning of the message as they are of the
triviality of their own self-importance. This movie has a message that
has socially significant value. The above quote symbolizes the whole
message of the movie in a short neat little package.
How trivial are those things that we think are important or make us feel important compared to that which is important to the character of this movie and about whom this story is told. Only those who have seen this movie and shared its experience can truly understand what is meant by "Hula hula hallelujah. . . ."
Short Etymological Note: The quote makes rhetorical reference to a 1950s TV show "Queen for a Day". On this show, four contestants would compete by telling their hard luck story. Whoever told the best hard luck noblest story, was elected, by audience applause meter, "Queen for a Day". The winner consistently jumped up; did a little hula like dance; and shook her ass. After winning some kind of valuable prize like " . . . a thousand dollars and a trip to Hawaii."
This film, based on the best selling novel of the same name, goes
Even Diane Keaton can't save it.
Unlike the book, the characters are all one-dimensional, seemingly
disconnected from the story. You don't care about anyone, because there's
depth to anyone.
Keaton, despite being a fine actress, seems confused in her part, going
from prim, gullible school teacher to bar-hopping slut, with nothing in
between, except maybe Richard Gere. How and why she gets to this point is
not really explained. As for Gere, his acting is so out of control, you
wonder where the hell was the director.
The rest of the supporting cast plods along with the uneven script,
changing personalities as quick as Keaton changes partners. The only
grace in this mess is LeVar Burton. His appearance on the screen is brief,
but boy does he pack a punch...literally.
Only wish he'd punched a few more in this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
No, this isn't a spoiler. Maybe it should be.
I faintly recall that Looking for Mr. Goodbar has some social relevance. But I really don't remember, because all I retained of this film was the last 5 minutes or so. That ending is the most horrifying fictional sequence that I've ever seen on film. Was it a triumph of visual composition? Perhaps. Did it serve some useful social purpose? I doubt it. Mercifully, the 23 years since I saw that scene have dimmed it in my memory.
If you choose to watch this movie, just remember that you can't wipe your memory like you can your hard drive. And take a lesson: strobe lights are a core element of some of the most effective mind-control techniques.
When Teresa screams "Do it !", Gary hasn't stabbed her yet. She's still
trying to save her own life, hoping that he'll get on with raping her
and then leave. It's a desperate attempt to save her own life.
Unfortunatey, however, saying "Do it !" just inflames him to more rage
and he stabs her.
What is disturbing is how each jabbing is synchronised in the film with each penetration, every time he penetrates her, he stabs her.
It is obvious that this is a pre-Aids film. No modern film would show Teresa laughing as James tried to put on a condom or shrieking "I've never seen one of these before !" or show men having random, casual sex with strangers in a gay bar. Another disturbing aspect of the film is that it is acceptable for a man to hit a woman if she mocks him for his sexual performance - Teresa even says it would be OK for James to hit her after she laughed at him for the condom.
We live now in an Aids aware society where "Safe Sex" is constantly preached.
James, himself, is another disturbing character, outwardly he seems nice but he seems afflicted as well, as he leaves, he tells Teresa that the story he had told her about his dad hitting his mom was made up. It leave the viewer wondering what kind of man would make up a story like that ?.
It is hard to decide on a rating for this film since it leaves you depressed and pensive.
It is not a joyful film to watch and I, for one. reject the idea that sex must always be "dirty" and linked to death. Without Sex there would be no Life - no babies. It is significant that the film underscores its nihilism by showing how Teresa has an operation to make herself infertile, although in a scene with her father, we learn she did it to prevent any baby inheriting her disease that had caused a curvature of the spine and for which she needed a painful operation in order to correct it.
The film makes a very disturbing link between Sex and Death.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw this film about five years ago on VHS (pan & scan)when I was
sick, and because I wondered what it was all about. Of course, I asked
my dad that when this movie came out when I was six, and his reply was:
"THAT'S NOT A MOVIE FOR KIDS!" That was his way of saying,
"shut-the-%$#k-up"! Well duh, I could see that it wasn't a kiddie flick
because of its R-RATING! What was I going to do? Say, "Oh, I'm sorry
Mr. Movie Theater Usher, I thought this movie was about candy bars!"
Well, it wasn't about candy bars. No where near as sweet.
Diane Keaton played a bar-hopper, cruiser, swinger, what have-you stemming from a repressed, middle-class Roman Catholic family. Because she was played in a brief affair with her married professor, and the fact that her sister was married with a baby, she felt lonely, angry, and humiliated all in which, she was in the confines of her dad's house. She moves out and lives in NYC, doing the bar & club scene of the late 1970s. She has various flings with several men (William Atherton, Richard Gere, etc.) where she uses drugs along the way. William Atherton was quite boring to me, as he was to Diane Keaton. She despised him, so she runs to bad boy Dickie Gere. And Gere got her deeper into drugs where she expectedly, loses her job. And then gets arrested for possession. And as this movie goes on and on and on, we meet ANOTHER guy for Keaton to attack/go home with.
At this point, I was ready to turn the movie off until realizing it was Tom Berenger! Whoa, cool! I like Tom......Okay, Tom is gay...No, BISEXUAL....Okay, so Diane's going home with him....A little strobe-light going. Cool!....Now some sodomy. SODOMY! WHAT ABOUT AIDS? Oh yeah-- this is 1977.......Tom, you're getting a little rough......What's the knife doin--- And at that point, unexpectedly Tom repeatedly stabbed Diane Keaton to death as if he were having a violent orgasm through the midst of his malevolent sexual repression. And the camera held onto Diane's helpless, hapless, frozen-dead expression before a chilling fade-out along with the blue strobe-light.
WOW! Didn't see that one coming. Ever.
That was the image that haunted me every now and then. The sub-plots were slow, but were in fact necessary to convey the storyline. I thought that Diane would have an epiphany and go running back to Atherton with the whole nice-guys-finish-last-and-that's-what-women-want-anyway theme. Not exactly. I have come across women like Diane Keaton's character in my past: running from themselves; defiance; sexual conquests to compensate for something; and even having illegitimate children that only reinforced how low their self-opinion had become. Only this movie seems dated at times when AIDS isn't addressed (among other things like the disco soundtrack), yet it seems as if it could be re-made. I could see a hot Latina like J. Lo or Jessica Alba with the revisiting repressed Catholic theme present. She would bed (with a condom now) countless men (and they be multi-culti'd, ranging from Vin Diesel, Ryan Reynolds to Mekhi Pfeifer) whom she would meet on the Internet. And the ending would remain.
I could easily see myself showing this to my daughter if she were of bar/clubbing age as a cautionary tale. The question is, would she take it seriously? Or take any of it in? To me, films can have a bigger impression over kids than just punishment.
...And I'll tell her that it's not about that Hershey's-made candy bar!
Okay, let's see ... on weekdays, our anti-heroine is a touchy-feely educator
of hearing-impaired children, but all other times is a shallow, giggling,
hedonistic airhead, and all because mean old Daddy keeps talking to her as
if ... well, as if she's a shallow, giggling, hedonistic airhead. Do people
like this really exist?
This may be one of the first and best-known "sure I'm a wacko but it's not my fault" films. More a series of impressions than an actual story, we have impossibly-young Richard Gere (who provides some of the funniest lines, though unintentionally) and Tom Berenger, both trying hard to do Marlon Brando impersonations. And Tuesday Weld's hair-tossing frenzies are so overacted that I wished she'd just stand still for a moment so we could remember what she looks like.
Watch for Brian Dennehy in a funny fantasy sequence.
The film is not without merit, but be prepared for a parade of unlikeable characters. 'Double Indemnity' pulled that off, and still managed greatness.
LFMG could have been a memorable classic, instead of just the title. Too many cardboard characters; too little substance; too many excuses. It's as shallow as the lead character.
This movie was well written , well acted, featured an excellent cast but had a far from cheerful ending. It kind of reminded me of a verse from the bible that all the holy roller,bible-thumping fundies used to shove down MY throat when I was a kid. "The wages of sin is death". I do have to disagree with a few people on this website on one item in particular. That is the fact that they refer to the soundtrack as "excellent disco music" or "good disco music". Comrades, the terms excellent and good (and even the term music!) being applied to disco is a contradiction of terms! Disco was one of the most horrible,horrible things to have ever occurred in the late 20th century.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The story that is Looking For Mr. Goodbar deals with some still-relevant social issues, but the story--whatever story there really is, that is--completely comes apart. In other words, a youthful zest for new ideas and new order ultimately finds no support from any sort of narrative structure. A woman exploring her sexuality with different men, seemingly out of some deep-seated reaction to a repressive religious upbringing along with fears of passing along congenital defects makes an excellent basis for a psychodrama about a woman fighting to remain free from society's monogamous'n'married morality model. But when that reaction is met with three creepy men who spawn subplots that at best only threaten to resolve but never do, we have a loser. A fourth man whose last-minute introduction (a - gasp - gay killer) seems about the most awful way to resolve what could have been an interesting film. That resolution is awful in so many ways: a new character ends the film on the basis of a last-minute conflict; that character is an offensive stereotype, a stereotype--the homosexual as a homicidal pervert--that seemingly defeats any of the progressivist posturings; and the ending destroys the woman's liberation thread with some fire and brimstone--"if you sleep around ladies, you'll eventually end up murdered by one of those strangers you take home." Looking for Mr. Goodbar (a stupid title) does have two good points: Diane Keaton is amazing, and the ideation sequences are brilliant. But the story simply isn't there, and all men are evil, and women who do drugs and sleep around will be the victims of viiolent murders, and. Ugh. Don't bother. If you want a film that at least bearably approaches the subject of a woman needing her sexual independence, try Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It for slightly better results.
Anyone watching the Meg Ryan disaster, In The Cut, can see where the
idea originated, and like one of the proposals sent up in The Player,
they crossed Goodbar with Sea of Love, and add a few elements of 'the
dark side' that Luke Skywalker was always being warned about.
Richard Brooks seemed to love the seamier side of life: Elmer Gantry revels in it, as do the boys who murder the Clutters, but in this film I had the feeling he couldn't wait to get to the conclusion. I thought Keaton miscast in 1977 and still do today. There is always that feeling that she is playing games, passing through.
If you must watch it, look at it as something unearthed from a time capsule, from the days before Carrie Bradshaw and friends.
The movie is distinctly dated, not just for the music and other trappings (some of which have historical interest at least) but for the largely ham-fisted technique, a weird cross between let-it-all-hang-out decadence and abrasiveness, and a woodenly "classic" Hollywood craftsmanship. The dialogue is often stilted, the depiction of the overbearing father one-dimensional, and the use of fantasy and dream sequences to illustrate her inner life is clumsy. The first affair with the self-centered professor, which indirectly sets her on her "journey", is too much a wooden series of humiliation set-pieces, and although that's partly the intention, the tense, awkward handling starts the movie off on a contrived note from which it never recovers (it does get better though). There's just not enough messiness in the film , not enough genuine lust - the depiction of the sex-and-drugs milieu is tonally hardly differentiated from the deaf school where she teaches, and Keaton's uninteresting performance hardly helps. The whole thing is schematic, and her ultimate fate is simply the last straw in a movie straining for relevance.
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